Originally posted on Many Prophets, One Message:
The Qur’an is a very unique book in terms of its composition. Its 114 chapters (or ‘Surahs’ in Arabic) are not arranged chronologically or thematically. Even within the individual chapters, numerous topics can be covered with sudden switches from one topic to another and then back again.
This unique structure at face value may appear to be disjointed. However, modern research has discovered a sophisticated structural coherence in the Qur’an known as ring composition.
THEORY OF RING COMPOSITION
Ring composition has been explained by Mary Douglas in her book “Thinking in Circles: An Essay on Ring Composition”. In ring compositions there must be a correspondence between the beginning and the end. It is structured as a sort of circle, or mirror image. The central meaning of the text is placed at its centre. The second half mirrors the first half, in reverse order — e.g., A, B, C, D, C’…
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“With neither artifact nor archive, the student of Islamic origins could quite easily become victim of a literary and linguistic …