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Hārūt and Mārūt

(1,251 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
The angels Hārūt and Mārūt are mentioned in one brief, enigmatic verse in the Qurʾān, after Solomon is quoted: “The Satans disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery and that which was sent down to Babylon’s two angels, Hārūt and Mārūt; they taught no man without saying, ‘We are only a temptation; do not disbelieve’ ” (Q 2:102). The few elements included—that is, the names of the angels, the mention of Babylon, and their responsibility for the spread of magic—gave rise to various Islamic interpretatio…
Date: 2021-07-19

Afterlife

(3,867 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
The afterlife is one of the main themes of the Qurʾān, which states that every soul will taste death (Q 3:185) but makes only scanty and oblique references to the period between the death of the individual and the last things. The Qurʾān states that after the signs of the “last hour” and the annihilation of all creatures, people will be resurrected and judged on the Day of Resurrection ( yawm al-qiyāma, Q 2:85, passim) or the Day of Judgement ( yawm al-dīn, Q 15:35, passim). Details about this day, such as the blast of the trumpet ( al-ṣūr, Q 18:99, passim), the raising (or resurrection, al-baʿth, Q…
Date: 2021-07-19

Lot

(1,763 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Lot (Lūṭ) was a prophet and messenger whose story is attested in several passages of the Qurʾān. Like the narrative of Noah, it constitutes a typical punishment story. 1. Lot in the Qurʾān A few passages introduce Lot along with or after the story of the angels visiting Abraham (Q 11:69–83, 15:49–74, 29:26–35); in other chapters his story stands on its own, and the angels appear as Lot’s guests (Q 7:80–4, 26:160–75, 27:54–8, 37:133–8, 54:33–40). Lot is described as a believer in the preaching of Abraham, with whom he set off fo…
Date: 2023-09-21

Abū Righāl

(539 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Abū Righāl was a pre-Islamic figure identified in differing traditions either as a member of the Thamūd tribe who survived divine punishment or as a man of the Thaqīf who guided Abraha’s expedition towards Mecca but died before reaching his destination. In the tradition that identifies him as a man of the Thamūd, he is said to have survived briefly the divine punishment that destroyed the people who rejected Ṣāliḥ’s preaching. He was saved only because he was in Mecca at the time, but as soon as he left the holy territory, punishment a…
Date: 2021-07-19

Āsiya

(433 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Āsiya is the name given in post-Qurʾānic literature to the wife of Pharaoh at the time of Moses. Although her name is not given in the Qurʾān, the wife of Pharaoh is mentioned twice (Q 28:9, 66:11) and is considered a model for all believers. According to some reports found in the major ḥadīth collections, Muḥammad emphasized the positive elements of Āsiya's nature, ranking her among the best of women, along with Mary (the mother of Jesus), Khadīja, Fāṭima, and ʿĀʾisha. According to Muslim traditions it was Āsiya herself or one of her slave girls who rescued Moses from the N…
Date: 2021-07-19

Japheth

(688 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Japheth is not mentioned in the Qurʾān. The Qurʾān mentions the story of Noah in several passages but offers little regarding his family. There is reference to a wicked wife (Q 66:10) and an impious son (Q 11:40–6), the latter usually identified in later traditions as Canaan or Yām. Japheth is named amongst the three sons of Noah (Shem, Japheth, and Ham) only in a few later reports and traditions relating mainly to the genealogies of peoples after the Flood. Few details about Japheth appear in Islamic literature. Japheth was one of seven or eight saved in the Ark (al-Ṭarafī…
Date: 2021-07-19

Isrāfīl

(663 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
The angel Isrāfīl (Seraphiel), who will blow the trumpet on the Day of Resurrection, is not named in the Qurʾān but is treated at length in eschatological treatises and books. In fact, of all the angels, Muslim traditions show a peculiar preference for four in particular: Gabriel (Jibrīl or Jibrāʾīl), Michael (Mīkāl), Isrāfīl, and the Angel of Death. According to the majority of the reports that mention him, God made Isrāfīl responsible for the trumpet that will sound on the Day of Resurrection, a…
Date: 2021-07-19

