The topic of the Qur’an’s naẓm, “arrangement” or “composition,” has achieved significant interest in contemporary study of the scripture, giving rise to a number of extremely interesting and insightful studies of the coherence and structure of the Qur’anic suras.  Here I would like to provide a bibliography of such studies in English for interested readers and students of the Qur’an.  This post can be continually updated as further studies in this field are published.

First, however, I would like to give mention of two contemporary pioneering works outside of the English language.  First, Amin Ahsan Islahi has written a commentary of the entire Qur’an in Urdu focused on the study of coherence, titled Tadabbur-i Qur’ān (Pondering the Qur’an).  His commentary of suras 32-114 have been translated into English and may be found on http://www.tadabbur-i-quran.org/text-of-tadabbur-i-quran/.  For studies of this commentary in English, see Mustansir Mir, Coherence in the Qur’an (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1986), as well as Neal Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown UP, 2003), pp. 271-283.

Second, the formal structure of all of the Meccan suras, and especially the early Meccan suras, has been studied by Angelika Neuwirth, Studien Zur Komposition Der Mekkanischen Suren (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1981). Although this work has yet to be translated into English, her findings are refined by Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text), pp. 97-161.  Neuwirth’s structural or thematic divisions of the Meccan suras are also outlined in an appendix by Carl Ernst, How to Read the Qur’an: A New Guide, With Select Translations (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), pp. 213-222.

What follows is a bibliography of coherence-based studies of particular suras in English.

MECCAN SURAS

Sura 1: The Opening (al-Fātiḥa)

  • Michel Cuypers, “Semitic Rhetoric as a Key to the Question of the Naẓm of the Qur’anic Text” Coherence in the Qur’an 13 no. 1 (2011): 13-15.
  • Raymond Farrin, Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation: A Study of Symmetry and Coherence in Islam’s Holy Text, Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 2014, 1-7.

Sura 12: Joseph (Yusuf)

  • Mustansir Mir, “The Qur’anic Story Of Joseph: Plot, Themes, And Characters,” Muslim World1 (1986): 1-3, points out the chiastic structure of the sura.
  • Michel Cuypers, “Semitic Rhetoric,” 15-19, offers a deeper and more refined analysis of the sura as a ring composition.

Sura 15: al-Ḥijr

  • Ernst, 111-120, underscores the structure of the sura and its anchors with earlier suras.

Sura 17: The Night Journey (al-Isrā’)

  • Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an, 188-195.

Sura 23: The Believers (al-Mu’minūn)

  • Neal Robinson, “The Structure and Interpretation of Sūrat al-Mu’minūn,” Journal of Qur’anic Studies 2, no. 1 (2000): 89-106.

Sura 51: The Scatterers (adh-Dhāriyāt)

  • Mir, Coherence in the Qur’an, 39-41, summarizes Hamid al-Din Farahi’s analysis of the sura.
  • Ernst, 78, outlines the structure and balance of the sura.

Sura 53: The Star (an-Najm)

  • Ernst, 98-104, provides some observations on the structure and balance of the sura.

Suras 54: The Moon (al-Qamar) and 55: The All-Merciful (ar-Raḥmān) (as a sura pair)

  • Farrin, Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation, 63-69.

Sura 55: The All-Merciful (ar-Raḥmān) – also 54 and 56

  • Muhammad Abdel Haleem, “Context and Internal Relationships: Keys to Qur’anic Exegesis” Approaches to the Qur’an, eds. G. R. Hawting and Abdul-Kader A. Shareef (London: Routledge, 1993), 71-98; also presented in Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Understanding the Qur’an: Themes and Styles, 3rd ed. (London: I.B. Taurus, 2011), 161-186.

Sura 75: The Resurrection (al-Qiyama)

  • Neal Robinson, “The Qur’ān as the Word of God” in Heaven and Earth: Essex Essays in Theology and Ethics, ed. Andrew Linzey and Peter J. Wexler (Worthing: Churchman, 1986), 38-54.
  • Salwa M.S. El-Awa, Textual Relations in the Qur’ān: Relevance, Coherence, and Structure (Routledge: New York, 2006), 101-159.

