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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(8 words)

 see narratives; mythic and legendary narratives Bibliography


(904 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
The front part of the head, including the eyes (q.v.), cheeks, nose, mouth, forehead and chin. The Arabic term for face (wajh, pl. wujūh) in the Qurʾān is generally applied to the face of human beings, seventy-two times across all chronological periods (see chronology and the qurʾān ), but is also used less frequently to refer to the face of God (q.v.), eleven times in such constructions as “the face of God” (wajh Allāh), “his face” (wajhuhu) and “the face of your lord” ( wajh rabbika). Depending on context and purpose, the term may also be rendered as countenance, essence, bein…

Face of God

(1,122 words)

Author(s): Elias, Jamal
The visage of the creator, the sight of which the believer hopes to enjoy in the afterlife (see eschatology; belief and unbelief; anthropomorphism). References to God's face appear frequently in the Qurʾān. In early Muslim theological debates the notion of God's face was an important, though not central, issue in discussions of theodicy. In mystical thought, God's face acquired a theophanic meaning as part of a complex understanding of how God relates to the created world (see god and his attributes ). In the Qurʾān references to God's face or countenance ( wajh) appear in the construc…


(6 words)

 see parties and factions Bibliography


(4 words)

 see virtue Bibliography


(679 words)

Author(s): Winter, Timothy
A deficiency or inability to perform. In the Qurʾān, the God who is all-powerful ( q 8:41 etc.) cannot fail; nor can his messengers ( q 72:27-8; cf. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Qurʾān, 80; see messenger; power and impotence). The fact that their human audiences can and do fail constitutes the basis of the Qurʾān's account of God's dealings with humanity. There is no qurʾānic term with the explicit meaning of failure. The root kh-f-q does not occur in the Qurʾān, while the root f-sh-l does appear four times ( q 3:122, 152; 8:43, 46), but in the sense of showing weakness or cowardice in battle (see courage; expedit…


(6,508 words)

Author(s): Smith, Jane I.
Belief in God and a corresponding system of religious beliefs. No concept in the Qurʾān is more basic to the understanding of God's revelation through the prophet Muḥammad than faith. As the core of the truly good or moral life, faith is generally understood to encompass both affirmation and response. According to the qurʾānic perspective, nothing of virtue (q.v.) is conceivable which does not arise directly from faith in the being and revelations of God (see revelation and inspiration ). Such faith as it is articulated in the Qurʾān in its most basic sense means acknowled…

Fall of Man

(872 words)

Author(s): Johns, Anthony Hearle
The primordial turning away from God by human beings, usually depicted in scripture in the persons of Adam and Eve (q.v.). The Qurʾān tells of the fall of humankind from a garden (q.v.) in which they enjoyed happiness — free from hunger, thirst and pain from the sun's heat ( q 20:118-9; Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, viii, 267-8) — to this present world (q.v.) in which they are subject to pain and, with it, moral and physical weakness (see failure ). This fall is an event in the drama that ensued when God announced to the angels (see angel ) that he was going to place on earth (q.v.) a vicegerent ( q 2:30; see caliph ) fa…

Fall of Man [Supplement 2017]

(853 words)

Author(s): Anthony H. Johns
The Fall of Man refers to the primordial turning away from God by human beings, depicted in scripture by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. The Qurʾān tells of the fall of humankind from a garden in which they had been happy — free from hunger, thirst, and pain when exposed to the sun’s heat (Q 20:118-9; Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, 8:267-8) — to this present world in which they are subject to pain and, with it, moral and physical weakness (see failure). It was part of the drama that ensued when God announced to the angels that he was going to place on earth a vicegerent (Q 2:30; see caliph) fashioned from clay (Q 15…
Date: 2017-08-31


(1,709 words)

Author(s): Giladi, Avner
Those who live in one house or share a common lineage. While several qurʾānic terms can be understood as referring to family, it is impossible to distinguish, on the basis of terminology alone, between household and biological family, or between one type or another of the latter (e.g. core, ¶ compound, joint or extended family; cf. Smith, Family). Āl (Lane, 127) at q 15:59 and 61 (the family of Lot [q.v.]; Bell, i, 246); 3:11 and 8:54 (the family of Pharaoh [q.v.]; Bell, i, 45, 167) may mean either household or (in the case of Pharaoh) followers. Āl Ibrāhīm (the family of Abraham [q.v.]) at q 4:54 …

Family of the Prophet

(807 words)

