Visualization of Quranic Imagery

Short stories, poetry, esssays

Moderators: nihadsirees, Jihan, sahartawfiq, weamnamou

Visualization of Quranic Imagery

Postby dralmenoar2006 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:16 pm

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-Visualization 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

Quranic images of Heaven and Hell are appropriate vehicles for teaching imagery because these images are presented vividly in the Quran. The translators of the English language translations of the meaning of the Quran strive to produce as close an approximation of the Quran as possible.
Muhammad Asad explains how Quranic images of Heaven and Hell reach the minds of the readers. Asad writes in Appendix I entitled “Symbolism and Allegory in the Quran”:
Imagine the most joyous sensations, bodily as well as emotional, accessible to man : indescribable beauty, love physical and spiritual, consciousness of fulfillment, perfect peace and harmony; and imagine these sensations intensified beyond anything imaginable in this world –and at the same time entirely different from anything imaginable : and you have an inkling, however, vague, of what is meant by “paradise” and on the other hand : “Imagine the greatest suffering, bodily as well as spiritual, which man may experience : burning by fire, utter loneliness and bitter desolation, the torment of neither living nor dying; and imagine this pain, this darkness and this despair intensified beyond anything imaginable in this world – and at the same time entirely different from anything imaginable: and you will know, however vaguely, what is meant by “hell” (Asad, 1980:991).

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 (e.g. Heaven, Hell, Justice, etc.). Under Heaven, there are altogether 258 verses mentioned in 58 surah (chapters of the Quran). Under Hell, there are altogether 144 verses mentioned in 35 surah. The verses to be dealt with in this paper are:
XV Surah Al-Hijr, verses 43-44, 45-46 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: Visualization
Source: Images and Options in the Language Classroom by Earl W. Stevick (Stevick,1986)
Text: Verses 43-44, 45-46 of Surah Al-Hijr
Source: The Holy Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Abdullah, 1983)

THE DISCUSSION OF SELECTED QURANIC IMAGES

The first verse to be discussed is Verse 43 of Surah Al-Hijr which mentions that Hell is the penalty for wrongdoers:
43. And verily, Hell
Is the promised abode
For them all!
The next verse tells the readers what awaits wrongdoers in Hell:
44. To it are seven Gates
For each of those Gates
Is a (special) class
(Of sinners) assigned.

We are told that Hell has seven gates. The several gates point out that there are numerous ways for human beings to sin and as Allah is All-Just and All-Knowing, He punishes according to the level, intensity and weight of each sin.
In his footnotes, Abdullah Yusuf Ali enlightens his readers about the number 7 which he says is a mystical number. He goes on to say that
this section of the surah is full mystical meaning and it is difficult to expound upon it adequately (645).

However, it is not necessary for teachers and students to probe more deeply into these verses; what is plainly stated is sufficient for their purposes.
This verse about Hell affects the visual sense since it can provoke a vivid picture of the entrance to Hell in one’s mind. One is left to imagine what lurks behind those gates.
In comparison, in Verses 45-48 of Surah Al-Hijr, we are told that for our righteous deeds, rest assured, we will be rewarded:
45. The righteous (will be)
Amid Gardens
And Fountains
(Of clear –flowing water)
46. (Their greeting will be):
“Enter ye here
In Peace and Security”
47. And We shall remove
From their hearts any
Lurking sense of injury:
(They will be) brothers
(Joyfully) facing each other
On thrones (of dignity)
48. There no sense of fatigue
Shall touch them
Nor shall they (ever)
Be asked to leave.

The righteous, as Verse 45 affirms, will find him/herself in gardens with fountains. Besides feeling the tranquility, the reader of this verse is also led to feel the clean, cool, beautiful atmosphere of this place.
In Verse 46, the righteous one is told that he or she will be warmly welcomed to this place of “peace and security”. The feeling of both peace and security, as one knows, is hard to achieve in this life. This, it is indeed worthwhile to work hard for and look forward to achieving this as a reward in life after death. This verse makes one yearn to be permitted into such a place. One can picture the warm greeting when and if he/she is allowed to enter this wonderful domain.
Verse 47 further relates to readers the conditions in this abode. Peace and security will be extended to those chosen to enter such that there will be no suspicion of one another, no hurting of others which is so often done among people on earth. In short, the readers are made to feel contented and happy within themselves.
As Abdullah Yusuf Ali puts it,
“the true Brotherhood will be realized there, when each will have his own dignity; there will be no question of invidious comparison; each will face the other with joy and confidence” (645).

