Qur’anic Interpretation and Phenomenon of Ellipsis and Brevity: A Critical Analysis (Tafsiran Al Quran dan Fenomena Elipsis dan Brevity: Analisis Kritikal)

  • Israr Ahmad Khan International Islamic University Malaysia



Scholars of Qur’anic Studies like al-ZarkashÊ (d.794 A.H.) and al-SuyËÏÊ (d.911 A.H.) have dealt in detail with Qur’anic ellipsis and brevity (Íadhf and ÊÉz) in their respective works on Qur’anic Studies. Commentators of the Qur’an like al-ÙabarÊ (d.310 A.H.), al-ZamakhsharÊ (d.538 A.H.), and al-RÉzÊ (d.606 A.H.) have identified phenomenon of ellipsis and brevity at several places in the Qur’an. Yet, this feature of the Qur’an could not get proper recognition in the methodology of Qur’anic interpretation. The Qur’an came down in the linguistic style of Arabs in general and Quraysh in particular who loved to apply ellipsis and brevity in their poetry and prose. Any poem or oration deplete with this style was not appreciated by Arabs. One of the main reasons for the Arabs’ acceptance of the Qur’an as the most effective and highly moving discourse was its brevity (ÊjÉz) due to the ellipsis (Íadhf) of details of the matter concerned. It seems then quite pertinent to interpret the Qur’an by taking into consideration, among others, phenomenon of ellipsis and brevity. One may see four kinds of ellipsis occurred in the Qur’an: (1) the background of revelation, (2) certain words, (3) complete sentence, and (4) whole paragraph. Interpretation of the Qur’an needs to be based on the identification of one kind of ellipsis or another. This exercise may facilitate the serious task of Qur’anic interpretation. This paper will identify and explain the four categories of ellipsis and brevity in the Qur’an.

Keywords: Ellipsis, Brevity, the Qur’an, Interpretation, Revelation.


Para ulama al-Quran seperti al-ZarkashÊ (d.794 A.H.) dan al-SuyËÏÊ (d.911 A.H.) dalam kajian masing-masing telah berurusan dengan elipsis dan brevity  (Íadhf and ÊÉz)  dalam al-Quran. Para pengulas al-Quran seperti al-ÙabarÊ (d.310 A.H.), al-ZamakhsharÊ (d.538 A.H.), dan al-RÉzÊ (d.606 A.H.) telah mengenalpasti fenomena elipsis dan brevity di beberapa tempat dalam al-Quran. Namun, ciri-ciri ini tidak diberi pengiktirafan dalam metodologi penafsiran al-Quran. Al-Quran diturunkan dalam gaya linguistik orang Arab secar am dan khususnya dalam gaya linguistik orang Quraysh yang suka mengaplikasikan konsep elipsis dan brevity dalam puisi dan prosa mereka. Sebarang puisi yang tidak mempunyai elipsis dan brevity adalah tidak diminati orang Arab. Salah satu sebab utama orang Arab mempercayai al-Quran sebagai kitab tertinggi adalah kerana brevity (ÊjÉz) yang disebabkan elipsis (Íadhf)  butiran perkara berkenaan. Jadi ia nampaknya sangat penting untuk menafsirkan al-Quran dengan fenomena elipsis dan brevity. Ada empat jenis elipis yang berlaku dalam al-Quran: (1) latar belakang wahyu, (2) perkataan tertentu, (3) ayat sepenuhnya, dan (4) perenggan. Penafsiran al-Quran perlu berasaskan pengenalan elipsis. Latihan ini boleh permudahkan tugas serius tafsiran al-Quran. Kajian ini akan mengenalpasti dan menjelaskan empat kategori elipsis dan brevity dalam al-Quran.

Kata Kunci: Elipsis, Brevity, al-Quran, Pentafsiran, Wahyu.

Author Biography

Israr Ahmad Khan, International Islamic University Malaysia
Professor in the Department of Qur’an and Sunnah Studies, KIRKHS, IIUM
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