Ring Composition in Surat Yusuf (Q 12)

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Jawad Anwar Qureshi



This paper focuses on the structure of Surat Yusuf (Q 12), arguing that the surah demonstrates the most prominent features of ring composition more intricately than scholarship has thus far acknowledged. This paper first considers guidelines for arguing for ring composition, following critical scholarship on ring composition and Mary Douglas' Thinking in Circles. It then demonstrates that Q 12 displays an intricate structure of mirroring, concentric composition, and parallelism, and draws attention to the literary markers and correspondences between mirrored elements throughout the narrative. The final section goes beyond the form of the surah to address its broader argument by placing it in the context of the third Meccan phase of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission. The themes of betrayal, treachery, exile, reconciliation, forbearance, and reunion are central to this narrative and reflect the anxiety and despair of Muhammad in this period. This paper demonstrates the utility of analyzing passages of the Qur'an for ring composition, while adhering to stricter criteria for this type of analysis.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.31441/jiqsa.2.2017.a007

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