Visualization of Grammatical Shift between first and third person in the Qur’an

I am a PhD scholar at Riphah International University. My PhD research aims to investigate a rhetorical device (known as grammatical shift),frequently used in the Qur’an and communicate the obtained data visually. Therefore, title of the research is ‘Rhetorical Devices and Scripture: Visualization of Grammatical Shift between First and Third Person in the Qur’an’.
In the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the rise of economic and social statistics livered graphical methods to display data. As a result, during this time many individuals took part in the growth of the field. Currently, millions of websites are generating a huge amount of data on daily basis: Text visualization techniques are considered helpful for seeking information and understanding this extra ordinary amount of text data because visualization summarizes document and helps users to fully understand data insight as well as this process facilitates data comparison and pattern recognition. Data visualization presents data in a pictorial or in graphical format, today a number of software are being used as a data visualization tool to generate this presentation. Data visualization uses statistical graphics, information graphics and other tools to communicate information clearly and effectively and enables users to explore and analyze data, facilitating them to effectively identify interesting patterns, infer correlations and supports sense making activities.
The focus of this work will be to apply visualization techniques on the obtained data of sacred book of religion Islam, the holy Qur’an. As a sacred book, the Qur’an has been the subject of various studies from almost all disciplines. Present paper intends to contribute in this field by studying communication strategy of divine message, focusing on the verses where a rhetorical device, grammatical shift is used.
Grammatical shift is a rhetorical device and as a means of communication grammatical shift is a unique feature of the holy Qur’an. The essence of this term is taken from the turning of a person to right or left and the turning of his face to one direction once and once to another. When this is applied to speech, it refers to the turning of speaker from one mode to another as he shifts from narration to address or address to narration and from perfect to imperfect or from imperfect to perfect. It follows then, grammatical shift refers to an unexpected and sudden shift on the part of the speaker or writer from one mode of address to another. For instance, it may be a sudden shift from third person (he, she, and they) to the first person (I, we).
Orientalists in the past such as Noldeke is of the view that in the Qur’an shift in person occurs unexpectedly in an unusual and not beautiful way. Muslim specialist of Arabic rhetoric such as Robinson, on the other hand, admires these pronominal shifts in Qur’anic discourse and call them very effective rhetorical devices and these shifts are perfectly logical as these sudden changes play a rhetorical role as well as achieve vividness and avoid the monotony of style.
There are several types of grammatical shift, shift in person is the most common type of grammatical shift and is further divided into six kinds (shift between 1st, 2nd and 3rd person). The present research is concerned to study only those verses where Allah SWT has shifted His reference between first and third person and visualize the communication strategy of Allah SWT with special emphasis on subject matters that are dealt in these verses. Applying statistical and visual methods on this corpus, would have the potential of producing new insight into Qur’anic rhetorical features that could not have been uncovered by any investigation.
It should be clarified here that this study would be an inter disciplinary research that would consult other disciplines such as theology, linguistics, and statistics but communication would remain its actual domain.

16 March 2019

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