The Composition of the Qur’an – Rhetorical Analysis Michel Cuypers Translation by Jerry Ryan
THE COMPOSITION OF THE QUR’AN
Even though this book deals with literary traits of the Qur’an that are still not generally recognized, it does not pretend to offer some sort of secret code or esoteric deciphering technique to the public – something that appeals to certain people nowadays.
More simply, it tries to systematically describe a certain number of literary procedures which assure the coherence of a Book that seems incoherent to many. In other words, our book will explain the different rhetorical principles that enter into play in the composition of the Qur’anic text.
It will be a ‘treatise of Qur’anic rhetoric’ but different from treatises of rhetoric handed down by Arab (as well as by Western) literary traditions. Notably, unlike most of these treatises, it will not include the study of multiple tropes or figures of style and ornamentation (metaphors, metonymies, comparisons, ellipses, etc.).
Our perspective will limit itself to what classical Greco-Latin rhetoric called disposition – the study of the articulation of the different parts of a discourse.
The Greeks and Latins envisaged this question above all from the point of view of the argumentation, in a court setting: how to organize the discourse of the defense to be convincing? But we do not present a treatise of argumentation according to the Qur’an.
Our perspective will be ampler and more strictly literary: how the discourse or text of the Qur’an, whatever might be its literary genre (recital, exhortation, law, prayer . . .), is composed in each one of its parts and in the organization of the parts among themselves to form a coherent whole and be the bearer of meaning.
For, after all, it is the search for meaning that is at issue. This is a challenge given the apparent disorder of the Qur’anic text – a fact everyone recognizes: the first Muslim scholars were already defending the text against the detractors who reproached its fragmentation. Despite their efforts, this problem has persisted down to the present.