Intratextual Relationships of Quranic Personalities Pt 1

Quran has approximate forty personalities, most of whom are positive examples for its Readers. These personalities enable us to understand Quran’s philosophy on a practical, human level. Without these personalities, Quran’s teachings would be incredibly abstract. These stories are given the highest commendation in Quran itself (11/120, 12/111) and said to be detailing of every thing and a means of a stabilisation for concepts. Hence, they are not as Traditionalists claim, stories of ‘past shariahs’.

In this essay, we would like to take these analysis one step further. What about the intratexual (within the Quranic text) relationships between these personalities? In Quran these personalities are not of equal weight nor does Allah consider them as such. Some of them are preferred over others (as per 2/253). This does not mean that we the Readers are to consider them with less significance. Rather it is a question of prevalence. *musa* the most mentioned personality (136 times in 31 chapters) would certainly be contemplated on more than luqman (mentioned twice in one passage).

We also do not consider their relationships from a historical perspective. That is, it does not matter where or when these personalities lived. We are seeking an understanding of the verses related to them in order to apply them in our own lives.

I would begin with the four personalities connected with iqam ad-deen (establishing the power relationship with Allah – 42/13). They are *nuh*, *ibrahim* , *musa* and *’isa*. In 42/13, they are connected with iqam ad-deen as well as not to create any divisions therein. In other words, in the total system of ad-deen, these four personalities present various aspects of that system. This coheres with 33/7 which also mentions the four, this time in context of a solemn covenant. The entry in Ch 33 which is about the system of the newsbearer (nabi) shows the end result of these four personalities – the system of peace and justice.

What do these two verses tell us about these personalities? To me, it tells of an organic relationship between them. Perhaps this organic relationship may be expounded further by analysing relationships between any of the four of them. For example, *ibrahim* is said to be ‘shi’atun *nuh* (37/82-83) or belonging to the group of *nuh*. In the QG reading (called the Existential Reading), we do not take this as genealogical. Rather *ibrahim* is a follower of *nuh*’s system. He created a system akin to that of *nuh*’s. *nuh*’s ystem lays the foundation for *ibrahim*’s own system to take place.

There is also an interesting connection between *nuh* and *musa*. In 17/2, we are told that *musa* was given the system (mentioned in 17/1). This system is a guidance for bani israil. In 17/3, we are told that these people bear the elements of whoever was carried by Allah with *nuh*. Here we can see a direct link between *musa* and *nuh*. *musa*’s project summary (mentioned in 17/1) is given a similarity with *nuh*. *nuh* is even called ‘’abdan shakura’ indicating his ideal state of gratefulness to Allah.

*musa* and *ibrahim* enjoy a closer relationship. In the last verse of Ch 87, the statement which links both is simply ‘suhufan ibrahima wa musa’ (87/19) which I understand to be the portions of Quran containing their stories. Here the stories of *musa* and *ibrahim* are said to be better and more enduring (87/17). Interestingly, 53/36-37 also mentions *musa* and *ibrahim* in the same capacity. In this context, their stories are linked with the fact every individual bears his or her own burden and that they will attain whatever they run for (53/38-39).

We now look at the link between *’isa* and *ibrahim*. In the longest narrative on *’isa* (3/35-64), we find his story mentioned with the establishment of the divine system (3/48). This very same system is mentioned with *ibrahim* straight afterwards in 3/65. 3/65 also mentions part of the divine system (tawraat and injeel). This links the system of *’isa* with the concepts related to *ibrahim*.

Finally for the purposes of this essay, we see the connection between *musa* and *isa*. We begin with 2/253 which mentions those with whom Allah converses (kallama Allah) , of whom only *musa* is mentioned explicitly (4/164). Only seven verses down in 4/171, *’isa* is called a ‘word from Him’ (kalimatun minhu). Perhaps this indicates, on an existential level, that *’isa* is the means of divine communication which *musa* experienced?

*musa* and *isa* are also both explicitly with bani israil. Both were sent explicitly to engage with this aspect of human existence. Lastly, both were mentioned in Ch 61 where it seems that those who take liberties with *musa* will be denied the higher experience with *isa*.

From the above examples, we can see that the intratexual relationships between Quranic personalities may convey to its Readers deeper layers of connections between them. This in turn enables us to produce more and more aspects of Quranic wisdom to be applied. In future essays on this topic, we hope to explore other textual relationships to this end.


About Farouk A. Peru

I am a human being in the world, blogging my existence. My thought systems may be found in my website:
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1 Response to Intratextual Relationships of Quranic Personalities Pt 1

  1. nmr says:

    It might be helpful to also do an analysis of what parts of the particular prophet’s life are mentioned and how frequently. For example, with Musa, there are numerous examples of his encounter with Pharaoh and Musa coming down from the mountain and seeing his people worshiping the cow. However, there are no examples in Quran of Musa’s life after finding ‘the promised land’- which quite frankly is a rather tribal and genocidal period of Musa’s life as depicted in the bible.

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