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Sūra

(4,443 words)

Author(s): Welch, A.T.
, the designation used for the 114 independent units of the Ḳurʾān, often translated as “chapter”. The sūras are distinct units, unlike the frequently arbitrary divisions of the books of the Bible made by later editors. They are also unlike the topical, chronological and other types of major divisions of other books called “chapters”. Thus it seems best to leave the term “sūra” untranslated, treating it as a technical term, similar to “mishnah”, “seder”, “sutra”, “upanishad” and other terms for …

Mad̲j̲nūn

(1,696 words)

Author(s): Welch, A.T.
(a.), pl. mad̲j̲ānīn , possessed, mad, madman; the passive participle of d̲j̲anna , “to cover, conceal”, passive, d̲j̲unna , “to be possessed, mad, insane”. Its meaning and usage have been closely related to belief in the Ḏj̲inn [ q.v.]. In pre-Islamic Arabia, soothsayers were believed to have received messages from the d̲j̲inn during ecstatic experiences, after which they delivered oracles in short, enigmatic verses of rhymed prose called sad̲j̲ʿ [see kāhin ], and poets were believed to have been inspired by their individual d̲j̲inn, similar to the Greek idea of Muses [see s̲h̲āʿir ]. …

al-Ḳurʾān

(39,134 words)

Author(s): Welch, A.T. | Paret, R. | Pearson, J.D.
(a.), the Muslim scripture, containing the revelations recited by Muḥammad and preserved in a fixed, written form. ¶ 1. Etymology and Synonyms a. Derivation and Ḳurʾānic usage. The earliest attested usage of the term ḳurʾān is in the Ḳurʾān itself, where it occurs about 70 times with a variety of meanings. Most Western scholars have now accepted the view developed by F. Schwally ( Gesch . des Qor ., i, 33 f.) and others that ḳurʾān is derived from the Syriac ḳeryānā , “scripture reading, lesson”, as used in Christian liturgy (see for example the 6th cent…

Muḥammad

(29,304 words)

Author(s): Buhl, F. | Welch, A.T. | Schimmel, Annemarie | Noth, A. | Ehlert, Trude
, the Prophet of Islam. 1. The Prophet’s life and career. 2. The Prophet in popular Muslim piety. 3. The Prophet’s image in Europe and the West. 1. The Prophet’s life and career. Belief that Muḥammad is the Messenger of God ( Muḥammadun rasūlu ’llāh ) is second only to belief in the Oneness of God ( lā ilāha illā ’llāh ) according to the s̲h̲ahāda [ q.v.], the quintessential Islamic creed. Muḥammad has a highly exalted role at the heart of Muslim faith. At the same time the Ḳurʾān and Islamic orthodoxy insist that he was fully human with no supernatural powers. That Muḥammad was one of the greate…

Ṣafawids

(30,242 words)

Author(s): Savory, R.M. | Bruijn, J.T.P. de | Newman, A.J. | Welch, A.T. | Darley-Doran, R.E.
, a dynasty which ruled in Persia as “sovereigns 907-1135/1501-1722, as fainéants 1142-8/1729-36, and thereafter, existed as pretenders to the throne up to 1186/1773. I. Dynastic, political and military history. The establishment of the Ṣafawid state in 907/1501 by S̲h̲āh Ismāʿīl I [ q.v.] (initially ruler of Ād̲h̲arbāyd̲j̲ān only) marks an important turning-point in Persian history. In the first place, the Ṣafawids restored Persian sovereignty over the whole of the area traditionally regarded as the heartlands of Persia for the first ti…