Structural Dividers in the Qur'an  book cover
1st Edition

Structural Dividers in the Qur'an

Edited By

Marianna Klar

ISBN 9780367800055
Published December 4, 2020 by Routledge
418 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume showcases a wide range of contemporary approaches to the identification of literary structures within Qur’anic surahs. Recent academic studies of the Qur’an have taken an increasing interest in the concept of the surah as a unity and, with it, the division of complete surahs into consecutive sections or parts.

Part One presents a series of case studies focussing on individual Qur’anic surahs. Nevin Reda analyzes the structure of Sūrat Āl ʿImrān (Q 3), Holger Zellentin looks at competing structures within Sūrat al-ʿAlaq (Q 96), and A.H. Mathias Zahniser provides an exploration of the ring structures that open Sūrat Maryam (Q 19). Part Two then focusses on three discrete aspects of the text. Nora K. Schmid assesses the changing structural function of oaths, Marianna Klar evaluates how rhythm, rhyme, and morphological parallelisms combine in order to produce texture and cohesion, while Salwa El-Awa considers the structural impact of connectives and other discourse markers with specific reference to Sūrat Ṭāhā (Q 20). The final section of the volume juxtaposes contrasting attitudes to the discernment of diachronic seams. Devin Stewart examines surah-medial oracular oaths, Muhammad Abdel Haleem questions a range of instances where suggestions of disjointedness have historically been raised, and Nicolai Sinai explores the presence of redactional layers within Sūrat al-Nisāʾ (Q 4) and Sūrat al-Māʾidah (Q 5).

Bringing a combination of different approaches to Qur’an structure into a single book, written by well-established and emerging voices in Qur’anic studies, the work will be an invaluable resource to academics researching Islam, religious studies, and languages and literatures in general.

Chapter #6 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license available at

Table of Contents

1. Structural Dividers in the Qur’an: Preliminary Remarks and Suggestions for Supplementary Reading

Marianna Klar

Part I. Competing Structures: Sūrat Āl ʿImrān, Sūrat al-ʿAlaq, and Sūrat Maryam

2. The Poetics of Sūrat Āl ʿImrān’s Narrative Structure (Q 3)

Nevin Reda

3. Beyond Ring Composition: A Comparison of Formal Features in Sūrat al-ʿAlaq (Q 96) and Bavli Bava Batra 8a

Holger Zellentin

4. The Miraculous Birth Stories in the Interpretation of Sūrat Maryam (Q 19): An Exercise in a Discourse Grammar of the Qur’an

A.H. Mathias Zahniser

Part II. Small-Scale Structural Markers and Connectives

5. Oaths in the Qur’an: A Structural Marker Under the Impact of Knowledge Change

Nora K. Schmid

6. A Preliminary Catalogue of Qur’anic Sajʿ Techniques: Beat Patterning and Parallelism, and Rhyme

Marianna Klar

7. Discourse Markers and the Structure of Intertextual Relations in Medium-Length Qur’anic Surahs: The Case of Sūrat Ṭāhā (Q 20)

Salwa El-Awa

Part III. The Question of Composite Surahs

7. Introductory Oaths and the Question of Composite Surahs

Devin J. Stewart

8. Structural Coherence in the Qur’an: How to See the Connections

Muhammad Abdel Haleem

9. Towards a Redactional History of the Medinan Qur’an: A Case Study of Sūrat al-Nisāʾ (Q 4) and Sūrat al-Māʾidah (Q 5)

Nicolai Sinai

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Marianna Klar is currently Post-Doctoral Researcher at Oxford University, Senior Research Associate at Pembroke College, Oxford, and Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS, University of London. Her publications focus on the Qur’an’s structure, its narratives, and its literary context. She has also worked extensively on tales of the prophets within the medieval Islamic historiographical tradition and on Qur’anic exegesis.  

Support Material

Open Access Content

  • Chapter 6 (.pdf)

    Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CCBY-NC-ND) license