Quranic Imagery in English and the Senses

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Quranic Imagery in English and the Senses

Postby dralmenoar2006 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:42 am

ABSTRACT

Selected verses from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran have been used as a literary text to teach both descriptive and figurative imagery (including similes, metaphors and symbols) to students at the undergraduate level in an Islamic institution. The technique-The Senses for teaching imagery has been selected to accommodate the text. The group of students was taught imagery using one technique covering 2 class sessions. Assignments were given to derive data for the evaluation of the level of understanding of the lessons on imagery. An analysis of the data from the assignments shows a high level of understanding of the lessons on imagery by the students.

INTRODUCTION

Literary devices, such as similes, metaphors, symbols, etc. are found in abundance in the Quran and they are also apparent in the translated versions of the Quran in English although it is realized by all translators, scholars and authors that no one has yet been able to convey or translate the exact meaning of the Quran.
  A judgement sample of verses was taken from a few different surah. Two index categorization books were used for this selection: Tafsil Ayat AlQuran AlHakim by Jol Labom (Labom, 1963) and AlMustadrak by Edward Montet (Montet, 1963). Both these books were translated by Mohamed Fouad Abdul Baqui and have a systematic listing of Quranic verses according to topics (eg. Heaven, Hell, Justice, etc.). Under Heaven, there are altogether 258 verses mentioned in 58 surah. Under Hell, there are altogether 144 verses mentioned in 35 surah.
  The verses to be dealt with in this paper are:
  XXXVIII Surah Sad, verses 49-52,55-57 from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran. This paper first provides a brief explanation and discussion of each verse to familiarize the reader with the basic meaning of the verse. The technique and the exemplary Quranic images (text) will then be presented in this paper:
  Technique: The Senses
  Source: The Inward Ear by Alan Duff and Alan Maley (Duff and Maley, 1989)
  Text: Verses 49-51,55-57 of Surah Sad
  Source: The Holy Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Abdullah, 1983)

  THE DISCUSSION OF SELECTED QURANIC IMAGES

  In Verses 49-52 of Surah Sad, the righteous will be rewarded indeed and as Verse 49 suggests:
  [quote] 49. This is a message
  (Of admonition): and verily,
  For the Righteous,
  Is a beautiful place
  Of (final) Return, --
  50. Gardens of Eternity,
  Whose doors will (ever)
  Be open to them;
  51. There will they
  Recline (at ease)
  Therein can they
  Call (at pleasure)
  For fruit in abundance
  And (delicious) drink;
  And beside them will be
  Chaste women restraining
  Their glances, (companions)
  Of equal age. [/ Quote]
  In Verse 50, we are told that Heaven's doors will forever be open to the believers. Heaven will be an everlasting destination for them. This image conveys a feeling of security and enables one to be able to visualize this privilege.
  Verse 51 allows one to picture and almost taste Heaven's pleasures. Heaven's tranquility is heightened with descriptions of fruits, cool drinks, etc., All to satisfy and at the disposal of the believers.
  In Verse 52, we learn that these gentle surprises will be enjoyed by and shared with fellow believers and mates, pure-minded and of equal ages. This puts across to the readers feelings of being surrounded and accompanied by people whom they would love to be with; there will be no feeling of estrangement and loneliness. Abdullah Yusuf Ali in describing this verse, he says: [quote] "as we conceive happiness in this life, it is not complete if it is only solitary" (1229). [/ Quote]
  The senses that are affected are visual, tactile and gustatory.
  Conversely, as we are told in Verses 55-57 of Surah Sad, for the transgressors, Hell awaits them:
  [quote] 55. Yea, such! But --
  For the wrong-doers
  Will be an evil place
  Of (final) Return! --
  56. Hell! - They will burn
  Therein, - an evil bed
  (Indeed, to lie on)! --
  57. Yea, such! - Then
  Shall they taste it, --
  A boiling fluid, and a fluid
  Dark, murky, intensely cold! - [/ Quote]
  In Verse 55, we are told that Hell will be a definite and everlasting destination for wrongdoers. It conveys to the readers a feeling of a trapped dead-end. This visualization contrasts with what has just been described about Heaven in Verse 49: [quote] ".... A beautiful place / Of (final) Return ". [/ Quote]
  Evil is contrasted with beauty for in the Islamic concept of beauty there is implicit good and no room for evil; similarly, where there is evil, there can never be true beauty.
  Verse 56 declares that the wrongdoers will burn in their evil bed in Hell. One can imagine feeling the heat and pain of fire tormenting one "in bed".
  In Verse 57, the boiling, dark, murky, intensely cold fluid heightens the
  terror of Hell. As Abdullah Yusuf Ali explains it, there is discord between extreme opposites-boiling and intensely cold (1229). One can smell, taste and feel the intense cold and heat of this fluid. This makes one further imagine the extreme sufferings of Hell.
  The senses that are affected are the visual, tactile, gustatory and olfactory.

