The Quran is the sacred text of Islam. Exegetes mention that the Qur’an is made up of revelations made by the Eternal Creator God to Prophet Muhammad. The Koran is, to this day, considered to be the first and oldest authentic literary document known in Arabic. The Muslim tradition even presents it as the first work in Arabic with the specific character of inimitability. The beauty of its structure and the moral and ethical principles confined to it remain unique. How has this Holy Book and Islamic tradition influenced literature and poetry over time?
The Koran and literature
The origins of Islam and the Qur’an mainly take place in the context of pre-Islamic Arabia. This is particularly at the crossroads of several cultures and traditions of literary and intellectual productions. The Koran is therefore born in a context already influenced by its Arab origins and by a more universal critical thought.
The Sacred Book is considered the first authentic literary reference in the Arabic language. The first Muslim generations would have even tried to impose the idea of a superiority of the Arabic language, that of the Koran. The Koranic language has been the subject of much research. The studies focused on ancient Arabic literature, contemporary and after the elaboration of the Koran.
Modern and Arab-Muslim analysts have been surprised by the great linguistic homogeneity of the entire Koranic corpus. They noted:
- its aesthetics,
- its originality,
- its nature and
- its various forms.
The stylistic variety of the Sacred Text will then serve as a model for the later literary developments of this language. It allowed the introduction of new elements which will play a fundamental role. Other aspects of Qur’anic rhetoric will serve as the basis for several studies on languages and literatures.
The Koran and poetry
The Institute of Cultures of Islam has dedicated a study to the great Arab poet Al Mutanabbî. He is considered one of the greatest Arab poets. He acquired this notoriety thanks to his mastery of the Arabic language and the poetic declamations he made of it. He bequeaths a heritage of more than 300 poems which give a vision of the Arab life of the 10th century.
Several contemporary authors and historians admit that his poetic texts are inspired by the Koran. This dynamic led to a reading of the Koran in a rigorous, critical and objective manner. In turn, the Qur’anic source has sparked greater propaganda of poetic and so-called inspired messages.
Pre-Islamic poetry is basically oral tradition literature. Certain linguistic characteristics of pre-Islamic poetry (rhyme, syntax, uses of formulas) bring it closer to the language of the Koran. The Koranic influence has favored the development of research on the literature of oral tradition.
Researchers have examined and interpreted Islamic traditions against and in favor of poetry. These initially considered poetry as the “pre-square” of the ancient Arabs. Thus, they tended to limit the preponderance of the poetic fact over the religious question. This tendency will be turned upside down much later, thanks to a particular experience between Prophet Muhammad and a poet.
This experience will lead to a new relationship between the poetic corpus and Islamic literature. Thus, the intervention of the Prophet and his entourage will make it possible to observe a moderate desire to recognize and promote the poetic canon.