One of the powerful rhetorical techniques in the Quran is what I call the stack overflow. It is to quickly fill the reader's available memory with images and concepts. This causes the reader to surrender their judgment. It opens the mind and removes the person's ego, in this way creating an opening into the person's heart, and once the opening is made to place a message inside it. Thus in the sura below we see the first 13 verses quickly filling the memory with images and heavy concepts, and once the opening is made, the Quran inserts verse 14 into the heart.
Quran - Sura 81 At-Takweer
In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.
1. When the sun is rolled up.
2. When the stars are dimmed.
3. When the mountains are set in motion.
4. When the relationships are suspended.
5. When the beasts are gathered.
6. When the oceans are set aflame.
7. When the souls are paired.
8. When the girl, buried alive, is asked:
9. For what crime was she killed?
10. When the records are made public.
11. When the sky is peeled away.
12. When the Fire is set ablaze.
13. When Paradise is brought near.
14. Each soul will know what it has readied.
15. I swear by the galaxies.The same technique is repeated with 20 and 21, adding new images and concepts to the stack. Knowing that the many stack-filling verses from the beginning of the sura till here have disarmed the reader, the sura is now ready to make a complex argument. Verses 22-25 are arguments:
16. Precisely running their courses.
17. And by the night as it recedes.
18. And by the morn as it breathes.
19. This is the speech of a noble messenger.
20. Endowed with power, eminent with the Lord of the Throne.Next, stack filler at 26, argument at 27, another stack filler at 28, and the final argument at 29.
21. Obeyed and honest.
22. Your friend is not possessed.
23. He saw him on the luminous horizon.
24. And He does not withhold knowledge of the Unseen.
25. And it is not the word of an accursed devil.
26. So where are you heading?The most famous Islamic example of this concept at work is Surat at-Najm (Chapter 53 of the Quran). When the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah upon him, read out this chapter to a crowd of disbelievers and hating rivals, they were so disarmed and possessed that they couldn't help but obey the command in the sura's final verse to bow down. This occasion and others like it made the Prophet's enemies start saying he was a wizard, since they felt powerless in front of the powerful language of the Quran. Below is an English translation of the sura, which loses much of the sweetness of the Arabic. In Arabic most of the verses end with the same sound, but from verse 57 the musical sounds end. The sura, confident that the reader's mind is now fully open and disarmed, stops the music to acquire the reader's full attention, then inserts a potentially life-changing message into the heart.
27. It is only a Reminder to all mankind.
28. To whoever of you wills to go straight.
29. But you cannot will, unless God wills—The Lord of the Worlds.
1. By the star as it goes down.[translations from clearquran.com]
2. Your friend has not gone astray, nor has he erred.
3. Nor does he speak out of desire.
4. It is but a revelation revealed.
5. Taught to him by the Extremely Powerful.
6. The one of vigor. He settled.
7. While he was at the highest horizon.
8. Then he came near, and hovered around.
9. He was within two bows’ length, or closer.
10. Then He revealed to His servant what He revealed.
11. The heart did not lie about what it saw.
12. Will you dispute with him concerning what he saw?
13. He saw him on another descent.
14. At the Lotus Tree of the Extremity.
15. Near which is the Garden of Repose.
16. As there covered the Lotus Tree what covered it.
17. The sight did not waver, nor did it exceed.
18. He saw some of the Great Signs of his Lord.
19. Have you considered al-Lat and al-Uzza?
20. And Manat, the third one, the other?
21. Are you to have the males, and He the females?
22. What a bizarre distribution.
23. These are nothing but names, which you have devised, you and your ancestors, for which God sent down no authority. They follow nothing but assumptions, and what the ego desires, even though guidance has come to them from their Lord.
24. Or is the human being to have whatever he desires?
25. To God belong the Last and the First.
26. How many an angel is there in the heavens whose intercession avails nothing, except after God gives permission to whomever He wills, and approves?
27. Those who do not believe in the Hereafter give the angels the names of females.
28. They have no knowledge of that. They only follow assumptions, and assumptions are no substitute for the truth.
29. So avoid him who has turned away from Our remembrance, and desires nothing but the present life.
30. That is the extent of their knowledge. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who has accepted guidance.
31. To God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. He will repay those who do evil according to their deeds, and recompense those who do good with the best.
32. Those who avoid gross sins and indecencies—except for minor lapses—your Lord is of Vast Forgiveness. He knows you well, ever since He created you from the earth, and ever since you were embryos in your mothers’ wombs. So do not acclaim your own virtue; He is fully aware of the righteous.
33. Have you considered him who turned away?
34. And gave a little, and held back?
35. Does he possess knowledge of the unseen, and can therefore foresee?
36. Or was he not informed of what is in the Scrolls of Moses?
37. And of Abraham, who fulfilled?
38. That no soul bears the burdens of another soul.
39. And that the human being attains only what he strives for.
40. And that his efforts will be witnessed.
41. Then he will be rewarded for it the fullest reward.
42. And that to your Lord is the finality.
43. And that it is He who causes laughter and weeping.
44. And that it is He who gives death and life.
45. And that it is He who created the two kinds—the male and the female.
46. From a sperm drop, when emitted.
47. And that upon Him is the next existence.
48. And that it is He who enriches and impoverishes.
49. And that it is He who is the Lord of Sirius.
50. And that it is He who destroyed the first Aad.
51. And Thamood, sparing no one.
52. And the people of Noah before that; for they were most unjust and most oppressive.
53. And He toppled the ruined cities.
54. And covered them with whatever covered them.
55. So which of your Lord's marvels can you deny?
56. This is a warning, just like the first warnings.
57. The inevitable is imminent.
58. None besides God can unveil it.
59. Do you marvel at this discourse?
60. And laugh, and do not weep?
61. Lost in your frivolity?
62. So bow down to God, and worship!