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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Madness

(4 words)

 see insanity Bibliography

Madyan

(4 words)

 see midian Bibliography

Magians

(779 words)

Author(s): Darrow, William R.
Originally a term for the professional priesthood of the pre-Islamic religious institution in Iran, in qurʾānic usage it is presumably a term for all followers of that religion. The Arabic term translated as “Magians,” (al- majūs) is attested once at q 22:17, a late Medinan sūra (see chronology and the qurʾān ), where the list Jews (see jews and judaism ), Christians (see christians and christianity ) and Sabians (q.v.) attested in q 2:62, now also includes them. The etymology and history of the term and the question whether the Magians are People of the Book (q.v.) are the two large i…

Magic

(4,047 words)

Author(s): Khān, Gabriel Mandel
The art which claims to produce effects by the assistance of supernatural beings or by a mastery of secret forces in nature. The contrast between the rational and the irrational, of supreme importance to the human being, even in the present day, suggests the question: “Is magic credible?” The Qurʾān replies in the affirmative, both when speaking about magic — describing its deeds and consequences — as well as by concluding with two apotropaic sūras, which are often regarded as protective talismans (see popular and talismanic uses of the qurʾān ), and thus confirmations of magic. To t…

Magog

(6 words)

 see gog and magog Bibliography

Maidens

(9 words)

 see modesty; virtue; sex and sexuality; houris Bibliography

Maintenance and Upkeep

(501 words)

Author(s): Melchert, Christopher
Preservation and repair of property, or, more commonly in the Qurʾān, the care for one's dependents. In Islamic law, nafaqa indicates the obligation to maintain one's dependents (see guardianship ). The Qurʾān uses nafaqa of expenditures in general, even those against Islam at q 8:36. It is enjoined by q 2:215-6 for the benefit of parents (q.v.), relatives (see kinship ), orphans (q.v.), the poor (see poverty and the poor ) and wayfarers (see journey ; similarly q 17:26; 30:38). Repeated injunctions to do good to one's parents (wa-bi-l- wālidayn iḥsānan) have also been taken to requi…

Majesty

(7 words)

 see god and his attributes Bibliography

Majūs

(4 words)

 see magians Bibliography

Male

(4 words)

 see gender Bibliography

Malice

(4 words)

 see enemies Bibliography

Malikis (Mālikī)

(8 words)

 see law and the qurʾān Bibliography

Manāt

(6 words)

 see idols and images Bibliography

Manna

(7 words)

 see moses; food and drink Bibliography

Manners

(6 words)

 see hospitality and courtesy Bibliography

Manslaughter

(5 words)

 see murder; bloodshed Bibliography

Manual Labor

(934 words)

Author(s): Mattson, Ingrid
Literally “work with one's hands,” it often carries the implication of strenuous physical exertion. Manual labor is not a topic explicitly addressed in the Qurʾān though the term “forced laborer” ( sukhrī) is mentioned once and the Qurʾān describes some of the ancient prophets (see prophets and prophethood ) as having been able to achieve prominence by using forced and voluntary labor in great building projects (see art and architecture and the qurʾān; archaeology and the qurʾān). The Qurʾān states that it is God who “raises some to levels above others so that some of th…

Manuscripts of the Qurʾān

(13,558 words)

Author(s): Déroche, François
Within the handwritten heritage of the Islamic world (see orthography; arabic script), the Qurʾān occupies by far the most conspicuous place — at least in terms of sheer volume. Until the present day, copyists, amateurs as well as professionals, have devoted much time and effort to transcribing the revealed text by hand. It is therefore no wonder that the topic “manuscripts of the Qurʾān” should cover a wide variety of cases: Qurʾāns are found in one volume ( muṣḥaf, q.v.) or sets ( rabʿa) from two to sixty volumes but also as excerpts, usu-¶ ally connected with prayers (see prayer ). In all t…

Markets

(1,126 words)

