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TitleAl Itqan Fi Ulum Al Quran
File Size1.3 MB
Total Pages428
Table of Contents
                            1 introduction.pdf
	2 sababalnuzul.pdf
	3 nasikhmansukh.pdf
	4 imala.pdf
	5 Rhetoricaldevices.pdf
	6 theexegetes.pdf
	7 literalallegorical.pdf
	8 brevityandprolixity1.pdf
	9 muqaddammuakhkhar.pdf
	10 Definition of particles.pdf
	11 EtiquettesofWriting.pdf
	12 miraclesofthekoran.pdf
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an
االتقان في علوم القران

by Jalaluddin Suyuti

English Translation by Muneer Fareed

Page 2




The work before you, some twenty chapters of excerpts from Jalal ‘l-Din ‘l-Suyuti’s ‘l-Itqan fi

`Ulum al-Qur'an, is a translation of what this celebrated polymath considered indispensable

linguistic and stylistic tools for comprehending the meanings of the Koran. Whilst the

translation itself is to my knowledge unprecedented, the use of Itqan material as such in modern

studies of the Koran is not, the most significant being that of Theodore Noldeke’s still

invaluable, Geschichte des Qoran.1 And whilst the Itqan is rightly described both as an

invaluable “introduction to the critical study of the Koran”2, as well as “a monumental synthesis

of the quranic sciences”3 its greater value would seem to lie in the as yet fledgling area of higher

critical studies of the Koran. Arkoun might well have had just this in mind when he complained

of an “epistemological myopia” common to both western as well as Islamic scholars who

hesitate in applying modern linguistic tools such as narrative analysis or semiology to the

Koran.4 To this category, I would suggest, belong those traditionalists, for whom Koranic

studies ventures not beyond the search for even greater literary clarity and thematic coherence in

the Koran; this includes those Arabists, who—when not involved in some translation—

perpetuate their convention of trying to isolate and define Islamic society, or the Arab mind, or

1 Theodor Noldeke Geschichte des Qorans (Hildesheim, 1961) 3 vols. This is particularly true of the second half of
the first volume which rearranges the chapters chronologically, the second volume in its entirety, which examines
the historicity of the collected material itself , and much of the third volume, which examines its variant readings, its
paleography, and its aesthetics.
2 Nicholson, Reynold, A Literary History of the Arabs New Delhi 2004. p.45
3 McAuliffe, Jane Dammen p.6 Some have outlined both its strengths as well as its weaknesses: Arthur Jeffrey,
Materials for the History of the Text of the Koran in The Koran: Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies ed. Colin
Turner New York 2004.s’ .156for instance, writing on the textual history of the Koran calls the Itqan a “great
compendium of Muslim Koranic Sciences” but one that nonetheless, contains little information on textual history.
Jeffrey, Arthur Materials for the History of the Text of the Koran in The Koran: Critical Concepts in Islamic
Studies ed. Colin Turner New York 2004. .156
4 Mohammed Arkoun Lecture du Coran (L’Islam d’hier et d’aujourd’hui) xxxiii, 175 pp. Paris, 1982. Also see,
Pour une critique de la raison islamique, Paris, 1984

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wallow in ignorance about the limitations of his knowledge and cause him to become conceited.

The task of unraveling the allegorical however, helps him maintain a sense of humility and

subservience. The allegorical verses, after all, are places where the mind humbles itself to its

Creator, surrendering and acknowledging its imperfection. The culminating words of the

Almighty=s statement: A. . .but only persons of understanding truly heed=, rebukes the perverted

ones and praises those steeped in knowledge by implying that one who is unmindful, who

refuses admonition, and fails to confront his base desires is not of the understanding ones. It is

for this reason that those steeped in knowledge say: AO Lord! Let not our hearts go astray. . [email protected]

They thus submit to their Creator awaiting the advent of mystic knowledge, after seeking refuge

in Him from the caprices of the self.

>l-Khatt bi said: AAllegories are of two kinds: One, whose meaning becomes manifest if

examined in light of the categorical, and two, whose actual meaning remains forever

unattainable. This latter is what the perverted ones delve into, without ever arriving at its

essence. They then begin to harbor doubts about such verses and are thus misled.

