Functions of Quranic Stylistics

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Functions of Quranic Stylistics

Postby dralmenoar2006 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:59 pm

ABSTRACT

A stylistic analysis is one approach of analysing a literary text using literary descriptions. The use of literary texts in the literature classroom has been limited to mostly Western sources. This paper is an attempt to create an awareness of the linguistic features present in the English language translation of the meaning of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. One Meccan surah (chapter of the Quran) was selected from The Holy Quran-the English translated version of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali for a stylistic analysis. The Meccan surah is the seventy-seventh surah, Al-Mursalat. This surah proves to contain a rich variety of linguistic features which indicate that it can be an alternative source besides Western sources to be used as literary texts in the literature and language classroom.

INTRODUCTION

Surah Al-Mursalat is a Meccan surah. It’s theme denounces the horrors of the Day of Judgement for those who reject the truth. It also calls for them to believe. The time of revelation of this surah is the fourth year before the Prophet’s migration. The phrase,"Ah Woe, that Day to the Rejecters of Truth!" occurs ten times in this surah of fifty verses or on an average of once in every five verses. It indicates the warning and the calling out for humility and approach to sincere repentance towards Allah.
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

1. By the (Winds) Sent Forth
One after another
(To man’s profit);

2. Which then blow violently
In tempestuous Gusts,
3. And scatter (things)
Far and wide ;

4. Then separate them,
One from another,

5. Then spread abroad
A reminder,

6. Whether of Justification
Or of Warning ; -

7. Assuredly, what ye are
Promised must come to pass,

8. Then when the stars
Become dim;

9. When the heaven
Is cleft asunder;

10. When the mountains are
Scattered (to the winds) as dust;
11. And when the messengers
Are (all) appointed a time
(To collect) :-

12. For what Day are these
(Portents) deferred ?

13 For the Day of Sorting out.

15. Ah woe, that Day
To the Rejecters of Truth !

16. Did We not destroy
The men of old
(For their evil) ?

17. So shall We make
Later (generations)
Follow them.

18. Thus do We deal
With men of sin

19. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !

20. Have We not created
You from a fluid
(Held) despicable ? -

21. The which We placed
In a place of rest,
Firmly fixed,

22. For a period (of gestation),
Determined ?

23. For We do determine
For We
Are the best to determine (things)

24. Ah woe, that Day!
To the Rejecters of Truth!

25. Have We not made
The earth (as a place)
To draw together

26. The living and the dead,

27. And made therein
Mountains standing firm,
Lofty (in stature) ;
And provided for you
Water sweet (and wholesome) ?

28. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !

29. (It will be said :)
“Depart ye to that
Which ye used to reject
As false !

30. “Depart ye to a shadow
(Of smoke ascending)
In three columns,
31. “(Which yields) no shade
of coolness, and is
Of no use against
The fierce Blaze.

32. “Indeed of throws about
Sparks (huge) as Forts,

33. “As if there were
(A string of) yellow camels
(Marching swiftly).”

34. Ah woe, that Day
To the Rejecters of Truth !

35. That will be a Day
When they shall not
Be able to speak,

36. Nor will it be
Open to them
To put forth pleas.

37. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !

38. That will be a Day
Of Sorting out ! We shall
Gather you together
And those before (you)!

39. Now, if ye have
A trick (or plot),
Use it against Me !

40. Ah woe, that day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !

SECTION 2

41. As to the Righteous,
They shall be amidst
(Cool) shades and springs
(Of water).


42. And (they shall have)
Fruits, - all they desire.

43. “Eat ye and drink ye
To your heart’s content :
For that ye worked
(Righteousness).

44. Thus do We certainly
Reward the Doers of Good

45. Ah woe, that Day
To the Rejecters of Truth !

46. (O ye Unjust !)
Eat ye and enjoy yourselves
(But) a little while,
For that ye are sinners.

47. Ah woe, that Day
To the Rejecters of Truth !


48. And when it is said
To them, “Prostrate yourselves !”
They do not so.

49. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !

