Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān

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Age of Ignorance [Supplement 2016]

(2,049 words)

Author(s): William E. Shepard
This phrase is a common translation of the Arabic word jāhiliyya, which is used by Muslims to refer to the historical period in west-central Arabia covering the centuries immediately prior to the mission of Muḥammad, a period characterised by ignorance of the divine truth. To the original audience of the Qurʾān, however, it almost certainly referred primarily to the moral condition of the individuals who, and the society that, opposed the mission of the Prophet (see opposition to Muḥammad), and only secondarily, if at all, to a defined historical epoch. It is also possibl…
Date: 2016-11-17

Qibla

(2,490 words)

Author(s): Kimber, Richard
A direction one faces in order to pray (see prayer ). q 2:142-50 is concerned with the Muslims' qibla and appears to say the following: There is about to be a change of qibla. Foolish people will make an issue of the change and they should be answered with an affirmation of God's absolute sovereignty (q.v.; see also power and impotence ). God has made the believers neither Jews nor Christians (see belief and unbelief; jews and judaism; christians and christianity) but an example to all, just as the messenger (q.v.) is an example to the believers. The former qibla was instituted only as a test…

Reciters of the Qurʾān [Supplement 2016]

(4,301 words)

Author(s): Christopher Melchert | Asma Afsaruddin
The reciters of the Qurʾān are those entrusted with the oral recitation of Qurʾānic passages, or of the entire text. The term “reciter” (Ar. sing. qāriʾ and muqriʾ) in its basic, most general meaning refers to one who reads or recites. With reference to the reciters of the Qurʾān, the plural qurrāʾ is used much more commonly than is muqriʾūn. In a broad sense, the term qurrāʾ is used in various sources to refer to both professional reciters, namely those who accepted payment for their recitation and were often employed by the state, and pious, non-professional…
Date: 2016-11-17

Reciters of the Qurʾān

(4,440 words)

Author(s): Melchert, Christopher | Afsaruddin, Asma
Those entrusted with the oral recitation of qurʾānic passages, or the entire text. The term “reciter” (Ar. sing. qāriʾ and muqriʾ) in its basic, general signification refers to one who reads or recites. With reference to reciters of the Qurʾān, the plural qurrāʾ is much more common than muqriʾūn. In a broad sense, the term qurrāʾ is used in various sources to refer both to professional reciters, namely those who accepted payment for their recitation and were often employed by the state, and to pious, non-professional ones who did not seek to make a …

Emigrants and Helpers

(2,465 words)

Author(s): al-Faruque, Muhammad
Those who emigrated from Mecca (q.v.) to Medina (q.v.) with the prophet Muḥammad (Emigrants, muhājirūn), and the residents of Medina who received and helped them (Helpers, anṣār). In a broader sense, those who forsake home and land, giving up evil deeds and renouncing personal desires for the sake of God are called emigrants by the Qurʾān ( muhājir, q 4:100; 29:26). In some classical sources the Medinans who came to Mecca and met Muḥammad at ʿ Aqaba were also characterized as emigrants because Medina was considered to be the abode of polytheism (see polytheism and atheism ) and from there …

Prophets and Prophethood

(11,066 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Those individuals who receive divine revelation and their collective vocation. In Arabic (as in Hebrew), the word for “prophet” is nabī, plural nabiyyūn and anbiyāʾ. These forms occur seventy-five ¶ times, apart from the term nubuwwa, “prophethood,” which occurs five times. Much more prevalent, however, is the term rasūl (pl. rusul) which denotes a “messenger” (q.v.) or “apostle” (of God). Messengers are mentioned more than 300 times. A messenger is also referred to as mursal, which, together with its plural form (mursalūn), occurs more than thirty times. The form risāla (pl. risālāt)…

Lawful and Unlawful

(2,765 words)

Author(s): Lowry, Joseph E.
That which is legally authorized, and that which is not. Among its various legislative pronouncements, the Qurʾān declares certain objects and actions lawful or unlawful. The words ḥalāl, “lawful, allowed, permitted,” and ḥarām, “unlawful, forbidden, prohibited,” and cognate terms from the triliteral roots ḥ-l-l and ḥ-r-m, respectively, most often designate these two categories and are of relatively frequent occurrence. Qurʾānic declarations of lawfulness or unlawfulness are limited to a relatively few areas of the law as later elaborated …

