Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān


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(2,601 words)

Author(s): Chabbi, J.
The city (q.v.) in the Arabian peninsula that was the birthplace of Muḥammad, which, due to the presence of the Kaʿba (q.v.) therein, is revered as one of the “holy cities” in Islamic culture. A description of Mecca based strictly upon the Qurʾān could lead to the radical revision of a large ¶ number of stories from classical Arabic sources, which are most often of a mythical or legendary kind (see geography; history and the qurʾān). It can be argued that the historiographical elements provided by these sources with respect to Mecca, a city of great religious and political importance,…

M (Maysara (servant of Khadīja) - Mecca [Makka])

(713 words)

Maysara (servant of Khadīja)  Informants  Khadīja Maysara b. ʿAbd Rabbihi (fl. 150/767)  Angel  Ḥadīth and the Qurʾān Mayse (of Muʿwiya)  Syria Mazdaism  Spiritual Beings Mazlum, J.  Art and Architecture and the Qurʾān Maʾjūj see Magog Maʿadd  Sīra and the Qurʾān al-Maʿarrī, Abū l-ʿAlāʾ (d. 449/1057)  Angel  Hell and Hellfire  Literature and the Qurʾān  Parody of the Qurʾān  Post-Enlightenment Academic Study of the Qurʾān Maʿbad al-Juhanī (d. after 83/703)  Philosophy and the Qurʾān al-Mābiyāt  Archaeology and the Qurʾān Maʿdīkarib Yaʿfur  Yemen Maʿmar b. Rāshid (d. 153-4/770)  …

Festivals and Commemorative Days

(3,292 words)

Author(s): Hoffman, Valerie J.
Periodic celebrations held either to honor the memory of particular individuals or to remember or mark events important in sacred history. The Qurʾān does not use the word holiday ( ʿīd), but this word has come to be employed for two feast days: the breaking of the fast of Ramaḍān ( ʿīd al-fiṭr), and the “great ʿīd,” the feast of sacrifice ( ʿīd al-aḍḥā) at the end of the rites of the pilgrimage to Mecca ( ḥajj, see ¶ pilgrimage ). To these two feast days Muslims later added other celebrations and commemorative days, including the celebration of the Prophet's birthday, thos…

Dreams and Sleep

(4,173 words)

Author(s): Kinberg, Leah
Visions (q.v.) seen while asleep which convey a message or meaning of some import. Four different terms denote dreams in the Qurʾān. The word ruʾyā appears six times ( q 12:5, 43, 100; 17:60; 37:105; 48:27); the word manām appears four times, twice meaning sleep (q.v.; q 30:23; 39:42) and twice meaning dream ( q 8:43; 37:102); bushrā, which means good tidings (see good news ), is interpreted once to mean a dream ( q 10:64). All three words signify good dreams. For bad dreams the Qurʾān uses ḥulm. This word occurs twice, both times in the expression aḍghāth aḥlām, meaning “confused dreams” ( q 12:4…

Spatial Relations

(2,741 words)

Author(s): Neuwirth, Angelika
Relative physical and geographic placement (above, below, close, etc.). In Islamic tradition, the qurʾānic corpus is understood as consisting of two kinds of text units, Meccan sūras and Medinan sūras (see mecca; medina; sūra). While this division serves the juridical purpose of distinguishing earlier texts from later texts (see abrogation ), by such geographic identification sūras are explicitly related to places (see geography and the qurʾān ) rather than time periods (see chronology and the qurʾān ). This is in accord with a general qurʾānic trend to focus on space r…


(12,059 words)

Author(s): Neuwirth, Angelika
This entry starts with a short general overview of the geography of the Qurʾān, i.e. the geographical setting of the genesis of the text. It then proceeds to survey the geographical representations in the Qurʾān. As Kenneth Cragg (Event) has correctly pointed out, the events which are pivotal in the Qurʾān are located in a space shaped ¶ by pagan notions (see polytheism and atheism; south arabia, religion in pre-islamic). Geography in the Qurʾān thus appears constructed against the pre-qurʾānic Bedouin (q.v.) views of space transmitted in ancient Arabic poetry (see age of ignorance; p…