50. Then what Message,
After that,
Will they believe in?
(Abdullah,1983:1870).


THE STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF THE SEVENTY-SEVENTH SURAH,
AL-MURSALAT BY ABDULLAH YUSUF ALI

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

1. By the (Winds) Sent Forth
One after another
(To man’s profit);


Analysis: Verse one begins with the preposition “By”. Allah’s messages were spread via the Prophets. The (Winds) refer to the revelations that are spread through the Prophets. Thus, line one contains a metaphor. “The” definite article is used in “the (Winds)”. Line two is an idiom “one after another” that gives a continuity effect. Line three - “(To man’s profit)” - means the messages of Allah that the Prophets have brought are for man’s own good and one is asked to believe in them for man’s spiritual benefit. It is an appeal that the Day of Judgement is bound to come and we must prepare for it.
2. Which then blow violently
In tempestuous Gusts,


Analysis: “The Winds” from verse one become strong and violent as tornadoes - “Which then blow violently”. “In tempestuous Gusts” figuratively describes the violent strength of the wind. According to the Oxford dictionary, gust means a sudden, violent rush of wind. Thus, the effect of the wind blowing violently and in sudden bursts is put forth. Verse two continues the metaphor describing the great disturbances the Prophets caused as they were at their mission of spreading God’s messages. They destroyed the evil to build a good foundation of belief through Allah’s messages. Metaphorically, these winds are instrumental in making Allah's revelation accessible to listeners and we are asked to believe that His promise of mercy and justice in the Day of Judgement is indeed true.
3. And scatter (things)
Far and wide ;


Analysis: The metaphor continues with verse three describing the action of “the winds” which were sent forth by Allah. Verse three begins with the conjunction “and”. The Prophets spread Allah’s messages far and wide. “Far and wide” is another idiom. This idiom further describes the strength and force of “the wind” to be able to “scatter (things) far and wide". In other words, the Prophets proclaimed their truths (Allah’s messages) far and wide, without fear. They distribute Allah's mercies as the winds metaphorically distribute good seeds.
4. Then separate them,
One from another,


Analysis: “The Winds” metaphorically continue their mission. The Prophets, while at their mission of spreading Allah’s messages, sorted out believers and rebels who were against Allah’s messages. Verse four starts with the conjunction “then”. “One from another” is an idiom which denotes the distinguishing of two things. In this case, the believers and the rebels or disbelievers. They sort out the good from the evil among men.
5. Then spread abroad
A Reminder,


Analysis: After separating the believers from the disbelievers, a reminder is spread abroad. “Then” conjunction begins in verse five “Spread abroad” is an idiom which puts across the meaning of whether believers or disbelievers, all will receive a reminder. The Winds (Angels) are the agency through which Allah's messages and revelations are conveyed to the Prophets. In other words, the winds are powerful factors in the physical world, angels in the spiritual world and the Prophets in the human world connecting it with the spiritual world.
6. Whether of Justification
Or of Warning ; -


Analysis: Verse six then separates the believers and disbelievers in that the believers will receive a reminder of justification and the disbelivers will receive a reminder of warning. Justification refers to the reward for the believers and warning refers to the punishment for the disbelievers. Verse six begins with “whether” followed by introducing alternatives - Justification or Warning. Preposition “of” is repeated - of Justification or of Warning. Verses one to six are in the present tense which is timeless and universal. Allah's messages were conveyed through which just men are justified through repentance and evil men are warned of their sins.
7. Assuredly, what ye are
Promised must come to pass.


