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 manual labor; birth Bibliography


(865 words)

Author(s): Giladi, Avner
Production of milk for nursing a child; the act of nursing a child. q 2:233, 4:23 and 65:6, all dating (according to Bell) from the Medinan period (see chronology and the qurʾān ), lay the foundations of an Islamic “ethics of breastfeeding” (the Arabic terms for which utilize derivatives of the triliteral root r-ḍ-ʿ). In the Medinan sūra q 22:2, nurses (kull murḍiʿa) and nurslings (mā arḍaʿat) are mentioned in an eschatological context (see eschatology ); the qurʾānic story of Moses' (q.v.) infancy (the Medinan q 28:7, 12) includes references to nursing and wet nurses ( marāḍiʿ); and, fina…


(4 words)

 see ascension Bibliography


(178 words)

Author(s): Elias, Jamal J.
Manufactured light-giving object. The most common reference to a lamp (Ar. miṣbāḥ and sirāj) in the Qurʾān is a metaphoric use (see metaphor ) of the word sirāj to designate the sun (q.v.): “And we built over you seven firmaments (see heaven and sky ) and made a splendid light (sirājan wahhājan)” ( q 78:12-3; cf. Dāmaghānī, ¶ Wujūh, i, 442); “And he made the moon (q.v.) a light among them and he made the sun a lamp (al- shamsa sirājan)” ( q 71:16); and “Blessed is he who made constellations (see planets and stars ) in the sky and made in it a lamp (sirājan) and a light-giving moon” ( q 25:61). On one occ…


(5 words)

 see geography; creation Bibliography

Language and Style of the Qurʾān

(17,121 words)

Author(s): Gilliot, Claude | Larcher, Pierre
The semantic field of “language” includes several triliteral Arabic roots: l-s-n (Dāmaghānī, Wujūh, ii, 200-1; see H. Jenssen, Arabic language, 132; see also language, concept of), k-l-m (Yaḥyā b. Sallām, Taṣārīf, 303-5; Dāmaghānī, Wujūh, ii, 186-7), q-w-l, l-ḥ-n (Khan, Die exegetischen Teile, 276, on q 47:30: “the burden of their talk,” laḥn al-qawl; Fück, ʿArabīya, 133; Fr. trans. 202; Ullmann, Wa-h̲airu, 21-2). It should be noted that lugha in the sense of manner of speaking (Fr. parler, Ger. Redeweise) is totally absent from the Qurʾān — although the root l-gh-w is attested, but…

Language, Concept of

(887 words)

Author(s): Larcher, Pierre
The uniquely human faculty of (primarily) verbal expression. In the Qurʾān, the concept of language is expressed by the word lisān (lit. tongue). The other common term for language, lugha, which is well-attested in classical and modern standard Arabic (see arabic language ), does not appear in the Qurʾān; one encounters only the related words laghw and lāghiya, which express exclusively the connotation of “vain utterance.” There are twenty-five occurrences of the word lisān in the Qurʾān, fifteen in the singular and ten in the plural ( alsina; the other plural, alsun, is not attested …

Last Day

(8 words)

 see eschatology; apocalypse; last judgment Bibliography

Last Judgment

(6,279 words)

Author(s): Hasson, Isaac
God's final assessment of humankind. The subject of the last judgment ( yawm al-dīn, yawm al- qiyāma) is one of the most important themes in the Qurʾān. It appears in many forms, especially in the first Meccan sūras (see chronology and the qurʾān ), which are dominated by the idea of the nearing day of resurrection ( yawm al-qiyāma, see resurrection ) when all creatures, including jinn (q.v.) and animals (see animal life ), must be judged (see judgment ). Belief in the last judgment, with the concomitant belief in paradise (q.v.; al- janna) for those who performed good deeds (q.v.) and in hell ( ja…


(6 words)

 see idols and images Bibliography


(526 words)

Author(s): Kueny, Kathryn
The act or instance of praising or extolling, the object of such praise often being God. More precisely, laudation ( ḥamd) in the qurʾānic context refers to the specific formulaic phrase “praise belongs to God” ( al-ḥamdu li-llāh), which occurs twenty-four times in the Qurʾān. Perhaps the most significant instance of this formulaic phrase appears in the opening chapter of the Qurʾān (see fātiḥa ), directly following the basmala (q.v.). Here (i.e. q 1:2), in the very first line of the Qurʾān, the phrase is assertive ( inshāʾī, see form and structure of the qurʾān; language and style …


(2,056 words)

Author(s): Ammann, Ludwig
Sound and/or facial expressions generally indicative of merriment. Laughter does not figure prominently in the Qurʾān: verb forms and participles derived from ḍ-ḥ-k occur just ten times compared to a stunning 179 appearances of its synonymous Hebrew cognates s-ʾ-ḥ-q/ṣ-ḥ-q in the Hebrew Bible. B-s-m for smiling appears just once and never the onomatopoetic q-h-q-h for strong laughter (an Arabic root form which, incidentally, more or less reverses and doubles the western Semitic onomatopoetic *-ḥ-q from which the various triliterals for laughter seem to be derived). La…

Law and the Qurʾān

(13,659 words)

Author(s): Hallaq, Wael
The Qurʾān has a curious function in Islamic law. It is doubtless considered the first and foremost of the four major sources of the law (i.e. the sharīʿa). Yet in substantive legal terms and in comparison with the full corpus of the sharīʿa, the Qurʾān provides a relatively minor body of ¶ legal subject matter, although a few of the most central rulings that govern the life of Muslim society and the individual (see community and society in the qurʾān; ethics and the qurʾān) are explicitly stated in it, or derived from one or another of its verses. The centrality of the Qurʾān in the sharīʿa stems …

Lawful and Unlawful

(2,765 words)

Author(s): Lowry, Joseph E.
That which is legally authorized, and that which is not. Among its various legislative pronouncements, the Qurʾān declares certain objects and actions lawful or unlawful. The words ḥalāl, “lawful, allowed, permitted,” and ḥarām, “unlawful, forbidden, prohibited,” and cognate terms from the triliteral roots ḥ-l-l and ḥ-r-m, respectively, most often designate these two categories and are of relatively frequent occurrence. Qurʾānic declarations of lawfulness or unlawfulness are limited to a relatively few areas of the law as later elaborated …


(9 words)

 see virtues and vices, commanding and forbidding Bibliography


(7 words)

 see kings and rulers; imām Bibliography


(9 words)

 see writing and writing instruments; scrolls; trees Bibliography


(6 words)

 see knowledge and learning Bibliography


(8 words)

 see hides and fleece; animal life Bibliography

Left Hand and Right Hand

(2,619 words)

Author(s): Hasson, Isaac
The terminal part of each arm, often with connotations of evil and good, respectively (see good and evil; hands). The left hand ( shimāl, pl. shamāʾil, mashʾama) and the right hand ( yamīn, pl. aymān, maymana) appear in the Qurʾān in two contexts: first, the ḥisāb, a record or statement of personal ¶ deeds to be given to every person on the day of judgment ( yawm al-dīn, see last judgment; record of human actions); second, the placement of the resurrected (see resurrection ) before they are sent off to either paradise (q.v.) or hell (see hell and hellfire ). In this connection, the left hand …
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