Author(s): Buckley, Ronald Paul
Public places in which commercial transactions occur. The term aswāq, “markets,” occurs in two places in the Qurʾān, but is used incidentally to indicate that the prophets were men who shared the same nature as those they were sent to teach: “What sort of a messenger is this who eats food and walks through the markets?” ( q 25:7); “And the messengers whom we sent before you all ate food and walked through the markets” ( q 25:20; see prophets and prophethood; food and drink; messenger; impeccability). The Qurʾān makes no reference to any particular market (see city; geography; pre-islamic arabi…

Marriage and Divorce

(2,855 words)

Author(s): Motzki, Harald
The social institution through which a man and a woman are joined in a social and legal dependence for the purpose of forming and maintaining a family (q.v.), and the regulated dissolution of such a union. Both marriage and divorce are legal issues extensively dealt with in the Qurʾān (see law and the qurʾān ). Marriage ¶ between a man and a woman is called nikāḥ. In most cases, the verb nakaḥa, “to marry,” is used to denote men marrying women, but in one case, also women marrying men. Giving a woman away in marriage is ankaḥa when there is mention of a father or guardian (see guardianship ), zawwaja w…

Martyrs

(3,431 words)

Author(s): Raven, Wim
Those who die (generally at the hands of others) for their faith. In a Sunnī Islamic context, martyrs are primarily those who fight unbelievers for the advancement of Islam, and sacrifice their lives for this (see fighting; belief and unbelief; suicide). This represents a marked difference with the situation of the defensive martyrs of early Christianity, who voluntarily suffered death as the consequence of witnessing to and refusing to renounce their religion. Christian martyrs were killed by hostile authorities in a period when thei…

Mārūt

(6 words)

 see hārūt and mārūt Bibliography

Marvels

(884 words)

Author(s): Hunsberger, Alice C.
Amazing, incredible matters and events. Besides the specific contents of qurʾānic verses employing the root ʿ-j-b, the ʿajāʾib al-Qurʾān (“marvels of the Qurʾān”) came to refer to a vast genre of literature comprising travels (see journey; trips and voyages), cosmography (see cosmology ), biology (see biology as the creation and stages of life; science and the qurʾān), and the supernatural (see magic ). Eight of the sixteen qurʾānic instances of this root in which it has this sense, are verbs (e.g. “Do you wonder?”) and refer to surprise at God's actions; …

Marwa

(6 words)

 see ṣafā and marwa Bibliography

Mary

(4,652 words)

Author(s): Stowasser, Barbara Freyer
Mary (Ar. Maryam) the mother of Jesus (q.v.; ʿĪsā) is the most prominent female figure in the Qurʾān and the only one identified by name (see women and the qurʾān ). Her story is related in three Meccan sūras (19, 21, 23) and four Medinan sūras (3, 4, 5, 66; see chronology and the qurʾān ), and the nineteenth sūra, Sūrat Maryam, is named for her. Overall, there are seventy verses that refer to her and she is named specifically in thirty-four of these (Smith and Haddad, Virgin Mary, 162). According to the qurʾānic accounts, signs of divine favor surr…

Maryam

(4 words)

 see mary Bibliography

Massacre

(4 words)

 see murder Bibliography

Master

(5 words)

 see lord; scholar Bibliography

Material Culture and the Qurʾān

(21,133 words)

Author(s): Soucek, Priscilla P.
In view of the all-encompassing significance of the Qurʾān in the faith (q.v.) of the Muslim community it is to be expected that its influence would be manifested in many spheres of life (see everyday life, qurʾān in ). The holy book has had an impact not only through its cultic role but also as a venerated object and through its importance to other cultural practices. The Qurʾān's effect on material culture is an extension of the various functions it plays in devotional life and although some of these must have been prominent since…

Mathānī

(4 words)

 see oft-repeated Bibliography

Maturity

(1,595 words)

