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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Ahl al-Bayt

(379 words)

 see family of the prophet; people of the house Bibliography


(12 words)

 see muḥammad Bibliography


(941 words)

Author(s): Friedmann, Yohanan
The Aḥmadiyya Movement in Islam (Urdu Jamāʿat-i Aḥmadiyya) is a modern messianic movement. It was founded in 1889 in the Indian province of the Punjab by Mirzā Ghulām Aḥmad (1835-1908) and has become exceedingly controversial within contemporary Muslim circles. Claiming for its founder messianic and prophetic status of a certain kind, the Aḥmadī Movement aroused fierce opposition from the Muslim mainstream and ¶ was accused of rejecting the dogma that Muḥammad was the last prophet. Under British rule, the controversy was merely a doctrinal dispute between …

Air and Wind

(3,542 words)

Author(s): Johns, Anthony H.
The gases which surround the earth and the motion within these gases. Air is mentioned only twice in the Qurʾān, once as jaww and once as hawāʾ. The general word for wind, rīḥ and its plural riyāḥ, occurs more than thirty times. It is supplemented by a number of terms with significantly fewer attestations denoting specific types of wind. Air Of the attestations of air, one is literal, q 16:79: “Have you not reflected on the birds set in the air (jaww) of the firmament, none holds them there other than God. In that, indeed, is a sign for those who believe,” referring to the r…

Air and Wind [Supplement 2017]

(2,616 words)

Author(s): Anthony H. Johns
Air consists of the gases forming the earth’s atmosphere and wind is the various movements within them. Air is mentioned only twice in the Qurʾān, once as jaww and once as hawāʾ. The general word for wind, rīḥ, and its plural, riyāḥ, occur more than thirty times, and are supplemented by a number of terms with significantly fewer attestations denoting specific types of wind.AirOf the two attestations of air, only one is literal, Q 16:79: “Have you not reflected on the birds set in the air (jaww) of the firmament, none holds them there other than God. In that, indeed, is a sign for…
Date: 2017-08-31

ʿĀʾisha bint Abī Bakr

(3,387 words)

Author(s): Spellberg, Denise A.
The woman thought by the majority of Muslims to be the Prophet Muḥammad's favorite wife. Although ʿĀʾisha bint Abī Bakr (d. 58/678) is never explicitly named in the Qurʾān, she was consistently defined with reference to the sacred text in the formation of her historical and symbolic standing in Islamic history. Through ʿĀʾisha, Muslim scholars, who historically were almost exclusively men, struggled with questions central to the formation of communal identity and gender roles. Her ¶ persona focused debate and determined the nuances of Islamic identity in its formative …


(7 words)

 see resurrection; paradise; hell; eschatology Bibliography


(4 words)

 see world Bibliography


(7 words)

 see shīʿism and the qurʾān Bibliography


(4 words)

 see intoxicants Bibliography


(1,335 words)

Author(s): Renard, John
The Macedonian conqueror who lived from 356 until 323 b.c.e. Traditional and modern scholars have identified the figure the Qurʾān refers to as the Possessor of the Two Horns (Dhū l-Qarnayn, q 18:83, 86, 94) as Alexander the Great (al-Iskandar in Arabic). His “two horns” may be the east and the west, suggesting breadth of his dominion. Anomalously, some early scholars saw the epithet as reference to a pre-Islamic monarch of south Arabia or Persia. The famous mystic Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 638/1240) interpreted the figure allegorically, identifying the “Possessor of the Two Horn…

ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib

(835 words)

Author(s): Asani, Ali S.
The cousin of the Prophet Muḥammad and husband of his daughter Fāṭima. ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (d. 40/661) was among the first to embrace Islam and was renowned for his loyalty to the Prophet and his courageous role in a number of the military expeditions in the defense of the early Muslim community. Also known for his piety, his profound knowledge of the Qurʾān and the sunna (the exemplary practice of the Prophet; see sunna ), he figures prominently in several esoteric traditions in Islam including Ṣūfism (see ṣūfism and the qurʾān ). Shīʿī Muslims — originally “the partisans of ʿAlī” ( shīʿat ʿAlī, s…

