The linguistic style and the descriptive method that have been employed in the Qur’an are totally different from those seen in human writings. The following are some of the specialities:
1. In the matter of the subjects that they deal with, the words of the Qur’an are seen to be concise and free of overt emotions of any sort. Literature composed by human kind will, undoubtedly, reveal itself through its contents the underlying mental currents of the individual. The words of a person in a fit of anger will natuarally betray the innate anger within himself. Indeed, in that instant no pity or commendation will be present in those words. Similar will be the case when it is a joyous mood that he finds himself in! It becomes imperative, therefore, to explain such statements only on the foundations of the extreme emotions like anger or joy on which they are based. For in these statements the domineering presence of the emotional intonations will be easily seen. Indeed, these emotional underpinning are evident in the works of all men of letters for the simple reason that they are, after all, very human and subject to all the accompanying emotions related to the human nature. In the verses of the Qur’an, however, it is not possible to detect at any place the excessive strains of emotion be it in its announcement of glad tidings, or warnings; in its explanation of laws or in its description of the blessings of God. This is so because it has been revealed by God Who is Himself above relativistic emotions of manifest in human beings..
2. Whenever the Qur’an describes any subject irrespective of its nature, it maintains an eloquence and flow of language reflecting its divine Origin. The flow of language of the individual will, ofttimes, be confined to a few and particular topics. It may even be that in these particular topics their writings will be of a high standard. However, if they themselves were to write on other subjects, their writings would hardly succeed in maintaining even an average standard. The mindset of the writer, his family environment, emotional trappings and the state of society all combine to influence his interests and outlook. While describing the marvels of nature, or while speaking about the world hereafter or while narrating momentous happenings of the past, the verses of the Qur’an exhibit an eloquence that is one and the same. In the glorification of the greatness of God and in the declaration of legal decrees, too, they exhibit the same flow and grandeur of language. This has been so only because they have proceeded from the Creator Who is Himself above and beyond all the constraints of space and time.
3. While the verses of the Qur’an are of a high literary standing, they are, in addition, precise and truthful in their expositions. It is the general belief that literature can be made beautiful only in the description of that which is imaginary. It is also said that literature cannot be beautified without the depiction of half-truths and falsehoods. That lies must be uttered in order that the poem is made good hasbecome one of the more hallowed sayings of our time. The literary works that provide often truthful information are seen to be dull and barren. It has been for the same reason that even the men of letters who yearn to present the truth must do so only to the accompaniment of that which is false. The reason behind this can be seen in the notion that the emotional strata of the human mind can scarcely be satisfied without dramatisation and exaggeration. The verses of the Qur’an stand wholly apart from this brand of mainstream literature. Nothing but the truth is entertained therein. But they are capable of maintaining a high literary standard while yet
satisfying the intellect of man. Undoubtedly, this has been so because they proceed from the Omniscient Entity who is best aware of the carvings of the human mind.
4. The Qur’an keeps up a high literary standard right from the beginning to the very end. We say that a poem is beautiful on the basis that a few lines in it are actually so. All the lines of the poem need not, necessarily, be of that type. A writer is said to possess a high standing on the basis of a few of his literary works alone. His other literary works need not, necessarily, possess that quality. Indeed, each individual will have a particular age and particular circumstances in which his composed literary work will be of great merit. This is because the writer is influenced by age, environment and even climate. All the verses of the Qur’an consistently maintain a high literary value. It is impossible for anyone to say with confidence that even one among the six thousand and more verses of the Qur’an is of a low standing. The Qur’an was revealed over a long period of twentythree years of the Prophetic mission under differing circumstances. If it was, indeed, the work of the Prophet himself, the quality which it presented would have changed according to the mental state of the Prophet under the influence of varying circumstances. However, each verse of the Qur’an actually competes with its every other verse. This has been so because it is from the Almighty Himself.
5. Even when the Qur’an describes the same subject more than once, it, nevertheless, maintains a high standard on each occasion. In ordinary works of literature, when the same subject is described more than once, the beauy of the first depiction is lost in the second. It can be seen that an aversion or monotony becomes evident in the words of the writer as well as in the mind of the one who takes delight in the work. This is so because man – no matter how great a man of letters he might be – is constrained by the limitations of a
fundamental nature which are inherent in him. The Qur’an, however, does repeat a number of times and, that too, about a number of issues. In fact, the Qur’an repeatedly deals with topics such as creation, death, life after death, the descriptions of the greatness of God, the necessity of making all worship due unto Him alone and the like. But each time that it is repeated it appears to
the listener with a feeling of novelty and with the indicative strains of change and reminder within his mind. This is so because it has been revealed by that Highest Entity Who is far above any limitations.