Author(s): Adams, Charles J.
Full physical and mental capacity. The notion of maturity ( ashudd, rushd) has reference to a person who has attained complete natural development, who is fully grown and capable of assuming the responsible management of his or her own affairs. Physical maturity The common word indicating physical maturity is ashudd, from the root sh-d-d meaning “to strengthen.” It occurs eight times in the Qurʾān, in every instance in conjunction with some form of the root b-l-gh, which in itself connotes “coming of age.” The same root also yields words that signify eloquence in speec…

Maymūna

(7 words)

 see wives of the prophet Bibliography

Measurement

(3,072 words)

Author(s): Said, Said S.
Finding the magnitude of a physical quantity such as length, area, volume, weight, and time. The full meaning of the term ‘measurement’ covers five constituent parts: (i) the quantity to be measured, (ii) the act of measuring, (iii) the measuring instrument (see instruments ), (iv) the magnitude (measure) of the quantity measured, and (v) the unit of measurement. The present discussion touches upon each of the five components, with the understanding that the qurʾānic mention of any one of them would imply their totality, i.e. the actual …

Mecca

(2,601 words)

Author(s): Chabbi, J.
The city (q.v.) in the Arabian peninsula that was the birthplace of Muḥammad, which, due to the presence of the Kaʿba (q.v.) therein, is revered as one of the “holy cities” in Islamic culture. A description of Mecca based strictly upon the Qurʾān could lead to the radical revision of a large ¶ number of stories from classical Arabic sources, which are most often of a mythical or legendary kind (see geography; history and the qurʾān). It can be argued that the historiographical elements provided by these sources with respect to Mecca, a city of great religious and political importance,…

Media and the Qurʾān

(4,768 words)

Author(s): Hirschkind, Charles
The Qurʾān has been embodied and circulated in an ever-expanding variety of media forms during the modern period. The material qualities of these different media technologies have had an impact both on the ways the revealed text has come to be used, and the structures of knowledge and authority (q.v.) that those usages serve to uphold. Any inquiry into these transformations must begin with the premise that media practices are not determined by the physical qualities of technological forms but, r…

Medicine and the Qurʾān

(10,960 words)

Author(s): Perho, Irmeli
There is very little in the Qurʾān that is strictly medical in content. The most direct reference is in q 16:69, which states that the drink ( sharāb) produced by bees, i.e. honey (q.v.), is “healing” ( shifāʾ) for people (see illness and health ). The word shifāʾ, “health,” is further attested three times but in contexts where it is often understood in the meaning of remedy against ignorance (q.v.; jahl) of God and the revelation (see revelation and inspiration ). The word illness ( maraḍ) is attested thirteen times but in all these cases it refers to the heart (q.v.), and is t…

Medina

(2,885 words)

Author(s): Schöller, Marco
One of the primary settlements of the Ḥijāz in Muḥammad's time, to which he emigrated (see emigration ) from Mecca (q.v.), and where he died. The town of Medina is mentioned in the Qurʾān only in passing (see below). If based solely on the qurʾānic data, therefore, any entry concerning Medina would be unduly short because our knowledge of pre- and early Islamic Medina derives almost entirely from other, and usually much later, source material. On the other hand, Medina is the setting for much of the qurʾānic message, and t…

Memory

(1,438 words)

Author(s): Sells, Michael A.
The power, function or act of reproducing and identifying what has been learned or experienced; the faculty of remembering. The Qurʾān presents memory not as a faculty or storehouse but as a primary mode of divine-human interaction. The primary qurʾānic words related to memory are based upon the radical dh-k-r: dhikr, dhakara, dhikrā, tadhkira, and tatadhakkara; depending on context, the primary sense of remembrance, reminder, contemplation, taking heed, or recitation (see recitation of the qurʾān ) is meant by these Arabic words. The believer is enjoined to remember a…

