From Introduction to the Qur'an


Rhymes.- The Qur'an, then, presents itself in the form of suras divided into verses. The questions arise whether the suras are unities, and, if so, whether they show any organic structure; or, if they are not unities, whether we can discern how they have been built up. In approaching these questions, if we follow the method of starting from externals, it will be well to be clear as to the nature of the rhyme that marks the close of verses.

There is no attempt in the Qur'an to produce the strict rhyme of poetry. In an Arabic poem each verse had to end in the same rhyme-consonant surrounded by the same vowels-an interchange of i and u was allowed, though considered a weakness. Short, inflectional vowels following the rhyme-consonant were usually retained, and, if retained, were pronounced long at the end of the line. Only in very exceptional cases is it possible to find this type of rhyme in the Qur'an. What we find is, rather, assonance, in which short, inflectional vowels at the end of a verse are disregarded, and for the rest, the vowels, particularly their length, and the fall of the accent, that is, the form of the end word of the verse, are of more importance than the consonants. Of course the consonant may remain the same, but that is not essential. Thus in CXII the four verses rhyme in -ad, if we disregard the inflections; in CV we have the rhyme in -il, if we disregard end vowels and allow u in place of i in the last verse. In CIII r is rhyme-consonant, but the inflections vary and have to he disregarded, though, for pronunciation, we require a short vowel sound of some kind after the r, or, alternatively, a short vowel before it which is not in the form. In LIV, where r as the rhyme-consonant is carried through fifty-five verses, we have not only to disregard the end vowels but to accept variations of the preceding vowel, i and u and even a occurring in that position; the assonance is fail, that is, an open syllable with a short vowel that takes the accent, followed by a syllable with a short vowel closed by r that thus becomes a rhyme-consonant. On the other hand, the accusative termination -an is often retained, being probably pronounced as -a; for example in XVIII, LXXII, and C, where the accusative termination seems to be essential to the rhyme. Further, the feminine termination -atun dropped not only its inflections but also its t sound; cf. CIV, where, if we drop end vowels and pronounce the feminine termination as a or ah, we get a consistent assonance formed by an accented syllable followed by a short unaccented syllable and the ending, that is fa'alah, in which both vowels and consonants are variable, but the place of the accent and the ending -ah remain the same. The actual rhyme-words are: lumazah, 'dddadah, kkhladah, al-hutamah, al-hutamah, al-miigadah, al- 'df'idah, mu'sadah, mumaddadah; this illustrates the retention of the same sound formation with variation of consonant, and even of vowel. In XCIX we have a similar assonance, formed by a long accented a, followed by a short syllable, and the feminine suffix -ha, that is, -dlaha, the -ha being in one verse replaced by the plural suffix -hum. The assonance of XLVII is the same, but with greater variation of suffix.

The structure of the Arabic language, in which words fall into definite types of forms, was favorable to the production of such assonances. But even in the short suras we find a tendency to rely for the assonance on grammatical terminations, for example, the suffix -ha as in XCIX above, and in XCI assonance -iha. In the longer suras this tendency increases. Thus in LV the assonance depends very largely upon the dualending -an. Fairly often in the longer suras, though hardly ever carried through unbroken, we find the assonance -a(l), that is, a long a vowel followed by a (variable) consonant; so in parts of II, III, XIV, XXXVIII (almost complete), XXXIX, XL, and sporadically elsewhere. But in the great majority of the suras of any length, and even in some of the short ones, the prevailing assonance is -i(l), that is, a long i or u sound (these interchange freely) followed by a consonant. This depends very largely on the plural endings of nouns and verbs, -an and -in, varied by words of the form fail, one of the commonest forms in Arabic. By far the greater part of the Qur'an shows this assonance.

With an assonance depending thus upon grammatical endings there may occasionally be doubt as to whether it was really intended. The varying systems of verse numbering depend to some extent, though not entirely, upon varying judgment as to where the rhyme was intended to fall in particular cases. But that assonance at the end of verses was intended and deliberately sought for can hardly be questioned. In passages with short verses and frequently recurring assonances the intention is unmistakable. But even in suras in which the verses are long, we find special turns of phrase employed in order to produce the assonance. Thus the preposition min with a plural participle is often used where a participle in the singular would have sufficiently given the sense; so that we get phrases like "one of the unbelievers" instead of simply "an unbeliever" because the former gives the rhyming plural ending, while the latter does not: for example, 111.53, 75;VII. 103. Kanu with an imperfect or participle in the plural often takes the place of a simple perfect plural; for example in 11.54, VII.35. Or an imperfect plural may be used where a perfect might have been expected, as in V.74. Occasionally a phrase is added at the end of a verse that is really otiose as regards sense but supplies the assonance, as in XII. I O;XXI.68, 79, 104. Sometimes the sense is strained in order to produce the rhyme, for instance in IV, where statements regarding Allah are inappropriately thrown into the past by the use of kana in front of them, the accusative ending on which the rhyme depends being thereby obtained. The form of a proper name is occasionally modified for the sake of rhyme, as Sinin, XCV, Ilyasin, XXXVII.130.

Rhyme-phrases.-Statements regarding Allah occur frequently at the end of verses, especially in the long suras, where the verses also are of some length. Where the verses are short, the word or phrase that carries the rhyme forms as a rule an integral part of the grammatical structure and is necessary to the sense. But in some passages we find that the phrases that carry the rhyme can be detached without dislocating the structure of what remains, as in XLI.8 ff. Sometimes, in fact, the rhyme phrase inter rupts the sense, as in VI.142 ff.; but this is exceptional. Usually the phrase is appropriate enough but stands apart from the rest of the verse. These detachable rhyme phrases-most of which carry the assonance in -1(i)- tend to be repeated, and to assume a set form that recurs either verbally or with slight changes in wording. Thus, inna ft dhalika la-'ayatan li-l- mu'minin often closes the account of a "sign." 'Ala llahi fa-l-yatawakkal il-mu'minun (il-mutawakkilun) occurs nine times. Wa-llahu 'alim hakim occurs twelve times, or, if we include slight modifications, eighteen times. There are other combinations of adjectives referring to Allah that are frequently used in the same way. Perhaps the most frequent of all such phrases is inna llaha 'ala kulli shai'in gadir, "verily Allah over everything hath power," which is used six times in II, four times in III, four times in V, and some eighteen times in other suras. To have a stock of such phrases was no doubt a convenience for a busy man who had adopted a rhyming style of utterance. But there is also a certain effectiveness in their use. These sententious phrases regarding Allah are most often used to close a deliverance, and serve at once to press home a truth by repetition and to clinch the authority of what is laid down. They act as a kind of refrain.

Refrains.-The use of actual refrain, in the sense of the same words occurring at more or less regular intervals, is sparse in the Qur'an. It is anything but effectively used in LV, where the same words "Which then of the benefits of your Lord will ye twain count false?" occur in verses 12, 15, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, and from there on in practically each alternate verse, without regard to the sense, which they frequently interrupt. The same tendency to increasing frequency and disregard of sense appears in the use of the words, "Woe that day to those who count false!" as a kind of refrain before sections of Sura LXXVII. Didactically effective, on the other hand, is the use of refrain in the groups of stories of former prophets that occur in various suras. The stories in these groups not only show similarities of wording throughout, but are often closed by the same formula; cf. those in XI, XXVI, XXXVII, and LIV.

