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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Salvation

(844 words)

Author(s): Borrmans, Maurice
Preservation from destruction or failure; in eschatology, deliverance from sin and eternal damnation. Salvation has many meanings in the Qurʾān. Contrary to the final Christian salvation ( khalāṣ), which supposes deliverance from sin and death for reconciliation and communion with God, the qurʾānic “supreme success” ( [al-] fawz [al-]ʿaẓīm, q 4:13, 73; 5:119; 9:72, 89, 100, 111; 10:64; 23:71; 37:60; 40:9; 44:57; 48:5; 57:13; 61:12; 64:9), sometimes called “the great success” ( al-fawz al-kabīr, q 85:11) or “the manifest success” ( al-fawz al-mubīn, q 6:16; 45:30), is always the …

Ṣamad

(7 words)

 see god and his attributes Bibliography

Samaritans

(880 words)

Author(s): Stenhouse, Paul
A tiny sect claiming to be Israelite, found today principally in Nablus, biblical Shechem, in the Palestinian territories; and in Holon in Israel. The Samaritans call themselves Shomerim, “observant ones,” from Hebrew shamar, “to observe.” 2 Kings 17:24-9, the earliest reference to them, calls them Shomronim or “Samarians,” alleging that they were pagan peoples settled in Samaria by the Assyrians after the deportations of 722 b.c.e. Enmity between Judaeans and Samaritans flared up with the return of Judaean deportees from Babylon in 539 b.c.e. and continued up to and beyond th…

Samson

(733 words)

Author(s): Takim, Liyakat
Biblical figure present in Islamic tradition and qurʾānic commentary, but not the Qurʾān. Called Shamsūn in Arabic, this name is not mentioned in the Qurʾān but is briefly mentioned in exegetical and historical works. His story is embellished with miraculous anecdotes. Many reports on him are cited by al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923), who narrates them mainly from Wahb b. Munabbih (on whose authority Samson is portrayed as an extreme and austere ascetic: for example, he is said to have put out his eyes so as not to be diverted from the worship of God, and to h…

Samuel

(2,278 words)

Author(s): Kennedy, Philip F.
While not mentioned by name in the Qurʾān, there is little doubt that the prophet ( nabī; see prophets and prophethood ) referred to anonymously in q 2:246-8 is the biblical Samuel, the last of the “Judges” who administered the transition of Israel to a kingdom (see kings and rulers ). This important historical detail is ¶ significantly preserved in the short qurʾānic passage treating Samuel, “Have you not looked to the chiefs of the Children of Israel (q.v.) after Moses (q.v.) when they said to a prophet among them, ‘Appoint for us a king that we may fight in the way of God’” ( q 2:246; see …

Sanctity and the Sacred

(13 words)

 see sacred precincts; profane and sacred; forbidden; saint Bibliography

Sanctuary

(5 words)

 see sacred precincts Bibliography

Sand

(610 words)

Author(s): Saritoprak, Zeki
Loose granular material resulting from the disintegration of rocks. The most common Arabic word for sand is raml, which is not found in the Qurʾān. There are, however, some other terms for sand in the Arabic language, such as kathīb and hāṣib. These two words are used in the Qurʾān, in a variety of verses. The former is mentioned explicitly only a single time in the Qurʾān ( q 73:14). Referring to the final hour ( qiyāma), the verse says, “On the day when the earth and the hills rock, and the mountains become kathīb.” The word kathīb can be interpreted as meaning “a huge amount of sand” ( qiṭʿa ʿaẓīma …

Satanic Verses

(2,687 words)

Author(s): Ahmed, Shahab
Name given by western scholarship to an incident known in the Muslim tradition as “the story of the cranes” ( qiṣṣat al-gharānīq) or “the story of the maidens.” According to various versions, this is the assertion that the prophet Muḥammad once mistook words suggested to him by Satan as divine revelation (see revelation and inspiration; devil); that is to say, as verses of the Qurʾān — the words reportedly interpolated by Satan are called the “satanic verses.” The historicity of the satanic verses incident is strenuously rejected by modern Islamic orthodoxy, often on pain of takfīr (being…

Satan(s)

(4 words)

 see devil Bibliography

Saul

(802 words)

Author(s): Takim, Liyakat
Israelite king mentioned in both the Qurʾān and the Bible. Called Ṭālūt, the “tall one,” in the Qurʾān, Saul is mentioned briefly in q 2:246-51. After Moses (q.v.), the Israelites (see children of israel ) asked an unnamed prophet (see prophets and prophethood ) — identified in qurʾānic commentaries as Ashmawīl or Shamwīl, Samuel (q.v.) — that God appoint a king so that they could fight in his path (see kings and rulers; path or way). They were surprised to find that Saul was appointed, especially since he was a poor water-carrier. The Israelites considered themselves …

