03 Nov What are the stylistic characteristics of the Qur’an?.Part2
The Qur’anic verses are not only distinguished by their rhythm and inner harmony, but also by their grandeur. For example, if only a verse about the Flood is studied carefully, it is impossible not to feel this grandeur in the words that have a style so unique and wonderful:
“It was said: ‘O earth, swallow up your waters! And, O sky, cease (your rain)!’ And waters were made to subside, and (by God’s will) the affair was accomplished…” (Hud 11:44).
These are words of incredible majesty that fill the human soul with awe and dread. The word in the verse that has been translated as “swallow” is abla’iy, a word associated with the act of swallowing. The pronunciation of the word in Arabic is in keeping with its meaning. Each word in the verse carries the weight of mountains and has the influence of thunder. Then there is a sudden silence, a calm and a serenity as it ends, the raging storm ceases, and the story comes to a conclusion:
“… Then the Ark came to rest on al-Judi, and it was said: ‘Away with the wrongdoing people!’” (Hud 11:44).
By indicating this, which is only a mere drop in the sea of Qur’anic eloquence, we can understand from this verse that both the sky and the earth are under God’s dominion and they obey Him alone, working under His absolute rule like the commander who says “Cease fire!” to the army. The Lord of the Worlds, to whom belong “the hosts of the heavens and the earth,” issued the command to the sky and the earth to annihilate the people of Noah; the sky and the earth reacted as if they were conscious beings angry at the unbelief and rebellion of the human beings. When they had carried out their duty, God Almighty decreed:
“Swallow up your waters, O earth! And, cease your rain, O sky! It is finished. ”
One can be aware of almost supra-human sentiments in these words, each one of which is as magnificent as if it has been carved out of hard rock, making apparent the weight and grandeur of each word of alpine magnitude. This important historic event of the Flood is described, with all its consequences and truths, in a concise, miraculous, and succinct manner; it would be impossible to replace any word or even any letter, or to formulate any other (similar) sentence of equal intensity and impact. If you like, try to replace one letter or word in the apparently simple sentence, made up of only ten words.
But, the result will never be anywhere as powerful as the original. Just imagine the devastating impact that the Qur’anic verses of such magnitude had on the Arabs of the pre-Islamic era, a people who prized eloquence and rhetoric greatly. The following event that took place in the early period of the Revelation also clearly indicates the wonderful beauty of the Qur’anic style: Walid ibn Mughira, one of the chieftains of the Quraysh, came to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He was greatly moved when the Prophet recited some parts from the Qur’an to him. He later went to his close relatives from the Banu Makhzum tribe and told them:
“By God, I listened to some words from Muhammad a short while ago; these were not the word of a human or a jinn. What he said does not resemble any of these; it has such sweetness, such beauty. This speech is so sweet that its branches are fruitful, its roots are deep and productive! It is certainly bound to prevail and not be defeated.”