Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān

Get access Subject: Middle East and Islamic Studies
General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Georgetown University, Washington DC

The Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān Online is an encyclopaedic dictionary of qur’ānic terms, concepts, personalities, place names, cultural history and exegesis extended with essays on the most important themes and subjects within qur’ānic studies. The Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān Online is the first comprehensive, multivolume reference work on the Qur’ān to appear in a Western language.
Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān Online includes direct access to 62 Early Printed Western Qur’āns Online and the Electronic Qurʾān Concordance, a unique online finding aid for textual research.

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(6 words)

 see cleanliness and ablution Bibliography


(1,307 words)

Author(s): Sachedina, Abdulaziz
The premature expulsion of a fetus. Classical Muslim jurists applied a number of terms to abortion, including ijhāḍ, isqāṭ, ṭarḥ, ilqāʾ and imlāṣ. The Qurʾān makes no reference to abortion as the term is commonly understood, although it upholds the sanctity of human life in general (e.g. q 5:32) and forbids the killing of children ( q 17:31) and female infants ( q 81:8-9) in particular (see children; infanticide; murder). The restrictive view of abortion commonly held by jurists was based on the ¶ general qurʾānic interdiction of unlawfully taking human life. The qurʾānic descriptions …


(2,293 words)

Author(s): McAuliffe, Jane Dammen
The Christian ruler of a south Arabian kingdom founded by the Abyssinians (see abyssinia ), whose name is traditionally associated with the interpretation of q 105, where there is a description of God smiting the People of the Elephant (q.v.). Although he is not mentioned in the qurʾānic text, his name is regularly given in the commentary literature. Epigraphic evidence, the writings of the Byzantine military historian Procopius as well as ecclesiastical sources provide independent historical attestation for this figure, but his association with the sūra is lim…


(7,309 words)

Author(s): Firestone, Reuven
Some two hundred and forty-five verses in twenty-five sūras of the Qurʾān make reference to Abraham (Ibrāhīm), the progenitor of the nation of Israel (q.v.). Among biblical figures, only Moses (q.v.) receives more attention and in the Qurʾān Abraham and Moses are the sole prophets explicitly identified as bearers of scriptures ( q 53:36-7; 87:18-9; see book; scripture and the qurʾān). Although the Islamic Abraham shares many characteristics with the figure in the Bible and later Jewish exegetical literature, the Qurʾān especially emphasizes his role as a…


(7,208 words)

Author(s): Burton, John
A prominent concept in the fields of qurʾānic commentary and Islamic law which allowed the harmonization of apparent contradictions in legal rulings. Despite the voluminous literature Muslims have produced on this topic over the centuries, Western scholars have historically evinced little interest in analyzing the details of “abrogation.” Although aware of these details, T. Nöldeke and F. Schwally, for example, failed to probe adequately the significant distinction made in applying theories of abrogation to the Qurʾān. To understand this application,…


(568 words)

Author(s): McDonough, Sheila
In the Qurʾān abstinence in the sense of “restraint in or refraining from the indulgence of human appetites and impulses” is connected with words deriving from four ¶ different Arabic roots, namely ʾ-l-w, ʿ-ṣ-m, ʿ-f-f and h-j-r. The paradigmatic event for the qurʾānic notion of abstinence is q 74:2-5, which recounts one of the early examples of Muḥammad's experience of coming close to God as the revelation descends on him. God commands, “Arise and warn, your Lord magnify, your robes purify, and defilement flee (fa-hjur).” Drawing close to God requires abandoning or fleeing from…

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

Abū Lahab

(123 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
An individual named once in the Qurʾān at q 111:1. The name literally means “father of the flame,” that is of hell. “ Abū Lahab ” was the nickname of an uncle of Muḥammad by the name of ʿAbd al-ʿUzzā b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib who was a major opponent of the Prophet. See also opposition to muḥammad . Andrew Rippin Bibliography Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, i, 231 U. Rubin, Abū Lahab and sūra CXI, in bsoas 42 (1979), 13-28

(Abū Lahab (ʿAbd al-ʿUzzāʾ b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, uncle of the Prophet) - Abū l-Hudhayl (d. 227/841))

(846 words)

Abū Lahab (ʿAbd al-ʿUzzāʾ b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, uncle of the Prophet)  Abū Lahab  Chronology and the Qurʾān  Curse  Emigration  Family of the Prophet  Hand(s)  Hell and Hellfire  History and the Qurʾān  Muḥammad  Prayer  Pre-Islamic Arabia and the Qurʾān  Provocation  Quraysh Abū Malik al-Quraẓī  Qurayẓa (Banū al-) Abū Manṣūr al-Azharī (d. 370/980)  Traditional Disciplines of Qurʾānic Studies Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī see al-Māturīdī, Abū Manṣūr (d. 333/944) Abū Manṣūr ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Baghdādī see al-Baghdādī, Abū Manṣūr ʿAbd al-Qāhir (d. 429/1037) Abū Maydab (d. 594/1197)  Ṣūfi…

Abū Ṭālib

(8 words)

 see family of the prophet Bibliography


(1,004 words)