Men of the Cave

(1,041 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Name given to the protagonists of a long qurʾānic passage containing a version of the story of the seven sleepers of Ephesus. The Qurʾān states that the Men of the Cave ( aṣḥāb al-kahf) and of al-Raqīm (see below) were among God's signs, and says they were youths who took refuge in a cave (q.v.) and invoked God's mercy (q.v.; q 18:9-10). God made them and their dog (q.v.) fall into a deep sleep (q.v.) for many years and then woke them from their slumber. The Qurʾān explains that they were pious youths fleeing from the idolatry (see idolatry and idolaters ) of their people and that they found re…

Menstruation

(1,220 words)

Author(s): Katz, Marion Holmes
The monthly flow of blood from the uterus. Menstruation is explicitly mentioned by the Qurʾān in two contexts: ritual purity (q.v.) and the law of marriage and divorce (q.v.). In the context of ritual purity, menstruation is one of a fairly broad set of bodily functions (also mentioned within the text of the Qurʾān are excretion and sexual activity, q 4:43; 5:6; see sex and ¶ sexuality ) requiring ablutions in order to restore the state of ṭahāra required for prayer (q.v.) and other rituals (see ritual and the qurʾān; cleanliness and ablution). Menstruation is categorized in Islamic law as …

Merchandise

(6 words)

 see selling and buying Bibliography

Mercy

(1,622 words)

Author(s): Peterson, Daniel C.
Forbearance from inflicting harmful punishment on an adversary or offender; disposition to exercise compassion or forgiveness. The term “mercy” ( raḥma), with its cognates and synonyms, is omnipresent in the Qurʾān; and derivatives of the ¶ triliteral root gh-f-r which carry many of the same connotations are also attested throughout the Qurʾān. Muḥammad, for example, is characterized as a merciful man ( q 9:128) and believers are exhorted to show mercy and kindness in their daily lives (as at q 7:199; 17:23-4; 42:43; 64:14; 90:17). “Compassion and mercy” are singled out as admi…

Merriment

(7 words)

 see laughter; joy and misery Bibliography

Messenger

(1,537 words)

Author(s): Zahniser, A.H. Mathias
One who comes bringing information. The main word for messenger in the Qurʾān is rasūl, denoting “one sent with a message,” which occurs 236 times and its plural, rusul, ninety-five times. Mursal (pl. mursalūn), the passive participle of a verb from the same root letters, and which also means “one sent with a message,” occurs thirty-six times. Both rasūl and mursal usually refer to a human agent whom God sends to guide a people by communicating to them in a language they understand ( q 14:4; see language, concept of; arabic language; revelation and inspiration). The central message of th…

Messiah

(4 words)

 see jesus Bibliography

Metals and Minerals

(708 words)

Author(s): Troupeau, Gérard
Substances that have luster, are opaque and may be fused, and chemical elements or compounds occurring naturally as a product of inorganic processes. The Qurʾān does not utilize the generic term for both metal and ore ( maʿdin), but references the two most widespread metals in common use on the planet: iron ( ḥadīd), which is mentioned six times, and copper, ( nuḥās) mentioned once, as well as molten copper ( qiṭr), mentioned twice. Iron, which gives its name to q 57 (Sūrat al-Ḥadīd) and which God sent down to earth, possesses great strength and is very useful to humankind ( q 57:25); it comes …

Metaphor

(2,490 words)

Author(s): Heath, Peter
Literary device that conveys semantic equation without a linking participle such as “like” or “as.” Metaphor ( istiʿāra) is the subject of much discussion and classification in the science of Arabic rhetoric (cf. Bonebakker, Istiʿāra); this article will of necessity confine itself to major classifications and to uses that relate to how religious scholars (see exegesis of the qurʾān: classical and medieval ) have sought to understand metaphor's appearance and use in the Qurʾān. Definition Metaphor is an example of figurative language ( majāz) as opposed to “literal” or “true” e…

Meteor

(6 words)

 see planets and stars Bibliography
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