Adam

(2,798 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Adam, according to Muslim tradition, was the first man and the first prophet of humankind. His name is mentioned in several passages in the Qurʾān and also in the expression “the sons of Adam” ( banū Ādam, Q 7:26, passim), a phrase that defines humankind, but he is not named in the Qurʾānic passages describing the creation of man from mud or clay. While the Qurʾān does not identify Adam explicitly as a prophet, and his name does not appear in those verses that list the prophets, other sources, such as the sayings of the prophet Muḥammad and the later traditions, include him among the prophets. The e…
Date: 2021-07-19

Daniel

(1,361 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Daniel (Dāniyāl) is not included among the pre-Islamic patriarchs and prophets that are mentioned or alluded to in the Qurʾān. Later religious, historical, and geographical literature does, however, preserve various confusing reports about at least two characters named Daniel, one resembling the sage mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14, the other living during the captivity of the Israelites. Early reports say that Daniel the Elder (al-akbar) lived after Noah and before Abraham and that he could predict events astrologically, for which reason a Book of divination (Kitāb al-jafr) was ascr…
Date: 2021-07-19

Kanʿān

(1,021 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Kanʿān is the name usually given by post-Qurʾānic Islamic traditions and literature to the son of Noah who was left behind and drowned in the Flood. The name is attested in early Qurʾānic commentaries (cf. Muqātil, 2:283–4), although a few sources maintain that his name was actually Yām. The Qurʾān does not name such a son but alludes to him in a few verses: “And Noah called to his son, who was standing apart, ‘Embark with us, my son, and be thou not with the unbelievers!’ He said, ‘I will take …
Date: 2023-09-21

Benjamin

(628 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Benjamin (Binyāmīn) is the youngest brother of Joseph. The name is not mentioned in the Qurʾān, where he appears simply as “brother” in a few places in the sūra of Joseph (Q 12). At the beginning, all the other brothers state that Joseph and his brother were dearer to their father, Jacob, than were they (Q 12:8). Later on, when he is powerful in Egypt, Joseph asks the other ten brothers to bring his brother to him if they want further provisions (Q 12:59), and they do so, although Jacob is reluc…
Date: 2021-07-19

Joshua

(1,156 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Joshua (Ar., Yūshaʿ b. Nūn) is not mentioned in the Qurʾān, but, according to some exegeses, certain verses must allude to him. Most of the sources, beginning with the early commentaries, have identified Joshua as the servant (Ar. fatā) of Moses mentioned in Q 18:60, 62, in the story of the meeting between Moses and the mysterious figure al-Khiḍr (Muqātil, 2:592; al-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ, 15:271; al-Bukhārī, nos. 122, 4725–7). Other interpretations maintain that one of the two God-fearing men mentioned in Q 5:23 must be Joshua (Muqātil, 1:466; al-Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ, 6:176). Joshua is also allud…
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿAnāq

(280 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
ʿAnāq is the name of a daughter of Adam. According to some reports ʿAnāq was born alone, with no twin brother, or, in other reports, she was Cain's sister, and he, after killing Abel, brought her to Yemen, where he married her (al-Kisāʾī, 233). She was said to be the first one to commit fornication and to act badly on earth and because of this she was later killed. Some traditions add particulars about her monstrous appearance, such as that she had two heads, or twenty fingers with two nails eac…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Kisāʾī, Muḥammad b. ʿAbdallāh

(1,434 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Muḥammad b. ʿAbdallāh al-Kisāʾī is the name of an unknown author to whom two extant works are attributed. The most famous is a collection of stories of the prophets (qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ), and the other is ʿAjāʾib al-malakūt (“The marvels of the divine kingdom”), which is attested in several manuscripts and has been only partially edited and published. The lack of biographical information on al-Kisāʾī in Islamic sources and the data from manuscript attestations or other early sources do not permit the identification of al-Kisāʾī or allow his works to be dated with confidence. The author and…
Date: 2023-09-21

ʿAmālīq

(334 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
The ʿAmālīq (Amalekites), were an ancient pre-Islamic people, not mentioned in the Qurʾān, who, according to Muslim reports, were among the first speakers of Arabic. Their name derives from their forebear ʿAmlīq (or ʿAmlāq), who was either a son of Ḥām, Shem, or Lud; a brother of Ṭasm and Jadīs; and was considered the first person to speak Arabic. The ʿAmālīq are referred to in various traditions. At the time of Hūd, the ʿAmālīq are mentioned as inhabiting the land of Mecca, where Abraham found them when he took Hagar and Ishmael there. Abraham also fou…
Date: 2021-07-19

Baal

(447 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Baal (baʿl) is the name of a pagan deity or idol that is mentioned in the Qurʾān in connection with the story of Elijah (Q 37:125). Elijah was sent by God to eradicate from amongst his people the worship of the idol Baal, and this brief allusion to Baal and its story in the Qurʾān was developed further in later traditions and literature. A few more details about the idol are presented in traditional reports: it was of gold, twenty cubits tall, and had four faces (al-Thaʿlabī, al-Kashf, 8:159; al-Rāzī, 26:140), and it was crowned with hyacinths, pearls, and gems; it had four hundre…
Date: 2021-07-19

Ahl al-Ṣuffa

(871 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Ahl al-Ṣuffa (“people of the bench”) or aṣḥāb al-ṣuffa (“those of the bench”) is the name given in ḥadīth reports and in Muslim literature to a group of Companions of the prophet Muḥammad who lived in the portico or vestibule, the ṣuffa, often translated as “bench” or “banquette,” of the Prophet's mosque in Medina. This portico was their only home. Sources make varying estimates as to how many of them there were, and their number changed over the years the Prophet spent in Medina. Reports variously mention sixty, seventy, and four hundred, while according to Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328; Ahl al-…
Date: 2021-07-19

Hāmān

(974 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Hāmān is mentioned six times in the Qurʾān, in connection with Moses. He is mentioned along with Pharaoh “and their soldiers” (Q 28:6, 8, in Arberry’s translation) and again, when Pharaoh, in addressing his council, says, “Kindle me, Hāmān, a fire upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I may mount up to the God of Moses” (Q 28:38). In another passage, Pharaoh orders him to build the tower so that he might “reach the cords, the cords of the heavens” (Q 40:36–7). In two other passages, Hāmān is …
Date: 2021-07-19

Eve

(1,304 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Eve (Ḥawwāʾ), although never mentioned by name in the Qurʾān, is alluded to in a number of passages in relation to Adam. Her creation is attested in various passages where the Qurʾān states that God “created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate ( zawjahā)” (Q 4:1; cf. Q 7:189, 39:6, and 30:21). Here, as in other passages, she is alluded to as the spouse ( zawj) of Adam (20:117). God, in fact, made her his spouse so that “he might rest in her” (Q 7:189). God ordered Adam and his spouse to dwell in Paradise ( janna) and eat whatever they wanted except for the fruit of a particular t…
Date: 2021-07-19

Amīna

(645 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Amīna is the name given in Muslim traditions to a slave girl or other woman of Solomon. She is mentioned in later traditions and reports in connection with a mysterious episode of Solomon's life alluded to in the Qurʾān (38:34–5): God, wanting to test Solomon, put another person on his throne until Solomon asked for forgiveness. Exegetical reports connect her name in particular to the episode in which Solomon lost his signet ring for forty days and with it all his powers. It is said, for instance, that Amīna (or al-Amīna, according to al-Thaʿlabī in al-Kashf, 8:203) was one of Solomon's w…
Date: 2021-07-19
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