Sura 78: The News (an-Naba’)

  • Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an, 167-176.

Sura 79: The Pullers (an-Nāzi‘āt)

  • Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an, 177-188.

Sura 101: The Crashing Blow (al-Qāri‘a)

  • Cuypers, “Semitic Rhetoric,” 7-9.

 

MEDINAN SURAS

Sura 2: The Cow (al-Baqara)

  • Mustansir Mir, “The Sūra as a Unity: A Twentieth Century Development in Qur’an Exegesis” in Approaches to the Qur’an, eds. G. R. Hawting and Abdul-Kader A. Shareef, eds. (London: Routledge, 1993), 211–24; reprinted in Colin Turner, ed., The Koran: Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies (4 vols. London: Routledge, 2004), vol. 4, 198–209.
  • Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an, 201-223.
  • H. Mathias Zahniser, “Major Transitions and Thematic Borders in Two Long Sūras: al-Baqara and al-Nisā’” in Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qur’an, ed. Issa J. Boulatta (Richmond: Curzon, 2000), 26–55.
  • David E. Smith, “The Structure of al-Baqarah,” Muslim World 91 (2001): 121–36.
  • Raymond Farrin, “Surat al-Baqara: A Structural Analysis,” Muslim World1 (2010): 17-32.
  • Farrin, Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation, 9-21.
  • Nevin Rida El-Tehry, Textual Integrity and Coherence in the Qur’an: Repetition and Narrative Structure in Surat al-Baqara (PhD diss., University of Toronto, Toronto, 2010).

Sura 3: The House of ‘Imrān (Āl ‘Imrān)

  • Neal Robinson, “Surat Al ‘Imran and Those with the Greatest Claim to Abraham,” Coherence in the Qur’an 6, no. 2 (2004): 1-21.
  • Neal Robinson, “The Dynamics of Surah Āl ‘Imrān” Pak Tae-Shik, Saramui Jonggyo, Jonggyoui Saram (Seoul: Baobooks, 2008), 425-486.
  • Farrin, Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation, 24-32.
  • Bilal Gökkir, “Form and Structure of Sura Maryam—A Study from Unity of Sura Perspective,” Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi 16, no. 1 (2006): 1-16.

Sura 4: Women (an-Nisā’)

  • Mustansir Mir, Coherence in the Qur’an (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1986), 46-62, provides a summary and analysis of Islahi’s study of the structure and coherence of the sura.
  • A. H. Mathias Zahniser, “Major Transitions and Thematic Borders in Two Long Sūras: al-Baqara and al-Nisā” in Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qur’an, ed. Issa J. Boulatta (Richmond: Curzon, 2000), 26–55.
  • A. H. Mathias Zahniser, “Sura as Guidance and Exhortation: The Composition of Surat al-Nisa” in Humanism, Culture, and Language in the Near East: Studies in Honor of Georg Krotkoff, ed. Asma Afsaruddin and A.H. Mathias Zahnisr (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1997), 71-86.

Sura 5: The Dining Table (al-Mā‘ida)

  • Neal Robinson, “Hands Outstretched: Towards a Re-Reading of Surat al-Mā’ida” Coherence in the Qur’an 3, no. 1 (2001): 1-19.
  • Michel Cuypers, The Banquet: A Reading of the Fifth Sura of the Qur’an, trans. Patricia Kelly (Miami: Convivium Press, 2009); cf. Cuypers, “Semitic Rhetoric,” 9-13.

Sura 33: The Confederations (al-Aḥzāb)

  • El-Awa, Textual Relations in the Qur’ān, 45-100.

Sura 60: She Who is to Be Examined (al-Mumtaḥana)

  • Ernst, 163-166, analyzes the sura as a ring composition.

Suras 113: Daybreak (al-Falaq) and 114: Mankind (an-Nās) as a sura pair

  • Farrin, Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation, 22-24.