Internal Rhymes.-In addition to the rhymes that occur at the end of the verses, we can occasionally detect rhymes, different from the end rhymes, occurring in the middle or elsewhere in the verse. These give the impression of a varied arrangement of rhymes. R. Geyer pointed out some of these in an article in the Gdttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen (1901), and argued that stanzas with such varied rhymes were some times deliberately intended in the Qur'an. If that were so, we should expect the same form to recur. But in going through Geyer's examples we do not get the impression that any preexisting forms of stanza were being reproduced, or that any fixed forms of stanza at all were being used. There are no fixed patterns. All that can he said is that in some passages we do find such mixtures of rhymes, just as, quite often, we find, within a sura, breaks in the regular recurring rhyme at the end of the verses. But, as we shall see, these facts are to be otherwise explained.

Strophes.-A similar argument applies to the contention of D. H. Mueller in his book, Die Propheten in ihrer ursprunglichen Form (Vienna, 1895). He sought to show that composition in strophes was characteristic of prophetic literature, in the Old Testament as well as in the Qur'an. From the Qur'an he adduced many passages that appear to support such a view, for example, LVI. But if we are to speak of strophic form, we expect some regularity in the length and arrangement of the strophes. Mueller, however, failed to show that there was any such regularity. What his evidence does show is that many suras of the Qur'an fall into short sections or paragraphs. But these are not of fixed length, nor do they seem to follow any pattern of length. Their length is determined not by any consideration of form, but by the subject or incident treated in each.

Short Pieces.-Interpreted in this way, Mueller's contention brings out a real characteristic of Qur'an style. It is disjointed. Only very seldom do we find in it evidence of sustained unified composition at any great length. The longest such pieces are the addresses found in some of the later suras. The address before Uhud has become broken up and is now difficult to unravel from the middle of III. But the address after the Day of the Trench and the overthrow of the Quraizah, XXXIII.9-27, and the assurance to the disappointed Muslims after the truce of Hudaibiyah, XLVIII.18-29, may be taken as examples of fairly lengthy pieces evidently composed for one special purpose. Some of the narratives, too, in the Qur'an, especially accounts of Moses and of Abraham, run to considerable length. But they tend to fall into separate incidents, instead of being recounted straightforwardly. This is particularly true of the longest of all, the story of Joseph in XII. In other suras, even where we can trace some connection in thought, this paragraph arrangement is very evident. In LXXX, for instance, we can persuade ourselves that a line of thought governs the collection of the separate pieces, running from the Prophet's dissatisfaction with his cajoling of the wealthy, through the sublimity of the message that ought to commend itself, but is thwarted by man's ingratitude for religious and temporal benefits, up to the description of the final Judgment day. But one has a stronger impression of the distinctness of the separate pieces than of their unity; and one of them, verses 24-32, bears evident traces of having been fitted into a context to which it did not originally belong. In the longer suras devoted largely to political and legal matters we find, as is natural enough, that subjects vary, and, while we do find here and there considerable blocks of legislation devoted to one subject, for example, the rules regarding divorce in 11.228 ff., we do not get the impression that an effort has been made to produce a sura dealing systematically with any subject. One sura may contain passages dealing with many different subjects, and the same subject may be treated in several different suras.

The Qur'an itself tells us that it was delivered in separate pieces, XVII.107, XXV34. Neither of these passages tells us anything as to the length of the pieces. But Muslim Tradition, which assigns different 'occasions ` to passages consisting of a verse or two, favors the assumption that the pieces were short. We were led to this by consideration of Muhammad's method of composition. It corresponds to what we actually find in the Qur'an. Not only are there a considerable number of short pieces standing alone as separate suras, but the longer suras contain many short pieces that are complete in themselves, and could be removed without serious derangement of the context. Consideration of the passages introduced by formulae of direct address will show that. I1.173-175, for instance, deals with retaliation; it comes indeed among other passages addressed to the believers and dealing with other subjects, but it has no necessary connection with them. V.14 stands quite by itself, clear enough, if only we knew the event to which it refers, but if it had been absent we should never have suspected that something had fallen out. XLIX. 13 may be quoted as illustrating the form of these passages: "0 ye people, We have created you of male and female and made you races and tribes, that ye may show mutual recognition; verily, the most noble of you in Allah's eyes is the most pious; verily Allah is knowing, wellinformed." Here, following the address, we have an indication of the subject that has called for treatment, then comes a declaration regarding it, and finally the passage is closed by a sententious maxim. This form is found not only in passages with direct address, but in a multitude of others. They begin by stating their occasion; a question has been asked, the unbelievers have said or done something, something has happened, or some situation has arisen. The matter is dealt with shortly, in usually not more than three or four verses; at the end comes a general statement, often about Allah, which rounds off the passage. Once we have caught this lilt of Qur'an style it becomes fairly easy to separate the suras into the separate pieces of which they have been built up, and this is a great step toward the interpretation of the Qur'an. It is not, of course, to be too readily assumed that there is no connection between these separate pieces. There may, or there may not, be a connection in subject and thought, and where that is absent there may still be a connection in time. On the other hand, there may be no connection in thought between contiguous pieces, or the sura may have been built up of pieces of different dates that have been fitted into a sort of scheme.

Style of the Qur'an.-It is only when we have unravelled these short units of composition that enter into the structure of the suras that we can speak of the style of the Qur'an. The insistence so frequently met with on its disjointedness, its formlessness, its excited, unpremeditated, rhapsodical character, rests too much on a failure to discern the natural divisions into which the suras fall, and also to take account of the displacements and undesigned breaks in connection, which, as we shall see, are numerous. We have to remember, too, that Muhammad disclaimed being a poet, and evidently had no ear for poetry. I He claimed that he had messages to convey. We have to seek, therefore, for didactic, rather than for poetic or artistic, forms.

Slogans.-One of these forms, the prevailing one in later suras, has been spoken of above. But the simplest form of the kind is the short statement introduced by the word "say." There are about 250 of these scattered throughout the Qur'an. Sometimes they stand singly; here and there we find groups of them standing together, though really quite distinct from each other, for instance in VI.56 ff.; sometimes they are worked into the context of a passage. These statements are of various kinds, answers to questions, retorts to arguments or jeers of his opponents, statements of Muhammad's own position; there are one or two prayers, for example 111.25; there are two credal statements for his followers to repeat, the word "say" being in the plural, 11. 130, XXIX.45, to which may be added CXII, though the verb is singular; finally, there are a number of phrases suitable for repetition in various circumstances, such as, " Allah's guidance is the guidance," 11. 114; "Allah is my portion; on Him let the trusting set their trust," XXXIX.39.

It is evident that these phrases were designed for repetition; they were not composed originally as parts of suras, they were of the nature of slogans devised for public use, and found their way into suras later. Where a context is given, usually in the later parts of the Qur'an, we get a hint of how they were produced. A question has been asked, 11. 185, 211;V.6;VIII.1; and so on, or some argument or jeer has come to the Prophet's knowledge, and he has thought over it until the "`suggestion" of the answer has come. He has "sought guidance" and has been told what to say. The statement thus becomes a part of one of the paragraphs already described as characteristic of Qur'an style.

These slogans are difficult to date, and it is doubtful if any of those that appear in the Qur'an are very early, though some of them may quite well be so. But they are so common that the presumption is that they were a constant element in Muhammad's methods of propaganda, and that from the first he made use of carefully prepared formulas for repetition.