Analysis: Verse seven prepares one for a day that is bound to come - the Day of Judgement. “Ye” is used to refer to both believers and disbelievers. Verse seven leads one to verses eight to eleven which describe the signs of the Day of Judgement. Resurrection will be established.
8. Then when the stars
Become dim ;


Analysis: The first sign of the Day of Judgement described in this surah is in verse eight - “the stars become dim”. “Then” conjunction begins in verse eight. The stars lose their shine or lustre. There is “the” definite article in “the stars”.
9. When the heaven
Is cleft asunder ;


Analysis: When” is repeated - “when the stars become dim” in verse eight and “when the heaven is cleft asunder” in verse nine. There is “the” definite article in “the heaven”. “Cleft asunder” means torn to bits and pieces like in an explosion.
10. When the mountains are
Scattered (to the winds) as dust ;


Analysis: Verse ten continues to show a sign of the Day of Judgement. “When” is repeated as in verses eight and nine. There is “the” definite article in “the mountains”. The mountains will be uprooted and fly about in the wind like dust.
11. And when the messengers
Are (all) appointed a time
(To collect); -


Analysis: “And” conjunction begins in verse eleven. “When” is repeated in verses eight to eleven. There is “the” definite article in “the messengers”. “The messengers” refer to the Prophets who have all lived and died at different times. One of the signs of the Day of Judgement is that all the Prophets will gather at the same time. Verses eight to eleven are in the present tense which is timeless and universal.
12. For what Day are these
(Portents) deferred ?


Analysis: Verse twelve asks what these portents or signs in verses eight to eleven mark. The conjunction “For” is used to begin the question. The question in verse twelve leads one to the answer in verse thirteen.
13. For the Day of Sorting out.


Analysis: Verse thirteen answers verse twelve beginning with the conjunction “For” as well. “The Day of Sorting out” is equivalent in meaning as the Day of Judgement. “Sorting out” is used mainly to denote that there will be a separation of good deeds and evil deeds, believers and disbelievers. The Day of Judgement or the Day of Decision is when the good will then be completely separated from evil.
14. And what will explain
To thee what is
The Day of Sorting out?


Analysis: With the conjunction “and”, verse fourteen asks one what else could be told about the Day of Judgement - so much has been said so far already. “Thee” in line two is used to refer to both disbelievers and believers. The men who rejected the Truth and flourished on falsehood will find that in reality, they will be absolutely nowhere. They will be punished.
15. Ah woe, that Day
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This is a warning to the disbelievers to remind them of the Day of Judgement and telling them to believe. It sounds like a dirge on sin.
16. Did We not destroy
The men of old
(For their evil) ?


Analysis: Verses sixteen to eighteen describe Allah’s law which is timeless and universal - unchanging. Allah’s law is that sin and corruption prepares its own destruction. Verse sixteen tells one of those sinners who were destroyed before. Verse sixteen is in the past tense.
17. So shall We make
Later (generations)
Follow them.


Analysis: Verse seventeen begins with the conjunction “So” and tells one that sinners of the future will also be destroyed. “We” refers to Allah. “Them” refers to the sinners of the past. Verse seventeen is in the future tense.
18. Thus do We deal
With men of sin.


Analysis: Verse eighteen begins with the conjunction “thus” and tells one that the sinners are presently destroyed in the same way. “We” refers to God. Verse eighteen is in the present tense which is timeless and universal.
19. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the second time.
This warning is repeated ten times throughout this surah.
20. Have We not created
You from a fluid
(Held) despicable ? -


Analysis: Verses twenty to twenty-two remind one of man’s beginning. Verse twenty tells one of Allah’s creation of man at the time of conception. “We” refers to God. “You” refers to all - man. It is a reminder of man's humble beginnings and not to be arrogant in life and neglectful of the future.
21. The which We placed
In a place of rest
Firmly fixed,


Analysis: From the time of conception in verse twenty, one is reminded of the time the foetus stays and grows in the womb in verse twenty-one. “A place of rest” is a metaphor to denote the warmth, comfort and silent growth in the womb. “Firmly fixed” in line three is a metaphor that denotes protected and unshaken until the correct determined time comes which leads one to verse twenty-two. The period of roughly nine months and ten days is the period of gestation. Throughout our prenatal as well as post-natal life, there are wonderful and nice-balanced adjustments of which we are ourselves unconscious. We should therefore turn in love and gratitude to Allah.
22. For a period (of gestation)
Determined ?


