A Journal of Islamic Studies
Another very characteristic stylistic device of the Qur'an is that of anthropomorphization. Thus it describes dawn as breathing away the darkness (78: 10), the night as concealing the sun and veiling the day, the wind as fecundating, causing the rain to fall (15: 22). The sea is likened to ink which, if used, will not suffice to write the words of God:
Say: If the ocean were ink wherewith to write out the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted, even if we added another ocean like it. (18: 109)
Slandering is likened to eating another persons's flesh:
Nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother. (49: 12)
The rhythmic patterns of speech found in Qur'anic recitations is yet another remarkable aspect of the language of the Qur'an. These patterns are a reflection of the special array of words and arrangement of phrases found in the Book. In the view of many scholars such verses combine the characteristics of both poetry and prose.  Unlike some poetry, the verses of the Qur'an do not have one single rhyme, thus there is more room for flexibility and freedom of expression. The Qur'an does, however, reflect certain aspects of poetry, especially with respect to its use of words with identical numbers of syllables. This 'music' is more noticeable in short verses than it is in long ones.  Sayyid Qutb cites sura 53
(al-Najm) as an excellent example of prose rhythm produced by words similar in length and all ending in the same sound, in this case the long a  There is another type of internal rhythm which is inherent in the structure of the single sentence. This is seen when the length of words varies within the same sura. A good example of this is sura 19 (Maryam), which begins with short words and phrases, then changes to longer ones. Furthermore, the rhythms of the various segments are enhanced by the use of two main rhymes throughout the entire sura. These rhymes end either in nun or mim preceded by either ya' or wa'w.
The narrative aspect of Qur'an style remains one of the most creative and innovative of the Holy Book, one which has profoundly influenced and enriched the Arabic language. Whatever narrative style the language had in pre-Islamic times were relatively crude and primitive. Even though the narrative parts of the Qur'an were clearly put to the service of the main theme of the Book, i.e., religion, the narrative was so highly developed and integrated that it became a work of art in itself. The Qur'an is remarkably innovative with respect to its method of presentation, which involves four different techniques. One common technique is that if beginning a story with a short summery, followed by the details from beginning to end, as in sura 18 (al-Kahf). The second technique is that of beginning a story by presenting the conclusion first, then the lesson to be derived from it, and then the story from beginning to end, as in the story of Moses in sura 28 (al-Qasas). The third technique presents the story directly without introduction, as in that of Mary following the birth of Jesus in sura 19 (Maryam), and the story of King Solomon and the ants in sura 27 (al-Naml). The fourth, and perhaps most innovative, technique is that of presenting the story through dramatization. This technique gives only a brief introduction signalling the beginning of the scene, followed by a dramatization of the story with a dialogue among the various characters, as in the story of Abraham and Ismail in sura 2.
An important element in the structure of Qur'anic narrative is the varied use of the element of surprise. In some cases the anticlimax is kept from the main players and spectators, and is unfolded for both simultaneously towards the end, as in sura 18 in the story of Moses and the scholar. Another use of the element of surprise reveals the anticlimax to the audience but conceals it from the characters, who act in total ignorance. The Qur'an commonly uses this technique in situations where satire is intended (satire which is directed at the actors and their behaviour) as in the story in sura 68 (al-Qalam). A third technique reveals part of the anticlimax to the audience while keeping part of it concealed from both the audience and the characters, as in the story in sura 27 (al-Naml).
The structure of Qur'anic narrative displays the well-developed elements of an integrated literary work. One of the elements indispensable to dramatized narrative is change of scenery, which the Qur'an utilizes fully. In the story of Joseph in sura 12, the reader is presented with a succession of scenes, each of which leads to the next, picking up the main thread of the narrative. Joseph's story comprises some twenty-eight scenes, each of which leads to the next in a manner which maintains the organic unity of the entire narrative. All such scenes are presented through dialogues replete with details and ideas. The result of such a well-knit passage is that the reader finds himself drawn to the narrative, moving anxiously from one scene to another. This effect is achieved through a coherent series of events which sustain his curiosity and interest. In one scene, for example, we find one of Joseph's brothers entering the king's court in Egypt where Joseph is the keeper of the store-house. In this scene, Joseph stipulates to his brothers that they should bring their younger brother to the king's court in order to receive provisions. The next scene presents the brothers deliberating among themselves, which is followed by a scene in which they have returned to face their father, Jacob. The following scene takes the brothers back to Egypt to confront Joseph. The presentation of the narrative in dramatic form involving a succession of scenes brings home effortlessly the main theme and the lessons to be derived from the whole narrative. The use of dialogue makes the scenes more vivid and closer to life. This is an art in which the Qur'an excels, and an art in which it is remarkably innovative. It is clearly a form of literary composition which the Qur'an, the first book in Arabic, introduced to the language.
The portrayal of personalities is a very significant element of the narrative; here, again, the Qur'an sets a precedent. The depiction of personalities in the various narratives manages to convey to the reader the precise dimensions and traits of such figures. This is done through the words and actions of the personalities portrayed. In the story of Moses, for example, the reader is readily able to discern, through Moses' actions, the type of aggressive yet emotionally sensitive person he was meant to portray. Conversely, in the story of Abraham, the Qur'anic verses carefully depict a calm, peaceful, and patient personality. This careful and accurate delineation of personality is effected largely through dialogue which skillfully brings out the traits of such personalities. The dialogue, in turn, is rendered even more effective by a very careful choice of words.