Poetry and the Qurʾan: The Use of tashbīh Particles in Classical Arabic Texts

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This study examines the use of five tashbīh (simile) particles which appear in close frequency in pre-and early Islamic poetry and in the Qurʾan. The particles are ka-(as), ka-mā (such as), mithl (like), and derivatives of the roots ḥsb (deem) and shbh (looks like, similar to). As well as understanding classical Arabic techniques for composition of similes, the study examines aspects of the interrelationship between the Qurʾan and the poetry corpus, the single surviving Arabic text to which the scripture was exposed. It finds greater common structural and lexical similarities between poetry and the Qurʾan in its earlier period (during the Meccan Revelation, 610–622 CE) than later, following the migration of Prophet Muḥammad to Medina (622–632 CE), when other ways of using these particles developed. This suggests surveying these techniques in other texts possibly known to Medinian society, such as the Bible. The present study outlines the premise that qurʾanic composition moved from the influence of the Arabic prototype seen in the poetry in the earliest periods of Revelation to a different form in later periods (texts, possibly biblical). This premise can be further explored by future examination of the interrelationship between the Qurʾan, pre- and early Islamic poetry and the Bible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1326
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023

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Publisher Copyright:
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  • Qurʾan
  • classical Arabic poetry
  • rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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