Ibn >l-Ha r has said: AGod has divided the verses of the Qur=an into the categorical and

the allegorical, and declared that the former is the mother of the Book, which is why the latter

must be understood in reference to it. Also, the categorical is pivotal to unraveling His intent in

the duties He=s placed upon them, to affirming His messengers, and to fulfilling His orders and

eschewing His proscriptionsBthis then makes the categorical the mother of the Book. And

thereafter, He speaks of those whose hearts are beguiled, those who delve into the allegorical

verses. This means that one without faith in the categorical and with doubt in his heart gains

pleasure in the pursuit of the allegorical. The Divine Legislator=s intent thereby was to provide

an incremental understanding of the categorical verses and to give priority to the essential verses

so that one acquires conviction and deep knowledge, and thus, remains unperturbed by

ambiguity. And by those with hearts beguiled is meant those bent on unraveling the obscure

verses, and on understanding the allegorical verses before the categorical; this contradicts all that

is logical, normal and prescribed. They are like the polytheists who demand from their prophets

signs other than those presented, presuming, out of ignorance, that this would bring them faith;

but they know not that faith comes only with the leave of [email protected]

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In his work Mufrad t >l-Qur=an Raghib (Isfahni) said: AWhen looked at in conjunction

with each other verses are found to be of 3 kinds: absolutely allegorical, absolutely categorical,

and allegorical in some regards and categorical in others. As for the allegorical verses they are in

total of 3 kinds: allegorical in respect of a single word, allegorical in respect of the statement as a

whole, and allegorical in both respects. The first form, in turn, is of two kinds: firstly, that which

applies to single words that are either rare like A>[email protected] and Ayaziff [email protected], or have shared meanings,

such as >=l-yadd= and >l-yam n=. Secondly, that which applies to statements, which are of 3 kinds,

and which comprise of that which is allegorical:

i- because of its brevity, as in Awa in khiftum an l tuqsi fi >l-yat ma fa anki m ba lakum. .

[email protected](3:4)

ii- because of its redundancy, as in Alaisa ka mithlih [email protected] (11:42) But saying AThere is none

(mithluh ) like [email protected] instead would have made it more explicit to the listener.

iii-because of the arrangement of the verse, as in Aanzala `al `abdih >l-kit b wa lam yaj`al lah

`iwajan; [email protected](18:2) which implies: >He sent down a straightforward Book and made it

not [email protected]

The allegorical in respect of meaning refers to verses dealing with the attributes of God

and descriptions about the Last Day, for these fall outside our scope of understanding. We are

unable to visualize that which is outside our sensory perception.

The allegorical in word and meaning is of five kinds:

1-From the standpoint of quantity, as in general and specific verses such as the verse: Afa uqtul

>[email protected] (9:5)

27AAnd if you fear that you will not deal fairly with the orphans then marry, of those that

please you. . [email protected]

28Athere is none like unto [email protected]

29AHe revealed to His servant a Book which He had not made [email protected]

30 AKill the [email protected]

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to the literal in such cases. Furthermore, such speech is based on the highest

form of rhetoric, as in the case of the verse: Afa lamm saf n intaqamn

[email protected] 41(43:55) This is preferable to statements such as: fa lamm ` mil n

mu` malat >l-maghdab or fa lamm >atau ilain bim ya=t hi >l-maghdab.

41ASO when they angered Us We took revenge. . [email protected]

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9. >L-Rumm n has said: AThat the short chapters may well have contradictions, is

said to be inconceivable, because the challenge applied to them as well. The

following verse: AFa=t bi s [email protected] 42(10:38) shows their incapacity, and it makes no

distinction between short and long chapters. It may also be said that the

interstices of the short chapters may be altered, such that one word may be

substituted for another. Would that therefore, be considered a contradiction? No,

because one who is not a poet, and who has no faculty to distinguish between

that which is rhythmically balanced and that which is not, may nonetheless, still

be able to compose lines of poetry. If such a person who is not a poet opts to

amend the following lines: wa q tim >l-a`m q kh w >l-mukhtariq; mushtabih >l-

a`l m lamm ` >l-khafaq; bi kull wafd >l-r min aith inkharaq, by substituting >l-

mumazziq for >l-mukhtariq, >l-shafaq for >l-khafaq, in alaq for inkharaq, he may

well do so. But that would not render him a poet, because even a novice knows

that no such substitution is conceivable in these lines. The same is true for one

who changes the interstices.

42AProduce then, a single [email protected]

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