Why does the Quran relate stories?
What does someone feel, who is reading the Quran for the first time and is not accustomed to the Quran's style and topics, about this book that frequently relates stories and sometimes repeats the same story again and again?
While reading the last message that Allah sent to mankind, what does one who wants to find some divine inspiration about his own life think when he finds many stories related to a time thousands of years in the past?
Does a book that relates events which occurred thousands of years ago surprise or disappoint someone who, without spending too much time, wants to find in it a universal, divine text, and messages regarding today and his own problems?
(One of the most important characteristics of today's individual is that he has no time to contemplate and find his own results; he always wants you to solve the problems he has created with package solutions you have found. Even being confronted with two or more solutions can pose a difficulty for him, for this situation will force him to make his own choice and carry the responsibility for it. In particular, I know by experience how confused people who are consulting on religious matters become when they are left with several alternatives. Regardless of claims to the contrary, they are extremely afraid to make decisions themselves regarding their lives. As Erich Fromm said, since freedom means responsibility, actually most people run away from freedom and run to the secure embrace of dependency.)
The question of why "the Quran relates stories" pertains to the type of individual the Quran aims to produce. In order to give a correct answer to this question, first we have to answer the question, "What kind of person does the Quran want to produce?"
How does the Quran want to see us? Not just in regard to our beliefs, our worship and our religiosity, but also pertaining to our personality, our character, our world-view, our humanity and our spiritual conditions, how does the Quran want to see us? Sound faith, beautiful worship, and sincere devoutness will all be built on this character. Can there be religious values as Allah wants if human values are not as God wants? When saying "as Allah wants," I do not mean just behavior; to the contrary, I am referring to our thoughts and feelings which are the source of our actions. Is it possible for someone who does not have a sound mind and heart to display sound behavior? How long can a person sustain behavior contrary to what passes through his heart? Those studying human behavior say that this is possible only for short relationships. If it is long relationships that determine the real quality of our lives, it is impossible for us to constantly play a role. Those who always pretend are fooling themselves first and by deceiving their own uniqueness, they are opening the way to becoming ordinary. Although it may appear to be better than nothing for one who has not become Muslim with his whole being to at least appear to be Muslim, and to have chosen that over completely ignoring his religion, it is obvious that this is not what Allah expects from us.
Our personality consists of how we perceive ourselves and the sum of our value judgments. We see how even our smallest and most simple behavior can actually give us important clues as to our personality perception. But when we do not look from this perspective, we do not see that everything is important in regard to the way we eat, drink, dress, spend, shop, act as a guest or host, talk about our children, earn money, listen to our friends or explain something to them, choose a book to read, make an initial facial expression when we run into someone... We do not see that actually these and many more acts of behavior are external reflections of our basic human make-up. Instead of seeing that we triggered the way other people and life treat us and instead of seeing that the impulse coming from us was interpreted on the level of our personality and reflected back to us, we choose to think that we have been treated unfairly and, feeling sorry for ourselves, we become happy. Among the reasons for our failure there is always one that is external to us and that we can not prevent, and it waits there ready to be used when necessary.
The human type that the Quran wants to produce can not be someone who sees his own commonness, failure and being pushed around and his not being able to live according to principles as the result of conditions imposed by life. For the people the Quran presents in the stories as examples to the worlds almost always met with more negative social circumstances than us, but they never became entrapped by those conditions. They were always people who transformed; in situations they could not change they did not choose conformity as the easy way out.
While looking for the answer to the question, "Why does the Quran relate stories," we always meet the response, "to give examples." This is such an obvious answer that it never satisfied me. It is apparent to anyone who has the slightest interest in human sciences today that humans meet positive-negative human examples in every period of life and take them as behavior examples. Moreover, it is a necessity of the mind.
The stories of the Quran definitely fulfill this need. But beyond this, by relating stories, the Quran prevents the interpretation of constructive verses along the lines of man's egoistic instincts. By teaching a topic to man or by advice or by means of a scholastic conference style, and in order to prevent it being misunderstood and to make it more easily understandable and to keep it in the memory - especially if it has a moral message - imaginary or true-life examples are given. This is a pedagogical method. It eliminates doubts in the minds of the readers. At the same time, of course, a model has been given. The stories in the Quran help the other Quranic verses to be better understood and to by-pass the mechanism that is always ready to produce excuses.
Based on incalculable wisdom like this, the Quranic stories will always continue to be a part of the readers' lives and to carry special messages to them. Of course, for those who read them with that intention...