Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/61

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introduction.

how a next following sentence, explanatory of or completing the first, would be much more clear and forcible if it consisted of words of a similar shape and implying similar modifications of other ideas. It follows then that the two sentences would be necessarily symmetrical, and the presence of rhythm would not only please the ear but contribute to the better understanding of the sense, while the rhyme would mark the pause in the sense and emphasize the proposition.

The Qur′ân is written in this rhetorical style, in which the clauses are rhythmical though not symmetrically so, and for the most part end in the same rhyme throughout the chapter.

The Arabic language lends itself very readily to this species of composition, and the Arabs of the desert in the present day employ it to a great extent in their more formal orations, while the literary men of the towns adopt it as the recognised correct style, deliberately imitating the Qur′ân.

That the best of Arab writers has never succeeded in producing anything equal in merit to the Qur′ân itself is not surprising. In the first place, they have agreed beforehand that it is unapproachable, and they have adopted its style as the perfect standard; any deviation from it therefore must of necessity be a defect. Again, with them this style is not spontaneous as with Mohammed and his contemporaries, but is as artificial as though Englishmen should still continue to follow Chaucer as their model, in spite of the changes which their language has undergone. With the prophet the style was natural, and the words were those used in every-day ordinary life, while with the later Arabic authors the style is imitative and the ancient words are introduced as a literary embellishment. The natural consequence is that their attempts look laboured and unreal by the side of his impromptu and forcible eloquence.

That Mohammed, though, should have been able to challenge even his contemporaries to produce anything like the Qur′ân, ‘And if ye are in doubt of what we have revealed