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Sound and Meaning in ''Sūrat al-Qāri'a'' by Michael Sells [28 pp.]

Sound and Meaning in ''Sūrat al-Qāri'a'' by Michael Sells [28 pp.]

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Sound and Meaning in "Sūrat al-Qāriʿa"Author(s): Michael SellsSource:
Arabica,
T. 40, Fasc. 3 (Nov., 1993), pp. 403-430Published by: BRILLStable URL:
Accessed: 27/11/2008 19:32
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 Arabica.
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SOUNDANDMEANINGINSURATAL-QARI'A
BY
MICHAELSELLS
heshort suras fromthe last section oftheQur'an,especiallyTthoseconcerned with theyawmal-din(dayofjudgement,moment oftruth), have beenwidelyadmired for theirartistic andliteraryqualities. ForTheodorN6ldeke,forexample,<TherearenomoresublimesurasintheQur'an,noneinwhichthepassionateexcitement oftheprophetshows forth morepowerfully. It is asifone saw withhis owneyeshowtheearth openedup,themountainswerestrewnabout,and thestarswerethrownintoconfusion)) 1. Yettherehas alsobeen avery differentreaction totheyawm al-din suras.HartwigHirschfeldcategorizedthem as<declamatoryaddress,))and thenwent on tomake thefollowingcharacterization:((Descrip-tions oftheDayofJudgment,scarcelydifferingfromeach other intheendlessvarietyoftormentsforthewickedtheydepict,form aprominentfeatureof thedeclamatoryaddress>>2.nneithercase istheaestheticjudgementjustifiedthroughdetailedanalysis of thetext.Presentedhere isareading ofthefirst suradiscussedbyNoldekeunderhisgroupingof<mostsublime))suras,sutratal-qari'a.Thereadingexplores therelationship ofsoundandmeaningwithin thesura,withspecialemphasisuponphonologicaleffectsacknowledgedintheclassicaltafsir3and inmodernstudies4,but
1
Theodor
Noldeke
and FriedrichSchwally,
GeschichtedesQordns
(1909-38,reprint,Hildesheim,GeorgOlms,1970), I: 98-99:Esgibt keinegrofBartigerenSuren imganzenQoran, keine indenen dieleidenschaftlicheErregungdesPro-phetenmachtigerhervortritt. Esist,alsobmanmitAugensehe, wiedie Erdesichauftut, dieBergezerstieben,und dieSternedurcheinandergeworfenwerden.>>Othersuraslisted inthisgrouparesuras99,82,81,and thevisionepisodesofsura53.Onstylisticgrounds,Imake asimilargrouping,butinclude aswellsuratal-qadr97),andsections fromothersuras thatarestylisticallyandthematicallyparallel.
2
HartwigHirschfeld,NewResearchesntotheCompositionandExegesisof theQoran
(London:RoyalAsiaticSociety,1902),p.56.
3
Discussionofauralaspectsofna.zm,oftentranslatedas-composition,-butperhapsmoreaccuratelyrendered as<<voice,>)nddiscussionoftawdzunrtextualArabica,Tome XL,1993,
?
E.J.Brill, Leiden
 
404
MICHAEL SELLS
rarely placed at the center of literary analysis. Those effects centeraround the sound-figure,asound-complex that picks up semantic,emotive,andgenderassociationsor((charges>>hroughitsdeploy-ment within the sura. The analysis belowwilltrace the develop-ment of sound-figures through the sura and identify the points atwhichparticular sound-units become charged. Of special interestwill be the role of semantic indeterminacy; in a discourse with a
harmonics, remain at thegeneraloranecdotal level.See,forexample,IbnKatir,
Fadd'ilal-Qur'an, appended tohisTafsfral-Qur'dnal-'Axtm(Daral-Fikr,n.d.), vol.
1,499-509. Baqillaniignoressurassuchasal-zalzalaand
al-qdriCa
andal-qadr.Cf.AbuiBakrMuhammadibnal-Tayyibal-Baqillani, Ig~dz
al-Qur'Jn,
ed.by As-SayyidAhmad Saqr(Cairo:Daral-Ma'arif, 1981).Zamahsharidiscussesthembrieflyfrom alargelyrhetoricalperspective:Mahmuidibn'Umaral-Zamahsari,
AlbKadaf
C
canIHaqdaiq l-Tanzfl wacUyzinal-AqdwiizfiWugiThl-Ta'wil(Beirut, Dar
al-Kitabal-cArabi,1947).In his
FadPlil
al-Qurdn,Ibn Katir relatestraditionscon-cerning theimportanceofproperrecitation and thepowerofsoundquality,butdoesnotintegratesuchissuesintohis tafsirproper:Ismacilibn cUmar ibnKatir,Tafstral-Qur'dn
l-cACm,
vol. 7(Beirut: Daral-Fikr, 1966). Cf.MuhammadibnIsmacilal-Buhari,Sahth,vol. 3(Cairo:Mustafa al-Babi, 1953),162-69, and
Muhammad AbulQuasem, TheRecitationandInterpretationoftheQur'an:Al-Ghazdli's
TheoryLondon:KeganPaul,1982), pp.18-33.The tagwtditerature alsoavoidspracticalcriticism of therelationshipbetween sound andmeaning inpar-ticulartexts,thoughsomerecitershave discussedthe questioninformally. Lamya'
al-Fariql, "Tartilal-Qur'anal-Karim,",inIslamicPerspectives:StudiesinHonorofMawldna-SayyidAbulAcldMawdudd,ed. Khurshid Ahmadand Zafar Ansari(Lon-
don: Islamic FoundationU.K.,andJedda,1979),105-121;Labibal-Sacid,Al-
Gamcal-Sawtzyy lil-Qur'dnal-Karzm(Cairo:Daral-Katibal-cArabi),324-30; KhalilSemaan, <<ajwidas aSourceinPhoneticResearch,>>WienerZeitschrtftfiurieKunde
desMorgenlandes, 8(1962): 112-20;AhmedGouda, ((Qur'anicRecitation:PhonologicalAnalysis,>>GeorgetownUniv. Ph.D.Dis.,1988).
4
WilliamGraham,BeyondtheWrittenWord:OralAspectsofScripture n theHistory
ofReligionCambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress, 1987), pp.79-115;Kristina
Nelson, TheArt ofRecitingthe Qur'an(Austin:Universityof TexasPress,1985);
RegisBlachere, Introductionu Coran,2ndedition(Paris:Maisonneuve et Larose,
1977), pp.169-181.AhmedAli,Al-Qur'dn:AContemporaryTranslation(Princeton:
PrincetonUniversityPress, 1988),pp. 7-8; FrederickDenny,<<Thedabof Qur'anRecitation:Text andContext,>>nAnthonyJohns,InternationalCongress for theStudyof theQur'an,AustralianNationalUniversity,Canberra,8-13 May 1980.Ser.1, 2nd ed.(Canberra:AustralianNationalUniversity,1981), andidem,"(ExegesisandRecitation:TheirDevelopment asClassical FormsofQur'anic
Piety,">inTransitionsandTransformations ntheHistory ofReligions:Essays inHonor
ofJosephKitagawad.Frank E.Reynolds and T.M.Ludwig (Leiden: E.J.Brill,
1980), pp.91-123;AngelikaNeuwirth,StudienzurKompositiondermekkanischenuren
(BerlinandNewYork,1981), whopresentsa quantifiedanalysis ofvarious sound
groupings;PierreCrapondeCaprona, LeCoran:auxsourcesdelaparoleoraculaire;Structureshythmiqueses souratesmecquoisesParis,1981), whoemphasizesprosodic,
metricalfeatures;andIssa J.Boullata,"TheRhetoricalInterpretationof the
Qur'an:Ijdz andRelatedTopics,,in A.Rippin,ed., ApproachestotheHistory oftheInterpretationof theQur'an(Oxford, 1988),pp.139-157.

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