Raymond Farrin, Structure and Quranic Interpretation: A Study of Symmetry and Coherence in Islam's Holy Text

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Muhammad Yaseen Gada


The coherence (nazm) and symmetry of the Qur’an have remained one of the most debated and discussed topics in the field of Qur’anic Studies; whether or not the Qur’anic surah or/and the whole Qur’an exhibit an organic unity has produced a plethora of books. The book under review seeks to refute “the longstanding criticism of ‘disjointedness’” in the Qur’an, aiming to illustrate how a better understanding of the Qur’an’s structure will in turn help in our textual interpretation of it (p. xvi). The book draws mainly, among others, on Amin Ahsan Islahi (d. 1997) and Michel Cuypers. According to the former, each Qur’anic chapter is characterised by a “degree of unity” or a central theme, “Amud,” that runs through a whole Surah. The Qur’an is not therefore a random text, as some believe but one which exhibits a precise structural plan, with a majority of chapters occuring in pairs; one chapter forms a pair with its adjacent chapter; pairs form chapter groups, and finally the chapter groups form the Qur’an as an organic unity. Cuypers, on the other hand, believes that there is a “degree of symmetry” among a group of chapters arranged in a concentric order.

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