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Structure and Qur'anic Interpretation: A Study of Symmetry and Coherence in Islam's Holy Text

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The Qur'an, Islam's holy book, is widely misunderstood because it is a difficult book to engage. The Qur'an is not written as a straightforward narrative like the Christian Gospels but is composed of discontinuous revelations that are often unclear in placing in an overall context. Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation, aimed both at readers familiar with the Qur’an and at those opening it for the first time, differs from other books on the Qur’an in that it reveals the text’s fundamental symmetrical organization. Moreover, through readings of key Qur'an chapters, Farrin shows how structure serves as a guide to interpretation. Indeed, one finds that the Qur’an’s structure again and again points to universal messages of an ethical nature, rather than to messages whose application may be limited to a specific context. In addition, the book makes a contribution to Qur’anic studies by highlighting literary evidence indicating that the Qur’an was compiled by one author (in all probability, the Prophet Muhammad) and not by an official committee.

160 pages, Paperback

First published July 15, 2014

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Raymond Farrin

2 books16 followers

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5 stars
38 (55%)
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14 (20%)
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12 (17%)
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews
Author 1 book62 followers
December 7, 2020
First I rated it 4, but upon a second reading, I think it deserves a 5
Profile Image for Hassan Ahmed.
12 reviews9 followers
April 7, 2018
One of the books that you can use to read the Quran in order to understand it’s structure. Not just what he has mentioned by the methodology that he uses when studying a Surah of Quran.

Moreover, Raymond’s work should be taken to the next step by further research and studying of Quran. Ustad Nouman Ali Khan is one of the major figures in our time who is researching more on this subject.
Profile Image for Ola Madhour.
28 reviews
July 8, 2021
An intelligent reading of Quranic structure and a commendable effort at showing how God's speech reconciles the complexity of thought and structure with the simplicity of love and mercy. I particularly liked Farrin's reading of surat Al-Rahman (55).
Profile Image for Nadeen Alsulaimi.
92 reviews5 followers
June 19, 2017
It summarizes different approaches to the Quran in term of its structure and coherence and combines between the rhetorical approach developed by Cuypers and the pair idea developed by Islahi and Cuypers! It provides an analysis of different examples like sura 2,3 as complementing each other and resembling one another in structure, themes, and the number of sections. Very good book in explaining the correlation of the suras and modern methods and studies of the Quran's coherence.
Profile Image for Abe.
264 reviews72 followers
October 19, 2020
A prominent feature of Qur'anic poetic structure is chiasmus. Farrin goes super in depth exploring chiasmus within surahs, between juxtaposed surahs, among groups of a few surahs, and the structure of the Qur'an as a whole. It's eminently clear the Qur'an has a unique structure, constantly calling attention to the focal point in the middle of each chiastic instance.

Farrin proposes that al Fatiha consists of six proper verses, reflecting symmetry with the final two chapters of the Qur'an which both have six verses. (The bismillah he counts as an aural precursor, not a verse, just like the whole Muslim world does for the other 112 instances in the Qur'an), and he proposes that the seven "mathani" referred to in 15:87 are in fact surahs 50-56, which are twice as long (doubled ones) as the rest of the verses revealed up to that point.
Profile Image for /d..
158 reviews5 followers
November 29, 2019
Raymond adds a contemporary work to the growing body of Quran exegesis, adding to earlier theories of the Quran's symmetrical structure. Farrin manages to be precise without getting too lost in the terminology, specific to the study of the Quran. The book is much more accessible to a wider audience not least due to its complete lack of the different surahs' original Arabic. While making for a more enjoyable read for the non-Arabic speaking readership, certain claims regarding specific words' or phrases' symmetry would have been nice to verify not only through Farrin's English translations but also in regard to the original.
Finally, Farrin adds this book to the body of work that reaffirms the unity of the Quran's authorship due to its "structural logic of symmetry" and internatal stylistic consisteny, strengthening earlier, similar analyses by e.g. Angelika Neuwirth and refuting opposing theories, notably (and explicity) John Wansborough.
20 reviews
July 23, 2022
This was an amazing book! It was extremely well researched. Though I think the author could have done better with presenting the information, I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It is now a book that I will often be referencing! It covers many different perspectives including the western and Islamic thinkers on the structure of the Quran (both for and against its amazing structure). With all the evidence presented, it doesn't shove down an opinion but informs in a very succinct and exquisite manner. LOVE IT!
Profile Image for Saqib Qureshi.
23 reviews2 followers
March 8, 2021
Interesting ideas without robust research

Many of the themes are interesting but unsubstantiated. For instance, the assertions around the compilation of the Quran fly flat in the face of contemporary academia
7 reviews
November 17, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars The structure of revelation, revealed.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 June 2017
Verified Purchase
Awesome, without doubt THE best purchase of the year .... need I say more. This book left me in no doubt what so ever, that the Quran could not have been compiled by a human being or a cohort of human beings ... this book is simply the structure of revelation, revealed.

A miracle to witness with your own eyes:
Love it. It's not a book to read in a few hours. If you are a Muslim you'll want to study it deeply and refers back to the Qur'an often. But if you are not a Muslim, I recommend it as well, but read it and refer to a translation of the Qur'an as well, so you understand this book better. It will make you understand that the Qur'an is not randomly organized, messed up, with no sense, like some people claim. The way chapters and verses relate to each other in the position they are situated throughout the Qur'an is a miracle that everyone can witness with their own eyes.

An indispensable introduction

This is a book that I enjoyed immensely. Although I've read the Qur'an many times and had some existing familiarity with the interconnectedness between the various verses, chapters and sections this book bought many other examples to light. The research put forward is thorough and well referenced and contains a solid appendix section with lots of references for further study. Whether you are reading The Qur'an for the first time or have already read it many times before this book is a perfect companion as it will provide you with an insight into the precisional structure of the Qur'an.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 10 reviews

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