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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(2,038 words)

Author(s): Leemhuis, Frederik
Revelation of things to come, especially at the end of times, and a religiously-motivated form of eschatology (q.v.) with an emphasis upon the cosmic events which will occur at the end of the world. Since most of the apocalyptic events mentioned in the Qurʾān are connected with the resurrection (q.v.) of the dead, they are called by Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210) “the portents of the day of resurrection” ( muqaddimāt yawm al-qiyāma, Tafsīr, ad q 39:68). In the Qurʾān As a prophetic, revealed message, the Qurʾān is to a large extent apocalyptic yet there are parts of it that carry this theme ¶…

Apocalyptic Sūras

(5 words)

 see sūra Bibliography


(2,997 words)

Author(s): Thomas, David
A systematic argumentative discourse in defense of a religion or doctrine. In the history of encounters between Muslims of differing opinions and between Muslims and members of other faiths, the Qurʾān has usually been central as a guide and source in debates and has often been a significant topic in these discussions. Within the Qurʾān itself there are arguments defending both its proclamations and its own status. Its fundamental emphasis that God is one and distinct from all other beings is most emphatically asserted in q 112, which is generally thought to have been delivered …


(2,618 words)

Author(s): Hallaq, Wael
Turning away from or rejecting one's religion. The qurʾānic notion of apostasy is functionally represented by two main concepts, kufr and irtidād, the latter bearing more directly than the former upon notions of apostasy. Beginning sometime during the second/eighth century, irtidād came to be used in legal and other discourses to speak exclusively of apostasy. In the Qurʾān, however, the semantic and conceptual connection between the terms irtidād and kufr seems to have already been made, albeit tenuously, before the emigration to Medina, as evidenced in the verse: “Those who…


(658 words)

Author(s): Zahniser, A.H. Mathias
The disciples of Jesus (q.v.). The word for the apostles, ḥawāriyūn (sing. ḥawārī), occurs four times in the Qurʾān ( q 3:52; 5:111, 112; 61:14) and only in the plural. Most Muslim commentators (cf. M. Ayoub, The Qurʾān, 158-62) regard ḥawārī as a pure Arabic word derived from the verb ḥāra, meaning “to return,” or from ḥawira, “to be glistening white.” The first derivation yields the meaning “disciples,” since a prophet turns to a disciple for help. This understanding would also be compatible with another tradition that the apostles are “helpers” (anṣār). This reflects Jesus' questio…


(809 words)

Author(s): Kinberg, Leah
The preternatural appearance of a specter or vision. There is no specific qurʾānic term for apparition, and qurʾānic words which in some contexts may be taken to indicate an apparition, such as burhān (proof) and āya (sign), have different meanings in other verses. For example, Joseph (q.v.) “saw the proof of his Lord,” while being seduced by his master's wife. The qurʾānic verse reads “For she desired him and he would have taken her but that he saw the proof (burhān) of his Lord” ( q 12:24). “Proof” in this verse has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Most commonly exegetes…

Appointed Time

(8 words)

 see freedom and predestination; time Bibliography

Aqṣā Mosque

(1,976 words)

Author(s): Johnson, N.J.
An early mosque located in Jerusalem on what is called in Islam “The Noble Sanctuary” ( al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf , see archaeology and the qurʾān ). “The farthest place of prayer” ( al-masjid al-aqṣā) is attested once in the Qurʾān, in q 17:1 (see ascension ): “Glory be to he who transported his servant by night from the sacred place of prayer ( al-masjid al-ḥarām) to the farthest place of prayer (al-masjid al-aqṣā).” Within Muḥammad's life-time “the sacred place of prayer” ( al-masjid, the place of prayer, mosque; al-ḥarām, the sacred) was recognized as the sacred mosque at Mecca (q.v.) while “t…

Arabic Language

(5,686 words)

Author(s): Jenssen, Herbjørn
The language codified by the grammarians of al- Baṣra and al-Kūfa in the second/eighth century as representing the speech of the pre-Islamic Arabs and the language of the Qurʾān. Ever since, this language has been the one in which most of the Islamic cultural and religious heritage has found expression. Historical, geographical and social varieties closely related to this language exist or have existed and a number of linguistic communities currently use variants of this language. Considerable controversy surrounds such questions as the status of Arabic (al-ʿarabiyya, lisān al-ʿa…

Arabic Literature and the Qurʾān

(11 words)

 see literature and the qurʾān Bibliography

Arabic Script

(6,455 words)

