Themes of the Qurʾān

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Writing toward the end of his life, Imam al-Ghazali said that the Qurʾān has three axial themes: Allah Most High, Risāla (Messengership), and Maʿād (lit. the Return). All other themes fall under one of the these three. One century later, Fakhr al-Dīn Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Rāzī (543-606/1148-1209) used this tripartite conceptual framework to draw attention to many subtleties and eloquence of the Qurʾān. Three centuries later, Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī (849-911/1445-ca.1505), the mujtahid Imam, foremost hadith master, jurist, philologist, and historian, who authored works in virtually every Islamic science, would systematically list over one hundred tropes of rhetoric beauty of the Qurʾān in his encyclopedic work, al-Itqan fī ʿUlūm al-Qurʾān (“Precision and Mastery in the Sciences of the Qurʾān”).

Numerous other scholars have tried to discover structural features and topologies of the Qurʾān. For our class, we will attempt to work with the most fundamental of these schemes.

Themes to be studied in the Thematic Study of the Qurʾān Class

Allah Most HighRisāla (Messenger and Prophethood)Maʿād (The Return)
Abrogation (naskh)Ability (istiṭāʿa)
Ablution (ghusl, wuḍūʾ, tayammum)
Abode (dār)Abode (dār)
Abstinence (zuhd)
Acquisition (kasb)