Sūrat Maryam (Part 9)
Part 9 of observations on the organization, coherence, and structure of Sūrat Maryam
Section [A’] - Denying the True Reality
The final section of this sūrah is one of the lengthiest, and thus contains multiple sub-sections within it. Overall, it appears this section can be summarized into a simple ring structure as so:
[A18/A18’] - The opening of this ring says that Allah ﷻ “will save those who had God-consciousness (ittaqaw),” but the details of how they will be brought to Allah ﷻ for saving is mentioned in the complementary section when Allah ﷻ says that He “will gather the God-conscious (muttaqīn)” as an “honored delegation.”
The parallel āyāt also link the disbelievers with the “devils (shayāṭīn).” In the top āyāt, Allah ﷻ swears to gather the disbelievers and “devils (shayāṭīn)” and repeats the sentiment in the bottom āyāt when He says that He “sent the devils (shayāṭīn) upon the disbelievers, inciting them to [evil].”
We also learn that everyone will be brought to observe Hell (wāridu-hā). Using the same Arabic root, Allah ﷻ says in the parallel section that Allah ﷻ will “drive the criminals to Hell in thirst (wirdan).”
Both sections conclude in a similar manner. Allah ﷻ rhetorically asks in [A18], “And how many a generation have We destroyed before them (wakam ahlaknā qabla-hum min qarnin) who were better in possessions and [outward] appearances?” He ﷻ then repeats the question at the conclusion of the sūrah saying, “And how many a generation have We destroyed before them (wakam ahlaknā qabla-hum min qarnin)? Do you perceive any of them or hear from them a sound?” These disbelievers used to boast and feel so proud of their material wealth, but Allah ﷻ so completely removed them from this earth that there are no traces of their grandeur anymore.
[A19] - At the center we see the reward of the believers sandwiched by the arrogance of the disbelievers. The center is acting like a summary of the surrounding subsections as it touches on the themes of denial, fate, and accounting told in more detail around it.
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While the above structuring may seem a bit convoluted at first, the organization becomes much clearer once we break down each subsection into its individual parts. For example, [A18] can be further broken down into its own ring structure:
[A18.1/A18.1’] - The outsides of the ring describe the denial of all aspects of liability. The disbelievers deny being resurrected after death, they deny being brought for judgment before Allah ﷻ, and they deny any type of accountability for their corrupt actions, both in this life and the next.
[A18.2] - The center mentions the fate of both believers and disbelievers. Those who feared standing before Allah ﷻ on the Day of Judgment, and acted accordingly, will be saved. And those who deny any such accounting will be left kneeling before Hellfire before eventually being thrown in.
[A19] can also be made into a smaller ring structure:
[A19.1/A19.1’] - The ring begins by describing those who were arrogant on account of their superior numbers and wealth. Accordingly, the ring ends with the disbelievers boastfully claiming that they will “surely be given wealth and children [in the next life].” Allah ﷻ utilizes the conclusion of this ring to refute their baseless claim.
The beginning says that Allah ﷻ will “extend (madd)” the disbelievers in time and wealth to given them a false sense of security. In the corresponding āyāt, Allah ﷻ says that He will “extend (madd)” the disbelievers in punishment on account of their lies and denial of accounting.
[A19.2] - The center describes the fate of the believers who presumably did not exhibit the arrogance highlighted in the surrounding text.
And finally, even [A18’] can be made into a ring structure:
[A18.3/A18.3’] - The final ring begins by imploring the believers to “not be impatient over [the disbelievers]. We only count them out to a limited number (ʿaddā).” [A18.3’] then begins with Allah ﷻ assuring the believers that He “enumerated [the disbelievers] and counted them a [full] accounting (ʿaddā).”
The “God-conscious (muttaqīn)” are also mentioned at the tail ends of each section. The first time is in reference to them being gathered to the Most Merciful and the second time is when the Messenger ﷺ is told that the Quran was revealed in their native tongue in order to “give good news thereby to the God-conscious (muttaqīn).”
[A18.4] - The center of this ring is a final summary and conclusion of the arguments made against the divinity of Christ. The greatest blasphemy one can commit is to associate partners with Allah ﷻ, and in case the arguments before were too subtle, Allah ﷻ clearly spells out the crime of attributing a son to Him.
We will continue our study next week :)