“Brothers” gives one the feeling of unity and harmony. People will respect and love each other. One knows how difficult it is to achieve this on earth. Thus, one is able to realize and picture how great and wonderful it is to be able to live there (Heaven).
In Verse 48, one is told that the believers will never tire of enjoying Heaven’s pleasures nor will they be asked to leave this wonderful place. This verse further emphasizes this place’s peace and security. When a person is entitled to stay permanently anywhere that is filled with joy, he/she will surely feel secure. It must be so pleasant; it makes one feel like one is in a pleasant dream and never has to wake up. These verses affect the visual and auditory senses.

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.
Thus, for this case study, it must be kept in mind that the group of participants is of the High 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 a basis for gauging whether or not the students have understood the lesson.

LESSON PLAN ON IMAGERY

Technique: Visualization
Text: Verses 43-44, 45-46 of Surah Al-Hijr
Level: High Intermediate (undergraduate)
Duration: One Hour
Objectives: Develop in students the ability to:
1) Identify and/or locate the images in the verses
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) Explain the meaning of the images to each other
5) Create their own images
6) Use the four skills:
i) Listening: Done in pair and group information providing and retrieval activity.
ii) Speaking:Done in pair and group discussions.
iii) Reading:Done in comparing own notes with each other.
iv) Writing:Done in writing down notes.
The teacher can start the lesson by recapitulating the (previous) introductory lesson on imagery. Allow 15 minutes for this.
In the technique, Visualization, it is possible for the students to discuss ideas which would probably not emerge from a cold reading of the text. Furthermore, to test their understanding and also practise spoken language, the students are required to explain to each other what they have understood from the verses.
The level of suitability for this technique would be intermediate level English language class students (undergraduate) at an Islamic institution.
The original text used for this technique was replaced with Quranic images of Heaven and Hell selected from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran: Verses 43-46 of Surah Al-Hijr.
The teacher begins the lesson by dividing the class into two and reads two sets of verses, one set to each group. The teacher informs the students that the verses that the first group is about to study are verses from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran, specifically, Verses 43-44 of Surah Al-Hijr. The teacher tells this group that these verses are about Hell. Set 1 (Hell)
43. And verily, Hell
Is the promised abode
For them all!
44. To it are seven Gates
For each of those Gates
Is a (special) class
(Of sinners) assigned.

The teacher tells the students that the verses that the second group is about to study are verses from Abdullah Yusuf Ali's English language translation of the meaning of the Quran, specifically, Verses 45-46 of Surah Al-Hijr. The teacher tells the second group that these verses are about Heaven. Set 2 (Heaven)
45. The righteous (will be)
Amid Gardens
And Fountains
(Of clear-flowing water)
46. (Their greeting will be)
"Enter ye here
In Peace and Security"

The students in each group work in pairs. Together in pairs they try to recall as accurately as possible the sequence of images. Any fragments of the verse should be noted down. Allow 5-10 minutes for this.
Then each pair with the same set of verses compares notes with another pair. Now they will be in fours. Any "gaps" in the verses should be noted down. Allow 5-10 minutes for this.
The teacher sits with the group that has set 1 verses while the group with set 2 verses continues trying to recall as accu¬rately as possible the sequence of the images. The teacher has the text and reads the verses to the first group.
The teacher will now ask the students (with set 1 verses) to focus on the several images that are projected in these verses. The teacher will discuss while the students take notes.
Verse 43, line 1-2: And verily, Hell
Is the promised abode

What type of imagery? Figurative imagery using a literary device: metaphor.
The "promised abode" means a warning for the sinners that they will surely end up in Hell.
Senses: visual.
This image suggests a mental picture of Hell as a type of dwell¬ing place.
Verse 44, line 1:
To it are seven Gates

What type of imagery? Descriptive imagery.
One is told explicitly that Hell has 7 gates.
Senses: visual.
This image gives a vivid and specific picture or description of Hell which has 7 gates.
Verses 44, lines 2-4:
For each of those Gates
Is a (special) class
(Of sinners) assigned.

