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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Cain and Abel

(1,604 words)

Author(s): Busse, Heribert
The sons of Adam and Eve (q.v.). The qurʾānic account of Cain and Abel ( q 5:27-32) closely follows the narrative in the Bible ( Gen 4:1-16; see scripture and the qurʾān ). Each of the two sons of Adam and Eve — whose names are not mentioned in the Qurʾān — offers a sacrifice (q.v.): Only Abel's was accepted while Cain's was rejected because he was not God-fearing. Upon Cain's threat to murder Abel, the latter remained passive, wishing only that Cain be held responsible for the sins of both ( innī urīdu an tabūʾa bi-ithmī wa-ithmika, q 5:29) and punished accordingly (see chastisement and punishment )…


(884 words)

Author(s): Dallal, A.
System of fixing the divisions of time (q.v.), adapted to the purposes of communal life. References in the Qurʾān related to calendar include the terms waqt/ mīqāt which mean, among other things, fixed or appointed time (e.g. q 2:189; 4:103; 7:143; 44:40; 78:17); the computation of years and numbers ( li-taʿlamū ʿadad al-sinīn wa-l-ḥisāb, q 10:5; 17:12; see numbers and enumeration ); and the division of the year into twelve months (q.v.): “The number of months with God is twelve in accordance with God's decree on the day he created the heavens and the earth; of which four are holy months” ( q 9:…

Calf of Gold

(2,059 words)

Author(s): Hawting, Gerald R.
The image of a calf worshipped by the Israelites while Moses (q.v.) was on the mountain receiving the tablets of the Law. Allusion to this story is made in five passages of the Qurʾān. There, as in the main biblical account ( Exod 32), the object of worship is not explicitly called a “calf of gold” but simply a “calf” ( ʿijl, Heb. ʿēgel). ¶ The Qurʾān says that it was made from ornaments ( ḥulī, q 7:148; zīna, 20:87), Exodus 32:2-3 from golden rings (nizmey ha-zāhāb). The qurʾānic allusions to the story ( q 2:51, 54, 92, 93; 4:153; 7:148-53; 20:83-98) display several verbal and conceptual paral…


(974 words)

Author(s): Kadi, Wadad
In Arabic, khalīfa is the title adopted by the head of the Muslim polity (see community ¶ and society in the qurʾān ) ever since the death of the prophet Muḥammad in 11/632. The term occurs in the Qurʾān twice in the singular and seven times in the plural, as khalāʾif or khulafāʾ, and some of its verbal occurrences (particularly khalafa and istakhlafa) are semantically very closely connected with it. There is little in the qurʾānic occurrences of the term that prepares for its politically and theologically charged meaning. By far its most prevalent meaning in the …


(5,171 words)

Author(s): Ory, Solange
The Arabic script ( khaṭṭ), its development, and its formal use in manuscripts of the Qurʾān. Though initially presented as an ¶ oral recitation (see book ), the Qurʾān has played an essential role in the development of the Arabic script (q.v.). According to traditional accounts, certain fragments were committed to writing by some of the Companions of the Prophet (q.v.) on crude materials such as flat stones, veins of palm leaves, animal skins or ceramic shards (see textual history of the qurʾān ). The script was then still imperfect and its signs were little more than a mnemo…


(1,107 words)

Author(s): Khoury, R.G.
A large, ruminant mammal used for carrying burdens and for riding in the desert regions of Asia and Africa. The central Asiatic species has two humps on its back, while the Arabian camel, or dromedary, has only one. The presence of this animal in the Near East and North Africa appears to date back to the third millennium b.c.e., although there is no evidence of the domesticated dromedary prior to the 11th century b.c.e. (cf. H. von Wissmann, Badw). The camel played an important role in sacrifices (see sacrifice; consecration of animals): Before Muḥammad's time, they were ritually slau…


(707 words)

Author(s): Schönig, Hanne
A white, translucent substance distilled from the wood of the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora,family Lauraceae) which is indigenous to China, Taiwan and Japan. The term camphor (kāfūr, qāfūr, qaf[f]ūr) denotes the tree, its resin and its drug. ¶ South and southeast Asian designations of these botanical products include Indian karpūra, kappūra or Malayan kapur. It is attested once in the Qurʾān at q 76:5. Besides the qurʾānic kāfūr there are references to the spelling with qāf instead of kāf in works of qurʾānic commentary (Ālūsī, Rūḥ, xxix, 154; Qurṭubī, Jāmiʿ, xix, 124; for furth…

Camphor [Supplement 2016]

(1,050 words)

Author(s): Hanne Schönig
The white aromatic substance camphor (Ar. kāfūr), obtained by distilling the wood of trees indigenous to (South-)East Asia, is mentioned once in the Qurʾān (Q 76:5), where it is described as flavouring a drink in Paradise.The Arabic word kāfūr denotes the camphor tree Cinnamomum camphora, of the family Lauraceae, which is indigenous to China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as the white translucent substance (monoterpene) obtained by distilling its wood. Camphor also occurs in the essential oil of Dryobalanops aromatic, of the family Dipterocarpaceae, which grows …
Date: 2016-11-17

