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Quranic Material Development

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INTRODUCTION

This writer seeks to explore the possibility of using extracts of selected surah from both versions of the English language translations of the meaning of the Quran by Muhammad Asad and Abdullah Yusuh Ali.  These extracts will be applied in a literature classroom situation.

The task of a literature teacher is to provide a text and to get the student to explore the text in order to establish an understanding of the text.  To test the students’ understanding of the text, the teacher goes about making it problematic for the students to see beyond what is written.  This involves asking questions which need conclusions to be drawn and how the text differs from conventional ways of a description.

This writer attempts to take extracts of surah As-Saff and Al-Mursalat from The Message of the Quran -English language translation of the meaning of the Quran by Muhammad Asad and The Holy Quran -English language translation of the meaning of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and use these extracts as literary texts.  Exercises for literary understanding are then devised to show how these extracts may be used in the literature classroom.

EXERCISE 1

Verses twelve and thirteen of Surah As-Saff (A) by MA are used for the first exercise.

If you do so,  He will forgive you your sins, and in the life to come will admit you into gardens through which running waters flow, and into goodly mansions in those gardens of perpetual bliss : that will be the triumph  supreme!

And withal, He will grant you yet another thing that you dearly love :  Succour from God in this world, and a victory soon to come :  and thereof, O Prophet, give thou a glad tiding to all who believe.

Q1 Where would you find a description of this kind?

Q2 What do you think it is describing?

Q3 What do you think you would have to do to get what is described above?

Q4 Can you guess the meaning of the word “succour” just by reading the two   

       paragraphs above?

EXERCISE 2

Verses two and three of Surah As – Saff  (A) by AYA are used for the second exercise.

O ye who believe!

Why say ye that

Which ye do not?

Grievously hateful is it

In the sight of Allah

That ye say that

Which ye do not.

Q1  Explain in your own words what the question  means in lines 2 and 3.

Q2  Why do you think it is hateful in the sight of God that “ye say that which ye do not”?

 EXERCISE 3

Verses seven to thirteen of Surah Al – Mursalat  (B) by MA are used for the third exercise.

Behold all that you are told to expect will surely come to pass. 

Thus, it will come to pass when the stars are effaced,

and when the sky is rent asunder,

and when the mountains are scattered like dust,

and when all the apostles are called together at a time appointed …

For what day has the term of all this been set?

For the Day of Distinction between the true and the false!

Q1  Have you been told of this Day?

Q2  What have you been told to expect after death?

Q3 Can you guess the meanings of the words “effaced” and “asunder” just by   

      reading the above verses?

Q4 What is the connection of these: the stars, the sky, the mountains and the 

      apostles?

 EXERCISE 4

Verses one to six of Surah Al-Mursalat (B) by AYA are used for the fourth exercise.

By the Winds Sent Forth

One after another

(To man’s profit);

Which then blow violently

In tempestuous Gusts,

And scatter things

Far and wide;

Then separate them,

One from another,

Then spread abroad

A Reminder,

Whether of Justification

Or of Warning;

Q1  Make your own sentences with these idioms:

a)  One after another

b)  Far and wide

c)  One from another

Q2  What do the words “sent forth” suggest in line 1 and why?

Q3  What do you think the “things” that are scattered  in line 6 and why?  

 CONCLUSION 

The objective of this paper is to explore the possibility of using extracts from the two translated versions of the English language translations of the meaning of the Quran as literary texts for the teaching of the literature.

Four exercises for literary understanding accommodated extracts from surah As-Saff and Al-Mursalat from the English language translations of the meaning of the Quran by Muhammad Asad and Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

For the first exercise, verses twelve and thirteen of surah As-Saff were used.  Questions were devised based on the verses which are describing Paradise. The questions are stimulating especially if the students were not informed as to where the verses came from in the beginning of the lesson.  After the lesson is over, then they could be informed.

The description of Paradise could also be the description of beautiful places which they had probably read in story books.  The accessibility of the language is such that the same descriptive words could be used to describe other beautiful places.

Difficult vocabulary can be pointed out and making inferences as to the meaning of the vocabulary can also be done.

The second exercise accommodated verses two and three of surah As-Saff.  The questions devised can definitely test the understanding of the verses itself and deeper concepts can be discussed from there.  These questions can also be answered in an essay form as a written exercise.

The third exercise used verses seven to thirteen of surah Al-Mursalat.  The questions are devised based on the extract of the descriptions of the signs of the Day of Judgement.

This particular exercise is aimed at :

i)       testing the students’ level of Islamic knowledge.

ii)     exposing non-Muslim students to the Day of Judgement of the Muslims

iii)   Muslims can learn what the non-Muslims expect after death

iv)   difficult vocabulary can be pointed out and making inferences of the meaning of the difficult words

v)     leading the students into discussions of deeper concepts

The fourth exercise used verses one to six of surah Al-Mursalat.  The questions are devised based on the extract of the gradual step-by-step revelation of the Quran.

The idioms found in this extract are highlighted and exploited by asking the student to make their own sentences and thus, test their understanding.

Discussions of deeper concepts can also be carried out verbally in pairwork, group work or even as a class. Deeper concepts can be organized  in an essay (written) form.

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By Dr Lubna Almenoar

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