(2,279 words)

Abābīl is a Qurʾānic word meaning ‘flocks’ or ‘herds’ (e.g. of birds, horses, camels etc.). This is a rare word in the Arabic language and is only mentioned once in the Qurʾān, in the Sūrat al-Fīl (‘The Elephant’, 105:3): wa arsala ʿalayhim ṭayran abābīl, ‘And He sent against them flights of birds’, and for this reason considerable discussion of the term is found in Qurʾānic commentaries and lexicons. The word seems to have appeared in some verses by the pre-Islamic Arab poets. Imruʾ al-Qays was the first poet to use it, doing so in the phrase abābīlu ṭayrin. Al-Aʿshā, another famous Arab p…

Cite this page
Azartash Azarnoosh, “Abābīl”, in: Encyclopaedia Islamica, Editors-in-Chief: Wilferd Madelung and, Farhad Daftary. Consulted online on 17 November 2018 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1875-9831_isla_SIM_0003>
First published online: 2015

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