  THE INTRODUCTORY LESSON ON IMAGERY

  There is a need for an introductory lesson on imagery since there are certain aspects of imagery that the students need to know and understand before they can fully participate in class discussions or attempt any of the written assignments. A teacher can devise his / her own introductory lesson on imagery according to the level of language competence of his / her group of students. The next or subsequent lesson will be on Quranic imagery.
  Thus, for this case study, it must be kept in mind that the group of participants is of the intermediate English proficiency level. Careful selection of a suitable technique and level of difficulty of the text must be done. Consequently, activities that help to enhance the four language skills are also thought of.
  A suggested written assignment after an introductory lesson on imagery is: Make sentences using the three literary devices and explain how and why the simile, metaphor and symbol are used. State the senses that are affected by each image.
  The written assignment will be used as basis for gauging whether or not the students have understood the lesson.

  LESSON PLAN ON IMAGERY

  Technique: The Senses
  Text: Verses 49-51,55-57 of Surah Sad
  Level: Intermediate (undergraduate)
  Duration: One Hour
  Objectives: Develop in students the ability to:
  1) Identify and / or locate the images in each verse
  2) Recognize and distinguish between the 2 types of imagery:
  i) Descriptive imagery
  ii) Figurative imagery and the literary devices used
  3) State which senses are affected
  4) Create their own images
  5) Use the four skills:
i) Listening: Done in listening to the teacher reading the verses.
  ii) Speaking: Done in contributing responses to the teacher's questions.
  iii) Reading: Done in reading verses and trying to locate and identify the images.
  iv) Writing: Done in written assignment.
  The teacher can start the lesson by recapitulating the (previous) introductory lesson on imagery. Allow 15 minutes for this.
  In the technique, The Senses, the students can focus on the different senses that are affected through imagery. This time the students will have a chance to use Quranic imagery and be able to state which senses are affected.
  The level of suitability for this technique would be in ¬ termediate English language class level (undergraduate) students at an Islamic institution and / or where the majority of the student population is Muslim.
  The original text used for this technique was replaced with Quranic images of Heaven and Hell from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran: Verses 49-51, 55-57 of Surah Sad.
  After a brief explanation of the previous lesson, the teacher leads the
  students into Quranic imagery. He / she distributes copies of the verses to the students and informs the students that the verses that they are about to study are verses from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran, starting with Verses 49-51 of Surah Sad. He / she tells the students that these verses are about Heaven.
  Then, the teacher reads the verses twice:
  [quote] 49. This is a Message
  (Of admonition): and verily,
  For the Righteous,
  Is a beautiful place
  Of (final) Return,
  50. Gardens of Eternity,
  Whose doors will (ever)
  Be open to them;
  51. Therein will they
  Recline (at ease)
  Call (at pleasure)
  For fruit in abundance,
  And (delicious) drink; [/ quote]
  As the teacher reads these verses, he / she goes through and explains the difficult words.
  In Verse 49, line 2 - admonition - warning
  In Verse 50, line 1 - Eternity - unchanging and endless time
  In Verse 51, line 2 - recline - be in a horizontal position
  Verse 51 - abundance - plenty, a quantity that is more than enough
  The teacher goes back to the verses and asks students to try to locate and identify the images in the verses. He / she goes through the task with them, helping and guiding.
  Verse 50, line 1: [quote] Gardens of Eternity [/ quote]
  What type of imagery? Figurative imagery using a literary device: symbol.
  "Gardens of Eternity" are the beautiful gardens which will be in unchanging existence forever for the righteous to enjoy in Heav ¬ en. The term also symbolizes the supreme or sublime Beauty of Heaven in a spiritual sense.
  Senses: visual.
  The image gives one a beautiful (mental) picture of gardens that are always in bloom while symbolizing that timeless heavenly world one can only truly know after life.
  Verse 50, lines 2 and 3: [quote] Whose doors will (ever)
Be open for them [/ quote]
  What type of imagery? Figurative imagery using a literary device: metaphor.
  These doors to the beautiful gardens are forever open to the righteous. Normally, when one thinks of doors, they can either be open or closed. But these doors in Heaven will forever be open. The image metaphorically compares the entrance or passage into Heaven, which we cannot truly visualize, to "doors" in which case Heaven is compared to a gracious house or one's eternal home. The image of open doors depicts Heaven as an abode that feels familiar, hospitable, welcoming.