6. Even though the topics dealt with in the Qur’an are such as cannot be handled by literary efforts alone, it has successfully managed to preserve that high standard, so characteristic of it, in every such issue while maintaining intact the ever accompanying beauty and grandeur of depiction. From the viewpoint of the man of letters issues like life after death, the existence of God, rituals, legal decrees, prohibitions and commands, the encouragement of virtues, truthful historical documentation are all dry and barren topics. The general notion, therefore, is that literature does not become meaningful when used to deal with such and similar topics. For, indeed, these are not the subjects in which the fanciful flights of imagination can he given a free hand.
It is for this reason that all literary works that have dealt with such issues have not been known to possess an international reputation. Indeed, it is again the limitations of man that becomes evident here. The subject matter of the Qur’an, on the other hand, chiefly consists of such topics. Nevertheless, they maintain a lofty standard and are able to provide the one, who takes delight in them , with contentmentof mind. This is so becuase it has been revealed by the Lord Creator Who is above, and beyond, all matter itself.
7. The Qur’an is able to sustain its linguistic beauty even when it shifts from one subject to another. Even when in a single literary work, there occurs a shift from one subject to another, it is oftentimes not possible to maintain the same standard as was done upto the portion when the shift occurred. The clarity and charm with which the ideas form in the mind of the writer of literature when he deals with one subject is, however, dimmed when he begins to talk about the next subject. This is because new ideas take time to form and shine forth. In fact, this is like entrusting a man, who had been performing one task efficiently, suddenly with another task. This, too, is a general shortcoming of human beings. In the Qur’an, too, there is a constant and persistent shift from
one subject to another throughout its pages. Nevertheless, there is evident, therein, neither a loss in its clarity nor any damage to its beauty and majesty of presentation. This is so because it is from the Almighty Himself.
8. The Qur’an is a book which presents ideas pregnant with meaning and that too, with an economy of words that does not, in any way result in the loss of beauty and eloquence of description. The ordinary works of literature contain oceans of words ; the pearls of ideas are, however, very few indeed. As for the works that were written to highlight lofty concepts, they constitute a virtual jugglery with words. Every writer will have his own idea as to the variety of methods by which the concepts in his mind are to be conveyed to the reader. As this idea is the writer’s very own, the reader might feel that many of the expressions used are unnecessary. An expression which is felt to be unnecessary by one reader will be seen as indispensable in the view of another. In order to please everybody, therefore, he will be forced to employ a large number of words. The reason for this is man’s own inability in reading the thoughts of others.
As for the Qur’an, only the most indispensable of words have been used. The idea that it wishes to convey to the one who recites it is amply communicated with the use of these words alone. The Qur’an is thus a book that employs the most limited number of words to express even the grandest of ideas and that too in a fashion which leaves any reader – no matter which type – fully satisfied. This is so because it has been revealed by Him Who is best aware of the intricacies of the human mind.
9. Judging by any of the standards in literary appreciation, the Qur’an remains a work of literature that is in the highest category. All works of literature are meant to appease one or the other of man’s emotions, like sorrow, joy, pity, mercy, hatred, opposition and the like. Similarly, it is difficult to find radiance, sweetness, beauty and majesty of presentation, together in a single work of literature. It is only through any one of the aspects of literature that literary works may be judged and appreciated.It is not possible to create a work of literature that includes, within itself, in equal measure, all ingredients
of the ideal. This, too, is the limitation of man. The Qur’an, however, touches all the chords of human emotion. It contains verses that serve to make one happy as well as sorrowful; to make of man one with compassion and mercy; the verses in it are capable of generating hatred and opposition. Furthermore, it prompts the human intellect into a position of functional efficiency. The aesthetic peculiarities of literature like radiance, sweetness, beauty and charm are combined together in a potent form in the Qur’an. Conforming to the lofty literary style in which it is composed, it can be seen to have achieved the highest standard indeed.
10. The style, usages, method, and concepts in the Qur’an have not been borrowed from any. No matter how fundamental a work any literature may turn out to be, the style and wordings of other writers will be seen to have influenced it. This is but natural. For it is impossible for a person to produce a work of literature without being influenced by the writings of the predecessors However, it must be noted that plagiarism or direct copying is not that which is meant here. It is only the influence of styleand ideas that is indicated here. And without that no writing, whatsoever, is possible. This is the limitation of the human mind. Indeed, man is he who learns from his predecessors and then develops upon that learning. The Qur’an, on the other hand, is completely free of this borrowing. The Qur’an has not borrowed for itself the style, form, method or ideas of any in the world of Arabic literature. In fact, there is no influence, whatsoever, of the writings of any other on the Qur’an. The Qur’an is, by all standards, a work of the most fundamental kind. This is so because it has been revealed from the Owner of all knowledge Who is Himself free of the confines and limitations of any kind.