Analysis: The time in the womb is determined to be about nine months and ten days which then is the time when man faces the world. Verse twenty-two tells one of the determined period of gestation when man remains in the womb. Verses twenty to twenty-two are in the past tense.
23. For We do determine
For We
Are the Best to determine (things)


Analysis: The conjunction “For” is repeated twice in this verse. The word “determine” is also repeated twice. “We” which refers to Allah is also repeated twice. Verse twenty-three tells one that Allah determines man’s birth and He rightfully determines man’s death. Verse twenty-three is in the present tense which is timeless and universal. Perhaps the life in the womb, in relation to the life after birth is an allegory for our probationary life in relation to the eternal life to come.
24. Ah woe, that Day!
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the third time in verse twenty-four.
25. Have We not made
The earth (as a place)
To draw together


Analysis: Verses twenty-five to twenty-seven then take man to look at the earth as a place where life and death happens, one leading to the other as verse twenty-three suggests. Verses twenty-five to twenty-seven further point out Allah’s creative activity and hence, His existence. “The” definite article in “the earth” and “a” indefinite article in “a place”. Verses twenty-five to twenty-seven form one long question.
26. The living and the dead,


Analysis: Both life and death happen on earth. The earth is a place where death and life, decay and growth, corruption and purification jostle together-- one often leading to the other. “The” definite article in “the living” and “the dead”. Verse twenty-six leads one to verse twenty-seven which tells one how Allah creates it in such a way that something that is not alive is able to give something to someone who is alive.
27. And made therein
Mountains standing firm
Lofty (in stature);
And provided for you
Water sweet (and wholesome)?


Analysis: Verse twenty-seven tells one of Allah’s creative activity and hence, His existence when it is evident that mountains-hard and solid, high in altitude - are able to distribute or provide man with pure delicious, sweet water in the form of rivers and springs. The conjunction “and” is used twice in lines one and four. The metaphor is describing the mountains as “standing firm, lofty (in stature)” suggests that these mountains are hard, solid and tall or high in altitude. The word, “wholesome”, suggests pure and untouched by man. If the wisdom and power of Allah can do so much before our eyes, we therefore, cannot reject His teaching of a still more wonderful future life after death. Verses twenty-five to twenty-seven are in the past tense.
28. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the fourth time.
29. (It will be said : )
“Depart ye to that
Which ye used to reject
As false!


Analysis: Verses twenty-nine to thirty-three are in speech form of Allah’s speech telling man about Hell. Verses twenty-nine to thirty-three are descriptions of Hell. “Ye” is used to refer to the disbelievers - those who reject the truth are invited to go to Hell.
30. “Depart ye to a shadow
(Of smoke ascending)
In three columns,


Analysis: Verses thirty to thirty three tells one what awaits in Hell. "three columns" suggests the smoke totally enveloping the sinners. The sinners, instead of reposing in cool shades, will only see the Blazing Fire and shadows of smoke in three columns-right, left and above.
31. (Which yields) no shade
Of coolness, and is
Of no use against
The fierce Blaze.


Analysis: Verse thirty-one tells one more about the Hell fire. Those “shadows of smoke” mentioned in verse thirty do not provide coolness. “The fierce Blaze” in line four is a metaphor suggesting the greatness and fearsome Hellfire. Indeed, there is no comfort or coolness.
32. “Indeed it throws about
Sparks ( huge) as Forts,


Analysis: Verse thirty-two tells one that “the fierce Blaze” mentioned in verse thirty-one throws about sparks that are so huge. “Throws about” is an idiom. The metaphor “Sparks (huge) as Forts” suggests the sparks as huge as buildings being thrown about or bursting into air.
33. “As if there were
(A string of) yellow camels
(Marching swiftly).”


