Abou-Bakr, Omaima: “Bride of the Qurʾān”: An Aesthetic Reading of Sūrat ar-Raḥmān, in Dorpmüller, Sabine et al. (Hrsg.): Religion and Aesthetic Experience: Drama—Sermons—Literature, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 2018 (Heidelberg Studies on Transculturality, Band 4), S. 91–106. https://doi.org/10.17885/heiup.416.c5913

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Omaima Abou-Bakr

“Bride of the Qurʾān”: An Aesthetic Reading of Sūrat ar-Raḥmān

Abstract This chapter consists of three main parts: first, a revisiting of the trend initiated by Amī n al-Khū lī (1895–1966)—that of the literary approach to the Qurʾānic text—as well as the religious and intellectual debates it sparked at the time around the issue of the divine inimitability (iʿjāz) of the Qurʾān and the legitimacy of moving from the basic classical notion of rhetorical analysis (balāgha) to the modern concept of literary criticism and aesthetics. Three examples of that early modern school of interpretation will be mentioned: the controversial 1947 PhD thesis (Cairo University) by Muḥ ammad Aḥ mad Khalaf Allāh entitled “Narrative Art in the Qurʾān;” ʿĀ ʾishaʿAbd ar-Raḥ mān’s (d. 1999) At-Tafsr al-bayānli-l-Qurʾān (The Rhetorical Interpretation of the Qurʾān, 1962); and Sayyid Quṭb’s At-Tawr al-fannfl-Qurʾān (Artistic Illustration in the Qurʾān, 1945). Second, another brief revisiting of the critical school of New Criticism and its emphasis on form is presented. Third, there will be an attempt at an application of New Criticism’s mode of analysis to Sūrat ar-Raḥmān (Chapter 55: The Compassionate), a reading which can yield an appreciation of its aesthetic characteristics and metaphysical vision at the same time—an integration of textual, spiritual, and moral beauty.