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(1,084 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
One of the names of the Qurʾān (q.v.) or of parts of it. The Arabic form mathānī is the plural of mathnā or mathnāt, and is a derivative of the root th-n-y, which signifies repetition, duplication. In q 39:23, the form mathānī occurs within the following description of the Qurʾān: “God has sent down the fairest discourse as a book (q.v.), similar in its oft-repeated (mutashābihan mathāniya), whereat shiver the skins of those who fear (q.v.) their lord (q.v.)….” The most prevalent explanation is that the scripture has been called mathānī because its various themes — religious duties, …


(942 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Persons or animals or plants connected by common descent. This concept emerges in the Qurʾān mainly in relationship with the glory (q.v.) of God who in his might was able to create a multitude of species upon earth (see creation; power and impotence). Thus in q 36:36: “Glory be to him who created pairs of all things, of what the earth grows, and of their own kind and of what they do not know” (see glorification of god ). The phrase “of what they do not know” is taken to refer to species unknown to humans. Similarly, in q 20:53 God is praised (see praise ) for producing from the earth many species o…

Children of Israel

(2,783 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
One of the qurʾānic designations of Israelites as well as Jews ( yahūd, see jews and judaism ) and Christians ( naṣārā, see christians and christianity ), in reference mainly to past generations (q.v.). The majority of the passages mentioning the Children of Israel (Bānū Isrāʾīl) are dedicated to the Israelites of the time of Moses (q.v.), while references do exist to later stages of their history, such as the story of Saul (Ṭālūṭ; q 2:246-52; see saul ), the destruction of the Temple (q 17:2-8) and the emergence of Jesus (q.v.) among them (q 61:6). Sometimes, the label “Children of Isra…

Repentance and Penance

(3,197 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Contrition or regret and self-mortification, with the intention of obtaining God's pardon (see forgiveness ). Repentance is generally designated in the Qurʾān as tawba which basically means “return” (from sin; see sin, major and minor ). For example, in q 66:8 God demands of the believers a “sincere return” (tawbatan naṣūḥan) and he in turn will make them enter paradise (q.v.). God himself is described as “the accepter of tawba” (q 9:104; 42:25; also q 40:3: accepter of tawb), and this represents a crucial aspect of his compassion for the believers (see mercy ). Repentance can, however,…

Sacred Precincts

(2,397 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Areas considered holy, often associated with places of worship or religious rituals. Sacred precincts are treated in the Qurʾān on two levels: Israelite and Arabian (see children of israel; pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān; south arabia, religion in pre-islamic). On the Israelite level, a sacred precinct is mentioned, to begin with, in the story of Moses' (q.v.) vocation. In q 20:12, Moses stands before the burning bush and God tells him that the wādī, “valley,” i.e. precinct, he is standing in is of “multiple sacredness” (al-wādī l-muqaddas ṭuwan); therefore he must take off his…

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)…


(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…


(833 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
A wife of the prophet Muḥammad and a daughter of the caliph ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb. Ibn Saʿd relates that she was born in Mecca five years before Muḥammad's first revelation (ca. 605 c.e.). Her mother was Zaynab bt. Maẓʿūn. Ḥafṣa emigrated to Medina with her first husband, Khunays b. Ḥudhāfa, of the Sahm, a clan of the Quraysh (q.v.). He is believed to have died shortly after the battle of Badr (q.v.; 2/624) in which he participated (Ibn Saʿd, Ṭabaqāt, viii, 81), although some say that he was killed during the battle of Uḥud (Ibn Ḥajar, Iṣāba, vii, 582; see expeditions and battles ). Ibn Qutayba, how…


(603 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
The remains of a destroyed abode of sinful people. The total destruction of former generations (q.v.) is a historical lesson for contemporary sinners (see sin, major and minor ), as stated, for example, in q 19:98: “And how many a generation (qarn) have we destroyed before them! Do you see any one of them or hear a sound of them?” (see geography; history and the qurʾān). Among these extinct sinners there were the peoples of ʿĀd (q.v.) and Thamūd (q.v.) about whom it is declared in q 69:8 that one cannot see any remnant (bāqiya) of them. The Qurʾān emphasizes that God has cut off the last of them ( quṭiʿ…