Author(s): Asani, Ali S.A.
The extended family (q.v.) of the prophet Muḥammad (q.v.), to which the Qurʾān contains several references clearly intended to distinguish them from other Muslims. This is in accord with the general tendency in the Qurʾān of exalting the family and descendants of most prophets (see prophets and prophethood ), as is evidenced, for example, in q 3 (Sūrat Āl ʿImrān), a sūra named after the family of ʿImrān (q.v.), the father of Moses (q.v.). The specific contexts in which the Qurʾān refers to the prophet Muḥammad's family are diverse. q 8:41 and 59:7 designate a portion of the booty (q.v.…


(529 words)

Author(s): Waines, David
Extreme hunger, denoted in the Qurʾān by the synonymous terms, makhmaṣa and masghaba. Makhmaṣa occurs at q 5:3 (cf. Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, iv, 424-5) and q 9:120. The first instance is situated in the context of food taboos (see food and drink; forbidden) where it is stated, “Whoever is constrained by hunger ( makhmaṣa, i.e. to eat of what is forbidden) not intending to commit transgression, will find God forgiving and merciful (see forgiveness; mercy).” The second instance suggests hunger suffered for the cause of God ( fī sabīli llāhi, see path or way ). The full sense of the word in both pa…

Farewell Pilgrimage

(1,120 words)

Author(s): Stewart, Devin J.
The pilgrimage (q.v.) to the Kaʿba (q.v.) at Mecca (q.v.) led by the Prophet in year 10 of the hijra (see emigration ), so called because it occurred just months before he died, ‘taking leave’ of the Muslim community (see community and society in the qurʾān ). It is viewed as the primary occasion when the Prophet taught his followers the rites of the Islamic pilgrimage and thus figures prominently in subsequent discussions of its rituals and meaning. It was also the occasion of important announcements concerning the status of several pre-Islamic customs in Islam (see pre-islamic a…


(3,154 words)

Author(s): Wagtendonk, Kees
Abstaining from food or, with ritual fasting, abstaining from food, drink and sexual activity. The Qurʾān recognizes three different kinds of fasting ( ṣiyām, ṣawm; ṣawm is also interpreted as ṣamt, “silence,” cf. q 19:26): ritual fasting, fasting as compensation or repentance, and ascetic fasting. Ritual fasting is prescribed in q 2:183-7 “as it was prescribed to those before you,… on counted days… The month (q.v.) of Ramaḍān (q.v.), in which the Qurʾān was sent down… let him fast the month.” This fast takes place during the daylight hours: Sex, except in the …


(2,064 words)

Author(s): Karamustafa, Ahmet T.
The principle, or determining cause or will, through which things occur as they should. Although the pre-Islamic concept (see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān; south arabia, religion in pre-islamic; age of ignorance) of an impersonal fate ( dahr, see time ) is attested in the Qurʾān ( q 45:24; 76:1; cf. “accident of time” [ rayb al-manūn], q 52:30), the qurʾānic message is that God, and not an impersonal agent, governs the world (cf. Böwering, Ideas, esp. 175-7). But are some, or even all events in history predetermined by God from eternity (q.v.)? T…


(6 words)

 see family; parents; patriarchy Bibliography


(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 …

Fātiḥa [Supplement 2016]

(2,932 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
The Fātiḥa (“Opener,” or, more properly, “The opening of/to scripture,” fātiḥat al-kitāb, see book), is the first sūra of the Qurʾān. It occupies a unique place, both formally and theologically, within 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 come at the very beginning of the Qurʾānic text, a placement in contrast to the remaining 113 sūras, which are roughly arranged from longest to shortest. It is the one sūra that every Muslim must be able to recite by heart in order to perform the rit…
Date: 2016-11-17


(977 words)

Author(s): McAuliffe, Jane Dammen
Only child of Muḥammad and his first wife, Khadīja (q.v.), to survive their deaths. Fāṭima is not mentioned by name in the Qurʾān but the classical exegetical tradition (see exegesis of the qurān: classical and medieval ) has associated certain verses with her and with her hus-¶ band and children. Particularly in Shīʿī Islam, the figure of Fāṭima as the closest blood link (see blood and blood clot; kinship) to the Prophet himself, generated a hagiographical literature as well as practices of devotion and supplication (see shīʿism and the qurʾān ). Of the qurʾānic verses that commentat…


(6 words)

 see oaths and promises Bibliography
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