Foreign Vocabulary

(6,992 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
From the earliest period of Islam down to the present day, attentive readers have ¶ observed that there are words in the Qurʾān which appear to be of non-Arabic origin. Such observations, motivated by varying factors, have been the source of controversy, discussions and extensive study in traditional Muslim and Euro-American scholarship. Why foreign words? When the Qurʾān proclaimed itself to be written in “clear Arabic,” the seeds of discussion, disagreement and analysis concerning the presence of “foreign words” within the text were sown. Not only…

Narratives

(7,243 words)

Author(s): Gilliot, Claude
Stories of individuals and communities of the past, of varying length, many of which appear in numerous renditions throughout the qurʾānic text, but are found predominantly in the Meccan sūras of the Qurʾān (see chronology and the qurʾān ). Although the Qurʾān does relate the tales of prophets (see prophets and prophethood ) and other notable persons, tales that presumably were already familiar to the first auditors of the Qurʾān (see orality and writing in arabia; south arabia, religion in pre-islamic), the stories that are characterized as “narratives” contain certain req…

Readings of the Qurʾān

(6,725 words)

Author(s): Leemhuis, Frederik
A term generally used to denote the qirāʾāt, the different ways of reciting the Qurʾān. Variant readings are an important aspect of Qurʾān recitation (see recitation of the qurʾān; reciters of the qurʾān), ¶ but qirāʾāt refer to more than that. Other elements — such as differences concerning length of syllables, when to assimilate consonants to following ones, and where to pause or insert verse endings — form an integral part of the different qirāʾāt systems. Reports about different ways of reciting or reading the Qurʾān were transmitted from the beginning of Islam. Tra…

Inheritance

(5,230 words)

Author(s): Powers, David Stephan
Rules for the division of wealth (q.v.) among the heirs of a deceased Muslim man or woman. Traditional Islamic perspective Traditional Islamic sources indicate that the intergenerational transmission of property by means of a last will and testament ( waṣiyya) was a common procedure prior to the rise of Islam and during the Meccan period (see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān ). The emigration (q.v.; hijra ) to Medina (q.v.) in 1/622 necessitated certain changes in the existing inheritance rules. By migrating to Medina, the Emigrants ( muhājirūn, see emigrants and helpers ) effectively…

Trust and Patience

(4,528 words)

Author(s): Alexander, Scott C.
Belief in another's integrity, justice or reliability, and forbearance in the face of adversity. According to the Qurʾān, trust and patience are two distinguishing virtues (see virtues and vices, commanding and forbidding ) of the “faithful” person (i.e. muʾmin; see belief and unbelief ). There are two qurʾānic concepts typically translated by the English word “trust.” The first, tawakkul (ʿalā), is a maṣdar (abstract noun expressing action) derived from the fifth form of the Arabic root w-k-l, meaning “to give oneself over to” ( istaslama ilayhi), “to rely/depend on” ( iʿtamada ʿala…

Age of Ignorance

(3,137 words)

Author(s): Shepard, William E.
This phrase is a common translation of the Arabic word jāhiliyya used by Muslims to refer to the historical period in west-central Arabia covering the centuries immediately prior to the mission of Muḥammad, a period characterized by ignorance of the divine truth. To the original audience of the Qurʾān, however, it almost certainly referred primarily to the moral condition of those individuals and their society which led them to oppose the mission of the Prophet (see opposition to muḥammad ) and only secondarily, if at all, to a defined historical epoch. It is also possible…

Sex and Sexuality

(3,503 words)

Author(s): Stewart, Devin J.
The act by which humans procreate, and the sum total of those attributes that cause an individual to be physically attractive to another. While the Qurʾān does criticize lust for women as an example of man's infatuation with worldly pleasures (cf. q 3:14), it does not categorically condemn sex as a cause of evil and attachment to the world. The Qurʾān does recognize sex as ¶ an important feature of the natural world and subjects it to legislation in a number of passages (see law and the qurʾān ). It accepts sex as a natural and regular part of human existence, specifically authoriz…

Taxation

(4,840 words)

Author(s): Heck, Paul L.
Extraction of a part of communal wealth for its social redistribution and for its use in maintaining governing authority (q.v.), its various institutions, and public works. The Qurʾān offers no trace of the fiscal system first developed under ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (r. 2-12/634-44), in substance a reformulation of Byzantine and Sasanian models (see Jeffery, For. vocab. and relevant ei 2 articles — e.g. Cahen, Djizya; Zysow, ¶ Zakāt; Cahen, Kharādj — for discussion of the foreign origins of taxation terminology in the Qurʾān; see also foreign vocabulary ). That fiscal system was a pro…

Jihād

(4,710 words)

Author(s): Landau-Tasseron, Ella
Struggle, or striving, but often understood both within the Muslim tradition and beyond it as warfare against infidels (see fighting; war; belief and unbelief). The term jihād derives from the root j-h-d, denoting effort, exhaustion, exertion, strain. Derivatives of this root occur in forty-one qurʾānic verses. Five of these contain the phrase jahd aymānihim, meaning “[to swear] the strongest oath,” which is irrelevant to the present discussion (see oaths ), and not all the remaining verses refer to warfare. ¶ Since the concept of jihād is related to warfare, discussions of the…

Ritual Purity

(5,782 words)

Author(s): Lowry, Joseph E.
A state of heightened cleanliness, symbolic or actual, associated with persons, activities and objects in the context of ritual worship (q.v.; see also cleanliness and ablution; contamination). The Qurʾān imposes a specific, two-tiered requirement of ritual cleansing before prayer (q.v.) and this is its most direct and detailed — and perhaps its only — regulation of ritual purity in the narrow sense. More general notions of purity and impurity extend, however, to a fairly wide array of persons, objects and activities in …

Short Titles

(5,218 words)

Abbott, Studies II N. Abbott, Studies in Arabic literary papyri. II. Qurʾānic commentary and tradition, Chicago, 1967 ʿAbd al-Bāqī Muḥammad Fuʾād ʿAbd al-Bāqī, al-Muʿjam al-mufahras li-alfāẓ al-Qurʾān al-karīm, Cairo, 1945 ʿAbd al-Jabbār, Mutashābih ʿAbd al-Jabbār b. Aḥmad al-Asadābādī al-Qāḍī al-Hamadhānī, Mutashābih al-QurʾānʿAdnān M. Zarzūr, 2 vols., Cairo, 1969 ʿAbd al-Jabbār, Tanzīh ʿAbd al-Jabbār b. Aḥmad al-Asadābādī al-Qāḍī al-Hamadhānī, Tanzīh al-Qurʾān ʿan al-maṭāʿin, Beirut, 1966 ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, ʿAṣrī ʿĀʾisha ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, al-Qurʾān wa-l-tafsīr al-ʿaṣ…

Language and Style of the Qurʾān

(17,121 words)

Author(s): Gilliot, Claude | Larcher, Pierre
The semantic field of “language” includes several triliteral Arabic roots: l-s-n (Dāmaghānī, Wujūh, ii, 200-1; see H. Jenssen, Arabic language, 132; see also language, concept of), k-l-m (Yaḥyā b. Sallām, Taṣārīf, 303-5; Dāmaghānī, Wujūh, ii, 186-7), q-w-l, l-ḥ-n (Khan, Die exegetischen Teile, 276, on q 47:30: “the burden of their talk,” laḥn al-qawl; Fück, ʿArabīya, 133; Fr. trans. 202; Ullmann, Wa-h̲airu, 21-2). It should be noted that lugha in the sense of manner of speaking (Fr. parler, Ger. Redeweise) is totally absent from the Qurʾān — although the root l-gh-w is attested, but…

Syriac and the Qurʾān

(8,961 words)

Author(s): El-Badawi, Emran
Syriac was an Aramaic dialect spoken by Christians in and around Arabia during the time of the Qurʾān’s appearance. It originated in northern Mesopotamia and Syria but became the lingua franca of the late antique Near East (ca. second-seventh centuries C.E.), and the “golden age” of Syriac literature flourished from the fourth to the seventh centuries (Brock, A brief outline, 9-21). Syriac was the official language of the West Syrian (Jacobite) and East Syrian (Nestorian) churches, while the closely related dialect of Christian Palestinian Aramaic was used by the Chalcedonian…
Date: 2018-08-14
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