Parallelism and Chiasmus in the Quran

The composition of texts in Classical Semitic languages, of which Classical Arabic is a member, exhibits certain patterns which are not commonly seen in modern English compositions. Two such patterns are parallelism and chiasmus.

Using either the prosaic or poetic rules of the English language to deconstruct Quranic verses can sometimes lead to a confused reading. In some cases, one could even misinterpret the verses. Therefore, in this article, I explain these patterns as they can aid in understanding the structure of the verses.

Parallelism

Parallelism occurs when two sets of literary elements are arranged such that the first element of the first set corresponds to the first element of the second set and similarly the second element of the first set corresponds to the second element of the second set.

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Does Islam Preach That Infidels Be Killed?

It does not. A reader asked me this question in 2004 on my old, now defunct, blog, and despite my dislike for how it was phrased, I kept it as-is because it is in the minds of many. My conclusion today is the same as it was then. Actually, as I continued to study Islam in-depth, I became ever more convinced that Islam not only forbids such forms of violence; rather, it preaches quite the opposite.

An imam and Muslims participate in the fourth World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, on Oct 27, 2011. Derivative of a photograph of Stephan Kölliker under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

An imam and Muslims participate in the fourth World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, on Oct 27, 2011. Derivative of the original photograph of Stephan Kölliker under CC BY-SA 3.0.

I am aware that some articles on the Internet argue otherwise. They say that Islam’s primary sources, the Quran and the Sunnah, prohibit Muslims from living in harmony with people of other faiths.

Islam’s primary source, the Quran, contains verses that command the believers to “not kill a soul that God has forbidden, except in the course of justice.”1The Quran 17:33 It applies to everyone, regardless of their religion, race, sex, etc. And the phrase “except in the course of justice” keeps the door open for a state to administer capital punishment for major crimes. Continue reading →

Notes   [ + ]

1. The Quran 17:33