The use of assonance in such formulas would be natural. But those that actually occur hardly support the idea that it was by this route that assonance became a feature of Muhammad's deliverances. Most of them fall naturally enough into the rhyme of the sura in which they occur, but few of them rhyme within themselves. XXXIV.45 and XLI.44 possibly do, and CII.1, 2 looks like an early rhymed slogan, though not preceded by "say." It is more likely that the suggestion of rhyme came from the saj` of the soothsayers.

Kahin-Form.-Muhammad protested against being classed as a soothsayer, LII.29, LXX.42, and, as the form and content of his deliverances developed, the disclaimer was justified; but to begin with, his position was similar enough to that of a kahin to suggest that he may have taken a hint from the soothsayers as to the form of his utterances. Actually, there are five passages in the Qur'an that are quite in kahin manner, XXXVII.1- 4, (5); LI.1-6; LXXVILI-7; LXXIX.1-14; C.1-6. In these we have a number of oaths by females of some kind, forming a jingle, leading up to a statement which does not rhyme with the oaths. The statement is mostly quite short; but in LXXIX it is of some length and may have been extended. The feminine participles are usually thought to apply to angels; the Qur'an itself gives some support to this, XXXVII.165. But this is probably an afterthought, and it may be doubted if originally any definite meaning was attached to these asseverations. The soothsayers, no doubt, often used a string of cryptic oaths without much sense, simply to prepare the way for the statement and make it impressive.

Asserverative Passages.-Muhammad apparently found these random oaths unsatisfactory. LXXXIX.1-4, which is so cryptic as to be unintelligible, may indicate this. LII.1-8 still shows the same device of making the statement stand out by having a different assonance from the oaths, but the oaths, though still difficult to interpret, had evidently a clear enough sense in the prophet's own mind. In other asseverative passages, of which there are not a few,2 the oaths are chosen as having some bearing on the statement to which they lead up, and this statement in the same assonance makes an effective close to the passage. The best example is perhaps XCI.1-10, where four pairs of oaths by contrasted things, sun and moon, day and night, heaven and earth, and what formed the soul and implanted in it its wickedness and piety, lead up to the statement of the contrast between him who purifies his soul and him who corrupts it. This asseverative style seems to have gradually been discarded. There are a number of passages where a single oath appears at the beginning, but in pasages certainly Medinan oaths hardly appear at all.

"When" Passages.-A modification of the asseverative passage is seen in the use of a number of temporal clauses, introduced by idha or yawma, leading up to a statement pressing home the fact of the Judgment upon the conscience. In one passage, LXXV.26-30, it is a death scene that is described in the temporal clauses, but usually it is the Last Day that is conjured up by a selection from its awe-inspiring phenomena. In LXXXIV. 1-6 the statement of the main clause is left unrhymed, but in all the others it has the same rhyme as the clauses that lead up to it. The longest of these passages is LXXXI.1-14, where twelve idha clauses lead up to the statement: " A soul will know what it has presented," that is, the deeds laid to its account. The effectiveness of such a form is even more evident in some of the shorter pieces, and there can be no doubt that they were carefully designed for repetition to impress the conscience of hearers.3

Dramatic Scenes.-This homiletic purpose is evident throughout the Qur'an. The piling up of temporal clauses did not continue, but at all stages of the Qur'an the scenes of the Judgment and the future life are evoked, not for any speculative purpose, but in order to impress the conscience and clinch in argument. With all the details which the Qur'an gives of the future abodes of the blessed and the damned, we nowhere get a complete description. Where such a picture seems to have been attempted, as in LV, LXXVI, and LXXXIII, the attempt appears to break down in confusion. On the other hand, we get short well-polished pieces describing luscious attractions or lurid terrors. The same applies to the descriptions of the Judgment; Muhammad evidently is interested in these scenes not for their own sake but for their homiletic value. Only once or twice does he make any attempt to describe the theophany, and it is not sustained, XXXIX.67 ff., LXXXIX.23 f. Attention should, however, be called to the dramatic quality of many of these scenes, which is often unrecognized, but which is really very effective. Some of them are difficult to understand, because, being designed for oral recitation, they do not indicate by whom the various speeches are made; that was left to be made clear by gesture or change of voice as the passage was delivered. As examples may be cited, L.19-25 and XXXVII.48-59; in both of these passages we have to use our imagination to supply the accompanying action of the speeches, but are rewarded by little dramatic scenes which must have been very telling if delivered with dramatic action. This dramatic quality is, in fact, a pervading characteristic of Qur'an style. Direct speech is apt to be "interjected" at any point, and we have to imagine the personages spoken of in the narrative as expressing themselves in words. If, for instance, we look at the story of Moses in XX, we find that more space is occupied by the spoken words of the actors than by actual narrative. Even where narrative does predominate, the story is hardly ever told straightforwardly, but tends to fall into a series of short word-pictures, the story advancing incident by incident, and the intervening links being left to the imagination of the hearers.

Narratives and Parables.-In narratives, too, the homiletic element is apt to intrude. Thus in the story of Joseph in XII, we find every now and then an aside introduced to make clear the intention of Allah in what happened. This homiletic element is also apt to intrude unduly into Qur'an mathals or parables. The best of these is the parable of the Blighted Garden in LXVIII; that of the Two Owners of Gardens is less clear and more didactic, XVIII.31-42. Others are little more than expanded similes, XIV.29 ff., XVI.77 f., XVIII.43 f., XXX.27, XXXIX.30. That of the Unbelieving Town, XXXVI. 12 ff., is difficult to classify; it is perhaps a simile expanded into a story.

Similes.-The Qur'an contains a good number of similes. These occur in all contexts. In descriptions of the Last Day, when the heavens are rolled up like a scroll, XXI. 104, when the people are like moths blown about, and the mountains are like carded wool, CI.3, 4, the similes are sometimes borrowed with the rest of the material, but the Prophet had at all of his career a gift of coining vivid and sometime grimly humorous comparisons. Jews who have the Torah but do not profit by it are compared to an ass loaded with books, LXII.5. Some who in the early days in Medina made advances to Muhammad and then drew back are likened to those who have lit a fire that has then gone out and left them more bewildered in the darkness than ever, 11.16; cf. 18 f. Polytheists who imagine other gods besides Allah are like the spider weaving its own frail house, XXIX.40. The works of unbelievers, from which they hope to benefit at the Judgment, are like ashes blown away by the wind, XIV.21, or like a mirage that appears to be water, but, when one comes to it, turns out to be nothing, XXIV.39. People who pray to gods other than Allah are like those who stretch out their hands to water, which, however, never reaches their month, XIII.15; the prayer of unbelieving Quraish at the Kalbah is only whistling and clapping of hands, VIII.35. Lukewarm supporters, asked for their opinion and getting up to speak, no doubt hesitatingly, are compared to logs of wood propped up, LXIII.4. For other comparisons, see 11.166, 263, 266, 267; 111.113; VII.175; X.25; XVIII.43; LVII.19; LXXIV.5 1. Where the simile is complicated by an attempt at allegory, the result is not so happy, XXX.27, XXXIX.30.

