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University of London Undergraduate Programmes: Coursework/Essay Cover Sheet

Student ID Number 080414 Word Count 2246 Full Name MOHAMMAD HAMID MAHMOOD ASSALEH Degree/Diploma Title BA ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS Year of Degree 3 Extension Granted? N / A Deadline N / A Deferred Assessment? N / A Deadline N / A Specific Learning Difficulty inc. Dyslexia? * No
*A learning difficulty that you have notified to the College and needs to be taken into account for marking

Subject knowledge and understanding Breadth of knowledge Depth of knowledge Awareness of range of interpretations Intellectual skills Identification of key issues Focus on key issues Selection of relevant material Use of sources to provide critical analysis Evidence of own assessment Argument running throughout, summarised in conclusion Transferable skills Overall structure Structure within paragraphs Balanced treatment of opposing views Complete and consistent referencing Clarity and fluency of style Grammar Accuracy typographical/spelling General comments:

Needs Attention




Mark before deduction: Provisional Mark:


Reason: Marker:

Analyse Sra al-Qalam (Chapter 68) showing the structure and organic unity of the sra.

( )

Exploring organic unities and structures within sras is a new phenomenon, as I believe the early Muslims (aba and tbin), when analysing verses and sras could organically unify and structure each verse with the lived experience of Prophet Muhammad. Hence they sought no need of understanding structures and organic unities. However, now the need intensifies, as even on grassroots level yearn to understand the organic unity of the Sacred Text. I will therefore analyse and experiment with Amin Ahsan Islahis idea of umd, by using his basic principles alongside Marwn Nr al-dn Sawrs innovative notion of colour coding verses grouped under specific contexts. I will also aid my analysis with illustrations and diagrams marked on pages 5 and 6. I will initiate by elucidating Islahis notion of the umd and how it functions within each sra between the verses, knitting together all the sras of the Qurn to form a structured organic unity. Mustansir Mr explains the notion in four parts:
(1) Each Qurnic srah has a dominant idea, called the axis of the srah, around which all the verses of that srah revolve. Thus no verse, or no group of verses, stands alone but has a direct relation with the axis of the srah and is part of the coherent scheme of the srah. (2) The srahs of the Qurn exist in pairs, the two srahs of any pair being complementary to each other and, together constituting a unit. There are a few exceptions, however. The first srah, Fatihah, does not have a compliment, because it is a kind of preface to the whole of the Qurn. All the other exceptions too are not exceptions in the real sense of the word since each of them is an appendix to one or the other srah. (3) The 114 srahs of the Qurn fall into seven groups. The first group comes to an end at srah 5, the second at srah 9, the third at srah 24, the fourth at srah 33, the fifth at srah 49, the sixth at srah 66, and the seventh at srah 114. Each group contains one or more Makkan srahs followed by one or more Madnan srahs of the same cast. Like individual srahs or each pair of srahs, each group has a central theme which runs through all its srahs, knitting them into a distinct body. In each group, the themes of the other groups also occur but as subsidiary themes. (4) Each group logically leads to the next, and thus all the groups become variations on the basic theme of the Qurn, which is: Allahs call to man to adopt the right path.2

Now, keeping in mind Mirs concern regarding the difference between connectedness and organic unity, a connection, howsoever weird and farfetched, can be established between any two objects of the universe. But organic unity implies the presence of a harmonious interrelationship between the components of a body or entity which produces a unified whole, a whole which is over and above the sum total
Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Quran ( ). Vol. 8 , p. 479 Mir, M. (1999). Is the Quran a Shapeless Book?. Accessed online [25.01.2011]: Also for a detailed exploration see. Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Quran ( ). Vol. 1 , pp. 13-42 [Urdu]. See also Campanini, M. (2010). The Quran: Modern Muslim Interpretations. Trans. by Higgitt, C. Under Chapter IV The Quran and Nazm, pp. 85-88.
2 1

or the components of and has worth and meaning in itself,3 I have sought to depict Islahis idea through a diagram (see fig. 1.1, p.5) to then project this notion upon each srah and in this case, particularly sra al-qalam. I will explore, through Islahis tadabbr-e-qurn, the srahs organic unity within itself; with its pair; within its group amongst the seven other groups and finally its unity within the Qurn. According to Islahis understanding, the seventh and final group of suwar (pl. of srah) begins from srah 67 (al-mulk) till the end of the Qurn and Islahi believes that the Axis of this group is indhr ( 4,) hence, all the suwar in this group have the notion of indhr flowing through them knitting them all together in harmony. The approach to indhr in this group is reminiscent to the Prophets indhr on mount af. This indhr therefore includes vivid images of qiymah; the awl of qiymah; the consequence of denying this indhr for the Quraysh and the power of language and kalm used in delivering this indhr is as described by Molana l in his Urdu poem:

