Evaluating variant readings of the Qurʾān through corpus linguistics: the verb ʾarsala

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


In his exegesis of Q 51:33, Ibn ʿAṭiyya (d. 541 AH / 1147 CE) remarked that ʾarsala ʿalā and ʾarsala ilā occur in similar contexts, however, with less resolve (ʾaḫaff) in the latter case. He also pointed out that in Q 17:68-69, Ibn Kaṯīr and Abū ʿAmr read the present tense verb twice with a different dotting, i.e. relating to a different subject. This paper will analyse the 130 instances of the verb arsala in the Qurʾān in dependence of the verb’s subject, its tense, mood, voice, and polarity. One can observe that instances of arsala ʿalā occur in the context of exemplifying divine chastisement and power – except for Q 6:6, 11:52 and 77:11 (as-samāʾa … midrāran ‘abundant rain from the sky’). It will be demonstrated that the differences go back to discourse, which is not only marked by prepositions but also by the tense of the verb ʾarsala and its subject and object. Based on this paper, the historical readings can be refuted as not conforming to the Qurʾānic discourse around stories of threat and punishment.
Period2 May 2023
Event titleCollegium Coranicum
Event typeSeminar
LocationBerlin, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational