The Structure of Legal Passages in the Qur’ān

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As its central task, a law establishes the rights that exist and the duties that should be obeyed. Two questions are: What are the ways of doing this? Does each legal code have its own unique form? This article demonstrates that the Qur’ān has all the linguistic characteristics of the legal language in use in the ancient Near East legal codes: the legislative parts in the Qur’ān contain a relatively large number of casuistic laws (conditionals) — a type shown by all ancient Near Eastern legal codes, and apodictic laws (prohibitions), a phenomenon which is peculiarly Israelite. It was also found that the legislative passages have a fixed structure consisting of three elements, and that each element has its own characteristic syntactic structures: (1). An initial sentence presenting the subject of the law. This subject generally is articulated in one of the following structures: yā ʼayyuhā llaḏīna ʼāmanū “O, believers”, yasʼalūnaka “They ask you/will ask you” or the SV word order; (2). The law itself is usually formulated as casuistic or apodictic; (3). Background information that has several purposes: to emphasize that the law is Divine and God is All-mighty; to explain why the law was given; or to explain the advantages of observing the law. This information is characterized by syntactic structures such as short clauses of the wa-llāhu bi-mā taʻmalūna ʻalīmun “And God is All-Knowing of all things” type; or it might be an extended paragraph, or clauses which begin with the anaphoric pronoun ḏālika “that is”, ka-ḏālika “such (is)” “similarly” and tilka “this” or grammatical parallelism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)73-107
Number of pages34
JournalInternational Journal for the Rule of Law, Courtroom Procedures, Judicial Linguistics & Legal English
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2018


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