Alif Lām Mīm

(9 words)

 see letters and mysterious letters Bibliography

Alif Lām Rā

(9 words)

 see letters and mysterious letters Bibliography


(7 words)

 see god and his attributes Bibliography


(5 words)

 see oaths; pledge Bibliography


(9 words)

 see language and style of the qurʾān Bibliography


(6 words)

 see contracts and alliances Bibliography


(4,018 words)

Author(s): Nanji, Azim
Charitable gifts to relieve the poor. In common with the teachings of most other faiths and more particularly the biblical traditions, the Qurʾān repeatedly emphasizes the moral value of giving. While the term “almsgiving” may suggest a somewhat simple and unfocused act of charity directed at the poor and needy, the Qurʾān articulates through a variety of terms, especially ṣadaqa and zakāt, a very textured and multivalent conception of giving which draws upon the ideals of compassion, social justice, sharing and strengthening the community. As this act ai…


(9 words)

 see arabic script; letters and mysterious letters Bibliography


(6 words)

 see idols and images Bibliography


(4,615 words)

Author(s): Kinberg, Leah
A concept in qurʾānic exegesis which bears upon the controversial issue of the amount of interpretive license which may be taken in commenting on God's word. The root sh-b-h is attested several times in the Qurʾān. In reference to the Qurʾān or its verses, the active participle mutashābih (or mutashābihāt) appears twice with the sense of “ambiguous” or “similar.” q 3:7 states that the Qurʾān consists partly of muḥkam verses and partly of mutashābih: “It is he who sent down upon you the book (q.v.), wherein are verses clear ( āyāt muḥkamāt baḥr, pl. biḥār, 97a ) that are the essence of the book ( um…


(1,865 words)

Author(s): O'Connor, Kathleen Malone
Ornaments worn as charms against evil and sickness. Muslims have used amulets (ruqā, sing. ruqya) most often to cure spiritual or psychological conditions, including madness, spirit possession and the evil eye. The Qurʾān may be recited in the form of a spell ( duʿāʾ) or worn in written form (ṭilasm) on the person or placed in the home. Among the Indonesian Gayo, spells, called doa, include the use of qurʾānic verses in Arabic for healing and other purposes accompanied by supplementary words in Gayo and visualizations (J.R. Bowen, Muslims through discourse, 77-105; J. Flueckiger, Vis…


(16 words)

 see language and style of the qurʾān; exegesis of the qurʾān: classical and medieval Bibliography


(3,639 words)

Author(s): Huda, Qamar-ul
References to the structure of the human body in the Qurʾān. The Qurʾān mentions body parts many times, but these are spread throughout the text and particular terms do not always convey the same meaning in different contexts. In some sections of the Qurʾān human anatomy is treated as a functional element, but most qurʾānic references to the human body are employed in metaphors (see metaphor ) aimed at encouraging the pursuit of an ethical and pious life. Anatomy and body parts in the Qurʾān are cited in conjunction with the faith of believers to ensure that t…


(6 words)

 see kinship and family Bibliography


(5,969 words)

Author(s): Webb, Gisela
Heavenly messenger. Like its Hebrew (malʾak) and Greek (angelos) counterparts, the Arabic term malak (pl. malāʾika) means “messenger.” The Qurʾān uses the term about ninety times, with some angels designated by name, Gabriel (Jibrīl, see gabriel ) and Michael (Mikāʾīl, q 2:97-8; see michael ) and others only by function, e.g. reciters, glorifiers, dividers, guardians, ascenders, warners, recorders. Reflection about the role of angels — as described in the Qurʾān and elaborated in ḥadīth and commentary — constitutes a fundamental aspect of…


(628 words)

Author(s): Bashir, Shahzad
A manifestation of God's opprobrium mentioned numerous times in the Qurʾān in the context of his censure of unbelievers, detractors of Muḥammad and those guilty of moral and material crimes and general wrongdoing. It is furthermore an ¶ emotion attributed to believers, Muḥammad's enemies and prophets, for instance Moses (q.v.) and Jonah (q.v.). God's anger, paired occasionally with his curse (q.v.; q 4:93; 5:60; 24:9; 48:6), symbolizes his negative opinion of certain human behavior. Among past nations, the pre-Islamic prophet Hūd (q.v.) informed the people of ʿĀd (q.v.) of God'…