Metaphors.-Metaphors are still more common. T. Sabbagh4 has collected well over four hundred metaphorical uses of words. Many of these, however, were, no doubt, already so much a matter of course as to be no longer felt as metaphorical. It is not easy to say how far the Qur'an added new metaphors to the language. The number of commercial terms transferred to the religious sphere is noteworthy.5 It is, of course, only what might be expected from Muhammad's upbringing, and his taking up his mission in a commercial town, but it did help to stamp its legalistic character upon Islam. The deeds of men are recorded in a book; the Judgment is the reckoning; each person receives his account; the balance is set up, and men's deeds are weighed; each soul is held in pledge for the deeds committed; if a man's actions are approved, he receives his reward, or his hire; to support the Prophet's cause is to lend to Allah. From Bedouin life come the designation of the delights of Paradise as nuzul, "receptionfeast," and the application of the verb dalla, "to go astray," to those who follow false gods. The application of bodily functions to spiritual matters is almost unavoidable; thus unbelievers are deaf, unable to hear, blind, unable to see; they cannot discern the truth; they have veils over their hearts, heaviness in their ears; they are in darknesses. The revelation is guidance and light, and the function of a messenger is to lead people out of the darknesses into the light. Doubtful supporters are said to have disease in their hearts; after their conduct at Uhud they are dubbed munafigin, "jinkers," "those who dodge back into their holes like mice."

Borrowed Metaphors and Words.-Many of these metaphors can be paralleled in Jewish and Christian literature. It must not, however, be too readily assumed that that is proof of their having been borrowed. Some of them are so obvious that they may quite well have been employed independently. Borrowed words, on the other hand, generally show their foreign origin by some peculiarity. That the Qur'an contains a number of words that are not native Arabic was, a little reluctantly, recognized by Muslim scholars, though, in their lack of knowledge of other languages, they often failed to elucidate their origin. Modern scholarship has devoted a good deal of attention to these words, and with wider knowledge of the languages and dialects prevailing in the Near East in pre-Islamic times has for the most part succeeded in tracing their source. Here again, however, we must be on our guard against assuming that every word of foreign origin used in the Qur'an was by that use introduced into Arabic. Apart from proper names, Dr. Jeffery6 has collected some 275 words that have been regarded as of foreign origin. The majority of these, however, can be shown to have been in use in Arabic in pre-Islamic times, and many of them had become regular Arabic words. Of only about seventy can we say that the use was new, or that they were used in new senses. Of these seventy, half come from Christian languages, many from Syriac and a few from Ethiopic; some twenty-five come from Hebrew or JewishAramaic; the rest, of little religious importance for the most part, come from Persian, Greek, or unknown sources. It must, however, be remem bered that between Syriac and Jewish-Aramaic the decision is often difficult, and the exact provenance of some of these words is still in dispute.

Language.-That there occur unfamiliar words and words used in an unfamiliar sense is shown by the fact that explanations are sometimes added. But it is only natural to assume that the Qur'an was delivered in the language of the people so far as possible, and that even these borrowed words were already known to Muhammad's followers from their intercourse with Jews and Christians. As a matter of fact, the language of the Qur'an, so far as we can judge, is on the whole the classical Arabic language. We have seen that in assonance at the end of verses inflectional vowels were dropped and the feminine ending modified, as in colloquial speech. How far this was done in the middle of the verses, we have no means of knowing. For, as the Qur'an is now pointed and recited, these vowels and terminations are strictly exhibited and pronounced. This may be due to later revision and assimilation to the classical poetry, as Vollers7 argues, and many dialectical forms may have. been removed in the process. A few irregular forms, which we may perhaps assume to be colloquial or dialectical, still remain, for example,'yazzakka for yatazakka (LXXX.3, 7), yadhdhakkaru for yatadhakkaru (11.272, 111.5, LXXX.4), iddaraka for tadaraka (VII.36, XXVII.68).

The style of the Qur'an is held to be unique and inimitable. It certainly is characteristic and unmistakable, in spite of its variations from sura to sura and from section to section.8 Its artistic, dramatic, pictorial, imaginative qualities have often been lost sight of in theological treatment of the `the inimitability' of the Qur'an, but they have always exercised a spell upon the Muslim worshiper.


Revisions and Alterations

We have seen that the unit of composition in the Qur'an is not the sura, but the short piece. The suras, except the very short ones, have been constructed rather than composed. The question then arises whether they were put together by Muhammad, or by those who collected the Qur'an after his death. The tradition as to the collection of the Qur'an seems to leave the latter possibility open, and there are even special traditions that ascribe the placing of certain passages to Zaid b. Thabit. On the whole, however, tradition seems to take it for granted that the suras were found much in their present form. The question is one that has really never been thoroughly discussed, and which we shall probably never be able to answer with complete certainty. There is, however, a great deal of evidence that the Prophet himself had more to do with the compiling of the suras than has been usually assumed. Some general considerations already mentioned argue against the collectors having had a free hand in the matter. The great variation in the lengths of the suras is hardly to be accounted for by difference of subject or rhyme or form, though that may explain why some of the short pieces were kept as separate suras. The occurrence of the bismillah, which we found reason to think belonged to the composition, would mark at least the beginning of a sura. The occurrence of the mysterious letters also seemed to imply that not only suras, but also groups of suras, were already in existence when the Qur'an came to be arranged in its present order. The existence of suras is borne out, too, by the challenge the Prophet gave to his opponents that, if they believed that he had invented the Qur'an, they should produce ten suras like it, XI.16. He must, at that time, have had at least ten pieces of the nature of suras that he could produce if the challenge were taken up. The date is indeterminate, but is probably not later than early Medinan times, and many other suras may have taken shape within the Prophet's subsequent lifetime. But the most conclusive proof of the Prophet's part in the compiling of the suras comes from a detailed study of their structure, which discloses evidences of revisions and alterations such as could hardly have been made without his authority, and for which we can, in many cases, assign a reason in his own changing circumstances and aims.

That passages were not only placed in certain suras, but were sometimes adapted to their position in them, is shown by the occurrence of hidden rhymes. The real explanation of what led Geyer to the assumption of a kind of sonnet formation is that passages that had originally rhymed in one assonance have been adapted to stand in a sura, the assonance of which is different. For example, XXIII.12-16 rhyme in -a (l), the assonance of the sura as a whole; V.14, however, is long, and breaks up into five short verses rhyming in -ah, with a rhyme phrase added carrying the 4(1) assonance, but not entering into the structure of the verse. The rhyme -ah can be found also in verses 12 and 13 by dropping the end words of each, and this can he done with advantage to the sense. Thus we get in verses 12-14 a complete little piece rhyming in -ah describing the generation of man as a sign of Allah's creative power. This has been fitted into the surah by adding rhyme phrases and verses 15, 16, which speak of the resurrection. The passage that follows, XXIII.17-22, has been similarly dealt with. The rhyme phrases are detachable, and, when they have been removed, traces of an assonance in fail can be found underneath. Quite a number of other passages have been treated in this way.9

Attention may be called to a few cases in which the rhyme of the sura changes. The beginning of III rhymes in -a(l), as does also the end; the middle, however, has the rhyme in -1(l). Near the point at which the change occurs stands a passage, verses 30 ff., dealing with the story of Mary and Jesus, which has originally rhymed in -d(l) but into which phrases have been inserted to carry the rhyme -1(l). It is as if a portion with the latter rhyme had been inserted into a sura that had originally rhymed in -a(l) and an attempt had been made to dovetail the two pieces together at the start. The impression is strengthened it we notice that the rhyme -F(l) occurs at the end of verse 16, carried by a phrase the construction of which causes some difficulty and which leads over to verse 20 f. rather than to verses 17 f. In XIV also the rhyme changes in the middle of the sura and at the junction there is a passage, verses 29 ff., in which the original rhyme has been altered. In XIII something similar appears to have happened at the beginning, verses 2-4, and In XIX near the middle, verses 52-58, 59, but these cases are not quite so clear.