(4 words)

 see mecca Bibliography

S (Sūrat al-Kawthar)

(95 words)

Sūrat al-Kawthar  Sūrat al-Kawthar   Bahāʾīs   Basmala   Chronology and the Qurʾān   Language and Style of the Qurʾān   Literary Structures of the Qurʾān   Mecca   Parody of the Qurʾān   Patriarchy   Persian Literature and the Qurʾān   Popular and Talismanic Uses of the Qurʾān   Shīʿism and the Qurʾān   Sīra and the Qurʾān   Sūra(s)  1   Angel   Garden   Ḥadīth and the Qurʾān   Last Judgment   Muḥammad   Parody of the Qurʾān   Sīra and the Qurʾān   Springs and Fountains  2   Chronology and the Qurʾān   Exhortations   Mecca   Prayer   Ritual and the Qurʾān   Sūra(s)  3   Apolog…

S (Sūrat Quraysh)

(83 words)

Sūrat Quraysh  Sūrat Quraysh   Caravan   Chronology and the Qurʾān   Mecca   People of the Elephant   Ritual and the Qurʾān   Seasons   Sūra(s)   Trips and Voyages  1   Cosmology   Mecca   Pre-Islamic Arabia and the Qurʾān   Quraysh  1-2   Geography   Ilāf   Pairs and Pairing  1-5   Peace  2   Caravan   Journey   Seasons  3   Chronology and the Qurʾān   God and his Attributes   Kaʿba   People of the Elephant   People of the House   Property   Rhetoric and the Qurʾān  3-4   Belief and Unbelief   Exhortations   Ilāf   People of the Elephant   Sacred Precincts

Abū Bakr

(76 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
A prosperous merchant in Mecca who was an early convert to Islam (see Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, ed. M.J. de Goeje et al., i, 1165-6) and the first caliph of the community. Abū Bakr (d. 13/634) is often thought to be referred to in the Qurʾān, for example, in q 39:33, where he is considered to be the one who “confirms the truth” of Muḥammad's message. See also companions of the prophet . Andrew Rippin Bibliography


(81 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
A location on the road from Jedda to Mecca (q.v.) just outside the sacred territory. Here Muḥammad stopped while attempting to perform the pilgrimage (q.v.) in 6/628 and, through the agency of ʿUthmān, negotiated a truce with the tribe of Quraysh (q.v.) which would allow the Prophet and his followers to perform the pilgrimage the following year. This truce became known as the Pact of Ḥudaybiya. For further details, see muḥammad; expeditions and battles; treaties and alliances. Andrew Rippin Bibliography

Place of Abraham

(772 words)

Author(s): Schick, Robert
A location in Mecca (q.v.) at which Abraham (q.v.) is believed to have stood and/or prayed. The station or place of ¶ Abraham ( maqām Ibrāhīm) is cited twice in the Qurʾān. q 2:125, “Take the station of Abraham as a place of prayer” (q.v.; wa-ttakhidhū min maqāmi Ibrāhīma muṣallan) and q 3:97, “In it [the house of God, i.e. the ḥaram sanctuary in Mecca] are clear signs (q.v.), the station of Abraham.” Most have read q 2:125 as an imperative (referring to the Muslim community), rather than in the past tense wa-ttakhadhū, “and they took.” Opinions vary about the area to be considered as the …


(84 words)

Author(s): Firestone, Reuven
Derived from the Greek term, Aithiopes, designating mythical or actual peoples defined as having dark skin and living south of Egypt (q.v.), and applied to roughly the area of ancient Axum or Abyssinia (q.v.) in northeast Africa, directly across the Red Sea from Arabia. As the opposition to Muḥammad (q.v.) increased, a group of his followers left Mecca (q.v.; see emigration ), seeking the protection of the Christian king (see christians and christianity ) of the region. See geography . Reuven Firestone Bibliography

S (Sūrat al-Fatḥ)

(510 words)

