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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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…


(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…


(6 words)

 see hārūt and mārūt Bibliography


(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; …


(6 words)

 see ṣafā and marwa Bibliography


(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…


(4 words)

 see mary Bibliography


(4 words)

 see murder Bibliography


(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…


(4 words)

 see oft-repeated Bibliography


(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…


(7 words)

 see wives of the prophet Bibliography


(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 …


(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…


(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…


(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…
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