The Qur'an: Language,Style and Translation in English Part A

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1 or Year 2
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

As one of the major modules in the MA in Islamic Studies, The Qur’an: Language, Style and Translation is central to the main objectives of encouraging concentrated study of the sources of Islam. Building on students’ basic knowledge of the contents and structure of the Qur’an, the module aims to engender a deeper understanding of the linguistic and rhetorical features of the Qur’anic text. A unique aspect of this module is the detailed study of the Arabic rhetorical disciplines as they developed in tandem with the development of the Qur’anic sciences. In addition, English translations of the Qur’an are compared, contrasted and evaluated. The module is divided into Parts A and B.


This is essentially a text-based module, so it requires, in addition to the qualifications for the MA degree, that students are able to read and comprehend Islamic texts written in classical Arabic.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this module students will be acquainted with the characteristics of the language and style of the Qur'an, which will enable them to have a better understanding of its meaning and impact on the reader/listener. They will be able to compare, contrast and evaluate some of the best-known existing English translations of the Qur'an.


This module is taught over 10 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week, consisting of a 1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

Language and style of the Qur’an - especially the Meccan suras.

Issues such as the following will be discussed:

  • Conciseness and multiplicity of meaning
  • The structure and purpose of the surahs and sequence of ideas
  • Sound and rhythm
  • Context and intertextuality
  • Iltifat
  • Al-fasl wa’l-wasl
  • Hadhf
  • Al-wujuh wa’l-naza’ir
  • Levels of emphasis
  • Terminology
  • Appeal to reason and emotions
  • Tools of Impact

Method of assessment

  • 40% - Annotated bibliography (1,000 words)
  • 60% - Essay (2,000 words)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

  • Abd Al-Salām, ‘Izz al-Dīn b., Majaz al-Qur’an, Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, London 1999.
  • Abdel Haleem, M., Understanding the Qur’an: Themes and Style, IB Tauris, 2001 / 2010.
    • The Qur’an: A New Translation OUP, 2004
    • Journal of Qur’anic Studies, EUP 1999 ff.
    • 'Grammatical Shift for Rhetorical Purposes: Iltifat and related features in the Qur'an', in BSOAS 1992, LV 3, pp. 407-32
    • 'Qur'anic Orthography: the Written presentation of the Recited Text of the Qur'an', Islamic Quarterly XXXVIII, 3, 1994, pp. 171-92.
  • Al-Hamalawi, A, Shadha'l-'arf fi fann al-Sarf, Cairo, many editions.
  • Badawi E. and Abdel Haleem M.A.S. ‘An Arabic English Dictionary of Qur’anic Usage,’
  • Baker, Mona, In Other Words, Routledge, London 1992
  • Bell, R and Watt, M., Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, Edinburgh University Press, 1970 and later editions.
  • Draz, M.A., Madkhal ila-l-Qur'an al-Karim, Kuwait, 1981.
  • Draz, M.A., Introduction to the Qur’an, IB Tauris 2000.
  • Draz, M.A., Al-naba' al-azim, Kuwait, 1984.
  • Al-Hashimi, A.A., Jawahir al-balagha, Beirut, 1986.
  • Hassan, Tammam, Al-Bayan fi Rawa’i’ al-Qur’an, Cairo, Alam al-Kutub 1993.
  • Hassan, A, Al-nahw al-wafi, Cairo, 1969.
  • Hatim, B., and Mason, I., Discourse and the Translator, New York 1990
  • McCauliffe, J.D. Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, Brill 2001
  • Mir, Mustansir, Coherence in the Qur’an, Indianapolis, American Trust Publications, 1986.
  • Newmark, P, Approaches to Translation, Oxford 1982.
  • Nida, E.A. Towards a Science of Translating. With special reference to principles and procedures involved in Bible Translating, Brill, Leiden 1964
  • Robinson, Neal, Discovering the Qur’an, 1996.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules