The pragmatic functions of the recitation of Qur’anic verses by Muslims in their oral genre: The case of Insha’ Allah, ‘God’s willing’

Ayman Nazzal


In this study, I set out to investigate the motivations and reasons which induce Muslims to invoke the recitation of Qur’anic verses in their ordinary discourse. Based on the analysis of the data complied, Muslims seem inclined to recite Qur’anic verses for a host of pragmatic functions. These pragmatic functions range from mitigating one’s commitment for carrying out a future action or failing to honor one’s commitment, to avoiding the effects and adverse consequences of one’s actions on others. In addition, the recitation appears to function as a confirmation of the participants’ religious, cultural, and linguistic identities. Furthermore, the findings of this study underlie the multifaceted functions that Muslims attach to and associate with use of Qur’anic verses. Muslims can exonerate themselves from the responsibilities of rejecting directives or turning down offers or avoiding staking the self-image of their recipient particularly when their actions are face-threatening or have undesirable consequences on their recipients. Moreover, the findings of this study reveal that Muslims are inclined to use Qur’anic verses as a rhetorical strategy of indirect persuasion to lend credibility to the claims they wish their prospective audiences to act upon them.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Almaney, J, and J. Alwan
(1982) Communicating with Arabs. Waveland, Illinois: Prospect Heights.Google Scholar
Austin, J.L
(1975) How to do things with words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Basil, Bernstein
(1973) Class, codes, and control. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Blum-Kulka, S
(1983) Interpreting and performing speech acts in a second language: A cross-cultural study of Hebrew and English. In N. Wolfson and E. Judd (eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition. MA: Newbury House, pp. 36-55.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Brown, P., and S. Levinson
(1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Chejne, Anwar
(1965) Arabic: Its significance and place in the Arab-Muslim society. Middle East Journal 19: 450-459.Google Scholar
Dodd, Carely
(1992) Dynamic of intercultural communication. Madison, Wisconsin: Brown & Bench Mark.Google Scholar
Davies, Eirlys
(1987) A contrastive approach to the analysis of politeness formulas. Applied Linguistics 8.1: 76-87. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Grice, P
(1975) Logic and conversation. In Peter Cole and J. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and Semantics: Speech acts. New York: Academic Press Vol.3: 41-58. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Gu, Yueguo
(1990) Politeness phenomena in Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics 14: 237-257. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Gudykunst, W.B, and Y.Y. Kim
(1997) Communicating with Strangers: An approach to intercultural communication. Third edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies.Google Scholar
Gudykunst, W.B., & Y.Y. Kim
(1984) Communicating with strangers. U.S.A.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.Google Scholar
Gudykunst, W.B., & S. Ting-Toomey
(1996) Communicating in personal relationships across cultures. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
Gudykunst, W.B
(1993) Bridging differences. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
Gudykunst, W.B., & S. Ting-Toomey
(1998) Culture and interpersonal communication. Newbury park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
Gumperz, John
(1982a) Language and social identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
(1982b) Discourse strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoP CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Hall, Edward
(1976) Beyond culture. New York: Double Day.Google Scholar
(1982) Context and Meaning. In L. Samovar and R. Porter (eds.), Intercultural communication. A reader Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
(1959) The silent language. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
Keenan, E
(1974) Norm-makers, norm-breakers: Uses of speech by men and women in a Malagasy community. In R. Bauman and J. Sherzer (eds.), Exploration in the ethnography of speaking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
(1976) The universality of conversational postulates. Language in society 5: 67-80. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Leech, Geoffrey
(1983) Principles of pragmatics. New York: Longman.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Levine, David
(1985)  The flight from ambiguity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Crossref
Matsumoto, Yoshiko
(1988) Reexamination of the universality of face: Politeness phenomena in Japanese. Journal of pragmatics 12: 403-426. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
(1989) Politeness and conversational universals: Observations from Japanese. Multilingual 8.2/3: 207-221. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Rosaldo, M
(1973) I have nothing to hide: The language of Ilongot oratory. Language in society 11.2: 193-223. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Searle, John
(1979) Expression and meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoP CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1969) Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoP CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1975) Indirect speech acts. In P. Cole & L. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and semantics: Speech acts. New York: Academic Press. Vol.3. (1975): 59-82. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Tannen, Deborah
(1981) Indirectness in discourse analysis: Ethnicity as conversational style. Discourse processes 3: 221-238. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1986) That’s not what I mean! New York: Ballantine.
(1984) Conversational style. New Jersey: Ablex.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wierzbicka, A
(1985) Different cultures, different languages, different speech acts. Journal of pragmatics 9: 145-178. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar