In Arabic, the word Balaagha is derived from the root verb ba-la-gha. Literally, it means: "to reach, attain, arrive at, or to get to a destination”.Technically, Balaagha is the art of reaching the utmost perfection in speech or writing style. It is a discipline that deals with clarity, correctness, and beauty in Arabic writing or oral expression. It is also a process, which enables one to distinguish between beautiful and ugly styles in expression.
Balagha is the ability to produce speech that corresponds to and is in agreement with the contextual situation of which the listener is also an integral part of. Failure to observe context and/or the listener means failure to observe the desired aim of Balagha. It should be noted that every situation must have an appropriate speech response. This is stated in Arabic as follows:
لكلِّ مَقَامٍ مَقال
For every occasion there is an appropriate speech act ( and in in some cases silence is the best response).
In Grammar (Nahw), we are concerned with grammatically sound text void of any grammatical errors whereas in Balagha we are, in addition to that, concerned with the contextual appropriateness of statements. The “correctness” of the text based on the rules of classical Arabic correspond roughly to what is referred to as fasahah which is a necessary component of Balagha. So while fasahah can exist with Balagha, the latter cannot exist without the former.
To make a text contextually appropriate ( Baleegh) means that the speaker needs to modify and change his text as per context. Hence, it is the context that determines for example, how long the text should be, whether certain elements in the text should be mentioned or omitted, made definite or indefinite, qualified or unqualified, maintain default order or not etc. In addition, imagery, figures of speech (similes, metaphors etc), linguistic ornamentation and beautification such as rhyming and so on, all contribute to the quality and effect of the message on the listener.
We have a number of courses found in the Advanced and Quranic studies sections which deal with this vast subject which will give students glimpses of the Quran linguistic miracle.
Head teacher of the Sibaway Institute.