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"Qur’anic Prosody: Sound, Sense and the Sacred" by Devin J. Stewart (September 2018)

"Qur'anic Prosody: Sound, Sense and the Sacred" by Devin J. (…)

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The Author

Dr. Stewart received a B.A. magna cum laude in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 1984, completed the CASA program in Arabic at the American University in Cairo in 1985, and earned a Ph.D. with distinction in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. He has been at Emory since 1990 and has conducted research in Egypt and Morocco in 1992, 1996, 1998, and 2000. He has taught widely in the areas of Arabic, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies, including courses on the Qur’an, Islam, History of the Middle East, Great books of the Islamic world, and advanced seminars on Egyptian Arabic dialect and medieval Arabic texts. His research has focused on Islamic law and legal education, the text of the Qur’an, Shiite Islam, Islamic sectarian relations, and Arabic dialectology. His published works include Islamic Legal Orthodoxy: Twelver Shiite Responses to the Sunni Legal System (University of Utah Press, 1998) and a number of articles on leading Shiites scholars of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. His work on the Qur’an includes "Sajfi in the Qur’an: Prosody and Structure" [ Journal of Arabic Literature 21 (1990): 101-39] and "Rhymed Prose" ( Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, forthcoming). His studies on Arabic dialects include "Clitic Reduction in the Formation of Modal Prefixes in the Post-Classical Arabic Dialects and Classical Arabic Sa-/ Sawfa." Arabica 45 (1998): 104-28, "Impoliteness Formulae: The Cognate Curse in Egyptian Arabic" Journal of Semitic Studies 42 (1997): 327-60 and other studies. At present, Dr. Stewart is working on a major investigation of manuals of Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh) authored between 800 and 1000 C.E., a study of rhyme and rhythm in the text of the Qur’an, and several other projects. (Source:


This is a wide-ranging monograph on rhyme and rhythm in the Qur’an, drawing on and attempting to synthesize several disparate strands of medieval and modern criticism.
It identifies, analyses, evaluates, and critiques the major discussions extant from the medieval Islamic patrimony, primarily in rhetorical manuals but also in commentaries on the Qur’an and various ancillary genres, which reveal the workings of Qur’anic prosody.


1 Saj’ in the Qur’an
2 The Accentual Meter of Qur’anic Saj’
3 Poetic License in the Qur’an
4 Cognate Substitution
5 Periphrasis
6 Classulae in the Qur’an
7 al-Zamakhshari, Ibn al-Athir, and Hysteron Proteron in the Qur’an
8 Verse Division and Rhyme in the Qur’an
9 Forgetting Rhyme in Qur’anic Commentary
10 The Qira’at and Rhyme

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