Capital Punishment

(7 words)

 see boundaries and precepts Bibliography


(811 words)

Author(s): Brockopp, Jonathan E.
Persons who are captured in an act of war and whose lives are in the hands of the captor. According to Islamic law a captive may be killed, enslaved or returned for ransom. The Qurʾān refers to captives directly as asīr (pl. asrā, asārā or usarāʾ), the literal meaning of which is “one who is shackled” (cf. q 2:185; 18:73; 94:5, 6). Raqaba (pl. riqāb), literally “nape of the neck,” is used six times (cf. q 2:177; 5:89; 9:60; 47:4; 58:3; 90:13) to refer to captives or slaves synecdochically; the verb taʾsirūna, “you make captive,” is found in q 33:26 (see slaves and slavery ). Pre-Islamic rules of wa…


(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 …


(4 words)

 see carrion Bibliography


(8 words)

 see material culture and the qurʾān Bibliography


(719 words)

Author(s): Waines, David
The putrefying flesh of a carcass. The Arabic term is mayta, from the verbal root meaning “to die.” Hence the word is used ¶ in an adjectival sense as in q 36:33: “The dead earth (al-arḍ al- mayta) is a sign for them. We have brought it to life [i.e. by means of rain]…” In all other qurʾānic instances, the term refers specifically to carrion, one of the Islamic food taboos supported also in prophetic traditions (see food and drink; forbidden). E. Lane's definition of mayta includes both animals which have died a natural death (explicitly mayta, as in q 2:173; 5:3; 6:139, 145; 16:115) and those kil…


(5 words)

 see animal life Bibliography


(1,211 words)

Author(s): Campo, Juan Eduardo
A hollow space in a mountain or hill. The term cave ( kahf, ghār, maghārāt) is used in the Qurʾān to designate a place of refuge for the faithful or a locus of intimate contact with God. Kahf occurs six times ( q 18:9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 25). Ghār and maghārāt (sing. maghāra) each occur once ( q 9:40, 57); lexicographers consider these latter terms to be synonymous with kahf or to be designations for small caves. “The Cave” (Sūrat al-Kahf) is the title of q 18, which consists of 110 verses. It refers to the story of the Companions of the Cave (vv. 9-26), an Arabic version of widely-…

Cave, Men of the

(10 words)

 see men of the cave Bibliography

C (Caetani, L. - Childs, B.)

(568 words)

Caetani, L.  Expeditions and Battles  Sīra and the Qurʾān Cahen, C.  Contemporary Critical Practices and the Qurʾān Cain [Qābīl]  Adam and Eve  Animal Life  Brother and Brotherhood  Burial  Cain and Abel   Children of   Idrīs  Corruption  Dialogues  Hell and Hellfire  History and the Qurʾān  Literacy  Murder  Narratives  Noah  Repentance and Penance  Vengeance Cairo  Adultery and Fornication  Art and Architecture and the Qurʾān  Cave   Congress on Arab Music (1932)   Recitation of the Qurʾān  Drowning  Epigraphy  Everyday Life, Qurʾān In  Exegesis of the Qurʾān: Early Mode…

C (Chinese (language) - Ḥanīf)

(548 words)

Chinese (language)  Material Culture and the Qurʾān  Translations of the Qurʾān  Virtues and Vices, Commanding and Forbidding Chittick, W.  Truth Choudhury, M.A.  Usury Chouraqui, A.  Translations of the Qurʾān Chouémi, M.  Grammar and the Qurʾān  Post-Enlightenment Academic Study of the Qurʾān  Tools for the Scholarly Study of the Qurʾān Christ  Abrogation  Ambiguous  Anointing  Apologetics  Christians and Christianity  Consecration of Animals  Ezra  Festivals and Commemorative Days  Gospel  Iconoclasm  Illiteracy  Jesus   Last Supper   Jesus  Orality  People of the …

C (Christianity - Constantinus II (r. 337-610))

(627 words)

Christianity  Abraham  Abrogation  Abyssinia  African Americans  Agriculture and Vegetation  Angel  Anthropomorphism  Apocalypse  Apologetics  Archaeology and the Qurʾān  Art and Architecture and the Qurʾān  Asceticism  Baptism  Belief and Unbelief  Children  Christians and Christianity  Chronology and the Qurʾān  Community and Society in the Qurʾān  Creation  Death and the Dead   Eastern   Death and the Dead   Textual Criticism of the Qurʾān  Faith  Foreign Vocabulary  Form and Structure of the Qurʾān  Fosterage  Geography  Gospel  History and the Qurʾān  Illiteracy  …
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