Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse

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Bibliographic Information
Journal Al-Idah
Title Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse
Author(s) Mehfooz, Musferah
Volume 34
Issue 1
Year 2017
Pages 89-103
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Keywords Al-Sukākī, Al- Istiᶜārah (اﻻﺳﺗﻌﺎرة) Metaphor, Classification of Metaphor, Figurative Language
Chicago 16th Mehfooz, Musferah. "Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse." Al-Idah 34, no. 1 (2017).
APA 6th Mehfooz, M. (2017). Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse. Al-Idah, 34(1).
MHRA Mehfooz, Musferah. 2017. 'Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse', Al-Idah, 34.
MLA Mehfooz, Musferah. "Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse." Al-Idah 34.1 (2017). Print.
Harvard MEHFOOZ, M. 2017. Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse. Al-Idah, 34.
قرآن مجید بطور معجزاتی چیلنج: قدیم و جدید آراء کا تقابل
صحیح البخاری کی کتب اور ابواب میں نظم و مناسبت تحقیقی جائزہ
اجتماعی اجتہاد کا تصور اور عصر حاضر کے اہم توجہ طلب شرعی مسائل کے حل کے لئے عالم اسلام کے اہم اداروں کا تعارف
خلع میں شوہر کی رضامندی و عدم رضامندی: یک طرفہ فیصلے کی شرعی حیثیت
مسیحیت، اناجیل اربعہ اور بنیادی مسیحی عقائد کا مختصر تعارف
پاکستانی معاشرے میں تاخیر سے شادیوں کا اسلامی نقطہ نظر سےجائزہ
تصوف کے غیر مشہور سلاسل کا تحقیقی جائزہ
ابن خرداذبہ اور ان كى كتاب المسالك والممالك: تاریخى وتنقیدى جائزہ
كمال التحقيق في ترجمة نبي الله يوسف الصديق
صاحبزاده ميان محمدي بن ميان عمر: حياته، خدماته وآثاره العلمية
أدب الرحلة: أهميته وأسلوبه وخصائصه وتطوره
إستراتيجية التفاؤل في ضوء قصيدة فلسفة الحياة لإيليا أبو ماضي
الفكر السياسي الإسلامي وتطوره من الشورى إلى الديمقراطية
دور الفرد في مكافحة الجريمة الجنائية في الشريعة الإسلامية والقانون الوضعي
أمير الشعراء أحمد شوقي: نثره الفني ومنهجه
Beyond Ritualism: Impact and Implications of Ḥajj on the Society of Pakistan
Istisnā’- a Realistic Approach to the Concept in Islamic Finance and its Application to the Agricultural Sector in Pakistan
The Universality and Scope of Justice in Islam
Theological Foundations for Interfaith Dialogue in Islam
The Indian Muslims’ Services to Afghanistan & Turkey (1901-1929)
Al-Sukākī’s Classification of Metaphor and Qurānic Discourse
An Overview of the Religious Perspective of Honour Killing in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) of Pakistan
Stylistic and Semantic Incongruities in the Earliest Purported English Translation of the Qur’an by Alexander Ross
The Region of Punjab: A Sufi Perspective With Particular Focus on Chishtiya Sufism


The present study is divided into two main sections; the first section will give a general overview about the figurative language and more focus on metaphor (istiᶜārah in Arabic) because the metaphor is considered as one of the most literary devices and the main category of the figurative language. So in this study has given various definitions of figurative language and metaphor according to Muslims and Non-Muslims linguists and along with this explained Al-sukākī’s classification of metaphor which is little close to Al-Jurjānī’s classification of metaphor and view respectably among Muslims and Non-Muslims linguists. The second section of this study deals with metaphors given in Holy Qur'ān, which are denoted according to Al-sukākī’s classification in this respect. In this reference the verses are presented with detailed tafsīrī literature so the reader could well comprehend the purposes and the classical aspect of metaphors in text and also could evaluate linguistic architecture of  Holy Qur'ān.


Literal and Figurative language:

Before beginning and examining the term "metaphor" in details in any specific language, general overview about the figurative language shall be made, since metaphor is considered as one of the most literary devices and the main category of the figurative language. In this study, general definition of figurative language and its most important category “metaphor” has been given. According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, "the figurative language refers to the words and phrases used not with their basic meaning but with a more imaginative meaning".[1] It is used whenever we describe something by comparing it with something else. The figurative language refers to the use of figures of speech (ʿilm ul bayā: also known as 'rhetorical figures') which are linguistic devices used in a figurative or non-literal sense, it is used when the speaker wants to make a strong impression on his audience. For explanatory purposes, the most straightforward rendering of the term bayān may be ‘clearness’ or ‘distinctness.’ The word is a verbal noun from the Form I verb bāna [to become clear, distinct, differentiated], whose root is B-Y-N. Edward Lane states in his dictionary of classical Arabic that the term bayān usually refers to the “means by which one makes a thing [distinct,] apparent, obvious, evident, clear, plain, or perspicuous,” which can either be “a thing indicating, or giving evidence of, a circumstance, or state, that is a result, or an effect, of a quality or an attribute,” or the “language that discovers and shows the meaning that is intended.”[2]

The definition of figurative language will be more clear when is compared with the literal language; Kane points out the difference between the literal and figurative language includes that literal language is simple, plain and forthright. It employs words in their predictable meaning. Whereas figurative language involves that word is extended to take a larger or even dissimilar sense from the one which it usually suggested.[3]

Types of figurative language:

The figurative language comes in several categories; it includes diversity of images and literary devices such as metaphors, similes, irony, metonymies, synecdoche, personification, and allegory. The most figures of speech that are frequent and useful are similes and metaphors.


Metaphor has been usually considered within the framework of rhetoric, literary works and literary readings. It has been related to figurative language and has been regarded as "just a kind of artistic embellishment", or something that is "divorced and isolated from everyday language".[4] Aristotle was among the first to properly consider metaphorical language as a linguistic phenomenon, and he described metaphor as ‘the transference of a name from the object to which it has a natural application’.[5] In addition, Ross proposes metaphor as “giving the thing a name that belongs to something else”.[6] Oxford English Dictionary describes metaphor as ‘the figure of speech in which a name or descriptive term is transferred to some object different from, but parallel to, that to which it is properly appropriate; an example of this, a metaphorical expression’.[7]

Al-Jurjānī (died 1078 AD) holds that metaphor gives an added meaning of the word besides the dictionary or the literal meaning, thus adding to the rhetorical and aesthetic quality of the text.[8] According to Hussain ᶜAbdul-Raᶜūf, metaphor is referred to al- istiᶜārah (اﻻﺳﺗﻌﺎرة) Linguistically speaking this term is derived from the verb (-أﻋﺎر to borrow), i.e. borrowing a feature from someone or something and apply it to someone or something else.[9] But Lakoff and Johnson affirm that metaphor is a matter of everyday life experience rather than a matter of language and argue that metaphor invades "our way of conceiving the world" and is reflected in our "language, thoughts, and actions” and influences the way people think or act. They regard metaphor as an source to understanding the world.[10] Turner rightly emphasizes that metaphor is no matter of ‘mere language’ but is in its most basic reality an underlying conceptual mapping[11]

Thus, it can be seen how the conception of metaphor as a sort of conversion of ideas and exchange of words has been widely accepted throughout the ages, and how the perception “metaphor” refers to expressions which are used figuratively in discourse.

Components of Metaphors:

According to Jonathan D. Picken, who states that in etymological view of metaphor there are three components, form a metaphor which are: topic, vehicle and ground.[12] The mechanisms of metaphor in Arabic linguistic tradition are the same as in English rhetoric. Topic and vehicle are known in the Arabic linguistics terminology as: (اﻟﻣﺷﺑﻪ /mushabah: the thing that is compared to something else)[13] and borrowed term (اﻟﻣﺷﺑﻪ ﺑﻪ /mushaba bihī: the thing to which that thing is compared)[14]. As for example “I saw a lion,” ((raʿaytū asadan)) where the borrowed term “lion”(al-mushabbah bihī اﻟﻣﺷﺑﻪ ﺑﻪ ) appears in reference to a courageous man Zayd (al-mushabbahاﻟﻣﺷﺑﻪ ), is a clear example of this category and should not require further exploration here.[15]

According to Richards, the tenor is the fundamental idea, conception or principal subject and the vehicle is the figurative part which is able to provide a description of the tenor. In combination, the tenor and vehicle have a meaning; there is no transfer of meaning at literal level interpretation of a metaphor.[16] or “topic” and “vehicle” in Goatly's terminology.[17]

The following example clarifies these three notions of metaphor: "I saw a flower walking in the garden"- 'Flower' is the vehicle which refers to a beautiful girl, which means that 'a beautiful girl' is the topic or the tenor, the ground is 'the beauty' that is considered as the shared feature between the flower and the beautiful girl.

Types of metaphors

There are many Muslims and Non-Muslims linguists who made classification of metaphor, in Non-Muslims linguists which were mostly western are Newmark, who classifies s metaphors into six types, These are as follows: dead, cliché, stock or standard, recent, adapted and original. According to him there is a certain amount of overlap between them.[18] Dickin had divided metaphor into two basic categories the first category as he calls is "lexicalized" or "dead" metaphor. The second category is called "non-lexicalized" or "live" metaphor,[19] and in Muslims linguistic the Al-Jurjānī divides the metaphor into two main categories: “purposeful metaphor” and “un purposeful metaphor”.[20]Another classification provided by ᶜAbdul-Raᶜūf who claims that there are six types of metaphor in Arabic rhetorical studies; these types are: explicit, implicit, proverbial, enhanced, naked and absolute metaphor,[21] Al-sukākī divides metaphor into eight types, his types of metaphor are considered more comprehensive and detailed among modern Arabic linguists, in this study the types of metaphor described by Al-sukākī would be explained.

Metaphor and Islamic Religious Discourse:

Metaphorical language has been valued in Arabic culture mostly for its rhetorical significance, though early Arab linguists did not recognize it as an indispensable aspect of language. For centuries, metaphorical language has been considered as a supportive and an “ornamental” feature of discourse, especially if the latter involves arguments and debates which aim to attract the discourse recipient’s attention. A metaphor was essentially regarded as an ornamental device for poetry and speeches. This view has remained omnipresent in most early Arab discussions and commentaries regarding the existence of metaphorical language in any Arabic text.

On the other hand, many Arab scholars were enthusiastic about the study of metaphorical language and its significance in language. For example, Al Askārī (d. 1004 CE) maintained that a metaphor is used to explain the intended idea for the purpose of emphasizing its meaning and properties. He also explained how a metaphor is capable of referring to a meaning rhetorically in a few words.[22] Al-Suyūtī (d. 1505 CE) argued that a metaphor is capable of clarifying meaning in a way that could not be fully achieved by using everyday literal language.[23]

The study of metaphors in Arabic religious texts has been driven mainly by the need to interpret the meanings of the Holy Qur'ān and the Prophetic Tradition. In fact, the development in science of interpreting and explaining the Holy Qur'ān (tafsīrī) has significantly contributed to the development of Arabic studies, especially rhetoric. In this respect, the necessity for studying metaphors has developed from the need to deduce religious principles and commandments from the sources on a sound basis. The interpretation of the inner meanings of the Qur'ān is found both on the symbolical nature of the things mentioned and on the multiple meanings of the words for every language which is relatively primordial like Arabic.[24]

Types of metaphors according to Al-sukākī and Qur’ānic discourse:

Al-sukākī divides metaphor into eight types. The following is a presentation and discussion of these types.

1. The explicit, real and confident metaphor is the type of metaphor in which only the vehicle is mentioned and that is why it is called explicit. al-sukākī maintains with regard to this type of metaphor that it occurs if you found two features in common between two entities which are different in reality and they are stronger in one rather than the other and you want to attach the weak to the strong and establish a relationship of equality between them by claiming that the entity with the weaker feature is a member of the entity with the stronger feature.[25] Example From Qur'ān:

أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرُوُاْ الضَّلاَلَةَ بِالْهُدَى فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَارَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ

These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction,[26]

 In this verse the word “اشْتَرا” bartered is vehicle and then “رَبِحَ” trade which is analogy of Vehicle is mentioned.

