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Kaplony, Andreas (2018): Comparing Quranic Suras with Pre-800 Documents. In: Islam-Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kultur Des Islamischen Orients, Vol. 95, No. 2: pp. 312-366
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Abstract

The dominant formal document type of preserved Arabic pre-800 documents shows a characteristic tripartite structure: in between the invocation and the long main part, there is a self-referring title hadha kitab min fulan 'ila "The following is a writ from so-and-so to so-and-so." The Suras of the Qur'an have the same tripartite structure, but instead of the title can have one of six other options: an oath, a hymn, a reference to an eschatological event, an admonishment, a question, or a threat (or curse). We conclude that the Umayyad officials compiling the Quran wrote the Quran down as a collection of autonomous Suras. A close look at the major Quranic terms used for God (allah, rabb aralamin, and al-rabman) and for Heaven and Hell shows a hegemonic terminology to be found in most Suras, and two minority terminologies - with which the Mysterious Letters are correlated - found in two groups of Suras only. We conclude that prior to the compilation of the Quran, the mostly oral transmission of its texts allowed, if not encouraged, their wording to grow apart.