The poetry festivals of the pre-Islamic period often pitched two poets against each other in a war of verse in which one would be deemed winner by the audience. Literary criticism also grew into theology, and thus gained a more official status with Islamic study of the Qur'an. Although nothing which might be termed 'literary criticism', in the modern sense, was applied to a work held to be i'jaz or inimitable and divinely inspired, analysis was permitted. This study allowed for better understanding of the message and facilitated interpretation for practical use, all of which help the development of a critical method important for later work on other literature.

I am wondering what the bold part could mean.

Could anyone please in a more readily way explain it?

Any comment would be appreciated

  • 2
    I certainly hope that poets were not pitched against each other. Is that actually what the original says? I think it wants to be pitted. But, hey. Go far enough back in the Christian West and there was a single umbrella term (jongleur) which encompassed both singers and acrobat-tumblers. It could have totally happened. Feb 23, 2015 at 7:34
  • @Codeswitcher I've read lots of poems that have led me to conclude that the poet should be pitched somewhere. Perhaps out a window.
    – Jay
    Feb 23, 2015 at 14:45
  • @jay Ha! Touché. Feb 27, 2015 at 5:04

1 Answer 1


Modern literary criticism dares to pronounce judgment on whether a work is well done in its various aspects. To subject a work of poetry which was believed to be literally the work of Allah to such critical review does seem... impertinent. I have this vision of some rascally medieval critic writing, "The Sovereign Lord has chosen some promising themes, but fails to really elaborate on them satisfactorily; more disappointing, the All Compassionate has a weak sense of rhythmic structure...." No, not likely to be well received.

But analysis, that is exploration of the meaning of a divinely inspired work is fine; in fact, can be an act of adoration and devotion.


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