What type of imagery? Descriptive imagery.
One is told that Hell has levels or classes and that each class or level has different types of sinners in it according to the weight or intensity of the sin committed by the sinners.
Senses: visual.
One can picture Hell with its 7 gates and the sinners inside each of those gates.
After this discussion with the group with set 1 verses, the teacher moves on to the group with set 2 verses. The teacher tells the group with set 1 verses to prepare to discuss their verses with the group with set 2 verses.
The teacher sits with the group with set 2 verses during their discussion of the images projected in these verses. The teacher has the text and reveals the verses.
The teacher will now ask the students to focus on the sever¬al images that are projected in these verses. The teacher dis¬cusses while the students take notes because the teacher will later put a pair with set 1 verses and a pair with set 2 verses together to exchange what they know about each set of verses.
Verses 45 lines 1-4:
The righteous (will be)
Amid Gardens
And Fountains
(Of clear-flowing water)

What type of imagery? Descriptive imagery.
This image gives a vivid description of Heaven.
Sense: visual.
One can imagine this beautiful place in Heaven.
Verse 46 lines 1-3:
(Their greeting will be)
"Enter ye here
In Peace and Security"

What type of imagery? Figurative imagery using a literary device : symbol.
Heaven also means a place where peace and security is felt and found. A place of peace and security is another way of designat¬ing Heaven.
Senses: visual.
One can imagine the entrance to Heaven where one is warmly greeted.
The teacher then asks a pair of students with set 1 verses to sit with a pair of students with set 2 verses and lets each pair exchange information or explain the images to the other. They do this in groups of fours. Allow 1-15 minutes for this. The teacher can then give a written assignment:
Write your own images of eating your favourite food thereby affecting the gustatory sense (and other senses) and give this collection of images a title.
Example: Ripe strawberries
Luscious, red, plump strawberries with leaves still stuck on them. They are sweet and yet they have a tinge of sourness.
Senses: gustatory, visual.
If the students are able to complete the written assignment within the remainder of the class time, these assignments can be collected at the end of the period. If not, these assignments will be collected at the begin¬ning of the next lesson. The written assignment will be 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 – High 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-Visualization 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
No. of Participants 2 9 6 1 3
Scores 15 14 13 12 11

Comments
The performance in this class is generally very good. The stu¬dents who scored 11 marks did so due to the fact that they were not too sure about the difference between a metaphor and a sym¬bol. Also, grammatical errors were discernible.

The Lesson on Imagery using Quranic images and the technique-Visualization.
Assignment: Write your own images of your favourite fruit thereby affecting the gustatory sense (and other senses) and give this collection of images a title.
Total marks - 15 marks
7 marks for doing the assignment adequately.
Spelling error -1
Creativity +3
Grammatical error -3
Effective vocabulary +3
Title +2

Maximum Possible Score: 15 marks
No. of Participants 1 2 3 7 4 1
Scores 15 14 13 12 11 10

Comments
The majority of the participating students scored 12 marks. Those who scored above 12 marks did so due to the fact that (a) they used more effective vocabulary, (b) they had different and original ideas and (c) they did not make too many grammatical mistakes. Those who scored below 12 marks were careless in that some forgot to give their collection of images titles and they made serious grammatical mistakes. This technique was enjoyed by the participants in that they could reproduce what they understood from the teacher when they explained their set of verses to another pair with a different set of verses. The stu¬dents strove hard to explain the verses to each other in correct English. As they explained, they automatically used words of reverence when referring to a verse. For example, one particular student said, "This precious verse means....".

CONCLUSION

The focus of this technique (Visualization) is of course, the teaching of imagery. At the same time, however, the teacher can point out new vocabulary and correct grammatical mistakes. For this High Intermediate group of participants, the classroom activity was task-based, recalling, comparing notes in pairs or groups.
This technique, Visualizaton. 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 any 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.

Allison, D. & Carey, J. “What do university language teachers say about language teaching research?”. TESL Canada Journal. 24(2007):61-81.

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.

Borj, S. “Conditions for teacher research.” English Teaching Forum. 44(2006):22-27.

Bowen, T. & Marks, J. Inside Teaching. Oxford: Macmillan, 1994.

Carter, R. & Long, M. Teaching Literature. London: Longman, 1991.

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.

Kramsch, C. Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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

Larsen, F.D. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Lazar, G. Literature and Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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

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

O’Malley, J.M. & Valdez, P.L. Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners: Practical Approaches for Teachers. New York: Addison Wesley, 1996.

Oxford, R. Language Learning Strategies around the World: Cross-cultural Perspectives. Manoa: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.

Peregov, S.F. & Boyle, O.F. Reading, Writing, and Learning in ESL. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 2001.

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.

Richards, J.C. & Nunan, D. Second Language Teacher Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Richards, J. & Rodgers, T.S. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching: A Description and Analysis. (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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.

Wallace, M. J. Training Foreign Language Teachers: A Reflective Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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

Woodward, T. Models and Metaphors in Language Teacher Training. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Wright, Andrew. Pictures for Language Learning. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
dralmenoar2006
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:59 am


Return to Literature / ركن الأدب

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron