Fables of the Ancients?: Folklore in the Qur'an by Alan Dundes

By Alan Dundes

Given the frequent consensus that the Qur'an was once in oral culture sooner than being dedicated to written shape, it's going to come as no shock to profit that the Qur'an nonetheless bears the lines of its unique oral shape. the sphere of data so much excited by oral culture is folkloristics, the research of folklore. Folklorist Alan Dundes has rigorously and respectfully documented a few of these unmistakable lines. those strains comprise a number of oral formulation repeated during the Qur'an in addition to numerous conventional folktales. simply as Jesus successfully used parables to get His message throughout, so comparable potential are to be present in the Qur'an. The scholarly id of formulation and folktales within the Qur'an represents a completely new method of this world-famous non secular textual content. not just does it supply perception into the elemental composition of this sacred rfile, yet for readers now not formerly conversant in the Qur'an, it pinpoints and makes obtainable a number of the central issues contained therein.

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One could perhaps justifiably argue that duplicate texts should not be counted as single iterations of a given formula. O n the contrary, the fact that whenever a given narrative element appears, it always utilizes the same formula could be construed as a positive indication that oralformulaic technique is involved. For example, there are numerous allusions to the story of Moses and in almost all of them, there is a formula in which the Pharaoh threatens Moses and the Israelites by saying that he will “cut off their hands and feet on alternate sides” (5:33, 7:124, 20:71,26:49).

Satan, in contrast, has many fewer formulaic attributes. “Satan made their foul deeds seem fair to them” (6:43, 8:48, 16:63, 27:24, 29:38, 3523, 47:14, cf. 3:14, 9:37, 40:37). And Satan is labeled an “acknowledged enemy (foe)” (2:168, 208; 6:142, 7:22, 125, 1753, 35:6, 36:60, 43:62). When Allah ordered all the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam, “they all prostrated themselves except Iblis” (2:34, 711, 15:31, 1761, 18:50,20:116). ”) Sometimes the same formula can be used with both Satan and Allah.

They are also characterized as fickle, turning to Allah only in times of crisis, but then forgetting Him once the crisis is past: “When man is afflicted with adversity, he turns to Allah and calls upon Him” (10:12,16:53,30:33,39:8, 49; cf. 4151). They are described as frequently swearing that if such and such occurred, they would become believers: “And they swear by Allah the most solemn oaths” (553, 6:109, 16:38,24:53,35:42), but they are insincere. They use these oaths simply to mask their faithlessness.

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