  Senses: visual.
  The image suggests a mental picture.
  Verse 50, lines 5 and 6: [quote] For fruit in abundance,
And (delicious) drink. [/ Quote]
  What type of imagery? Figurative imagery using a literary device: symbol.
  These gardens have plenty of fruits and delicious drinks that the righteous can enjoy. These pleasures are symbolic of the types of satisfaction that these gardens can give. The "abundance" symbolizes the unceasing quantity that is available and thus, the feeling of satisfaction continuously lingers on.
  Senses: visual, gustatory.
  The image suggests a mental picture and we are made to feel as if the fruits and drinks can be tasted.
  Then the teacher distributes copies of verses of images of Hell this time and informs the students that these verses are about Hell and that these verses are specifically from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran - - Verses 55-57 of Surah Sad.
  The teacher reads these verses twice:
  [quote] 55. Yea, such! But --
  For the wrong-doers
  Will be an evil place
  Of (final) Return! --
  56. Hell! - They will burn
  Therein, - an evil bed
  (Indeed, to lie on)! --
  57. Yea, such! - Then
  Shall they taste it, --
  A boiling fluid, and a fluid
  Dark, murky, intensely cold [/ quote]
  As the teacher reads, he / she goes through and explains difficult words:
  In Verse 57, line 4 - murky - gloomy, unappetizing
  In Verse 57, line 4 - intensely - very high degree
  Now the students will be better able to deal with the verses on Hell with less help from the instructor, having previously dealt with the verses on Heaven. The teacher goes back to the verses and asks them to locate and identify the images in the verses.
  Verse 56, line 2: [quote] an evil bed [/ quote]
  What type of imagery? Figurative imagery using a literary device: metaphor.
  A bed usually signifies a place on which to rest but this "bed" is a place to be tortured, punished and burned; it is comparable to a torture chamber.
  Senses: visual, tactile.
  The image suggests a horrifying picture provoking the reader to almost feel the pain of being burned.
  Verse 57, line 4 & 5: [quote] A boiling fluid, and a fluid
  Dark, murky, intensely cold. [/ Quote]
  What type of imagery? Descriptive imagery.
  A vivid description is given about a torturous drink in Hell.
  Senses: visual, tactile, gustatory.
  One can picture tasting this drink and feeling its high degree of heat and coldness alternately burning and freezing one into extreme discomfort. Then the teacher writes on the board selected words from the verses of Heaven and Hell for the written assignment:
  Make sentences with these words, creating your own images and stating which of your senses are affected.
  1) A beautiful place
  2) Fruit in abundance
  3) Delicious drink
  4) An evil place
  5) An evil bed
  6) A boiling fluid
  Example: A Beautiful Place
  A beautiful place is like a painting where flowers always bloom and swans glide about continuously on a pond of clear, blue water.
  Senses: visual.
  If the students are able to complete the written assignment within the remainder of the class time, these assignments will be collected at the end of the period. If not, these assignments can be collected at the beginning of the next lesson. The written assignments will be used as the basis for gauging whether or not the students have understood the lesson.

  A CASE STUDY

  Two lessons were taught to a group of students at the undergraduate level in an Islamic institution. This class is an English language-Intermediate level class. The students were taught for one hour of the introductory lesson on imagery and one hour of the above lesson plan using the technique-The Senses with Quranic images. Observatory comments were taken and reproduced in this paper. The breakdown of the marking scheme for the two written assignments after each lesson was taught, is dealt with.

  EVALUATION OF ASSIGNMENTS

  The Introductory Lesson on Imagery
  Assignment: Write a simile, metaphor and symbol, stating the senses that are affected.
  For simile: Total - 5 marks.
  4 marks for correct answers
  (-) 1 mark for spelling error
  (+) 1 mark for creativity
  (-) 1 mark for grammatical error
  For metaphor: Total - 5 marks
  4 marks for correct answers
  (-) 1 mark for spelling error
  (+) 1 mark for creativity
  (-) 1 mark for grammatical error
  For symbol: Total - 5 marks
  2 marks for each part of the symbol
  (-) 1 mark for spelling error
  (+) 1 mark for creativity
  (-) 1 mark for grammatical error

  Maximum Possible Score: 15 marks
  [list] No. of Participants Scores
5 15
7 14
7 13
2 12
1 9 [/ list]
  Comments
  Generally, the scores show that the lesson was well-understood. The students lost points mainly for grammatical flaws. The stu ¬ dent who scored 9 marks had serious grammatical flaws in all three parts of the question which aggravated the problem of writing his / her own metaphor or symbol effectively.