Those people are mentioned who have been directed by false belief and exchange the guidance of to the path of virtue for a confused path in a network of error, and in consequence they get on in bad business and their attraction in evil trade have caused them the loss of their souls, they were imprisoned champs who lost in gain, nor could they hit the path of virtue.[27]

2. The explicit, imaginative and definite metaphor is the type of metaphor in which you expect to compare a real image with an imaginative image by declaring the vehicle alone. An example of this is to associate death to a lion, which is the vehicle. So here we have a real image used to express an imaginative image. In more specific terms a concrete image is used to express an abstract image.[28] Example From Qur'ān:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَى قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا

 Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’ān, or are their hearts locked up by them?[29]

It is an explicit imaginative metaphor “tabʿīyah tamsīlīya”.. The Kuffār (non-believers) have been likened to locked doors that they do not accept any advice and there is no need to advise them. This is amongst one of the refines metaphors of the Qur’ān.[30]

Their hearts are so steeped in the darkness of ‘Kuffār’(non-believers), as if they are shackled in iron locks that no light (Light means the awareness of the reality of anything), or faith effects them.[31] Although the ‘Kuffār’(non-believers) knew that the Qur’ān was full of warns, with clear and logical arguments, but they would avoid seeing the right connotation of the words. They do not ponder on it themselves and neither have they opened their hearts for Truth, but keep walking on the path of bigotry and obstinacy.[32]The obstinacy of the Kuffār (non- believers)is explained through a subtle metaphor. Like the qufal ( the locked door) through which no one can pass, neither can one get to a padlocked treasure, in the same way the hearts of the‘Kuffār’ are locked in their Kufar, which is entrenched there, so that no advice can touch them. Their hearts are steeped in qasāwat (hard heartedness, maliciousness), that even a book like the Holy Qur’ān cannot affect them.

The reason for referring to the heart is that when the soul becomes ʿārif (possessing knowledge of God and his kingdom)then it is maʿrūf (known) because the heart has been created for maʿrifat (knowledge). When there is no maʿrifat (knowledge), then it amounts to complete ignorance, just as it is said for a harmful person that he is not human he is wild beast, in the same way it is said of a stone heart: that these are not hearts, these are stones. There are locks of Kufar and prejudice on the hearts of Kuffār (non-believers).[33]Another example From Qur'ān:

وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ

And hold fast, all together, unto the bond with God, and do not draw apart from one another.[34]

The metaphor is explicit imaginativetabʿīyah tamsīlīya”. In the verse the word ḥabl “حَبْل (rope or string) has been used as a metaphor. Metaphorically, it also signifies ‘to join or to tie’. Habl or rope is anything that becomes a source for reaching any other being or thing. ḥabl (rope) is also used to mean link and relation because string is a link or relation between two things. The Qur'ān, and wisdom it shares create a link between God and his worshipper or follower[35].The verse tells Muslims the way to success in this world and in the hereafter. God has ordained this bond to be safe from dangers meaning that grabbing hold of God’s rope tightly is the root of all good. It is a fact that whenever anyone walks on a difficult path, he is in constant fear of his foot slipping but when he grabs tight hold of the string tied on both sides of the path; he overcomes that fear. There is no doubt about the fact that the path to truth (haq) is the most difficult. Hence, the one who tightly holds Allah’s logics and His signs, is freed of this fear. So here ḥabl signifies everything that makes it possible to reach towards truth (ḥaq) using the ways of religion. This promise of God is a source of success just as a rope saves one from drowning, etc.

Living in this world is like someone has fallen in a well full of all kinds of troubles and problems and the only way to save oneself from them is grabbing a strong rope.[36] It means the Qur'ān is God’s strong rope. Its marvels are everlasting and not vulnerable to wear and tear. A confident, safe man taking help from the Qur'ān and Islām has been portrayed like a man on an elevated place, holding an unbreakable rope tightly.[37]The metaphor actually signifies a need for unity and solidarity and forbids fighting or differences among the Muslims. This meaning has been made more important and obligatory.[38] Summarizing this whole discussion beautifully in Tafsīr al Kabīr:

As mentioned earlier, when a man who is about to fall into a well grabs a rope tightly, he is saved from falling into it. Similarly, Allah’s book, its promise, its religion, its obedience and its appropriateness for the believers saves its followers from falling into the pit of hell. That is why it has been termed as God’s rope and people have been taught to hold it tightly.[39] So in the light of tafasīr, the whole philosophy behind the metaphor ‘ḥabl ’ is clarified openly.

3. The explicit and probable metaphor. This is similar to the previous type of metaphor except that this one is not definite in terms of interpretation with respect to whether the metaphor is real or imaginative. Scholars differ with regard to the nature of this type of metaphor and this is why it is called probable. Sometimes the vehicle is interpreted to be correlated with an imaginative image. At other times it is understood as correlated with a concrete image. Both interpretations are possible as long as a proper context is activated.[40] The example for this type of metaphor is the verse in which God says:

فَأَذَاقَهَا اللّهُ لِبَاسَ الْجُوعِ وَالْخَوْفِ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَصْنَعُونَ

So Allah made it taste of hunger and terror (in extremes) (closing in on it) like a garment (from every side), because of the (evil) which (its people) wrought.[41]

Some scholars understand the vehicle ‘garment’ as an imaginative image of relating hunger to a dress.[42] However, for Al-sukākī it is a actual image of the pale colour of human being when he have nothing to eat.[43] In Arabic language azāqāha and lībās are two metaphors where azāqāha in common language is used to express the intensity of trouble. The meaning of lībās al jū wal khūf signifies that troubles had wrapped all around man firmly.[44] Also, it expresses that intense hunger, fear and starvation had taken over human kind the way garment wraps over man from all sides completely.[45] According to Tabrī, hunger had enfolded manhood on their bodies[46]. In the same way it is stressed that the way garments reflect upon the exterior of man, theses garments showed the sign of food shortage on the faces of these humans[47].

The eloquence and metaphorical beauty in this verse is on realm. The presented metaphor in this verse have quality to match another type of metaphor too. The above interpretation is showing it explicit and probable metaphor which is already have subtle difference with explicit imaginative metaphor, but this type of metaphor can also denote under the Topical metaphor or as it is known in Arabic, “istiᶜārah tajrīdīyah”, because when someone want to present description which follow the metaphor, pertain to the topic, So I also include this verse again as an example under the interpretation of istiᶜārah tajrīdīyah”.

4. Implicit metaphor. This type of metaphor is called implicit because the topic is mentioned but the intended meaning is the vehicle, which is left out but indicated by a specific context. This type of metaphor is very much linked with the imaginative metaphor discussed in above. The only difference between them is that in the metaphor is explicit and the activation of crucial features of the vehicle is made only imaginatively. An example of this would be ‘death penetrated its claws’. In this example we have the topic mentioned which is ‘death’ and the vehicle is left implicit but some of its crucial features are provided, i.e. the claws.[48] Example From Qur'ān:

وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ

And spread over them humbly the wings of thy tenderness (Q. 17:24)

There is an exaggeration in the order to treat the parents with utmost benevolence and humility.[49]Maintain a long and affectionate behavior with your parents and be obedient to them except when it involves Allah’s disobedience.[50]Look after your parents with tenderness and benevolence and pay attention to them.[51]According to ʿurwah bin Zubair. Treat them with compassion, and do not deny them what they desire, keeping in mind that yesterday you were dependent on the and today they are dependent on you”[52]

With a metaphoric presentation children are told to be obedient to their parents. ʿImāmFakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/ 1209) has given two reasons for this:

  1. As the bird takes his little one in its shelter by lowering its wings, meaning that you too should also treat your parents with compassion and benevolence and support them as they did in your childhood.
  2. When the bird takes flight, it spreads its wings and when it lands, it closes its wings, so the meaning of closing the wings implies that maintain a humble and servile attitude towards your parents.[53]

The use of the metaphor makes the text eloquent and also clears the connotations of the order. The subtle and fine aspect of the metaphor is that the bird flies from one place to the other with outstretched wings and when it lands, it closes its wings. Hence for the son to lower his “wings” for serving his parents means that he is should always be obedient to them and should never disobey them. Another connotation is that the son remains under their benevolence and does not think of moving away from them, he is not dependent on them, but should remain close to them. Just like the bird opening and closing its wings. The verse is an excellent example of the miracle of the Qur’ān, that it is amalgam of practical and sermon orders. It is being ordered that janāh al zul and along with that also keep praying to your Allah for them.

