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Scripture and the Qurʾān

(6,720 words)

Author(s): Graham, William A.
Addressing the issue of “scripture” in relation to the Qurʾān is at once a straight-¶ forward and a complicated venture. It is straightforward because in many respects the Qurʾān itself puts forward a generic concept of scripture that is consistent with that widely used today in the general study of religion. It is complicated because it raises numerous questions of historical, sociological and theological import for any understanding of either Islamic scripturalism or the relation of Islamic scripturalism to that of other religious traditions (see theology and the qurʾān ). In shor…

Orality

(2,026 words)

Author(s): Graham, William A.
The quality of spoken, as opposed to written, communication. The Arabic Qurʾān emerged against the backdrop of a long history of oral poetic composition and recitation (see poetry and poets; orality and writing in arabia). It is a composite text consisting of oral recitations born in ¶ an oral culture of great refinement and long tradition. It is hard to over-emphasize the importance of oral poetry among the northern Arab tribal nomads (q.v.) of the pre-Islamic world (see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān; arabs; bedouin). Their major art form was the spoken word of poetry, and…

Basmala

(3,609 words)

Author(s): Graham, William A.
The invocation bi-smi llāhi l-raḥmāni l-raḥīm(i), “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” also known as the tasmiya, “naming/uttering (God's name),” occurs 114 times in the Qurʾān: at the head of every sūra except the ninth, which is entitled “Repentance” (Sūrat al-Tawba or Sūrat al-Barāʾa), and also in q 27:30 as the opening of Solomon's (q.v.) letter to the queen of Sheba (see bilqīs ). Of the 113 occurrences at the head of a sūra, only the first, that before the opening sūra, Sūrat al-Fātiḥa (see fātiḥa ), is commonly reckoned as an āya, i.e. as q 1:1, although the other 11…

Fātiḥa

(3,357 words)

Author(s): Graham, William A.
The first sūra of the Qurʾān, “The Opener,” more properly “The Opening of Scripture” ( fātiḥat al-kitāb, see book ). It occupies a unique place formally and theologically in the ʿUthmānic text of the Qurʾān and in ritual prayer ( ṣalāt, see codices of the qurʾān; ritual and the qurʾān; prayer). Its seven brief verses stand at the ¶ head of the qurʾānic text, the remaining 113 sūras being arranged roughly from longest to shortest. It is the one sūra that every Muslim must be able to recite by heart in order to perform the ritual prayer (full legal observance of …