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Theological Echoes of Literary Controversies: Reading Abū Bakr al-Bāqillānī’s Iʿjāz al-Qurʾān in Light of the Debate over Badīʿ Style

In: Journal of Arabic Literature
Author:
Rachel Friedman University of Calgary

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Abstract

Islamic theology has normatively considered the Qurʾān to be the Islamic miracle par excellence. This article reads a formative treatise on the topic, Kitāb Iʿjāz al-Qurʾān by Abū Bakr al-Bāqillānī (d. 403/1013), in light of literary debates over badīʿ poetry in the early Abbasid era. It argues that al-Bāqillānī’s theorizing of the Qurʾān’s literary-rhetorical excellence is best understood in this context, demonstrating that his articulation of aesthetic priorities was shaped by the controversy over badīʿ poetry. In particular, the influence of Abbasid literary discourse is evident in the manner in which al-Bāqillānī champions the clear communication of meaning over ornamentation in texts, showing how contemporaneous literary trends and debates shaped Abbasid iʿjāz al-Qurʾān discourse.

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