There are many passages in which the rhyme phrases can be detached without revealing an older rhyme underneath. In these cases it is not quite so certain that revision has taken place, for, as we have seen, the detachable rhyme phrase often appears as the mark of the close of a passage. When, however, it appears at the end of a number of consecutive verses, as in VI.95 ff., it is reasonable to assume that it has been inserted into an originally unrhymed passage in order to give it the rhyme of the sura. In two cases this seems to have been done with a list of names, VI.84 ff. and XXXVIII.45 ff.; cf. also XIX.52-58.

Nor is this the only way in which passages have been adapted. VI.142-145 cannot be grammatically construed as they stand, but by taking the first part of each verse we get a list of Allah's bounties in pro duce of the soil and animals; into this, sentences have been introduced combating heathen food taboos. In VII.55 f. the sign of Allah's revival of dead land and the varying response of different soils-perhaps a simile of the varying response of men to the divine message-has been transformed by inserted sentences, marked by a sudden change of pronoun, into a corroboration of the resurrection.

If passages could be adapted to their place in a sura, they could also be adapted to the needs of a different situation. The Qur'an itself practically tells us that such revisions were made, for we are told that Satan may influence a prophet's formulation of his message, but Allah adjusts his signs and abrogates what Satan has thrown in, XXII.51 ff. And the Prophet is assured that if he is made to forget a verse, he will be given a similar or a better one, 11.100. Muslim theology, too, founding on these and other passages, has always recognized that a deliverance may be modified or completely annulled by a subsequent one. 10 This is usually regarded as applying to separate deliverances, but XXII.51 ff. seems to imply that alterations were made upon actual passages, and examination of the Qur'an shows that both methods of revision were freely used.

Now, it is no doubt possible to revise a passage so carefully that no sign of patching remains, but as a rule a critical reader will detect the modification from some unevenness in the style. As a matter of fact, there are many such roughnesses in the Qur'an. There are not only hidden rhymes and rhyme phrases not woven into the texture of the passage, but there are abrupt changes of rhyme, and repetition of the rhyme word or phrase in adjoining verses. Abrupt changes of subject are natural to the paragraph style of the Qur'an, but often we find a quite extraneous subject intruding into a passage apparently meant to be homogeneous. Or the same subject will be treated in somewhat different ways in neighboring verses, often with repetition of words and phrases. There are breaks in grammatical construction that trouble the commentators. There are abrupt changes in the length of verses, and sudden changes of dramatic situation involving changes of pronoun from singular to plural, or from second to third person and vice versa. Sometimes apparently contradictory statements appear side by side. Passages of different dates stand together, and late phrases enter into earlier verses. So common are these things in the Qur'an that they have often been regarded as characteristic of its style not calling for further study, but they certainly demand an explanation. The explanation may, of course, vary in each case, but in the great majority of cases it will be found in some revision or alteration of an earlier text.

Glosses, that is to say, short explanations occasioned by some obscurity, which may be supposed to have been written on a manuscript by some later reader, are not numerous in the Qur'an. Examples may be found in VI.12, 20; VII.90; XXX.48, 104; XXVII.7; XLI.16; LXXVI.16. How these have originated it is impossible to say, but in 11.79 we find one that is evidently considerably later than the writing of the original passage. Here, the word ikhrajuhum is inserted to explain the pronoun huwa, but immediately in front of that is a phrase that evidently belongs to the preceding verse; when that is removed to its proper position, there is no difficulty about the reference of the pronoun; the insertion of ikhrajuhum must, therefore, be subsequent to the misplacement of the preceding phrase.

Explanations are sometimes added11 in the form of an extension of the passage. In twelve places 12 we find after a rather unusual word or phrase the question: "What has let thee know what ... is?" and this is followed by a short description. That in some the description has been added later is clear from the fact that it does not correspond to the sense in which the word or phrase was originally used. The most striking case is CI.7 if., but XC.12 if. and CIV.5 if. are similar, and the addition is never an exact definition.

There are additions and insertions of other kinds, of which the following are examples taken from the shorter suras. In XCI it is evident that the passage, when composed, ended at verse 10 (see above, p. 836), but this is followed by a summary of the story of Thamud, which may have been added to illustrate the moral, or placed here just because of the similar rhyme. LXXXVIII.6, 7 are marked as an insertion by the different rhyme, LXXVIII.33, 34, by breaking the connection between 32 and 35. In LXXXVII a sudden change in the dramatic situation in verse 16 marks an addition that might possibly be contemporary-as if the Prophet, having recited his revelation, had turned to impress its point upon his audience-but is probably much later. In LXXIV, verses 31-34 are clearly marked as an insertion by the different style and length of verse. Some of these examples already suggest that Muhammad himself was responsible for the addition, though it is possible to hold that they were due to some later collector or reader.

There are, however, other additions that can hardly have been made without authority. The misplaced phrase of 11.79, for instance, though it looks like a gloss written on the margin and taken in by a copyist at the wrong place, makes a real addition to the regulation laid down. There are not many such misplacements, but short additions that make substantial alterations to the sense are frequent enough. In LXXIV.55 we have a limitation of the freedom of man's choice that virtually takes back what had been stated in 54; cf. LXXVI.30 f., LXXXI.29. This corresponds to the hardening of the doctrine of predestination that took place in Medinan days. Reservations introduced by illa, "except," are especially frequent. We must not, of course, assume that every such reservation is a later addition, but in quite a number of cases13 there are independent reasons for such an assumption, as in LXXXVII.7, and XCV.6, where ilia introduces a longer verse with characteristic Medinan phraseology into an early passage with short rhythmic verses. Such additions, making as they do a distinct modification of the statement, must have been deliberately introduced. In at least some of them we can discern the motive for making the exception.

Longer additions can sometimes be easily distinguished. Thus in LXXIII a long verse occurs at the end that, by containing a reference to Muslims being engaged in fighting, is clearly marked as Medinan, and is recognized by everyone as being so. But the rest of the sura, and especially the beginning, is in the short crisp verses characteristic of early passages. The reason for the addition is that the passage at the beginning, which really refers to the composition of the Qur'an,14 had been adapted so as to recommend night-prayer; but as this was being overdone, it became necessary in Medina to counsel moderation.

Additions in the middle of suras are very common. A few examples will suffice. The, first part of XIX has the assonance in -iya, but this is interrupted by verses 35-41, which have the common -a(l) assonance. These verses follow an account of Mary and Jesus, and, by rejecting the idea of Allah having offspring, were evidently meant to combat the Christian doctrine of the Son of God. 111.125-128 warn against the taking of excessive interest, and promise heavenly reward to those who act generously. The passage evidently closed with the rhyme phrase of verse 128, but two verses follow giving a further description of those who do well by repenting and asking forgiveness, and a promise of heavenly reward that is practically a repetition of that already made. Those who have transgressed but are prepared to reform are thus included. XXII.5-8 argue for the resurrection as in line with Allah's power otherwise manifest, and close with a scoff at those who "without knowledge, guidance, or light-giving book" argue to the contrary. Verses 9, 10 join to this rather awkwardly and threaten not only future punishment, but "humiliation in this life," a Medinan threat, to those who so act. The change of tone and attitude shows clearly enough that these verses did not belong to the original passage. In XXXVII we have accounts of various biblical persons, closing in the first four cases with the refrain: "Thus do We reward those who do well. Verily he is one of Our servants believing." But in the case of Abraham this refrain is followed by a statement about the posterity of Abraham and Isaac. This must have, been added after the passage was composed.

