By this discussion I aim to establish that each sūrah is a well-structured unit. It is only lack of consideration and analysis on our part that the sūrahs seem disjointed and incoherent. Every student of the Holy Qur’ān can notice that the Book contains short as well as long sūrahs. Each sūrah imparts a specific message as its central theme. The completion of this theme marks the end of the sūrah. If there were no such specific conclusion intended to be dealt with in each sūrah there would be no need to divide the Qur’ān in sūrahs. Rather the whole Qur’ān would be a single sūrah. We know that the sūrahs are not equal in length. There are longer sūrahs and shorter ones. Had God not intended dealing a specific issue in each sūrah in well-coherent fashion He would not have threaded the verses in a single unifying thread. He would have, on the contrary, scattered everything casually whereby some of the surāhs could have comprised of a single line.
We see that a set of verses has been placed together and named sūrahthe way a city is built with a wall erected round it. A single wall must contain a single city in it. What is the use of a wall encompassing different cities? It needs to be appreicated that every sūrah does not discuss a distinct issue which no other sūrah touches upon. The contents of the last two sūrahs are remarkably similar yet they are not considered one sūrah. Both of these have always been considered independent and distinct units. Similary, Sūrah Takwīr (the foldig up, 81), Sūrah Inshiqāq (The Rending, 84), Sūrah Mursalāt (Those that are sent forth, 77), Sūrah Nazi‘āt(Those that snatch away, 79) and Zāriyāt (The Winds, 51) address similar issues. However, their structure as well as style of expression is completely different.
The Qur’ān chalelnged the Quraysh to compose ten chapters of [the quality of] the Qur’ānic sūrahs. Quraysh were not able to meet this challange. Later they were challenged to try composing at least one. They were, however, never asked to compose something less than a sūrah. This challenge implied all the sūrahs, longer or shorter, but it no way implied a given lenght of discourse lacking qualities of a sūrah. Some of the Muslim exegetes have missed this fact. They thought that the Quraysh were challenged to compose a number of verses of the length of a sūrah. Having assumed this, they had to go a long way to see what aspect of inimitability was required of such a quanity of Qur’ānic verses. For example the verse (حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters (4:23) is longer than Sūrah Kawthar (108). This made them wonder what aspect of inimitibility was involved in this lengh of discourse which was more than a sūrahbut not a sūrah in its form. In fact the Holy Qur’ān did not challenge them to carve a discoure equal to or more than a sūrah but a sūrahas a unit containing a meaningful well-ordered discourse. All the jinn and the humans can never succeed in composing a sūrah of the same grandeour even one smaller than Sūrah Kawthar (108). These facts lead us to conclude that by a sūrah, in the Qur’ānic challange to the Quraysh, God meant a well-structured coherent discourse. The length of such a discourse was not relevent. Just as the common words like tree, plants and animals etc are applied to a class of things disregarding differences in the members of such a class, the word sūrah covers all sūrahs, shorter and longer. Some of the earlier scholars expressed similar views corroborating our thesis. ‘Allāmah Suyūṭi writes:
قال الجعيري حد السورة قرآن يشتمل على آي ذي فاتحة و خاتمة و أقلها ثلاث آيات
Ju‘ayrī has said, “A sūrah is defined as a set of Qur’ānic verses consisting of a preface and a conclusion. The least amount of verses in a sūrah is three.”
I, however, define a sūrah as a set of verses which is a well-knit discourse dealing with a specific theme. This set of verses must contain a preface, a central theme and a conclusion. A sūrah, therefore, must contain at least three verses.
A little study of the shorter sūrahs reveals that they peer the longer ones in that they are equally well-knit coherent chapters. The shorter sūrahs contain all the elements of beautiful ordering and well-structuredness, the characterisics of the longer ones. Therefore, to hold that the shorter sūrahs like Sūrah Kawthar (108), Sūrah Mā‘ūn (107) and Sūrah ‘Aṣr (103) do not contain any fine coherence would be wrong. Understanding innerconnectedness of the shorter sūrahs can greatly be helful in deciphering the coherence in the longer sūrahs. Similarly some of the longer sūrahs contain passages which are obviously well-knit. Only a dull minded person can fail to notice it. For example first twenty verses of Sūrah Baqarah (2) are manifestly well-knit. When a student ponders over such passages and smaller sūrahshe develops the ability to discocver finer points of interconnetion in other sūrahs. I have come to understand the coherence in the Qur’ān in this very manner. I am sure that any person who intends to seriously ponder over the Holy Qur’ān in this manner should be able to understand the coherence in the Qur’ān. God “increaes the quidance of those who adopt the right path.”