Symmetry in Sura al-Baqara

Dr. Raymond Farrin has discovered many large chiastic structures in Sura al-Baqara.

These discoveries of his have been published in The Muslim World, volume 100, issue no. 1 (January 2010).

His analyses can also be found on pages 75-85 of his book Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation: A Study of Symmetry and Coherence in Islam’s Holy Text (Ashland: White Cloud Press, 2014).

Here is my refined summary (I added sections B and B’ myself) of a chiastic structure that he initially identified in 2:250-2:286, spanning a total of 36 verses:

Here is another chiastic structure that he found, which spans a remarkable total of 64 verses, as shown on page 27 of the journal article:

I have found more evidence that supports the chiastic nature of these 64 verses. The structure suggests a link between retribution (qisaas) and orphans. When people are killed, orphans are made, and thus if one is given rulings about how to deal with murder, one may also be given rulings about how to deal with orphans. A skeptic might think that such a link is far-fetched. What I have discovered is that another passage of the Qur’an actually confirms this link (17:33-34):

Do not kill a soul [whose life] Allah has made inviolable, except with due cause, and whoever is killed wrongfully, We have certainly given his heir an authority. But let him not commit any excess in killing [the murderer], for he has been assisted [by law]. Do not approach the orphan’s property except in the best manner, until he comes of age. Fulfill the covenants; indeed all covenants are accountable.

I have also found some more minute correspondences between the sections. Here is my improved summary of the structure:

In his review of Dr. Farrin’s work, Dr. Todd Lawson says (in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, volume 137, issue no. 1, January-March 2017, page 215) that “the volume’s main points - that parallelism, chiasm, and concentrism are important features of the form and composition of the Quran - are indisputable.”


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