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Circumambulation

(1,361 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Circumambulation (Ar. ṭawāf, verbal noun of ṭāfa, walk, run, circumambulate) is the ritual act of walking or running around a sacred object, such as a stone or altar. The rite is known in many pre-Islamic cultures, Judaism, and Christianity and among Persians, Indians, Buddhists, Romans, and others. In Islam the circumambulation is performed around the Kaʿba, seven times in succession, the first three at a fast pace, beginning and ending at the Black Stone (al-ḥajar al-aswad). The Kaʿba must be kept to one’s left, so that one moves counterclockwise, contrary to the reported pre-Islamic ṭ…
Date: 2021-07-19

Children of Israel

(2,618 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
The term “ Children of Israel” (Banū Isrāʾīl) is generally used in the Qurʾān—as it was earlier in the Bible, in its Hebrew form, Benei Yisraʾel—for the Israelites of the time of Moses. 1. The Qurʾānic evidence The Children of Israel are also referred to as Moses’s “people” ( qawm, e.g., Q 2:54, 60, 67; 7:128, 142, 155). As in the Bible (Genesis 32:29), Jacob is called “Israel” (Ar., Isrāʾīl) in the Qurʾān (3:93). And, as in the Bible (e.g., Genesis 36:31), the Qurʾānic term “Children of Israel” is not confined to Moses’s own time but encompas…
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib

(811 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib (fl. sixth century C.E.) of the Banū Hāshim clan of the Quraysh was the father of the prophet Muḥammad, who was his only child. ʿAbdallāh's mother was Fāṭima bt. ʿAmr of the Banū Makhzūm clan of the Quraysh. According to some reports ʿAbdallāh was born in the twenty-fourth year of the reign of Kisrā Anūshirwān (r. 531–79 C.E.). He married Āmina, and, according to the earliest reports, he died when she was pregnant with Muḥammad. He died in Yathrib (Medina), while he was staying with the relations of his fat…
Date: 2021-07-19

Budayl b. Warqāʾ

(1,216 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Budayl b. Warqāʾ al-Khuzāʿī, an early convert to Islam, belonged to the clan of ʿAdī b. ʿAmr of the Khuzāʿa. He lived in Mecca, and his dār was situated in the quarters of the confederates of the Qurashī clan of Sahm (al-Azraqī, 475). In one report he is identified as a mawlā (client) of al-ʿĀṣ b. Wāʾil al-Sahmī (al-Samarqandī, 1:465, on Q 5:106). Budayl is referred to in the sources as one of the chiefs of his tribe and as the shrewdest among the Arabs and one of the noblest among those who converted to Islam in the year of the conquest of Mecca (8/630) ( min kibār muslimat al-fatḥ). In the same year,…
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿArafāt

(1,241 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Mount ʿ Arafāt (ʿArafa) is a venerated site in Islam, approximately 70 metres high, located about 21 kilometres east of Mecca, on the road to al-Ṭāʾif. The small mountain and the plain on which it is situated serve as one of the main stations of the pilgrimage (ḥajj) to Mecca. The plain is some 6 kilometres from east to west and approximately 12 kilometres from north to south; it is surrounded by several mountains to the east, north, and south. Mount ʿArafāt is isolated from the other mountains and located at the northeast end of the plain. …
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿAqīl b. Abī Ṭālib

(1,278 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
ʿ Aqīl b. Abī Ṭālib (d. 50/670 or 63/683) was the elder full brother of ʿAlī (d. 40/661). Their mother was Fāṭima bt. Asad of the Banū Hāshim. Ten years before ʿAqīl was born she had given birth to Ṭālib, Abū Ṭālib's (d. c.619 C.E.) first son.…
Date: 2021-07-19

Abū Ṭālib

(882 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Abū Ṭālib (d. c. 619 C.E.) was the son of ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib b. Hāshim and Fāṭima bt. ʿAmr of the Makhzūm of Quraysh, and a full brother of ʿAbdallāh, the father of the prophet Muḥammad. He was reportedly born thirty-five years before Muḥammad. His proper name was ʿAbd Manāf. His sons Ṭālib, ʿAqīl, Jaʿfar, and ʿAlī, were born to him by his wife Fāṭima bt. Asad of the Banū Hāshim. After the death of ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, Abū Ṭālib inherited from him the offices of
Date: 2021-07-19

Abraha

(3,005 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Abraha was a Christian king of South Arabia in the middle of the sixth century C.E. According to Muslim sources, he attacked Mecca with the “People of the Elephant” in about 570 C.E. The name “Abraha” is said in Muslim sources to be of Abyssinian origin, meaning “bright face” ( wajh abyaḍ; see Ibn Hishām, al-Tījān, 136; Ibn Saʿīd, 1:119). Islamic reports often add to Abraha's name the nickname al-Ashram (“Split-Nose”). The tip of his nose is said to have been cut off during a duel with his rival, Aryāṭ, in Yemen (see below). According to another explanation (Ibn Manẓūr, s.v. sh-r-m), a stone st…
Date: 2021-07-19

