Arabic Rhetoric In Islamic

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Arab Islamic rhetoric is a field that, until recent years, has been largely unstudied. However, a recent surge in the interest in this particular kind of rhetoric has yielded much new information in regards to its history and change. One area of specific interest in Islamic rhetoric is its Arabic language equivalent. There are two words in Arabic used to refer to rhetoric: al-khataba and al-balagha. While both options refer to the same thing in the English language, they are used for completely different reasons in the Arabic language. Understanding the two Arabic words for rhetoric, al-khataba and al-balagha, as well as the art of rhetoric present within this culture, is vital to understanding Islamic rhetoric as a whole. Therefore, it is …show more content…
This was, in general, the rhetoric of Islamic philosophers. One point of interest about this form of rhetoric is its close ties to Greek rhetoric. In fact, “The great names of medieval Muslim philosophy all left commentaries on Aristotle’s book on rhetoric, which was translated into Arabic at some point during the first centuries of the Islamic era” (qtd. in Halldén 20-21). Thus, this rhetoric was not solely tied to Arabic culture; it had outside influences that shaped its formation. As a result, this form of Arabic Islamic rhetoric was, in its early stages, influenced not only by Arabic practices, but also by Grecian rhetorical principles. The second Arabic word describing rhetoric is al-balagha. In contrast to al-khataba, “ilm [or the science of] al balagha can be referred to as an Islamically motivated kind of rhetoric” (Halldén 21). Thus, al-balagha is form of rhetoric that applies more specifically to Arab Islamic culture. “In contrast to al-khataba,” the rhetoric of al-balagha is a “‘native’ and completely unique system of ‘rhetoric’ that is peculiar to Muslims and free of foreign influences” (Halldén 21). It did not focus on philosophy in the way that al-khataba did and did not contain nearly as many ties to outside sources; instead, al-balagha was the form of rhetoric that dealt more specifically with laws and religion, which for the ancient Arab Islamic people were intertwined …show more content…
Outlined by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Qazwini, a medieval Islamic preacher, rhetoric in the al-balgaha style had three parts: “‘Ilm al-ma‘a¯nı¯ (the science of meanings), ‘Ilm al-baya¯n (the science of clarity [of language]),” and “‘Ilm al-badı¯‘ (the science of ornamentation)” (Halldén 21). While some of its principles are recognizable to those familiar with western rhetoric, al-balagha certainly had less outside sources than its counterpart, al-khataba. These three forms all had specific functions, a time and a place in which they were each appropriate. And, within each of these sections there were even further divisions that dictated how they should be used in individual situations. For example, in ‘Ilm al-ma‘a¯nı¯, “on the one hand, we have those kinds of utterances before which it is appropriate to ask about their truth value and, on the other hand, utterances to which such questions would be inappropriate (i.e., orders, wishes, commandments)” (Halldén 22). As a whole, al-khataba dealt less with broad ideas on the art of rhetoric and the skills of persuasion and more with specific forms that the Arab Islamic people could use to gain skills in all forms of

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