Author(s): Firestone, Reuven
Abyssinia (al-Ḥabash or al-Ḥabasha) does not appear in the Qurʾān, although the ¶ Christian Abyssinian state of Axum exerted a powerful influence on Arabia in the sixth century. Separated from the Yemen by only the narrow Bab al-Mandab Strait, Abyssinia controlled southern Arabia for some time and Christianity spread in the region. One sūra is ordinarily interpreted to allude to an Abyssinian military incursion that reached Mecca and it is said that some of the early Meccan converts to Islam took refuge in Abyssinia. Ethiopic languages influenced the dialects …


(14 words)

 see god and his attributes; exegesis of the qurʾān: classical and medieval Bibliography


(1,239 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
An ancient tribe to whom the prophet Hūd (q.v.; q 7:65; 11:50; cf. 46:21) was sent. They are mentioned twenty-four times in the Qurʾān. The ʿĀd are described as a powerful tribe which existed after the people of Noah (q.v.; q 7:69). They were mighty and proud of their strength ( q 41:15; cf. 26:128-9) as well as very tall of stature ( q 7:69). The prophet Hūd was sent to the ʿĀd, but his preaching was largely unsuccessful ( q 7:70-1; 11:53-4; 46:22). Other messengers were also sent to the ʿĀd, but they too were rejected ( q 26:123). Hūd tried to convince his people to invoke God's interventi…

Adam and Eve

(3,578 words)

Author(s): Schöck, Cornelia
Adam is the first human being (bashar) and the father of humankind in the Pentateuch and the Qurʾān. “Adam” (Ādam) as an individual person occurs eighteen times in the Qurʾān. In addition, the phrase “the sons of Adam” (banū Ādam) in the sense of “humankind” is attested seven times. The qurʾānic commentators derive the name “Ādam” from adīm al-arḍ (ʿAbd al-Razzāq, Tafsīr, i, 43; ii, 20; Ibn Saʿd, Ṭabaqāt, i, 26; Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, i, 214-5) or from adamat al-arḍ (Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, i, 208), because he was created from “the surface of the earth.” The name of Adam's wife Eve, in the Islamic traditio…


(1,011 words)

Author(s): Muhammad Fadel
Adoption (tabannī) was a recognized practice in pre-Islamic Arabia, with Muḥammad, prior to his prophetic mission, himself having reportedly adopted his freedman, Zayd ibn Ḥāritha, who consequently became known as Zayd b. Muḥammad. Q 33:4-6, however, abrogated this pre-Islamic custom, dissolved the fictive ties of kinship  (al-muʾākhāt) that the Prophet Muḥammad had established between the Meccan immigrants to Medina and the Medinans upon his arrival there, and recognized ties of fictive kinship between the Prophet’s wives and the Muslim community by declaring them…
Date: 2017-08-31


(5 words)

 see children; family Bibliography


(834 words)

Author(s): Renard, John
The acts and attitudes of praise and honor accorded to God. The standard English renderings of the Qurʾān typically use “adoration” and its cognates to translate sajada (to prostrate oneself; see bowing and prostration ), the quintessential Islamic ritual of adoration (see prayer ). There is, however, a great deal more to adoration ¶ than a physical gesture. A variety of qurʾānic terms vividly communicate the sense of “adoration” as a response to the divine being, including various forms of the roots ḥ-m-d (praise), s-b-ḥ (glorify), m-j-d (exalt) and ʿ-ẓ-m (magnify). Certain verses …

Adultery and Fornication

(1,464 words)

Author(s): Abu-Zahra, Nadia
The qurʾānic word zinā (elsewhere more commonly zināʾ) means sexual intercourse outside the institutions of marriage and concubinage. q 17:32 characterizes this behavior as a fāḥisha, i.e. an obscene act of transgression against God from which a Muslim should refrain (cf. q 25:68). These transgressions together with their specified punishment are called ḥudūd (sing. ḥadd, lit. limit, boundary; see boundaries and precepts ) and also include associating others with God and homicide. The Ḥanafite jurist al-Jaṣṣāṣ (d. 370/981) explains that adultery and fornication are tra…

African Americans

(1,748 words)

Author(s): Berg, Herbert
Historical information about individuals like Job ben Solomon (ca. 1700-73), Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima (1762-1829) and Omar ibn Said (ca. 1770-1864) demonstrates that some of the Africans brought to America as slaves were not only Muslim but well-versed in the Qurʾān as well. For example, the first-named, born Ayuba Suleiman Ibrahima Diallo, came from a family of religious leaders in Futa in present-day Senegal. After he was manumitted and taken to England, he wrote several copies of the Qurʾān from memory. These men, however, were exceptional. Enslavement eventually…

African Literature

(3,122 words)

Author(s): Hunwick, John O.
As is the case elsewhere in the world, the memorization of the Qurʾān, or at least a portion of it, is the starting point for a Muslim child's education in sub-Saharan Africa. For those whose education continues beyond this point, the Qurʾān plays a relatively small role in their studies. Nevertheless, the language of the Qurʾān remains the stylistic point of reference for everything they subsequently write in the Arabic language, especially among the majority for whom Arabic itself is not the mother tongue. Thus, in the seventeenth-century chronicle of Timbuktu, Taʾrīkh al-sūdān (ed. …
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