This writer seeks to explore the possibility of using extracts of selected surah from both versions of the English language translations of the meaning of the Quran by Muhammad Asad and Abdullah Yusuh Ali. These extracts will be applied in a literature classroom situation.
The task of a literature teacher is to provide a text and to get the student to explore the text in order to establish an understanding of the text. To test the students’ understanding of the text, the teacher goes about making it problematic for the students to see beyond what is written. This involves asking questions which need conclusions to be drawn and how the text differs from conventional ways of a description.
This writer attempts to take extracts of surah As-Saff and Al-Mursalat from The Message of the Quran -English language translation of the meaning of the Quran by Muhammad Asad and The Holy Quran -English language translation of the meaning of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and use these extracts as literary texts. Exercises for literary understanding are then devised to show how these extracts may be used in the literature classroom.
Verses twelve and thirteen of Surah As-Saff (A) by MA are used for the first exercise.
If you do so, He will forgive you your sins, and in the life to come will admit you into gardens through which running waters flow, and into goodly mansions in those gardens of perpetual bliss : that will be the triumph supreme!
And withal, He will grant you yet another thing that you dearly love : Succour from God in this world, and a victory soon to come : and thereof, O Prophet, give thou a glad tiding to all who believe.
Q1 Where would you find a description of this kind?
Q2 What do you think it is describing?
Q3 What do you think you would have to do to get what is described above?
Q4 Can you guess the meaning of the word “succour” just by reading the two
Verses two and three of Surah As – Saff (A) by AYA are used for the second exercise.
O ye who believe!
Why say ye that
Which ye do not?
Grievously hateful is it
In the sight of Allah
That ye say that
Which ye do not.
Q1 Explain in your own words what the question means in lines 2 and 3.
Q2 Why do you think it is hateful in the sight of God that “ye say that which ye do not”?
Verses seven to thirteen of Surah Al – Mursalat (B) by MA are used for the third exercise.
Behold all that you are told to expect will surely come to pass.
Thus, it will come to pass when the stars are effaced,
and when the sky is rent asunder,
and when the mountains are scattered like dust,
and when all the apostles are called together at a time appointed …
For what day has the term of all this been set?
For the Day of Distinction between the true and the false!
Q1 Have you been told of this Day?
Q2 What have you been told to expect after death?
Q3 Can you guess the meanings of the words “effaced” and “asunder” just by
reading the above verses?
Q4 What is the connection of these: the stars, the sky, the mountains and the
Verses one to six of Surah Al-Mursalat (B) by AYA are used for the fourth exercise.
By the Winds Sent Forth
One after another
(To man’s profit);
Which then blow violently
In tempestuous Gusts,
And scatter things
Far and wide;
Then separate them,
One from another,
Then spread abroad
Whether of Justification
Or of Warning;
Q1 Make your own sentences with these idioms:
a) One after another
b) Far and wide
c) One from another
Q2 What do the words “sent forth” suggest in line 1 and why?
Q3 What do you think the “things” that are scattered in line 6 and why?
The objective of this paper is to explore the possibility of using extracts from the two translated versions of the English language translations of the meaning of the Quran as literary texts for the teaching of the literature.
Four exercises for literary understanding accommodated extracts from surah As-Saff and Al-Mursalat from the English language translations of the meaning of the Quran by Muhammad Asad and Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
For the first exercise, verses twelve and thirteen of surah As-Saff were used. Questions were devised based on the verses which are describing Paradise. The questions are stimulating especially if the students were not informed as to where the verses came from in the beginning of the lesson. After the lesson is over, then they could be informed.
The description of Paradise could also be the description of beautiful places which they had probably read in story books. The accessibility of the language is such that the same descriptive words could be used to describe other beautiful places.
Difficult vocabulary can be pointed out and making inferences as to the meaning of the vocabulary can also be done.
The second exercise accommodated verses two and three of surah As-Saff. The questions devised can definitely test the understanding of the verses itself and deeper concepts can be discussed from there. These questions can also be answered in an essay form as a written exercise.
The third exercise used verses seven to thirteen of surah Al-Mursalat. The questions are devised based on the extract of the descriptions of the signs of the Day of Judgement.
This particular exercise is aimed at :
i) testing the students’ level of Islamic knowledge.
ii) exposing non-Muslim students to the Day of Judgement of the Muslims
iii) Muslims can learn what the non-Muslims expect after death
iv) difficult vocabulary can be pointed out and making inferences of the meaning of the difficult words
v) leading the students into discussions of deeper concepts
The fourth exercise used verses one to six of surah Al-Mursalat. The questions are devised based on the extract of the gradual step-by-step revelation of the Quran.
The idioms found in this extract are highlighted and exploited by asking the student to make their own sentences and thus, test their understanding.
Discussions of deeper concepts can also be carried out verbally in pairwork, group work or even as a class. Deeper concepts can be organized in an essay (written) form.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The Holy Quran. Brentwood, Maryland:Amana Corp., 1983.
Agnew, Lois. “The Civic Function of Taste: A Re-Assessment of Hugh Blair’s Rhetorical Theory.” Rhetoric Society Quaterly. 28.2(1998):25-36.
Al Ghazali, Muhammad and Hasanah, Umar Ubayd. Kayfa Nata’amalu Ma’al Quran : Mudarasah Bayna Alshaykh. Virginia: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1991.
Al-Sha’rawi, Syaykh Muhammad Mitwalli. The Miracles of the Quran. Baker Street, London: Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd., 1980.
Aragon, Louis. Treatise on Style. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.
Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Quran. Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus Limited, 1980.
Asad, Muhammad. The Road to Mecca. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 1996.
Atherton, Catherine. The Stoics of Ambiguity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Babb, H.S. Essays in Stylistics Analysis. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich Inc., 1972.
Baker, Sheridan. The Practical Stylist with Readings and Handbook. New York: Longman, 1998.
Bazerman, Charles. “An Essay on Pedagogy by Mikhail M. Bakhtin.” Written Communication. 22(2005): 333-338.
Berghout, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rahman, Umar and Jazzar, Mohammed Riyad. Oral Inreview. Petaling Jaya: International Islamic University, 1998.
Birch, David and O’Toole, Michael. Functions of Style. London and New York: Pinter Publishers, 1988.
Bishop, Wendy. “Places to Stand. The Reflective Writer-Teacher-Writer in Composition.” College Composition and Communication. 51.1(1999):9-31.
Brumfit, Christopher and Carter, Ronald. Literature and Language Teaching. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Butler, Paul. “Style in the Diaspora of Composition Studies.” Rhetoric Review. 26.1(2007): 5-24.
Carter, Ronald and McCarthy, Michael. Vocabulary and Language Teaching. New York: Longman, 1988.
Carter, R.A. and Long, M. The Web of Words: Language-Based Approaches to Literature: Students and Teachers’ Book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Carter, Ronald and Simpson, Paul. Language, Discourse and Literature: An Introductory Reader in Discourse Stylistics. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.
Chapman, Raymond. Linguistics and Literature. An Introduction to Literary Stylistics. London: Edward Arnold, 1973.
Clark, Matthew. A Matter of Style. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Connors, Robert J. “The Erasure of the Sentence.” College Composition and Communication. 52.1(2000):96-128.
Duff, Alan and Alan Maley. The Inward Ear. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Duff, Alan and Alan Maley. Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Duff, Alan. Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Duffy, Edward. “Sentences in Harry Potter. Students in Future Writing Classes.” Rhetoric Review. 21.1(2002): 170-187.
Elbow, Peter. “The Cultures of Literature and Composition: What could Each Learn from the Other?” College English. 64.5(2002):533-546.
Fawcett, John and Proterough, Robert and Atkinson, Judith. The Effective Teacher of English. London: Longman, 1989.
Farmer, Frank. “On Style and Other Unremarkable Things.” Written Communication. 22(2005):339-347.
Fowler, Rodger. Linguistic Criticism. (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Fromkin, Victoria and Rodman, Robert. An Introduction to Language – 4th ed. Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1988.
Frye, Northrop, Sheridan Warner Baker and Geroge B. Perkins. The Harper Handbook to Literature. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
Frye, Northrop, Sheridan Warner Baker and Geroge B. Perkins. The Practical Imagination: An Introduction to Poetry. New York: Harper & Row, 1983.
Holcomb, Chris. “Performative Stylistics and the Question of Academic Prose.” Rhetoric Review. 24.2(2005):188-206.
Irving, T.B. The Quran. Brattleboro: Amana Books, 1991.
Khalifa, Mohammad. The Sublime Qur’an and Orientalism. Essex, England: Longman Group Ltd., 1983.
Khan, Dr. Mofakhkhar Hussain. English Translations of the Holy Quran. Tokyo: Toppan Company, 1997.
Labom, Jol. Tafsil Ayat AlQuran AlHakim. Lebanon: Dar Alkitab Alarabi, 1963.
Lanhan, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Mawdudi, Abul A’la. Towards Understanding Islam. Leicester: Islamic Foundations, 1980.
Mawdudi, Abul A’la. Towards Understanding the Quran. (Volumes 1-5). Leicester: Islamic Foundations, 1988-1995.
McQuade, D.A. The Territory of Language: Linguistics, Stylistics, and the Teaching of Composition. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.
Moody, H.L.B. The Teaching of Literature in Developing Countries. London: Longman, 1971.
Montet, Edward. AlMustadrak. Lebanon: Dar Alkitab Alarabi, 1963.
Myers, Sharon A. “Remembering the Sentence.” College Composition and Communication. 54.4(2003):610-628.
Perrine, Laurence. Literature – Structure, Sound and Sense – 4th Edition. New York: Hartcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.
Pickthall, M. Marmaduke. The Meaning of the Glorious Koran. New York: Mentor Books, 1963.
Pirie, David B. How to Write Critical Essays: A Guide for Students of Literature. London: Methuen, 1985.
Rahman, Fazlur. Major Themes of the Quran. Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica Inc., 1988.
Short, M.H. Reading, Analyzing and Teaching Literature. London: Longman, 1988.
Short, M.H. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose. London: Longman, 1996.
Spitzer, Leo. Linguistics and Literary History. Essays in Stylistics. New York: Russel & Russel Inc., 1962.
Stevick, Earl W. Images and Options in the Language Classroom. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Von Denffer, Ahmad. Ulum Al-Quran, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran. Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1985.
Widdowson, H.G. Learning Purpose and Language Use. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.
Widdowson, H.G. Teaching Language as Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.
Widdowson, H.G. Stylistics Analysis and the Teaching of Literature. London: Longman, 1974.
Wilkins, D.A. [David Arthur] Second Language Learning and Teaching. London: Edward Arnold, 1974.
Williams, Joseph M. Style: Ten lessons in Clarity and Grace. (7th ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 2002.
Wright, Andrew. Pictures for Language Learning. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Wright, Andrew. How to Improve your Mind.Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1987.