Author(s): Gruendler, Beatrice
Arabic script (al-khaṭṭ al-ʿarabī) refers to 1) a set of characters and their sequential and spatial arrangement, 2) their forms and media and 3) the typology of a consonant-only system ( abjad) denoting utterances in an abbreviated manner with linguistic and sociological implications (P. Daniels, Fundamentals, 730). Arabic script also forms part of the broader concept of Arabic writing which usually defines one Arabic variant (classical, Modern Standard or “written”) within a multiglossic environment (see arabic language ). The significant role of Arabic writing in reli…


(664 words)

Author(s): Khalidi, Tarif
The native inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula and their descendants. The Qurʾān refers repeatedly to what may loosely be called peoples, communities, tribes and nations (see tribes and clans ). Most belong to the past but a few are contemporaneous, e.g. the Byzantines (al-Rūm, see byzantines ) and the Quraysh (q.v.). However, the Arabs (al-ʿarab) are not among these groups, either of the past or of the present. Instead, the Qurʾān employs the adjective ʿarabī (Arab, Arabic) to qualify a number of substantives such as the Qurʾān itself (six times) and the language in which it is re-¶ veale…


(476 words)

Author(s): Khoury, R.G.
A plain extending about six and a half km in breadth from east to west and about twelve km in length, lying twenty-one km to the east of Mecca (q.v.). The grammarians agree that the word ʿArafāt is a singular noun in the form of a plural. Although the plain is also referred to by the singular ¶ form ʿArafa, this is regarded by some experts as a later-day corruption (Yāqūt, Buldān, iv, 104). The name, according to the classical scholars, is derived from the verbs based on the root ʿ-r-f. According to one account, Gabriel (q.v.) is said to have taught (ʿarrafa) the rites of the pilgrimage to Abraham (q.v…


(768 words)

Author(s): Brinner, William M.
The tallest of two peaks of a group of mountains, actually an extinct volcanic range, in the northeast of modern Turkey, south of present-day Armenia. Mount Ararat is identified by Jews and Christians with the biblical story of the flood and the ark (q.v.) of Noah (q.v.) in Gen 6-9. This peak is known by the Arabs as Jabal al-Ḥārith, by the Turks as Büyük Aǧrı Daǧ, by the Iranians as Kūh-i Nūḥ (Mountain of Noah) and as Mount Masis (or Masik) by the Armenians, who view the mountain as their national symbol, but did not come to consider it to be the resting-place of Noah's ark un…


(631 words)

Author(s): Zakeri, Mohsen
An arrangement by which two or more persons, having a difference, appoint someone to hear and settle their dispute and to abide by that decision. Arbitration appears in the Qurʾān several times. The Arabic equivalent, used only in the singular, is ḥukm, a verbal noun of ḥakama. The root ḥ-k-m, which is said to be of non-Arabic origin (Jeffery, For. vocab., 111), has a number of meanings (see foreign vocabulary ). The principal meanings of the simple verbal form ḥakama are “to govern,” “to restrain,” “to pass judgment” and “to be sage.” From these original meanings ḥākim, “he who decides, t…

Archaeology and the Qurʾān

(6,595 words)

Author(s): Schick, Robert
At present the field of archaeology has little to contribute to an understanding of the Qurʾān and the milieu in which Islam arose. Archaeological excavations are taboo in Mecca (q.v.) and Mecca (q.v.) and only a few other excavations or surveys have yet taken place in the Arabian peninsula that shed much light on the topic. The pioneering work on historical geography and on the initial survey and collections of inscriptions in the Arabian peninsula began at the end of the nineteenth century with such explorers as Alois Musil in northern Arabia and Eduard Glaser in the Yemen, but only a lim…


(538 words)

Author(s): Khoury, R.G.
The most popular interpretation was that ʿarim (sing. ʿarima) were dam-like structures designed to hold back flood waters. The words occurs only once in the Qurʾān: “They turned away [from God], so we sent upon them the flood of the dams (sayl al-ʿarim) and gave them, instead of their two gardens, two which produced bitter fruit, and tamarisks and a few lote trees” ( q 34:16). Citing other Muslim sources, al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) describes the construction of the dams and their destruction after the people of Sheba (Sabā, see sheba ), who had enjoyed the easiest existence on earth, rej…


(4 words)

 see al-ʿārim Bibliography


(472 words)

Author(s): Newby, Gordon D.
The English term most frequently used in reference to the vessel that bore Noah (q.v.) and his family during the flood, it also denotes (2) the sacred chest that, for the Israelites, represented God's presence among them known as the ark of the covenant, and (3) the raft that carried the infant Moses (q.v.). The ark of Noah The ark or vessel that bore Noah, his family and two of every kind of animal is referred to in the Qurʾān by two separate Arabic words, fulk and safīna, both meaning “boat,” as well as one circumlocution, “a thing of planks and nails” (dhāti alwāḥin wadusur). The last, found in q 54…


(6 words)

 see expeditions and battles Bibliography
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