Then we often find that a passage has alternative continuations, which follow each other in the present text. This will be marked by a break in sense, and by a break in grammatical construction, the connection being not with what immediately precedes, but with what stands some distance back; there may also be the repetition of a word or phrase. Thus in XXIII we find following upon verse 65, which speaks of men continuing a defective course of conduct, three passages introduced by hatta idha, `until when.' verse 66, verse 79, and verse 101. It is possible, with some straining, to join verse 79 to verse 78, but verse 101 will not join to verse 100. But hand idhd requires before it a reference to something continuing. Verses 101 f. are in fact the proper continuation of verse 65, as is evident if we read them together; the other verses introduced by hatta idha are substituted for them. In V, verse 46 begins with a phrase samma`una li-l-kadhib, which is entirely out of connection. The same phrase occurs in verse 45, and we can quite well replace it and what follows of verse 45 by verse 46. At the end of XXXIX there is a verse that appears isolated. It follows a Judgment scene and evidently belongs to it; but the scene is already finished; judgment has been given, the unbelievers have been sent to Gehennah, the pious have entered the Garden; then we find ourselves back at the scene of Judgment where judgment will be given with truth. This phrase, which has already occurred in verse 69, indicates what was the original position of verse 75; it followed the first phrase of verse 69 and completed the scene; at some later stage it was displaced by the much longer description in verses 69-74.15 Occasionally a change of rhyme may accompany such a substitution as in LXXX, where verses 34-37 have their assonance in -ih, while verses 38-42, which join equally well to verse 33, have the -ah assonance that runs through the whole of the rest of the sura. More frequently the occurrence of the same rhyme word or phrase is a sign that such a substitution has been made, the new version being made to end with the same rhyme as that which it replaced. Thus in II, verses 96 and 97 both end in law kanu ya `lamuna, which gives a presumption that verse 97 was intended to replace verse 96; in III, the similar ending indicates that verse 138 is a substitute for verse 139. See also IX.118 and 119, XXXIV.51 and 52, XLV.27 and 28, and LXXII.25 and 26-28. It may be noted that in such cases the alternative continuations often stand in reverse order of date, though one cannot take this as all invariable rule. It is as if the paper16 had been cut and the alternative inserted. Occasionally we may find a substitution made at the beginning or in the middle of a passage, as if an alternative had been written above or between the lines, or two versions may be interwoven, as in 111. 122-124, as if the substitution had been somehow written through a text already written down; cf. XXXVI. 1-4.

The conviction that we have here written documents grows upon us as we deal with these evidences of revision, and an assumption that such is the case seems necessary to explain another phenomenon of frequent occurrence in the Qur'an. There remains a multitude of disconnected pieces, sudden changes of subject, even grammatical breaks, which no discursiveness of style or additions or alternative continuations will explain. Take, for instance, LXXXIV.16-19; here we have a little piece in kahin style, a number of cryptic oaths, followed by in emphatic statement. It is evidently complete in itself, has its own rhyme, and has no apparent connection in thought with the rest of the sura. How did it come to stand where it does? A collector may have thrown it in at random, but a responsible collector would, one might think, have sought a more suitable place. The same thing appears In LXXXV.16-19 and LXXXVIII.17-20. In these two cases it is fairly evident that immediately before the unconnected piece an addition has been made to the preceding passage, for the added verses have a different rhyme. In LXXXIV there is no abrupt change of rhyme, but if we consider carefully we shall see that verses 13-15 destroy the balance of the preceding piece, verses 7-12, which is complete as it stands, two verses being given to describe the fate of each class. In each case, then, all addition has been made, and the addition occupies approximately the same space as the extraneous passage that follows. The presence of this latter would be explained if we were to sup pose that it had stood on the back of a scrap of paper on which the addition was written, and that both sides of the paper had been read and copied consecutively when the Qur'an came to be made up in the form of a codex. Similar examples may be found throughout the Qur'an. To take an example from near the beginning: 11.16 compares those who have accepted the Prophet's guidance and then gone back upon it to people who have lit a fire, and then it has gone out, leaving them blinded in the darkness. Verse 17, "Deaf, dumb and blind, they do not return," evidently closes the passage, but verses 18, 19 contain another simile: they are like people in a thunderstorm, the rain pours down, the thunder deafens them, the lightning blinds them. Evidently this is a parallel to verse 16 and should have preceded verse 17. It has been added later. There follows a passage, verses 19b, 20, quite unconnected with the context, appealing for the worship of Allah and adducing signs of his power and bounty. This appears to be continued, after a break, in verses 26, 27. Now verse 25, while not evidently in addition, is probably so, for verse 24 finishes with a reference to the "reprobates," which is conclusive enough. But verse 25 proceeds to describe a special class of "reprobates," who violate a covenant after having made it. Further, we find in verses 158-160a a passage that, by the use of the rather unusual word andad, "peers," is marked as almost certainly a continuation of verses 19b, 20, 26, 27. Here we have, not preceding but following, a passage, verses 160b-162, which returns to the theme of verses 156, 157, and must have been intended as an addition to that passage. This whole section is an interesting example of how a passage has been expanded by additions. The point, however, here is that we find a passage originally dealing with the worship of Allah apparently cut up, and the back of the pieces used for making insertions into other passages.

An interesting example of the same kind is found in Sura IX. The last two verses of this sura are said by tradition to have come to the knowledge of Zaid b. Thabit when he had almost completed his task of collecting the Qur'an, and were placed here as the most convenient position at the time. This is evidently an attempt to account for the fact that there is a break in connection between verse 128 and verse 129, and between verse 129 and verse 130. These two verses seem to stand isolated, but verse 130 will connect well enough with verse 128, though the latter verse ends as if nothing more were to be said. It is a case of something having been later added to a passage, and we may suppose that the back of verse 129 was used to write it on. By some accident (verse 128 had itself been used for the writing of another passage) the back was read by the compilers before the addition. But this is not all; verse 40 of the same sura stands isolated, though it evidently requires something in front of it. The pronoun "him" must evidently refer to the Prophet, of whom there has been no mention in the context, but verse 129 speaks of the Prophet, and if we read verse 129 and verse 40 together we get a moving appeal for loyalty to the Prophet addressed to his followers. This has evidently been cut in two, one part being added to verse 128 and the other placed after verse 39.

The reverse seems also to have taken place; scraps of paper were somehow pasted together to form a sheet. XIV.8-17-an evident addition to the account of Moses-in which he addresses his people in regular Qur'an style, is followed by a series of disjointed pieces, verses 18-20, 21, 22, 24-27, 28, which together occupy practically the same space. In fact, it is almost a rule in the later parts of the Qur an that an addition or connected deliverance of any length is preceded or followed by a number of disconnected pieces that together make up approximately the same length. An interesting instance of this occurs at the end of II. There we find a long deliverance dealing with the recording of debts, verses 282, 283. This occupies approximately the same space as verses 278-281, a deliverance forbidding usury, verse 284 a separate verse, and verses 285, 286 a profession of faith of the believers. Into this piece two little sentences intrude at the junction of the verses; they have no connection with each other or with the context and break the connection of verse 285 and verse 286, which must have originally formed one verse. If now we suppose the deliverance regarding debts, verse 282 f., to have been written on the back of a sheet (or part of a sheet) which contained the deliverance on usury, verses 278-281, and on that of a second sheet containing verses 284, 285 f., we find that the intrusion into the latter piece comes practically opposite a proviso introduced into the debts deliverance excepting from its scope transactions in the market where goods pass from hand to hand. This we may suppose was written on the back of two scraps and inserted into the deliverance. To do so, the sheet was cut and the proviso pasted in. Hence the appearance of two extraneous scraps on the other side of the sheet.

