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Discourse Markers as Indicators of Text Division in the Multiple-Topic Qur’anic Suras: A Meta-Analysis of Q 2 / Salwa El-Awa
Understanding and Believing: A Comparative View of Theological Scriptural Hermeneutics, Volume: 8, Pages: 157 - 196
Swansea University Author: Salwa, El-Awa
The question of text structure in the Qur’an have long been a problematic one. Different approaches to Qur’anic studies suggest various structures of some Qur’anic suras but not the entirety of the Qur’an. Only the thematic unity approach seems to attempt a theoretical explanation that suggests that...
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The question of text structure in the Qur’an have long been a problematic one. Different approaches to Qur’anic studies suggest various structures of some Qur’anic suras but not the entirety of the Qur’an. Only the thematic unity approach seems to attempt a theoretical explanation that suggests that each sura has a core topic around which all other topics in the sura revolve (Mir 1993, Qutb 1967). However, it does not provide any specific methods or a theoretical framework as to how to work out the sura section-division accordingly. As a result, various scholars attempted to divide the same sura into sections and explain those sections within a ring-structure framework, but each proposed a different structure and section division (Farrin 2010, Klarr 2017). Robinson (2001) tried to reach a number of ‘clues’ to use more concrete indications of section division in Qur’anic suras than mere guessing. One of his clues was words that are classified in linguistics as discourse markers. More recently, (El-Awa 2006), Reda-Tahry (2010), Neuwirth (2012) and Dror (2017) listed a number of expressions that could be classed within the same linguistic category. In a recent study, El-Awa (forthcoming) identified discourse markers that have been positioned at the beginning of all sections of sura 20 and a very large percentage of its sentences and verses. In this paper, I examine to what extent discourse markers act as indicators of text division into sections, or possibly other textual units, (e.g. paragraphs). I do this by examining some of the existing text divisions by a variety of scholars using both synchronic and diachronic, classical and contemporary approaches to sura interpretation, and who have divided various Qur’anic suras into sections that happen to begin with discourse markers. In order to establish their role as text organising/text dividing tools, I will identify those discourse markers, then analyse their use and function in their contexts using contemporary text studies and linguistics theory drawing on (Fischer (ed) 2006). This study will highlight the role of discourse markers as text organising tools in indicating section-divisions to recipients of the Qur’anic text, regardless of the classification of their approach within Qur’anic studies. It will also establish to what extent discourse markers could be used in the search for structure and section-division in future analysis of the Quranic suras. Additionally, the overall research conducted in the paper will highlight the need for linguistic theory as an essential aid to Qur’anic studies scholars in their analysis of the Qur’anic text.
Qur’an, structure, coherence, discourse markers, text linguistics, thematic approach, structural approach