Sūrat al-Fatḥ  Sūrat al-Fatḥ   Expeditions and Battles   Form and Structure of the Qurʾān   Manuscripts of the Qurʾān   Material Culture and the Qurʾān   Mosque   Opposition to Muḥammad   Popular and Talismanic Uses of the Qurʾān   Pre-1800 Preoccupations of Qurʾānic Studies   Sūra(s)   Victory   Virtue   Witnessing and Testifying  1   African Literature   Conquest   Expeditions and Battles   House, Domestic and Divine   Muḥammad   Quraysh   Shekhinah   Turkish literature and the Qurʾān  1-2   Popular and Talismanic Uses of the Qurʾān  1-6   Epigraphy  1-22   Material…

People of the Elephant

(1,261 words)

Author(s): Shahīd, Irfan
The phrase in the first verse of q 105 ( Sūrat al- Fīl, “The Elephant”), from which al-fīl (“the elephant”) provides the term by which that sūra is known. The verse is addressed directly to the prophet Muḥammad: “Have you not seen how your lord has dealt with the People of the Elephant ( aṣḥāb al-fīl)?” The short sūra of five verses ¶ is early Meccan (see chronology and the qurʾān ) and it describes an expedition in which one of the mounts was an elephant and which was miraculously annihilated by God, who sent flocks of birds against the invading host. The sūra leaves unknown both the identity of the Peo…

Ṣafā and Marwa

(1,222 words)

Author(s): Firestone, Reuven
Two low hills near the Kaʿba (q.v.) in Mecca (q.v.) between which the pilgrim engages in a brisk walk or trot called “the running” (al- saʿy) during the pilgrimage (q.v.; ḥajj and ʿumra). This running is an obligatory station ( mansik, pl. manāsik) among the various ritual activities during the ten days of the ḥajj pilgrimage ritual at Mecca (see ritual and the qurʾān ). The root meaning of ṣafā is to be clear or pure, from which comes the familiar name muṣṭafā, meaning “elected” or “chosen” (see names of the prophet; election), but may also designate smooth stones. Lexicographers define marwa


(656 words)

Author(s): Mattson, Ingrid
Name of a deep, irregular valley, one day's journey from Mecca on the road to al-Ṭāʾif, where the Muslims fought a battle in Shawwāl 8/January 630, just a few weeks after the conquest of Mecca (see expeditions and battles ). The victory of yawm Ḥunayn, the “ battle of Ḥunayn,” is presented in q 9:25-7 (cf. Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, xiv, 178-88, ad q 9:25) as a reminder that ¶ victory (q.v.) can only come from God, for despite their large number, the Muslims were quickly routed by the enemy, until their panicked retreat was transformed into a successful rally by divine intervention. Early Muslim historian…


(807 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
An infinitive of the Arabic root ʾ-l-f which has been explained in various ways by Muslim commentators of the Qurʾān as well as by modern scholars. It occurs in one qurʾānic chapter ( q 106:1-2), where it is annexed to the name Quraysh (q.v.), and is associated with the “journey of the winter and the summer” (see caravan ). Most of the exegetical explanations are based on the view that ilāf Quraysh describes the manner in which the Meccan people of Quraysh conducted the winter and the summer journey. They revolve around the basic range of meanings of the root ʾ-l-f, which are “to resort habitu…


(3,021 words)

Author(s): Hawting, Gerald R.
A cube shaped building situated inside the Great Mosque (al-masjid al-ḥarām) at Mecca. Although the term kaʿba is attested only twice in the Qurʾān ( q 5:95, 97), there are other qurʾānic expressions that have traditionally been understood as designations for this structure (i.e. certain instances of al-bayt [lit. “the house,” see house, domestic and divine ]; as well as of masjid [see mosque ]). In Islamic tradition, it is often referred to as “the house (or sanctuary) of God” (bayt Allāh), and for the vast majority of Muslims it is the most sacred spot on earth. The name K…


(888 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
A company of travelers on a journey through a desert or hostile region; also, the vehicles which transport the company. The most prominent qurʾānic word denoting a “caravan” is ʿīr, which occurs three times in q 12, “ Joseph” (Sūrat Yūsuf; q 12:70, 82, 94). Arabic lexicographers say that originally this term denoted camels, asses or mules that carried provisions of corn but that it was later applied to any caravan (see camel ). Some say, however, that in the Qurʾān it signifies asses not camels (Lane, q.v. ʿīr) which does not comply with the biblical version of the story of Joseph …
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