Ulum al Qur'an
CONTENTS ONLINE LIBRARY
The Qur'an is not Poetry
Not only European orientalists have described some passages of the Qur'an as more 'poetic' than others: the opponents of Mu4ammad had already used this argument, accusing him of being a poet or a soothsayer. This is refuted by the Qur'an itself:
'It is not the word of a poet; little it is ye believe! Nor is it the word of a soothsayer: little admonition it is ye receive. (This is) a message sent down from the Lord of the worlds' (Al-Qur'an 69: 40-43).
The accusations against Muhammad refuted in the above passage are based on the usage of a particular style, employed in the Qur'an, which is said to be like saj' or close to it.
The word saj' is usually translated as 'rhymed prose', i.e. a literary form with some emphasis on rhythm and rhyme, but distinct from poetry. Saj' is not really as sophisticated as poetry, but has been employed by Arab poets, and is the best known of the pre-Islamic Arab prosodies. It is distinct from poetry in its lack of metre, i.e. it has no consistent rhythmic pattern, and it shares with poetry the element of rhyme, [Called fasila ( pl. fawasil) when used for the Qur'an] though in many cases somewhat irregularly employed.