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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter attempts a historical sketch of the relationship between the Qur’an and rhetoric, arising from the Qur’an’s repeated reference to its own surpassing and inimitable eloquence, (Bayan) and thus, its divine origin. The Qur’an’s hostility to poets and poetry was eventually mitigated through early literary theories which found their fullest expression in Adab, Islamic literary humanism. Adab theories helped to define and refine the question of the Qur’an’s inimitability (i`jaz) through a close examination of the canons of eloquence. In more modern times the question of Qur’an and literature has assumed a new urgency, largely because a literary approach to the Qur’an has morphed into a theological re-examination of basic Qur’anic tenets. Such issues as the narratives in the Qur’an and how they are to be understood today as well as the nature of revelation itself are examples of this transformation of understanding of the sacred text.

Keywords: Adab, Bayan, eloquence, Islam, literature, modernity and literature, parables, poetry and Islam, Qur’an and literature, Qur’an and rhetoric

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