Animal Life

(5,587 words)

Author(s): Eisenstein, Herbert
The references to fauna in the Qurʾān. There are more than two hundred passages in the Qurʾān dealing with animals and six sūras bear the names of animals as titles ( q 2 The Cow [Sūrat al-Baqara]; q 6 The Herding Animals [Sūrat al-Anʿām]; q 16 The Bee [Sūrat al-Naḥl]; q 27 The Ant [Sūrat al-Naml]; q 29 The Spider [Sūrat al-ʿAnkabūt]; q 105 The Elephant ¶ [Sūrat al-Fīl]). Nevertheless, animal life is not a predominant theme in the Qurʾān. Animal species The common Arabic word for “animal” ḥayawān (lit. life) occurs only once in the Qurʾān ( q 29:64) and actually does not refer to an animal, …


(919 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The ritual practice of touching objects or persons with scented oils. A practice common to various cultures of the ancient Near East, anointing is typically done on festive occasions and avoided during periods of fasting and mourning, although it is used in burials. It has also been a ritual act of the dedication of an individual to the deity. In the ancient Near East, kingship especially was conferred formally through anointing rather than through a crown or other fabricated symbols. The practice of anointing was …


(6 words)

 see emigrants and helpers Bibliography


(5 words)

 see animal life Bibliography


(4 words)

 see creation Bibliography


(8 words)

 see social sciences and the qurʾān Bibliography

Anthropology of the Qurʾān

(7,882 words)

Author(s): Farstad, Mona Helen
Anthropology is a term that is used to refer to the study of several aspects of human life. A Qurʾānic anthropology is not found as one coherent and systematically organised system of thought, located in one sūra, but can be constructed from relevant terms and expressions found throughout the text, as elements in different, yet interdependent, modes of discourse, such as homiletics, polemics, and narrative. Concepts, expressions, and notions relevant for a Qurʾānic anthropology are closely interconnected with Qurʾānic theology. Topics such as the characteristics and condit…
Date: 2018-07-16


(2,969 words)

Author(s): Martin, Richard C.
Ascribing human attributes to God. Tashbīh, the term most commonly rendered in ¶ English as “anthropomorphism,” does not appear in the Qurʾān with that meaning. The second form of the root sh-b-h appears only once, in the passive voice, in reference to Jesus' death: “They did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to [Jesus' followers that they had]” ( q 4:157). The sixth form occurs nine times, predominantly denoting “likeness,” as in q 2:70: “To us all cows look alike.” The form tashābaha also connotes ascribing associates to God ( q 13:16). It also appears in q 3:7, which dis…


(3,106 words)

Author(s): Robinson, Neal
In the Islamic tradition, an evil figure who will lead people astray (q.v.) in the last days and whose advent will be one of the signs of the approaching “hour.” The Antichrist (al-Dajjāl, al-Masīḥ al-Dajjāl) is not mentioned in the Qurʾān, but he figures in numerous ḥadīth that are cited by the classical commentators. Although many Jews expected an eschatological conflict between God's agents and the forces of evil (see eschatology ), the belief that those forces would be concentrated in a specific individual called the Antichrist seems first to have arisen in Chr…

Anwār al-tanzīl wa-asrār al-ta’wīl

(88 words)

Author(s): Bobzin
Click here to open EPK-69 Author Baydāwī, ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umar, d. 1286? | Fleischer, Heinrich Leberecht, 1801-1888. Imprint Lipsiae : Sumptibus F.C.G. Vogelii, 1846-1848. Physical description 2 v. ; 26 cm. Language Arabic Reference Chauvin, V.C. Bib. des ouvrages arabes, vol. X, 268. Subject - Titles Koran -- Commentaries. Original held by Bayerische Staatsbibliothek -- Munich, Germany Shelfmark BSB 4 A.or.419 Prof. dr. Hartmut Bobzin
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