The same thing occurs in IV, where, if we suppose verses 90-93 to have been written on the back of verses 81-89, a proviso introduced by illa, verse 92a, will come opposite verse 84 which breaks the connection between verse 83 and verse 85. This passage is further interesting in that the passage verses 81-83, 85, 86 is almost certainly private and was not meant to be publicly recited. There are quite a number of passages of this kind included in the Qur'an. The most striking of them is 111. 153, which can hardly have been intended for publication either at the time or later; cf. also verses 148c and 155.

As further proof that these alterations and revisions belong to Muhammad's lifetime, we may consider some of the passages dealing with subjects and situations we know to have presented critical problems to him. It is just at these points that the Qur'an becomes most confused.

A simple case is that of the ordinance concerning fasting. When he removed to Medina, Muhammad hoped for support from the Jews and showed himself willing to learn from them. Tradition says that he introduced the Jewish fast of the `Ashurd, which was the Day of Atonement, preceded by some days of special devotion. Later, the month of Ramadan was prescribed. Now, in 11.179-181 these two things lie side by side: verse 180 prescribes a fast of a certain number of days, verse 181 the month of Ramadan. The two verses are, of course, generally read consecutively, the certain number of days of verse 180 being regarded as made more precise by the mention of the month of Ramadan in verse 181. But a certain number of days is not naturally equivalent to a month, and the repetition of phrases in the two verses shows that the one was intended to replace the other. We have, in fact, a case of alternative continuations of verse 179. Further, we find that verse 182 is entirely unconnected; not only has it no reference to fasting, but whereas in the preceding verses the believers are being addressed and Allah spoken of in the third person, in it Allah is speaking, the Prophet is being addressed, and men spoken of in the third person. Verse 183 returns to the subject of fasting and the dramatic setting of verses 179-182. If we consider the length of verse 181, we shall find that when written out it occupies approximately the same space as verse 180 and verse 182 together. The presence of this latter verse seems to have arisen from the necessity of adding to the space afforded by the back of verse 180 by using the back of a verse from some other context.

The marriage laws in Sura IV are a clear case of alternative continuations. Verse 27 lays down the forbidden degrees of relationship, and reproduces the Mosaic list with some adaptation to Arab custom. That this was deliberate is shown by verse 31, which states that "Allah desireth ... to guide you in the customs of those who were before you." At a later time, however, some relaxation appeared necessary, and verses 29, 30, and perhaps 32a were substituted for verse 31, allowing marriage with slaves. Finally verse 28, which gives ample liberty, was substituted for verses 29, 30, and verse 32b was added to give a verse ending. The similar endings of verses 31, 32a, and 32b show that substitutions have been made.

The change of qiblah affords another example. The passage dealing with it, 11. 136-147, is very confused; verses 139-147 especially are unintelligible as they stand. When analyzed, however, they turn out to contain (a) a private revelation to the Prophet of the solution to his problem, verses 139a, 144 ; (b) a public announcement, using part of (a) accompanied by an appeal for obedience based on gratitude, verses 139a, 145-147; and (c) the final form of the ordinance, 139a, 139b.

The process of the introduction of the religion of Abraham is outlined for us in 11. 124-135. It takes the form of answers to the assertion of Jews and Christians: verse 129a, "They say: `Be ye Jews or Christians and ye will be guided."' This is followed by three retorts introduced by "say." Verses 133-135 claim that the Prophet and his followers have a perfect right to serve Allah in their own way, as did Abraham and the patriarchs who were an independent religious community long since passed away. This passage was cut off and replaced by verses 130, 132, in which it is claimed that Muhammad and his followers stand in the line of Abraham and the patriarchs, Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets. It was again modified by the insertion of verse 131 in place of verse 132. Finally, the short retort of verse 129b was written in, professing the creed of Abraham, who was a hanif and no polytheist. The back of the discarded passages was then utilized to add an account of the transmission of the religion of Abraham to his sons. This now stands as verses 124-128, having been put before verse 129, and not after it as was evidently intended.

The question of the pilgrimage, which was part of the religion of Abraham, also caused difficulty. The ceremony was recognized and Muhammad's followers were counselled to take part in it, but as hanafs, followers of the religion of Abraham, not as polytheists, XXII.32. Sacri ficial animals were to be sent to Meccah, verses 35a, 34. But the bloodshed to which Muslim attacks on Meccan caravans, and especially the clash at Badr, led made it dangerous for any Muslim to visit Mecca. It was therefore laid down that the animals dedicated for sacrifice might be slaughtered at home and their flesh given to the poor. This we can deduce from XXII.30-38.17

Fighting in the sacred months also caused difficulty. Muhammad's attitude is made clear by the analysis of Sura IX. They were at first recognized as a period of truce, by a deliverance which consisted of IX.36a, 2, 5, but as the intercalary month, which kept the Arab lunar year in conformity with the seasons, was decreed from Mecca, misunderstandings as to what months were sacred would soon arise. Hence the deliverance that now stands as IX.36, 37, abolishing the intercalary month and decreeing that war with the polytheists was to be carried on continuously.

The discarded verses dealing with the sacred months now appear as verses 2 and 5, because the back of them was used, with other material, for the writing of a renunciation of agreements with polytheists, in fact the denunciation of the treaty of Hudaibiyah, which stands at the beginning of IX. As the heading informs us, however, this is also a proclamation to be made at the pilgrimage. It has been altered and added to for this purpose after the fall of Mecca.18

The defeat of the Muslims at Uhud was naturally a severe blow to the prestige of the Prophet. The passage dealing with the battle, 111.97 ff., is in great confusion. Analysis shows that there was an address intended for delivery before the battle, which consisted of verses 97, 98, 99, 106a, 111-113, 119, 133-137, 139-144, 152, 154. Part of this, perhaps from verse 133 onward, was redelivered, with a few alterations, some time after the battle. Reactions to the defeat appear in a reproof to the Prophet himself for having, without authority, promised the assistance of angels, verses 117, 120, 121 and parts of verses 122-124. That was later revised as an explanation and rebuke to his followers. That he had been inclined to speak angrily to them is indicated in the private verse, 153. Part of this "rough" speech may be embedded in verses 145-148, a passage that has been revised and added to in a milder sense later. In fact, we can see the attitude to the defeat growing gradually calmer and more kindly toward the faithful. Finally, when the setback had been overcome, part of the original address was used again, with a new continuation added after verse 106a, in preparation probably for the attack on the Jewish tribe of Nadir, verses 106b-110; and the back of a discarded piece was used for the writing of an ordinance prohibiting usury, which has thus come to be mixed up with the Uhud material.19

Treated in this way the Qur'an certainly becomes much more intelligible. Much remains obscure, not only because the analysis is uncertain, but because we do not know enough of the circumstances. But we can at least discern something of the way in which Muhammad inspired and guided the nascent community of Islam. Occasionally we even get a glimpse into the inner mind of the Prophet, and learn something of his plans, his occasional misgivings and self-reproaches, and his everrenewed assurance.

