6 Patterns of Narratives in the Quran

The Quran contains many narratives (qisas, singular qissah), referred to in the Quran itself:

{We do relate unto thee the most beautiful of stories} (Yusuf 12:3)

These narratives, which illustrate and underline important aspects of the Quranic message, fulfill their functions in a variety of ways. The following are some of the more common patterns:

1. Explaining the general message of Islam

2. Giving general guidance and a reminder

3. Strengthening the conviction of the Prophet and the believers

4. Reminding of the earlier prophets and their struggles

5. Indicating the continuity and truth of Muhammad’s message

6. Providing arguments against some opponents of Islam, such as Jews and Christians

Quran Stories:


As far as the contents of these narratives are concerned, one may, broadly speaking, distinguish between the following three kinds:

1. Stories of the prophets of Allah, their peoples, their message, their call, their persecution, etc., such as the narratives about Nuh (Ash-Shu`ra’ 26, Nuh 71), Musa (Al-Qasas 28), `Isa (Maryam 19) and many others

2. Other Quranic narratives about past people or events, such as the narratives about the Companions of the cave, or about Dhul Qarnain (Al-Kahf 18)

3. References to events that took place during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, such as the Battle of Badr (Aal `Imran 3:13), the Battle of Uhud (Aal `Imran 3:121-128), the Battle of Al-Ahzab (33: 9-27), the Night Journey (Al-Israa’ 17:1)

More Quran stories:

* Read also about 4 Stylistic Tools Used in the Quran

** This article is part of the author’s Ulum Al-Qur’an, Chapter 4: Form, Language and Style.

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About Ahmad Von Denffer
Ahmad Von Denffer was born in Germany in 1949. He is working for the Islamic Center, Munich, Germany. He has various publications in different languages.