The Meaning of the Word “Story”
The word “story” comes from tracking the trace, so is the word “stories” in plural form. In the Qur’an, we read,
Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muḥammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow.” [Qur’an 18:6] (1)
We also read,
And she said to his sister, “Follow him”; so she watched him from a distance while they perceived not.” [Qur’an 28:11] (2)
that is, to follow who will take him and where.
The “Story” Also Means Speech:
That is to tell about something and how it happened. “Stories ” in the plural form tell about what happened to people in the past. There are many stories in the Glorious Qur’an. The word “story” literally means: to tell about something that happened in stages that follow each other.
The Types of the Qur’anic Stories:
The stories of past Prophets and Messengers and their call to their people. They tell us about the miracles of Allah the Almighty to support their call and how their people respond to them. Some of their people were stubborn and disobedient, others believed in their messages.
These stories also let us know about the stages of their call and the final outcome of both the believers and the disbelievers. The stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Our Prophet; Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon them all) and other Prophets are some examples.
Stories that are related to old and ancient accidents and events:
We know from the Qur’an about:
Have you not considered those who left their homes in many thousands, fearing death? Allah said to them, “Die”; then He restored them to life. And Allah is the possessor of bounty for the people, but most of the people do not show gratitude.” [Qur’an 2:243] (3)
Also, we know about the story of Saul, Goliath, Adam’s two sons (Cain and Abel), people of the cave, Dhul- Qarnayn, Korah, Sabbath-Breakers, Mary the Virgin…etc.
Moreover, there are stories related to incidents and accidents that happened at the time of the Messenger of Allah; Mohammed (PBUH) such as the battles of Badr, Uhud, Hunain, Tabuk (the combined forces), (or Al-Ahzab) …etc. The Night Journey of the Messenger of Allah to Jerusalem (Alquds) is another example.
The story in the Glorious Qur’an in general:
One of the important purposes or objectives of the Qur’an is to prove monotheism and what is related to it such as proving prophecy and resurrection. It also gives the legislation for the individual, the community and the whole nation. It tells stories about the past nations and Prophets and Messengers of Allah, too. These stories are often given in Meccan suras (chapters) which start with “abbreviated separate letters”. Sura ” Yusuf” is one of them.
Why are stories mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an?
In other words, “what are the objectives of telling stories in the Glorious Qur’an?”. In all languages, stories are considered to be a type of fine art and literature that has a great psychological impression and effect on the listeners and the readers’ hearts.
Stories in the Qur’an tell us about the news of past Prophets and Messengers (PBUT); the news of what happened to them. How they established calling their people to worship Allah (the One Only God), how they treated and dealt with their troubles and what results they reached last.
In general, stories in the Qur’an are considered to be a divine school whose teachers are the Prophets and Messengers (PBUT) and their students are their nations.
These stories give both Muslims and polytheists lessons and sermons about what happened to the past nations. Those who have understanding may be wise to choose what is good if they learn the lesson and the sermon.
They are considered to be some sort of entertainment to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and his followers. They get a clear idea about those past nations and civilizations and how did it end with both the righteous and the infidels. As for the atheists, they suffered terrible consequences, but the righteous were rewarded. These stories helped to establish faith in the hearts of the believers and sharpen their will and stamina.
We read in the Qur’an:
“We did not create the heavens and earth and what is between them except in truth and [for] a specified term. But those who disbelieve, from that of which they are warned, are turning away.” [Qur’an 46:3] (4)
We also read:
“And each [story] We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers.” [Qur’an 11:120] (5)
The lessons and the sermons are mentioned in what Allah, the Exalted, says:
There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was it [i.e., the Qur’ān] a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” [Qur’an 12:111] (6)
How stories of the Qur’an Are proof of true religion?
The story in the Qur’an comes as a proof that Mohammed; the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) is the true Messenger of Allah and he had the revelation from Heaven (Allah).
The Messenger (PBUH) tells us about the news that neither he nor his people had known before. This knowledge and this news can not come to him but from Allah, the Exalted. So we read:
“That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muḥammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people, before this. So be patient; indeed, the [best] outcome is for the righteous.” [Qur’an 11:49] (7)
Stories of Qur’an are Cure
Stories can also cure hearts and heal souls as they refer to the news of past events. Those who were disobedient in those nations were severely punished but those who believed in Allah, the One Only, were victories. So the people of certainty in Mohammad’s followers can clearly see Allah’s greatness, authority and His might when He strikes His enemies in a way that stuns people and make their heads grey. That is why the Prophet (PBUH) said:
Abu Bakr said: “O Messenger of Allah, you have grayed!” He said: ‘I have been made gray-haired by Hud (Al-Qur’an; 11)), the calamity (Al-Qur’an; 56)), the winds sent forth (Al-Qur’an; 77)). what will they question one another about?’ (Al-Qur’an; 74)). and ‘when the sun is overthrown’ (Al-Qur’an; 81)’.” [Hadith] (8)
Stories of Qur’an are School
The story in the Qur’an is also considered to be the school of those who want to benefit from the guidance of the Qur’an.
So Allah says:
And We had certainly brought them a Book which We detailed by knowledge – as guidance and mercy to a people who believe.” [Qur’an 7:52] (9)
These stories contain the best lessons and examples that show the endurance of the guiding preachers.
Allah, the Exalted, also says:
Said the eminent ones who disbelieved among his people, “Indeed, we see you in foolishness, and indeed, we think you are of the liars.” [Qur’an 7:66] (10)
The Prophet replies saying:
[Hūd] said, “O my people, there is not foolishness in me, but I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds.” [Qur’an 7:67] (11)
Noah (PBUH) says to his people:
He said, “O my people, have you considered: if I should be upon clear evidence from my Lord while He has given me mercy from Himself but it has been made unapparent to you, should we force it upon you while you are averse to it?” [Qur’an 11:28] (12)
The Style of Stories in the Glorious Qur’an
Stories in the Glorious Qur’an have different styles even in the same story. This renews the listener’s and reader’s activity and drives away boredom and tediousness from their souls.
Each sura has its own type, special breaks and attitude towards the addressees. That type suits the context. In general, every story has its own context that copes with what precedes and what follows it.
As for the repetition of the same story throughout the Qur’an, it is not considered a literal boring repetition. It is there to show the story from a certain angle. So there are many shots through the Qur’an. These shots have different objectives and meanings. If we gather all these shots and put them in their chronological order, we can get the story in full.
The Qur’an shows the great benefits to be visible and fresh to the eye of the Muslim listener and reader. It is no wonder as we see now those who revolt and call for their doctrines use the same method of repeating their principles, ideas, objectives, plans and deeds in every speech and in every situation in different styles.
The Story of Prophet Yusuf (PBUH )
It is good to mention that the story of Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) is the only story that is shown as one complete story in one sura. Nothing of it had been mentioned in other suras. That is why it is considered to be the best model for the short story ever. Why not? It’s a real true story, not a fiction as we find in all types made by man. Indeed, it is a divine inspiration and revelation from our Lord; Allah, to Our last and final Prophet and Messenger of Allah; Mohammed (PBUH).
The Elements of the Story in the Glorious Qur’an
The story in the Qur’an has three main elements as follows:
a- The Qur’an calls the historical event from the deep past time and gathers it from all the world to be newly displayed so as to give the lesson and sermon. So it revives that event and makes it alive after it was dead. This is carried out in an exciting style and a very excellent content.
b- Time and place: every story has its own time. This time is quite free and unlimited except that it is called from the past. It had been done and has nothing to do with the present time. The same happens with the place of that event.
The Qur’an doesn’t care or mention the place unless that place has a certain influence on the course of that event, or makes its features quite clearer or gives the proofs of lessons and sermons. In the story of the Messenger’s Night Story to Jerusalem, for example, the Qur’an mentioned the place and also in the story of the Victory of the Romans over the Persians. In other stories, it mentions neither the time nor the place as it happens in the story of the Cavemen.
C – Things and persons, and their names: the Qur’an doesn’t often refer to the names of persons unless they are historically known such as the names of the Prophets and Messengers, and other personalities such as Korah, the Pharaoh.. etc.
Other persons are not mentioned such as the Righteous Servant who accompanied Moses (PBUH), the Believer of the People of the Garden. The Qur’an may refer to an indefinite name such as (man), (village), woman), (tree) as general names that only refer to their gender. So it is not good for a Muslim to inquire or seek to know their real names.
To conclude, the Glorious Qur’an is a universal Holy Book, so it refers to some of the current universal facts which are quite true till the Day of Judgement. The stories in the Glorious Qur’an do not belong to a certain time or person. These events often occur in our life till the Day of Resurrection. Read the significant and interesting story of Prophet Yusuf and share your insights!