On (De) Personification in Prophet Muhammad’s Tradition

Ahmad El-Sharif


In this paper, I discuss the themes of personification and de-personification in the Prophet Muhammad’s Tradition from a cognitive linguistic viewpoint. Instances of personification and de- personification in Prophet Muhammad’s Tradition are analysed following approaches of conceptual metaphor theory and critical metaphor analysis. The analysis reveals that the two linguistic phenomena are eminent in the language of the Prophet Muhammad. Personification, for instance, is frequently used for ontological purposes to portray and conceptualise non-human entities such as abstract concepts, body parts, and human deeds. De-personification, on the other hand, is used to evoke more prevalent ideological implication whereby people are classified into a hierarchical scale according to the degree of their faith and the nature of their deeds and behaviours.

Keywords: Personification, Islam, Prophet Muhammad’s Tradition, Conceptual Metaphor Theory

Full Text:



__________________, Mishkat-ul-Masabih. (1960-65). A Collection of Prophetic Tradition. By Al-Khatib, Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah, English translation with explanatory notes by James Robson. Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf.

__________________, Al-Mu’jam, al-Waseet. (2004). Arabic Monolingual Dictionary compiled by The Arabic Language Complex. Cairo: Maktabat alShorouq alDawliyah

Allan, K. (2008). Metaphor and Metonymy: A Diachronic Approach. Publications of the philological Society, 42. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Barcelona, A. (2000). Introduction: The Cognitive Theory of Metaphor and Metonymy. In A. Barcelona (Ed.), Metaphor and Metonymy at Crossroads: A Cognitive Perspective. (pp. 1-28). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Bender, A. P. (1894). Beliefs, Rites, and Customs of the Jews, Connected with Death, Burial, and Mourning. The Jewish Quarterly Review, 6 (2), pp. 317-347.

doi: 10.2307/1450143

Biber, D. (1988). Variation across Speech and Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., and Finegan, E. (1999). The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman

Charteris-Black, J. (2004). Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cuddon, J.A. (1998). The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theories. (4th ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Dodson, J. (2008). The Power of Personification: Rhetorical Purpose in the Book of Wisdom and the Letter to the Romans. NY: Walter de Gruyter.

Dorst, A. G. (2011). Personification in Discourse: Linguistic Forms, Conceptual Structures and Communicative Functions. Language and Literature, 20(2), pp. 113-135.

doi: 10.1177/0963947010395522

Dorgeloh, H., & Wanner, A. (2009). Formulaic Argumentation in Scientific Discourse. In R. Corrigan, E. A. Moravcsik, H. Ouali and K. M. Wheatley (Eds.), Formualic language (Vol. 2: Acquisition, loss, psychological reality and functional explanations, pp. 523-544). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

doi: 10.1075/tsl.83.16dor

Eubanks, P. (2000). A War of Words in the Discourse of Trade: The Rhetorical Constitution of Metaphor. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Gibbs, R. (1996). Why Many Concepts are Metaphorical. Cognition, 61, pp. 309-19.

Gibbs, R. (1994). The poetics of mind: Figurative Thought, Language, and Understanding. UK: Cambridge University Press.

Grady, J. (1997). A Typology of Motivation for Conceptual Metaphor: Correlation vs. Resemblance. In R. W. Gibbs and G. J. Steen (Eds.), Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics. Selected papers from the fifth international cognitive linguistics conference. (pp. 79–100). Amsterdam: Benjamin’s.

doi: 10.1075/cilt.175.06gra

Halliday, M. A. K. (1985). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Hamilton, C. A. (2002). Mapping the Mind and the Body: On W.H. Auden's Personifications. Style, 36 (3), pp. 408-427.

Kinoslita, R., (2004). Reception Theory. University of California Santa Barbara: Department of Art. [Online] Available: http://www.yumikinoshita.com/receptiontheory.pdf (July 7, 2015).

Klaus-uwe P. and Linda L. T. (2007). Metonymy. In D. Geeraerts, and H. Cuyckens (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. (pp. 236-263). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kövecses, Z. (1995). American Friendship and the Scope of Metaphor. Cognitive Linguistics, 6, pp. 315–346.

doi: 10.1515/cogl.1995.6.4.315

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we Live by. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, G. (1987). Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Lakoff, G. and Turner, M. (1989). More Than Cool Reason: The Power of Poetic Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Leech, G. N. (1969). A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. London, Longman.

Master, P. (1991). Active Verbs with Inanimate Subjects in Scientific Prose. English for Specific Purposes, 10 (1), pp. 15-33.

doi: 10.1016/0889-4906(91)90013-M

Paxson, J. (1994). The Poetic of Personification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Peters, P. (2004). The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rash, F. (2006). The Language of Violence. New York: Peter Lang.

Roth, I. and Frisby, J. (1986). Perception and Representation: A Cognitive Approach. New York: Open University Press.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.