5. Non-derived metaphor. This concerns the condition when the borrowed item is a common name or that is known in Arabic grammar as jāmid “non-derivative.[54]Example From Qur'ān:

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ

A Book which We have revealed unto thee, in order that thou mightest lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light.[55]

In this verse the word “الظُّلُمَاتِ” is borrowed for darkness, infidelity and paganism, whether the word “النُّورِ” is borrowed for light, guidance and faith. These words “الظُّلُمَاتِ” and “النُّور” are jāmid “non-derivative”. So it is non-derivative metaphor. And its limitation is that, the comparison be taken from intellectual images, like the borrowing of ‘light’ for the Qur’ān and evidence (al-ḥujja) revealing the truth, eliminating doubt, denying uncertainty, just as there appeared in the Revelation as in the words of God – All powerful and Majestic: ‘But We have made the (Qur'ān) a Light, wherewith We guide such of Our servants as We will; and verily thou dost guide (men) to the Straight Way [56]’ and as in the borrowing of the ‘path’ for religion in the words of God – may he be dignified: ‘guide us along the straight path,[57]’. Because light is a quality [found] among characteristics of perceptible forms and evidence of truth is discourse.[58]

Metaphors of light and darkness are very common across many unrelated languages and cultures, light stands symbolically for life, happiness, wealth, wisdom, purity and spiritual elevation whereas darkness is laden with such connotative associations as death, gloom or sorrow, poverty, ignorance, impurity, and the underworld . The source domain of light is pervasively used with reference to Allah, the prophets, the Qur’ān and Islam. We have also emphasized that light is metaphorically used for positive qualities, like submission to Allah’s guidance, faith, the truth, knowledge, joy and felicity, as opposed to darkness, which metaphorically conceptualizes evil, doubt, hypocrisy, falsehood, and damnation. The contrast of light and darkness, as tried to show, is also exploited in the Qur’ān through the frequent conceptualization of believers as clear sighted and illuminated by the light of the revelation, as opposed to the disbelievers, who are conceptualized as blind people, who fail to perceive the truth.

6. Derived metaphor. This occurs with verbs, adjectives and constituent part, is called derived because it does not stop at the level of recognizing a vehicle as is the case with explicit metaphor or at the level of neglecting the vehicle but mentioning crucial features of it as is the case with implicit metaphor.[59] Example From Qur'ān:

This type of metaphor goes beyond this to derive vehicle terms as in the following example from the Qur'ān:

فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

"So give them the glad tidings of a severe torment"[60]

The expression 'glad tidings' used in the verse is an example of metaphor because this is not the meaning intended as the context does not allow a literal interpretation since the news of severe torment is obviously not glad tidings. This metaphor is called derived because it occurs with derived forms. It is like as someone will call a coward person by way of jest or facetiously lion, because the word “بشارت” is used for convey good news is expressed with the word “ان‍‍ذار” which is known as to scare or to terrify someone, which are opposite in real meanings. So this kind of metaphor is called derived.

7. Topical metaphor or as it is known in Arabic, “istiᶜārah tajrīdīyah”, i.e. metaphor which is followed by explanations pertaining to the topic.

For example: “I saw a sea whose knowledge is vast, whose manners are incredible and whose morals are phenomenal”. As we can see the descriptions that follow the metaphor pertain to the topic which is a particular man.[61] Example From Qur'ān:

فَأَذَاقَهَا اللّهُ لِبَاسَ الْجُوعِ وَالْخَوْفِ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَصْنَعُون

So Allah made it taste of hunger and terror (in extremes) (closing in on it) like a garment (from every side), because of the (evil) which (its people) wrought.[62]

In this verse the “لِبَاسَ” garment is borrowed, for fear and hunger and purpose of this borrow is to highlight its effect on human body in same manner which is the purpose of garment to overlap the whole body. This kind of description called tajrīd in metaphor.

In Arabic language azāqāha and lībās are two metaphors where azāqāha in common language is used to express the intensity of trouble. The meaning of lībās al jū wal khūf signifies that troubles had wrapped all around man firmly.[63] Also, it expresses that intense hunger, fear and starvation had taken over human kind the way garment wraps over man from all sides completely.[64] In this verse, punishment is akin to deprivation faced by a thankless human being. He will be farfetched from the blessings, comfort and blessings of Allah Almighty so the word azāqāha is utilized metaphorically as an expression of severe torment where the fate of this man is reflected from his face and mood. In the same way, the signs of hunger and fear started showcasing from the faces of the people of Macca. This situation clearly reflects upon the critical condition of the people of Macca that they were undergoing.  As already stated, the subtle aspects of the metaphor of lībās al jū wal khūf represent the garment of anger, fear and dissatisfaction. The reason why it has been elicited that hunger and fear took a strong grip over these people is because of hinting at the idea of strong grip of torment, the way garments take full possession of someone’s body. Garments are emblematic of social and economic status of a person. Just like it the hunger and fear was the representative of their critical circumstances, from their lean and faded faces, it was much clear as to what the situation of these people was even at first glance. With the use of allegory and metaphorical style the human being has been warned on individual and collective level that he should become thankful of God and it is in his benefit, otherwise he could not escape from God’s torment.

8. Vehicular metaphor or a sit is known in Arabic as “istiᶜārah tarshīhīyyah”, i.e. metaphor that is followed by description pertaining to the vehicle.[65] For example: I saw a lion whose body is huge and whose claws are sharp and whose roar is frightening. Example from Qur'ān:

رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَتَوَفَّنَا مُسْلِمِينَ

Our Lord! pour out on us patience and constancy, and take our souls unto Thee as Muslims (who bow to Thy will)! [66]

The metaphor is tabʿīyah tashrīhīya. This is a supplication taught by the Qur’ān asking God to Shower on us patience so profusely that it covers us completely just as water is thrown from above or pour water on us so that it purifies us from all sins and it is patience in the face of the threats and warnings of Pharoah.’ Fafriġhفافْرِغْ” means give us profuse and complete patience, tolerance and forbearance[67]. afraġu ʿalalāhi ṣabr patience, (to bestow the power of tolerance or forbearance). Allāh grant their hearts patience[68] When Pharaoh pronounced strict punishment for the magicians for following Moses and believing in One God, they prayed to God for perseverance in this worldly trial and for protection of their (ʿ īmān) faith. Pour patience such that it is fully benevolent and covers in all aspects. In order to persevere on the right path and keep their faith intact, the magicians requested for all kinds of patience in a very comprehensive manner according to their powers of articulation.[69] Bestow on us plentiful patience which surrounds us completely so that our hearts are neither afraid of anyone except You nor hopeful of mercy and forgiveness from anyone except You[70]. Shower on us such a hindrance (it here signifies patience or restraint) which stops us from denying You or being ungrateful to You[71].

These words reveal that the beseecher wants that the bounty of patience showers on him like heavy rain so that he’s enabled to face all sorts of trials courageously and no power can distract him from the right path, the path of God.[72] Undoubtedly, patience is one of the qualities of self and it is the name of the power to bear hardships and unwanted things and this power is achieved only through belief in one God and associating all hopes and fears with Him alone. To sum up, protection from all kinds of harm or loss is hidden in only showing patience and teaching patience to others. It is a brief but comprehensive verse which guarantees man’s wellbeing in this world and the hereafter. Throughout life, let us be on the path of patience under all hardships and difficult circumstances, O our Lord, and let nothing waver or falter our faith. As there are hardships and troubles at every step, bestow on us abundant patience and forbearance as You are the Provider of Patience and forgiveness and let our lives end in the state that we are on ʿimān.


From the above discussion, we can draw the following conclusion that metaphor has been considered as the most important form of figurative language use in both rhetoric English and Arabic. The nature of metaphors in the English Rhetoric is more or less the same as in Arabic Rhetoric, they differ only in the classification related to their types; each language has different types and categories of metaphors. The present discussion has also targeted the metaphor in Qur'ān in the light of tafsīrī literature, that it has shown how the Qur'ān is structured around the idea of the variety of meaning of lexical items, and how every correspondence between the two domains of “literal” and “nonliteral” can fit there. The use of such a metaphor makes the reader clarify and define the relationship between object and image and unveil the hidden realities. Clearly, the linguistic and rhetorical features of the Holy Qur'ān continue to challenge linguists who struggle to convey the intended meaning of the Qur'ānic verses. Linguists must depend on a number of dictionaries in both Arabic and English to determine the exact meaning of the words. A linguist must also consult the various commentaries of the Qur'ān to obtain the appropriate interpretation of the Qur'ānic verses.


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