(1,053 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
A believer who is neither a polytheist (mushrik) nor a Jew or a Christian (see polytheism and atheism; jews and judaism; christians and christianity). The Arabic root ḥ-n-f initially means “to incline,” so that ḥanīf (pl. ḥunafāʾ) is most probably understood in the Qurʾān as one who has abandoned the prevailing religions and has inclined to a religion of his own. It occurs once as a synonym of muslim (q 3:67) and also in juxtaposition with the verb aslama (q 4:125). The qurʾānic prototype of the ideal ḥanīf is Abraham (q.v.; q 3:67; 16:120), and being a ḥanīf signifies belonging to the “rel…


(12,002 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
The Muslim Prophet to whom God's revelation was “sent down” ( nuzzila,q 47:2; see prophets and prophethood; revelation and inspiration). On three occasions the name is followed by the title “messenger” (q.v.; rasūl), i.e. God's messenger (q 3:144; 33:40; 48:29). ¶ Names and appellations When, however, the Qurʾān addresses the Prophet directly in the second person, he is not referred to as “Muḥammad,” but is called by various appellations that indicate his relation to God. Here, apart from rasūl, the title most frequently used is al-nabī, “prophet” (q 8:64; 66:8, etc.). The appellati…

Jews and Judaism

(8,618 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Terminology The Arabic term denoting “Jews” is yahūd, which occurs seven times in the Qurʾān. The form hūd also denotes the same and appears in this sense three times. The singular, yahūdī, occurs once. From yahūd/hūd was derived the secondary verb hāda, which means “to be a Jew/Jewish.” “Those who were Jews” (hādū) is mentioned ten times. This verb appears once with the complementary ilā (q 7:156), in which case it denotes “to return to.” It is put into the mouth of Moses (q.v.), who says to God: “We have returned (hudnā) to you.” Obviously, this is a play on yahūd, on behalf of whom Moses is…


(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 …


(554 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Ancestor of the people of Israel (Isrāʾīl), whose name appears most frequently in the Qurʾān within the title “Children of Israel” (q.v.; Banū Isrāʾīl). Only in two places does it occur separately (q 3:93; 19:58). The commentators identify Israel with Jacob (q.v.; Yaʿqūb), the son of Isaac (q.v.; Isḥāq). q 3:93, which deals with Jewish dietary restrictions (see jews and judaism ), makes allusion to a specific event in Israel's life. It ¶ is stated here that all food was lawful (see lawful and unlawful ) to the Children of Israel save what Israel forbade for himself before the Torah (q.v.) was…


(2,856 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Name of a tribe in Mecca (q.v.) to which Muḥammad belonged (for the meaning of the name, see Watt, Ḳuraysh). It is mentioned only once in the Qurʾān (q 106:1), in a chapter dealing with their winter and summer caravans (see caravan ). The exegetes quote detailed traditions about their pre-Islamic commercial system which acquired international dimensions, their trade caravans being said to have reached as far as Byzantium in the north (see byzantines ), Persia in the east, Abyssinia (q.v.) in the west and Yemen (q.v.) in the south. The qurʾānic chapter itself requests the Quraysh…


(688 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Uri
Objects used to carry people or things from place to place, on land or sea or through the air. The Qurʾān mentions several kinds of vehicles while attributing their existence to God's bounty (see blessing; grace), as stated, for example, in q 17:70: “And surely we have honored the children of Adam, and we carry them in the land and the sea (see earth; water), and we have given them of the good things (see sustenance )….” The same idea recurs in q 10:22: “He it is who makes you travel by land and sea” (see also trips and voyages; journey). The vehicles operating on land are beasts of burden, and…