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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The above clip is from the movie,”American Radical: The trials of Norman G. Finkelstein“. Norman Finkelstein is a Jewish American political scientist and author specializing in Jewish-related issues and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. See http://normanfinkelstein.com/biography/
“With neither artifact nor archive, the student of Islamic origins could quite easily become victim of a literary and linguistic conspiracy,” declared John Wansbrough, the father of modern Islamic revisionism. So impressed has this statement become in the minds of some scholars, they fail to recognise, or, even worse, are simply uninterested in the earliest extant documentary evidence relating to Islamic origins.
Building on the outstanding contributions of Robert Hoyland as well as others, the publication of Youssef Ragheb’s comprehensive listing of securely dated Muslim texts from the 1st/7th century, provides scholars with an excellent opportunity to supplement their investigations into early Islamic history. Surely now is the time for this evidence to be taken seriously as it rightly demands, and consequently incorporated into any hypothesis that seeks to relate an account of Islamic origins.
Islamic Awareness have taken the opportunity to update their article “Dated Muslim Texts From 1-72 AH / 622-691 CE: Documentary Evidence For Early Islam” including the new finds mentioned by Ragheb, namely, his intimate knowledge of early papyri / parchment texts kept in the Louvre. The link is: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/earlyislam.html
Soothing recitation of chapter 2 of the Holy Qur’an.