Sawda

(7 words)

 see wives of the prophet Bibliography

Scholar

(1,725 words)

Author(s): Marlow, Louise
A learned person who has engaged in advanced study and acquired knowledge, generally in a particular field. The term ¶ ʿālim, most commonly used to designate “scholar” in Islamic societies, appears in the Qurʾān only as a description of God, in the sense of “knowing.” The plural ʿālimūn is applied sometimes to God (cf. q 21:51, 81) and sometimes to human beings (cf. q 12:44; 29:43; 30:22), while the plural form ʿulamāʾ, which appears twice in the Qurʾān (cf. q 26:197; 35:28), refers only to human beings. The Qurʾān also denotes knowledgeable or learned human beings by a numb…

Scholar [Supplement 2017]

(1,773 words)

Author(s): Louise Marlow
A scholar is a learned person who has engaged in advanced study and acquired knowledge, generally in a particular field. The term ʿālim, most commonly used to designate “scholar” in Muslim societies, appears in the Qurʾān only as a description of God, in the sense of “knowing.” Its plural form ʿālimūn is applied sometimes to God (cf. Q 21:51, 81) and sometimes to human beings (cf. Q 12:44; 29:43; 30:22), while the plural form ʿulamāʾ, which appears twice in the Qurʾān (cf. Q 26:197; 35:28), refers only to human beings. The Qurʾān also denotes knowledgeable or learned …
Date: 2017-08-31

Science and the Qurʾān

(11,543 words)

Author(s): Dallal, Ahmad
In his anthropological history of India, Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī (d. ca. 442/1050), one of the most celebrated Muslim scientists of the classical period, starts a chapter “On the configuration of the heavens and the earth according to [Indian] astrologers,” with a long comparison between the cultural imperatives of Muslim and Indian sciences. The views of Indian astrologers, al-Bīrūnī maintains, have developed in a way which is different from those of our [Muslim] fellows; this is because, unlike the scriptures revealed before it, the Qurʾān does not artic…

Sciences of the Qurʾān

(22 words)

 see traditional disciplines of qurʾānic study; grammar and the qurʾān; exegesis of the qurʾān: classical and medieval Bibliography

Scourge

(4 words)

 see flogging Bibliography

Scribe(s)

(8 words)

 see orality and writing in arabia Bibliography

Scripture and the Qurʾān

(6,720 words)

Author(s): Graham, William A.
Addressing the issue of “scripture” in relation to the Qurʾān is at once a straight-¶ forward and a complicated venture. It is straightforward because in many respects the Qurʾān itself puts forward a generic concept of scripture that is consistent with that widely used today in the general study of religion. It is complicated because it raises numerous questions of historical, sociological and theological import for any understanding of either Islamic scripturalism or the relation of Islamic scripturalism to that of other religious traditions (see theology and the qurʾān ). In shor…

Scripture and the Qurʾān [Supplement 2016]

(6,759 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
Addressing the issue of “scripture” in relation to the Qurʾān is both a straightforward and a complicated venture. It is straightforward because in many respects the Qurʾān itself offers a generic concept of scripture that is consistent with that widely used today in the general study of religion. It is complicated because it raises numerous questions of historical, sociological, and theological import for any understanding of either Islamic scripturalism or the relation of Islamic scripturalism to that of other religious traditions (see theology and the Qurʾān). To sum up, both…
Date: 2016-11-17

Scrolls

(1,036 words)

Author(s): Heck, Paul L.
A roll of paper or parchment for writing a document. The Qurʾān refers to scrolls ( ṣuḥuf and zubur — see also psalms ; for the different terminology for writing as vehicle of divine command, see Ghedira, Ṣaḥīfa, and Madigan, Qurʾān's self-image, 131-2) as written documents (and thus conflated to kutub, e.g. q 98:1-2; see book ) that contain God's edicts (cf. Schoeler, Writing), especially his judgments against former nations (see Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, ad q 20:133; see judgment; generations; history and the qurʾān). The idea of scrolls is thus meant to be a clear sign ( bayyina) to Muḥammad's au…

Sea

(7 words)

 see water; nature as signs Bibliography

Seal [of the Prophets]

(11 words)

 see muḥammad; names of the prophet Bibliography

Seasons

(580 words)

Author(s): Kaptein, Nico J.G.
Each of the four divisions of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter), marked by particular weather patterns and daylight hours. Arabia, the cradle of Islam, has different seasons, notably a suffocatingly hot summer, while in the higher places it can be bitterly cold during the winter. In spring and autumn many days ¶ are mild. There is no word for season in the Qurʾān. The word mawsim (pl. mawāsim) occurs in ḥadīth (see ḥadīth and the qurʾān ) in the sense of market or fair, mostly combined with a pilgrimage (q.v.; ḥajj) to a sanctuary, like those held in various places in pre-I…