Analysis: Verse thirty-three is another metaphor describing the sparks mentioned in verse thirty-two of the “the fierce Blaze” mentioned in verse thirty-one. The sparks that are thrown about are as huge as buildings. They are also described as “a string of yellow camels marching swiftly”. “Yellow” describes the colour of the fire, “string” and “marching swiftly” describe the long length, continuity and unending. Thus, verse thirty-three carries a metaphor indicating the colour and long, rapid succession of the sparks of Hellfire. Smoke with sparks may also assume fantastic shapes like long-necked camels. Verses twenty- nine to thirty-three are in the future tense.
34. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the fifth time.
35. That will be a Day
When they shall not
Be able to speak,


Analysis: Verse thirty-five further describes that on the Day of Judgement, “they” the disbelivers will not be able or allowed to speak.They will be dumbfounded and not in a position to put forward any valid defence or plea. Facts will speak too plainly against them.
36. Nor will it be
Open to them
To put forth pleas.


Analysis: Verse thirty-six begins with the conjunction “nor”. The disbelievers will not be allowed to speak as mentioned in verse thirty-five nor will they be allowed to make excuses for their wrong actions done before the Day of Judgement. The word “pleas” is often used the court of law. Thus, in this instance, Abullah Yusuf Ali has used the language of the law. Verses thirty-five and thirty-six are in the future tense.
37. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the sixth time.
38. That will be a Day
Of Sorting out ! We shall
Gather you together
And those before (you) !


Analysis: Verse thirty-eight tells that “We” or Allah will bring together all, and “those before you” meaning ancestors, on the Day of Judgement and the sinners are to receive punishment. You may use all your wisdom and that of your ancestors but you will not be able to defeat Allah and His plan.
39. Now, if ye have
A trick (or plot),
Use it against Me!


Analysis: Verse thirty-nine challenges all man’s wisdom and that of man’s ancestors as mentioned in verse thirty-eight, but no one will be able to defeat Allah and His wisdom. The plots against the Prophets were plots against Allah. Let them try to plot against Allah. They will only ruin themselves as their leaders did. Verses thirty-eight and thirty-nine are in the future tense.
40. Ah woe, that Day
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the seventh time.
SECTION 2

41. As to the Righteous
They shall be amidst
(Cool) shades and springs
(Of water).


Analysis: Verses forty-one to forty-three are descriptions of Paradise. Verse forty-one begins Section 2 of this surah. “They” refer to the believers or righteous and as opposed to the disbelievers, “they” shall be rewarded with “cool shades and springs of water”. This is in contrast to the triple shades of smoke for the sinners which neither give coolness or protection from the Blazing Fire.
42. And (they shall have)
Fruits, - all they desire.


Analysis: Verse forty-two begins with the conjunction “and” to continue the description of the reward for the believers. The believers will be rewarded with an abundance of fruits.
43. “Eat and drink ye
To your heart’s content :
For that ye worked
(Righteousness).


Analysis: Verse forty-three is Allah’s speech telling “Ye” the believers to eat the fruits mentoned in verse forty-two and drink the water from the springs mentioned in verse forty-one. The idiom “to your heart’s content” in line two suggests all that one desires. The conjunction “For” is used followed by the work of righteousness being the reason for the reward mentioned in verses forty-one to forty-three. Verses forty-one to forty-three are in the future tense.The fruits of righteousness are contentment in this life and the supreme bliss in the next life.
44. Thus do We certainly
Reward the Doers of Good.


Analysis: Verse forty-four begins with the conjunction “thus” and this verse underscores the fact that verses forty-one to forty-three is the reward Allah will give to the believers. Verse forty-four is in the present tense which is timeless and universal.
45. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the eighth time.
46. (O ye Unjust!)
Eat ye and enjoy yourselves
(But) a little while,
For that ye are sinners.


Analysis: Verse forty-six addresses the sinners to eat and enjoy themselves only for a little while on earth, that is, before the Day of Judgement. “Ye” refers to the sinners. The conjunctions “but” and “for” are used in lines three and four. The sinners are asked to believe and repent. But if they do not, even for the good things in this life will come to an evil end in the next life. Verse forty-six is in the present tense.
47. Ah Woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the ninth time.
48. And when it is said
To them, “Prostrate yourselves !”
They do not so.