Was it a thunderbolt or the voice of a guide (hd) That shook the entire Arabian Peninsula The state was such after the revelation of these suwar that Arabia changed in its entirety: one was either for this call, or on the contrary ardently opposed to it. However, it is now fitting to analyse the umd (Axis) of sra al-mulk and sra alqalam, as Islahi describes them to be pairs in this final group and believes that they both have the same umd - indhr despite the differing style of deliverance. It is also interesting to note that Ashraf Ali Thnw too, portrays in his exegesis similarities between the sras and marks the slight difference in both:

(: )

Interconnection (rab): The previous sra (al-mulk) covers the narratives of munkirn-e-tawd (those opposed to monotheism), on the contrary this sra (alqalam) deals with inn f al-nubuwwa (those who reproach and taunt the Prophethood of Muhammad), and because denying Prophethood is kufr, hence the earthly (dunyawiyya) and heavenly (ukhrawiyya) punishments have been the axis of certain verses.7 Hence, it is also possible to see how both the exegetes explain a similar notion from differing perspectives, as for Islahi, he views the axis of the sra to be indhr, whereas for Thnw a response to those who reject notions of tawd and nubuwwa.

ibid. ) ( : Andhara (prf. 3rd.p.m.sing.IV.): War ned; Called attention to; Showed the danger to come (Omar, A. M. (2008). Dictionary of the Holy Qurn. pp. 557-558) hence, Indhr would mean warning of an approaching danger. 5 Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qurn ( ). Vol. 8 , p. 479 6 Thanwi, A. A. (1424 A.H.). Bayanul Qurn ( .) Vol. 3, p. 571. 7 Translation of the Urdu text of Baynul Qurn. ( .) Vol. 3, p. 571

Hence, I will now experiment with Islahis basic concept to structure sra al-qalam and explore whether the yt flow amid the umd indhr, as apposed to the atomistic approaches. In doing so I will now introduce an innovative idea on grassroots level edited and researched by Marwn Nr al-dn Sawr and his team, who have produced a colour coded verse contextualised Qurn, in which all the verses of the same context are colour coded together and a further specific verse based explanation of the text is given at the foot of the page (see Fig. 2.1 on p. 6).8 Sawr forms six groups of verses in this sra as shown in Fig. 2.0 : (1) verses 1-4; (2) verses 5-16; (3) 17-33; (4) 34-41; (5) 42-47; and (6) 48-52. Keeping in mind Sawrs categorization I will now merge Islahi idea and axis (umd). Verses 1-4, I opine, to be the Qurns response to the allegations laid down by the Quraysh, who were responding to the indhr of the Prophet by declaring him majnn. These set of verses in their response play a major role in reassuring the Prophet of his ajr and status, and in doing so hint towards the endeavour of previous Prophets, especially Ynus (Jonah). Despite the mainstream cognisance of urf al-muqaat, that their true meaning is only in the mind of the Author, to understand the relationship of nn with the umd amd al-dn Farh presents sra al-nn in support of his theory regarding these letters: the letter nn still denotes its ancient meaning of fish. In this sra, the Prophet Jonah (sws) has been addressed as ib al-t (he is also addressed as aib al-nn in sra 21:87) that is he who is swallowed by a whale. Farahi opines that it is because of this reference that the sra is called nn. He goes on to say that if one keeps in consideration the example given above, it is quite likely that the abbreviated letters by which other Surahs commence are placed at the beginning of the Surahs to symbolize a relation between the topics of a particular sra and their own ancient connotations.9 Therefore the Prophet has been reminded at the very beginning of the sra that patience is incumbent once the call (indhr) has been given, by reminding him of the incident of Ynus in the whale (nn) which is linked to verse 48 and be not like the man of the fish. Finally, according to Islahi the purpose of the oath was to give a three fold response to the Quryash; (1) rejection of their claim of the Prophets junn; (2) rejection of their claim that the Prophets endeavour is for a limited period, and it would soon fade away with the turning pages of history; and finally (3) that the Prophet is the beholder of high character, therefore the Quraysh call upon themselves grave torment.10 All purposes for the oath are linked to the axis (indhr) as the response of the Quraysh was a direct result of the Prophets indhr to them. This first set of verses (1-4) then move onto the second, verses 5-16. I believe group 2 to be a follow on of the reassurance to the Prophet by instructing him not to give in and follow or become sympathetic in his call (indhr) ( ) towards such a people, whom the Qurn describes as al-mukadhibn, allf mahn, hammz etc. Thereafter, the theme moves onto a parable of the people of the garden (Group 3: verses 17 33). I view this parable from two distinct perspectives, both of which are intertwined with the umd. The first being that of Thnw mentioned earlier, the
Al-Qurn al-Karm: : Edited and researched by Sawr, M. N (1st ed. 2007) 9 Adapted from Islahis Tadabbur-i-Quran and translated by Shehzad Saleem. urf-e-Muqaat: Farahis View. Accessed Online [18.03.2011]: 10 Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qurn ( ). Vol. 8, p.512.