Seat [of God]

(12 words)

 see throne of god; god and his attributes Bibliography

Sechina

(4 words)

 see shekhinah Bibliography

Secretaries of Muḥammad

(18 words)

 see companions of the prophet; textual criticism of the qurʾān; collection of the qurʾān Bibliography

Secrets

(751 words)

Author(s): Kamada, Shigeru
Hidden matters. Broadly conceived, secrets as a concept relevant to the Qurʾān may include the “unconnected letters” ( ḥurūfmuqaṭṭaʿa; cf. Rāzī, Tafsīr, ii, 3; see mysterious letters ) and the hidden or inward meanings ( bāṭin) of the qurʾānic passages, which are different from their literal or outward meanings ( ẓāhir; see polysemy ). Some of the mystics and Shīʿī thinkers (see ṣūfism and the qurʾān; shīʿism and the qurʾān) claim this way of thinking, which is often supported by a ḥadīth report (see ḥadīth and the qurʾān ) regarding the fourfold sense of the qurʾānic text (cf. Böwering, Mys…

Sect

(7 words)

 see shīʿa; parties and factions Bibliography

Sedition and Public Disorder

(12 words)

 see corruption; dissension; politics and the qurʾān Bibliography

Seeing and Hearing

(1,457 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The action of the eyes (q.v.), and of the ears (q.v.), respectively. Seeing and hearing are understood to be attributes of God and the terms are used literally as human bodily senses as well as metaphorically in the senses of “to know,” “to understand,” and “to learn” (see knowledge and learning; god and his attributes; hearing and deafness; vision and blindness; metaphor). Baṣīr, “the one who sees, the all-seeing,” is an attribute of God mentioned forty-two times in the Qurʾān, ten times immediately following “hearing” or “all-hearing,” samīʿ. The sequencing of these two attribut…

Self

(5 words)

 see soul; spirit Bibliography

Selling and Buying

(14 words)

 see trade and commerce; economics and the qurʾān; caravan; markets Bibliography

Semantics of the Qurʾān

(26 words)

 see language and style of the qurʾān; grammar and the qurʾān; rhetoric and the qurʾān; post-enlightenment academic study of the qurʾān Bibliography

Semiotics and Nature in the Qurʾān

(17 words)

 see nature as signs; post-enlightenment academic study of the qurʾān Bibliography

Sense(s)

(16 words)

 see seeing and hearing; vision and blindness; hearing and deafness; smell; ears; hands; face Bibliography

Serpent

(508 words)

Author(s): Nerina Rustomji
In the Qurʾān the serpent is an animal associated with magic, sorcery, and the power of the spiritual realm. While Qurʾānic verses explicitly refer to the serpent three times, these also reflect a belief that serpents and snakes have a strong connection with jinn and their movement in the unseen world.The three appearances of the serpent in the Qurʾān are in relation to the story of Moses. The masculine singular thuʿbān appears when Pharoah asks for a sign from Moses. In response Moses throws his rod, and it transforms into a white serpent. In Q 7:106-8, a detailed description o…
Date: 2017-01-04

Serpent

(5 words)

 see animal life Bibliography

Servants

(2,461 words)

Author(s): Brockopp, Jonathan E.
Creatures bound in service to God. In over 100 places, the Qurʾān describes prophets (see prophets and prophethood ), believers (see belief and unbelief ), jinn (q.v.; cf. q 51:56) and angels (see angel ) as servants ( ʿabd, pl. ʿibād, ʿabīd; also ʿābid, pl. ʿābidūn) of God. Human beings in general are also described as God's servants, though they may be currently worshipping Satan (see devil ) or another false god (e.g. the ʿabada l-ṭāghūt in q 5:60, the only ¶ occurrence of this plural form; see idols and images; polytheism and atheism). The relationship of master and servant is one o…

Seven Sleepers

(8 words)

 see men of the cave Bibliography

Sex and Sexuality

(3,503 words)

Author(s): Stewart, Devin J.
The act by which humans procreate, and the sum total of those attributes that cause an individual to be physically attractive to another. While the Qurʾān does criticize lust for women as an example of man's infatuation with worldly pleasures (cf. q 3:14), it does not categorically condemn sex as a cause of evil and attachment to the world. The Qurʾān does recognize sex as ¶ an important feature of the natural world and subjects it to legislation in a number of passages (see law and the qurʾān ). It accepts sex as a natural and regular part of human existence, specifically authoriz…
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