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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Qur’an is well and truly a text in context, having been revealed over a period of twenty-three years in response to particular situations and questions. Because of this and due to specific features of its language, like polysemy, conciseness, etc. it is easy to miss the context and quote out of context. In some tafsīr writing and in most of the translations of the Qur’an into English, as well as in much of what is written about the Qur’an, insufficient regard to the context seriously mars understanding and misrepresents the Qur’anic message. Thus the study of context (siyāq) has a central place in balāgha (rhetoric) and Qur’anic Studies in Arabic, but it is hardly mentioned in Qur’anic studies written in English. This chapter discusses context in relation to the Qur’an, the types of context, its role in determining the meaning of words and sentences. The discussion includes what linguistic features can cause difficulties in determining meaning and what clues are given in the Qur’an to help identify the context and the proper meanings. Examples are given from translations of the Qur’an, tafsīr, and Qur’anic Studies.

Keywords: context, siyāq, maqām, Sword Verse, maʿānī, balāgha, wujūh

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