earthly (dunyawiyya) torment upon those who reproach nubuwwa, hence reject the indhr foretold to them. The second perspective, I opine, in the midst of all chaos a kind of glad tiding to the Prophet of an ultimate spread of Islam within the Quraysh. For the former notion the Quraysh are warned to beware of similar consequences to those who had all the wealth and the latter to the Prophet, working on the theme of patience, that the Quraysh will not accept in the initial stage of the indhr, but will ultimately embrace once the power of God can no longer be rejected: similar to the saying of one of them Did I not say to you, why do you not pronounce Allahs purity?, they said we pronounce the purity of our Lord. No doubt, we were wrongdoers (68:28-29) is reminiscent to the attitude of the Quraysh following the conquest of Makkah. Group 4 of the verses (34-41) sets out an immensely significant ethical principle in Islam: the one who opposes the indhr and on the contrary the one who wholeheartedly accepts it cannot be equal, they will be rewarded accordingly. After illustrating the punishment for those who reject the call, the Qurn portrays the awaited rewards for those who take heed of the warning and clearly draws the line, shall We make the obedient like the sinners? What has happened to you? How do you judge? (68:35-36), I believe this also reflects the message of verse 68:9. Group 5 (Verses 42-47) draws vivid images of the resurrection and verse 44 ( )could also be taken as clear indication towards the significant unity with the umd. And finally, group 6 (48-52) comes back to what was mentioned earlier: instructing the Prophet to be patient upon his peoples attitude towards the indhr, unlike ib al-t (dhu al-nn). In conclusion I believe that if the verses in the suwar seem to be disconnected, and there is no logical unity from one verse to the next, then it may in accordance with Islahis understanding be organically united with its umd. Hence, unlike modern books which flow from one sentence, paragraph, page and chapter to the next, the Qurns each verse or grouped verses orbit around the umd; and each group connects to its own axis; and then the seven groups outlined by Islahi encircle the umd of the Qurn11 - Allahs call to man to adopt the right path, which man constantly pleads for in the preface to the Qurn ( .) Therefore, when trying to reconstruct the unity in verses and within the Qurn as a whole, specifically here in the seventh group: I see the Prophet returning from his first message; enshrouded in his blanket commanded to stand and warn (indhr qum faandhir wa rabbaka fa kabbir); I see his struggle at dr al-arqam and then standing at af ridiculed, God responding; at times he (the Prophet) warns (indhr) his people of alqriah, illustrating the unlit sun, the falling stars, the shattering of the earth. I envision him warning the jinn, alongside insn, and his golden promise the umd of which flows through the last group of suwar, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left I would not abandon it (the indhr).

all reminiscent to the orbit of the moon around their planets and the planets their sun, all existing in absolute harmony 4


Fig. 1.1

Fig. 1.2

(Verses 48-52 )

(Verses 1-4)

The Prophet instructed on being firm following the indhr and the onslaught of his people.

The Qurns response to the reaction of the Quryash towards the indhr.

(Verses 5-16)

(Verses 42-47 )

The significance of taking heed from the indhr of the Prophet

(The Axis)

Instructs the Prophet to refrain from being sympathetic towards the Quraysh as they desire to be unmindful towards the indhr.

(Verses 17-33)

(Verses 34-41)

Parable of the people of the Garden.

(1) Reminiscent to Qurayshs attitude towards wealth (2) Glad tiding to the Prophet of the Qurayshs initial reproach followed by ultimate acceptance of the indhr (after conquest of Makkah)

Immensely Significant ethical principle: that the ones who accept the indhr of the Prophet and those who take no heed cannot be alike.

Fig. 2.0
| Verses of the same context are colour coded, and every colour represents its own theme (given below in the key

| Specific group and contextual explanations. | Key for the colours Pages taken from: Al-Qurn al-Karm:

Edited and researched by Sawr, M. N (1st ed. 2007)

Bibliography The Quran: A New Translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem

Al-Qurn al-Karm: : Edited and researched by Sawr, M. N (1st ed. 2007). Dr al-Fajr al-Islm: Damascus, Syria.
Campanini, M. (2010). The Quran: Modern Muslim Interpretations. London & New York. Routledge:

Hawting, G. R. and Shareef A. K. (1993). Approaches to the Qur'an (SOAS Series on Contemporary Politics & Culture in the Middle East). Routledge: New York, USA Ibn Abbas, A. Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn Abbs. Surah al-Asr (English Translation by Mokrane Guezzou) accessed online [20.01.2011]: 1&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2 Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qurn ( Foundation: Lahore, Pakistan [Urdu] ). Volumes 1 and 8. Faran

Mir, M. (1999). Is the Quran a Shapeless Book?. Renaissance, 1999, Volume 9, No. 8. [Accessed online: 25.01.2011]: Mubrakpr, S. R. (2002). Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet (PBUH). Revised ed. Darussalam: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Omar, A. M. (2008). Dictionary of the Holy Qurn (Arabic-English). 5th ed. NOOR Foundation International Inc: USA and Germany. Thanwi, A. A. (1424 A.H.). Baynul Quran ( .) Volume 3. Idrah Taleefate-Ashrafia: Multan, Pakistan [Accessed online: 25.01.2011] [Accessed online: 25.02.2011]