It seems clear, then, that the present form of the Qur'an, which is practically the form given to it at the revision in the reign of 1Othman, rests upon written documents that go back to Muhammad's lifetime. Whether these were written by his own hand is really immaterial. We know that in his later years he employed secretaries, and there are even traditions that tell of them being employed in writing the revelation. It is, in fact, difficult to believe that no record was made of the legal deliverances, often of some length, that were given in Medina. But if we read between the lines of LXXXVII.1-9, we may gather that he distrusted his memory, and suspect that he very early took to writing out his Qur'ans and memorizing them beforehand. That he kept the fact secret is possible, though XXV.6 implies that it was at least suspected in Mecca. Secrecy may help to explain the scarcity of writing material that led to backs of sheets and scraps being used, though perhaps the fact that Medina was not a trading community like Mecca may be sufficient to explain it. That the Othmanic recension was based upon suhuf, or "sheets," which were found in the possession of Hafsah, we know. Tradition asserts these to have been the collection of the Qur'an made by Zaid b. Thabit after Muhammad's death. We have seen above that this tradition is open to various criticisms, and in particular it is difficult to see how such an official collection, if it was made, came to be in the possession of Hafsah, even though she was the daughter of the caliph Omar. She was, however, also one of the widows of the Prophet, and as likely as any of his wives to have been entrusted with the care of precious documents. The suhuf may have been in her possession not as Omar's daughter, but as Muhammad's widow.


This doctrine is based on verses of the Qur'an: :

What is referred to in the last verse is supposed to have been completely removed, so as not to occur in the Qur'an.

The doctrine has been voluminously discussed in Islam, not from the point of view of literary criticism, but from that of Law, it being important for Islam to decide what ordinances of the Qur'an were abrogated and what remained valid. In some respects the doctrine was extended, on the one hand to include the abrogation of laws of the Pagan Arabs, or of Jews or Christians, through the revelation of the Qur'an, and on the other to admit the possibility of an ordinance of the Qur'an being abrogated by the Sunnah. Ash-Shafici, however, laid it down that when this happened there must be something in the Qur'an to confirm the Sunnah. Others held that, the proper sense of naskh was that one verse of the Qur'an abrogated another, and that in regard to this we must not follow the opinions of exegetes or the founders of legal schools, but have the authority of a direct statement of the Prophet or of one of the Companions, though it might be possible to infer naskh from plain contradiction of two verses, combined with a knowledge of their dates. Other restrictions of the doctrine were introduced; it applies only to commands, not to narratives or promises or threats; alterations of practice, such as the recommendation of patience in Mecca and fighting in Medina, are not properly included under abrogation, but are rather instances of postponement of promulgation of the full law of Islam because of unsuitable circumstances. There are other cases in which, though a different law is laid down, it remains allowable to act according to the earlier one. As-Suyu6 in his Itgan, adopting these restrictions, reduces the number of cases of abrogation proper to twenty, of which he gives a list.

One should not perhaps expect the result of such legal discussion to confirm results of literary analysis, though in a few instances it does. What interests us is that Islam does recognize that deliverances were sometimes replaced by others. Further, the fact that these abrogated deliverances have been retained in the Qur'an as it has come down to us affords a strong presumption that no attempt was made to adapt it to any preconceived ideas. The retention of the recitation, with abrogation of the ordinance, is a difficulty for Islam. As-Suyuti gives two grounds, (a) the abrogated verses were the Word of Allah, which it was meritorious to recite; (b) abrogation was generally directed to making things easier, and the earlier ordinance was retained as a reminder of God's mercy.


1. See the story in Ibn Hisham, p. 882.

2. A list of the chief asseverative passages may here be given: XXXVI.1 ff.; XXXVIL1-4; XXXVIII.1; XLIII.1; XLIV.1 ff.; L.1 ff.; Ll. 1-6; LII.1-8; LIIL1 ff.; LVI.74 ff.; LXVIII.1 ff.; LXIX.38-43; LXXIV.35-40; LXXV.1-6; LXXVII.1-7; LXXIX.1-14; LXXXI.15-19, 22, 24, 25, 27; LXXXIV.16-19; LXXXV.1-7; LXXXVI.1, 4, 11-14; LXXXIX.1-4; XC.1-4 ff.; XCI.1-10; XCII.1-4 ff.; XCIII.1-3 ff.; XCV.1-5; C.1-6; CIII.I f.

3. "When" passages, introduced by idha: LVI.1-9 (LXIX.13-17); LXXIV.8-10; LXXV.7-12, 26-30; LXXVII.8-13; LXXIX.34-41; LXXXI.1-14; LXXXIL1-5; LXXXIV.1-6; XCIX.1-6 (CX.1-3); introduced by yawma: LXX.8-14; LXXVIII.18-26; LXXX.34-37 (CI.3-6).

4. T. Sabbagh, La Metaphore dans le Coran.

5. C. C. Torrey, The Commercial-Theological Terms in the Koran.

6. Arthur Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an.

7. K. Vollers, Volkssprache and Schriftsprache im alten Arabien.

8. For the use of these as evidence of date, see Introduction to the Qur'an, chap. 6.

9. See 111.30 if, 40 ff.; VII.160 ff.; XIII.2 ff.,; XIV.29 ff.; XVI.10 ff., 50 f., 53.; XXV.47 ff., 55 ff., 62 f.; XXVII.60 ff.; XXXII.15-20; XL.59 ff., 71 ff.; XLI.8 ff.; XLIII.8 ff.

10. See note on the Muslim doctrine of Abrogation (pp. 865-867).

11. See p. (843-849).

12. LXIX.3; LXXIV.27; LXXVII.14; LXXXII.17; LXXXIII.8, 9; LXXXVI.2; XC.12; XCVII.2; Cl. 2, 7; CIV.5.

13. 11.155, 229, 282; 111. 83; IV.145; XI.14; XIX.61, 90; XXIII.6 f.; XXV. 70; XXVI.227; LIII.27; LXXVIII.25; LXXXIV.25; LXXXVII.7; LXXXVIII.23 f.; XCV.6; CIII 3.

14. See Bell, Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, pp. 97 f.

15. To give a full list of such substitutes is tedious and unnecessary. some of the more striking cases may be here listed: 11.95 ff., 129 ff., 139 ff., 179 ff., 192 ff.; I11.43 f., 61 ff., 97 ff., 106 ff., 137 ff., 145 f., 164 f., 177 ff.; IV.27 ff., 130 f.; V.45 f., 52 ff., 76 ff., 92 f.; VI.87 ff.; VII.38 f., 163 ff; VIII.73 f.; IX.87 ff. (82 ff.), 112 f., 118 f., X.104 ff.; XI.42 ff.; XIII.19 ff.; XV.87 ff.; XVI.16 ff.; XVII.47; XXVII.38 ff.; XXXIV.50 ff; XXXV.26 ff.; XXXVI.79 ff.; XXXIX.48 f., 69 ff.; XL.31 ff.; XLV.26 ff.; L.21 ff.; LIV.43 ff.; LVII.13 f.; LIX.5 ff.; LXIII.7 f.; LXXII.26 ff.; LXXIV.31 ff.; LXXX.33 if.

16. "Paper" is used in the general sense of writing material of whatever nature that may have been. Papyrus sheets seem probable.

17. See my article "The Origin of the, lid al-adh a," Moslem World 23 (1933): 117 ff.

18. See my article "Muhammad's Pilgrimage Proclamation," JRAS (1937): 233 ff.

19. For my analysis of other complicated passages, see "The Men on the A'raf ' (VII.44), The Moslem World, 22 (1932); "'Surat al Hashr" (LIX), 38 (1948).

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