Analysis: The conjunction “and” begins verse forty-eight. This verse contains a speech from Allah telling man to bow down to Him in humility - “prostrate yourselves!” But the disbelievers do not. “They” and “them” refer to the disbelievers. Prostration is a symbol of humility and a desire to get nearer to Allah by prayers. Verse forty-eight is in the present tense.
49. Ah woe, that Day,
To the Rejecters of Truth !


Analysis: This warning to the disbelievers is repeated for the tenth and last time in this surah.
50. Then what Message
After that,
Will they believe in ?


Analysis: Verse fifty is the last verse in this surah. Verse fifty begins with the conjunction “then”. “That” in line two is an anaphoric pronoun referring to the message that has been given in this whole surah which is plain and clear Guidance that “they” the disbelievers refuse to accept. They refuse to believe in the Guidance of the Quran.Verse fifty ends with the question asking the disbelievers what else could make them believe or accept the Truth. Verse fifty is in the future tense.

CONCLUSION

For surah Al-Mursalat taken from the translated version by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the distinctive features that were discerned about this particular surah is that this surah is divided into two sections. The beginning of the second section is clearly stated - SECTION 2. Each verse is numbered one after another and every line begins with a capital letter.
For example, verse forty-one marks the beginning of SECTION 2. It is clearly stated SECTION 2 just before verse forty-one. Each line of the verse begins with a capital letter. The two sections found in this surah are :
i)Verses one to forty
ii)Verses forty-one to fifty
Each of the two sections of this surah was examined closely to detect the linguistic features that were present through a stylistic analysis. A variety of different linguistic features were found. Some examples of linguistic features found in this surah are as follows:
Verses sixteen to eighteen describe Allah’s law which is timeless and universal-unchanging. Allah’s law is that sin and corruption prepares its own destruction. Verse sixteen tells one of the sinners of the past who Allah had destroyed. Verse sixteen is in the past tense. Verse seventeen tells one of the sinners of the future who Allah will destroy. Verse seventeen is in the future tense. Verse eighteen tells one of the sinners of today who are also destroyed by Allah. Verse eighteen is in the present tense which is timeless and universal. In the three verses, “We” is used to refer to Allah. Verse nineteen is a warning to the disbelievers. This warning is repeated for the second time in this verse and it is repeated ten times in the whole surah which defines the importance of its message. For the seventy-seventh surah, Al-Mursalat, taken from the translated version by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the whole surah is arranged in 2 sections: a)verses 1-40 and b)verses 41-50. Each section is analysed separately.
With regard to language and style variation of the first section (verses1-40), the language appears to be Classical English, adult, religious-class, educated language. The word "ye" instead of you gives the Classical English effect. For example, in verse seven ‘ye’ is used.
The medium is written language but contains the speeches of Allah to the disbelievers. For example, in verses twenty-nine to thirty-three, there are representations of speech activity.
The tenor is formal. For example, verses twenty to twenty-two carries the description of conception, pregnancy and birth all described in the most polite language.
The domain is the language of instruction to believe in Allah and the Day of Judgement. For example, in verses fifteen, nineteen, twenty-four, twenty-eight, thirty-four, thirty-seven and forty. In verse thirty-six, the domain is language of the law with the use of the word “pleas”.
There is accessibility in the description of the sparks of the Hellfire-
"Sparks as huge as Forts"


and
"A string of yellow camels marching swiftly".


Readers are familiar with the words like forts and camels to provide a vivid picture, in verses thirty-two and thirty-three.
With regard to language and style variation of the second section (verses
41-50), the language is Classical English, adult, religious-class, educated language.The word "ye" instead of you gives that Classical English effect. For example, in verse forty-three, “ye” is used.
The medium is written but contains the speech of Allah to the disbelievers. For example, in verse forty-eight when Allah commanded them to prostrate but they do not.
The tenor is formal except for verse forty-eight, when the disbelievers disobeyed Allah by not prostrating before Allah. This disobedience makes the tenor impolite, informal.
In verse forty-eight, there is an order or command, a slightly different form of language of instruction. The domain is the language of instruction to believe in Allah and the Day of Judgement with the repetitions of the same warning ten times throughout the surah. For example, in verses forty-five, forty-seven and forty-nine.

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