  The Lesson on Imagery using Quranic images and the technique-The Senses.
  Assignment: Create your own images from the words selected from the verses.
  Total - 30 marks (5 marks each)
  3 marks for doing the assignment adequately.
  Creativity +1
  Spelling error -1
  Grammatical error -1
  Effective vocabulary +1

  Maximum Possible Score: 30 marks
  No. of Participants Scores
  1 30
  1 29
  5 28
  2 27
  8 26
  1 25
  1 24
  1 23
  1 20

  Comments
  The majority of the participating students scored 26 marks. Those who scored above 26 marks did so because of more effective vocab ¬ ulary and less grammatical flaws. Those who scored below 26 marks did so because of not attempting all of the six-part question. This technique was found to be suitable for this level - interme ¬ diate - because the students were willing and able to speak up. However, it was difficult for this group of students to guess the meaning of words like admonition when new vocabulary was pointed out. Other ¬ wise, this group of participants was very cooperative.

  CONCLUSION

  The focus of this technique (The Senses) is of course, the teaching of imagery. At the same time, however, the teacher can point out new vocabulary and correct grammatical mistakes in the English language. For this intermediate group of participants, the classroom activity was task-based, locating and identifying the images in the verses. They are also required to state which senses are affected by each Quranic image.
  This technique, The Senses, text of Quranic imagery and the suitable activities carried out in the classroom, each plays its own role in a teacher's successful teaching session. They are an integrative part of the whole teaching session.
  Basically, the following are the main objectives of a teacher teaching imagery:
  Objectives: Develop in students the ability to:
  1) Distinguish the 2 types of imagery:
  i) Descriptive imagery
  ii) Figurative imagery
  2) Distinguish the 3 literary devices usually used in figura ¬ tive imagery:
i) Simile ii) Metaphor iii) Symbol
  3) Recognize and use the literary terms for the five senses that can be affected through imagery:
  i) see - visual ii) hear - auditory
  iii) touch - tactile iv) smell - olfactory
  v) taste - gustatory
  4) Write their own similes, metaphors and symbols, stating the senses that are affected.
  5) Use the four skills:
  i) Listening
  ii) Speaking
  iii) Reading
  iv) Writing
  With the use of Quranic images, it is possible to generate a discussion on an aspect of Islam. This is an added advantage, especially at Islamic institutions. Both descriptive and figurative imagery, in particular, metaphors, similes, symbols, can be taught through Quranic images.

  REFERENCES

  Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The Holy Quran. Brentwood, Maryland: Amana Corp., 1983.

  Adeyanju, Thomas K. "Teaching Literature and Human Values in ESL: Objective and Selection". English Language Teaching Journal. 32.2 (1978): 113 - 8.

  Al Ghazali, Muhammad and Hasanah, Umar Ubayd. Kayfa Nata'amalu Ma'al Quran: Mudarasah Bayna Alshaykh. Virginia: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1991.

  Al-Sha'rawi, Syaykh Muhammad Mitwalli. The Miracles of the Quran. Baker Street, London: Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd., 1980.

  Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Quran. Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus Limited, 1980.

  Duff, Alan and Alan Maley. The Inward Ear. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

  Frye, Northrop, Sheridan Warner Baker and Geroge B. Perkins. The Harper Handbook to Literature. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

  Khalifa, Mohammad. The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism. Essex, England: Longman Group Ltd., 1983.

  Labom, Jol. Tafsil Ayat AlQuran AlHakim. Lebanon: Dar Alkitab Alarabi, 1963.

  Mawdudi, Abul A'la. Toward Understanding Islam. Leicester: Islamic Foundations, 1980.

  Montet, Edward. AlMustadrak. Lebanon: Dar Alkitab Alarabi, 1963.

  Perrine, Laurence. Literature - Structure, Sound and Sense - 4th Edition. New York: Hartcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.

  Pickthall, M. Marmaduke. The Meaning of the Glorious Koran. New York: Mentor Books, 1963.

  Stevick, Earl W. Images and Options in the Language Classroom. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

  Von Denffer, Ahmad. Ulum Al-Quran, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran. Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1985.

  Wilkins, D.A. [David Arthur] Second Language Learning and Teaching. London: Edward Arnold, 1974.

  Wright, Andrew. Pictures for Language Learning. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
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