The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why forgeries were written for the Qur'an

What was the purpose of a sura?

First, we need a context; so I'll offer how I, personally, get the context. I start with the sequence of authorship, as determined through redaction-critical criteria: each sura quoting the canon its audience already accepted. Most of my projects argue for these directions of dependence. At the same time, I have the argument that suras 13 and 14 are political, making the most sense as products of circa 680 AD. The project "Four Gates To The Garden", and the cluster around the Zubayrid interregnum, take up this case.

Here is a list of suras from 679 AD and beyond, grouped by purpose:

  • Political: 9, 13, 14, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29, 38, 40, 57, 58, 61
  • Sira: 66
  • Legal: 65
  • Apocalyptic: 50
  • Ritual: 22, 41
  • Apologetic: 43, 46 (first edition)
  • Homiletic: 19, 32, 35, 39, 60

I'll warn here that this list is not exhaustive. I haven't written dedicated projects for all of them - suras 9, 19, 43, 50, and 60 are handled in footnotes or in thematic projects. And there are many suras I don't date yet - or can't.

They also overlap. In form, they are all homilies exhorting to worship of "God alone". Beyond that: sura 21 adds apocalyptic urgency to its policy; the two ritual suras have political reasons for what they command. Other readers could easily suggest additional overruns.

In practice, the call to come to God alone is usually a literary device, to "open your breast" to the sura's real message. It's exactly like how the mosquito uses its venom to numb your skin so it can slide its snout into your bloodstream.

I have to admit that these suras do not impress me. Too many are political. This collection, this appendix to Mu'awiya's Qur'an, amounts to the most cynical text of which I know.

UPDATE 6/19/2011: Figured sura 32 was worth posting here.


posted by Zimri on 10:58 | link | 0 comments

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