Abū Qubays

(783 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Abū Qubays is the sacred mountain (jabal), 460 metres high, overlooking the Great Mosque at Mecca, situated a few hundred metres to the east of the Mosque (Illustration 1). Its foothill is al-Ṣafā. The Mosque itself (including the Kaʿba) lies in the valley between Abū Qubays and the mountain Quʿayqiʿān, to the northwest of the Mosque. Abū Qubays is one of two mountains called al-Akhshabān (“the two rough ones”), the other one being variously named as Quʿayqiʿān, or al-Jabal al-Aḥmar, which overlooks Quʿayqiʿān on its northern side, or Jabal al-Khuṭṭ. The origin of the mountain’s name is explained in various ways. Some say that a man from the tribe of Iyād or Madhḥij named Abū Qubays was the first to embark upon building a domed shrine (qubba) on it, and hence the name. Another tradition links the name to a man of the Jurhum tribe who found refuge from his foes there. Another explanation plays on the root q-b-s (to borrow) with the following story. It is related that Adam acquired (iqtabasa) fire from the mountain after two pieces of fire-producing wood had fallen from heaven and rubbed against each other and generated fire on the mountain. Another explanation is found in a tradition about the Black Stone, located in the eastern corner of the Kaʿba facing this mountain. It relates that the name Abū Qubays was given to the mountain because the Black Stone had been extracted
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿAmr b. Luḥayy

(892 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
ʿAmr b. Luḥayy, also known as Abū Khuzāʿa, is the legendary pre-Islamic figure said to have introduced idolatry into Arabia. He was the ancestor of the tribe of Khuzāʿa, who lived in the vicinity of Mecca. The clans of Kuzāʿa that are considered his direct descendants are Kaʿb, Mulayḥ, ʿAwf, ʿAdiyy, and Saʿd. There are contradictory traditions concerning ʿAmr b. Luḥayy’s genealogical descent. On the one hand he is provided with a northern genealogy, Luḥayy being said to have been the son of Qamaʿa of the Muḍar. Qamaʿa’s mother was Khindif of the Q…
Date: 2021-07-19

Āmina

(823 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Āmina, the mother of the prophet Muḥammad, was the daughter of Wahb b. ʿAbd Manāf of the clan of Zuhra of the Quraysh and Barra bt. ʿAbd al-ʿUzzā of the clan of ʿAbd al-Dār (Ibn Saʿd, 1:59). Her husband was ʿAbdallāh b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, to whom she was married while she was staying with her uncle Wuhayb b. ʿAbd Manāf, who was her guardian (Ibn Saʿd, 1:94–5). Muslim tradition regards the marriage as part of a divine scheme: An old Yemeni scholar, well versed in the holy scriptures, reportedly re…
Date: 2021-07-19

Abū Jahl

(1,290 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Abū Jahl (d. 2/624), the “Father of Ignorance,” was the Qurashī leader of Muḥammad’s pagan opponents in Mecca. His actual name was ʿAmr b. Hishām b. al-Mughīra of the Makhzūm of the Quraysh. This derogatory nickname was reportedly given to him by the Prophet, and was designed to replace his actual kunya, Abū l-Ḥakam. The Prophet declared that he who calls Abū Jahl Abū l-Ḥakam commits a grave sin (al-Balādhurī, 1:141; 10:173–4). A verse by Ḥassān b. Thābit, Muḥammad’s poet, states that “his kinsmen named him Abū Ḥakam, but God named him Abū Jahl”…
Date: 2021-07-19

Aḥmad, name of the Prophet

(813 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Aḥmad, a name of the prophet Muḥammad, is the noun form that denotes pre-eminence (afʿalu l-tafḍīl), and it may be understood in the passive sense of “one deserving to be praised more than others,” or in the active sense of “one who praises (God) more than others do” (e.g., Ibn al-Qayyim, 129–30). According to Q 61:6, the name was used by Jesus when announcing to the Children of Israel the future emergence of the Prophet. Early Muslim exegetes such as Muqātil b. Sulaymān (d. 150/767) noticed the relationship b…
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib b. Hāshim

(1,452 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib b. Hāshim was father of ʿAbdallāh and grandfather of the prophet Muḥammad. He is said to have died at the age of 82 or 110 or 120, when Muḥammad was eight years old. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib was born in Yathrib (Medina) to Salmā bt. ʿAmr of the Khazraj, who was married to Hāshim b. ʿAbd Manāf of the Quraysh. Reportedly she had married him on the condition that she give birth to his children only among her own relatives. After the birth of his son, Hāshim left him with his mother until he w…
Date: 2021-07-19