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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(765 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
To vaunt oneself or one's possessions. Several passages in the Qurʾān warn of the dangers of boasting. Boastfulness is contrasted with positive virtues that should be cultivated by the righteous. For example, q 4:36 commands serving God alone, in part by doing good to others, and by being neither boastful ( fakhūran), nor arrogant nor stingy. q 11:10 tells of those who exult and boast (innahu la-fariḥun fakhūrun) after experiencing blessing (q.v.) in the wake of adversity. q 31:17-8 admonishes people to “enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong [i.e. al- amr bi-l-maʿrūf]; and bear pa…


(9 words)

 see anatomy; god and his attributes; anthropomorphism Bibliography

Body Fluids

(16 words)

 see blood and blood clot; biology as the creation and stages of life Bibliography


(7 words)

 see shīʿism and the qurʾān Bibliography


(15 words)

 see biology as the creation and stages of life; death and the dead Bibliography


(6,589 words)

Author(s): Madigan, Daniel
There is probably no word more important to the understanding of the Qurʾān than kitāb and yet its meaning is far more complex than the simple and almost universal translation “book” would seem to imply. The Qurʾān uses the word 261 times, not only in describing itself but also in referring to earlier scriptures and to various other means God employs in dealing with creation (q.v.). The noun comes from the verb kataba (to write) and thus can be applied to written material in any form — it is used for a letter in q 27:28-9 and for a legal document in q 24:33 — or to the act of writing itself. It …

Book of David

(6 words)

 see psalms Bibliography


(865 words)

Author(s): Peters, Rudolph
Plunder taken in war (q.v.). The Qurʾān does not mention the words ghanīma or fayʾ, which became the technical terms for booty in Islamic law, but refers explicitly only to the plural noun maghānim ( q 4:94; 48:15, 19, 20); the verb ghanima, to take booty ( q 8:41, 69); and the verb afāʾa (from the same root as fayʾ), to give as booty ( q 33:50; 59:6-7). In pre-Islamic times the terms were synonymous. There are indications that in q 59:6-7, referring to the surrender of the Banū l- Naḍīr, afāʾa denotes booty acquired not by actual fighting but as a result of the surrender of the enemy. q 48:15, 19 and 20 s…

Boundaries and Precepts

(858 words)

Author(s): Kimber, Richard
Prescribed rules guiding behavior, which one should not transgress. The phrase “God's boundaries” ( ḥudūd Allāh) occurs twelve times in the Qurʾān. It is used mainly as an admonitory conclusion to a preceding passage of legislation, as in “These are God's boundaries, do not approach them” ( q 2:187) or “These are God's boundaries, do not transgress them. Whoever does transgress God's boundaries, those are the wrongdoers” ( q 2:229) ¶ and “These are God's boundaries, and the unbelievers shall have a painful torment” ( q 58:4). q 4:13-4 balances reward with retribution (see reward…


(5 words)

 see animal life Bibliography

Bowing and Prostration

(815 words)

Author(s): Tottoli, Roberto
Bowing, an inclination of the head or a bending of the body in reverence; prostration, reclining with the face on the ground in humble adoration (q.v.). The two fundamental gestures of the ritual prayer, bowing ( rukūʿ) and the more frequent prostration (sujūd) are mentioned numerous times in the Qurʾān. Many qurʾānic passages that refer to bowing ( q 2:43; 5:55; 77:48) and prostration ( q 4:102; 15:98; 25:64; 26:219; 50:40; 76:26; 96:19) allude to prayer (q.v.) and devotion in general. Other verses mention the two gestures together ( q 2:125; 3:43; 9:112; 22:26; 22:77; 48:29), again evid…


(652 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
An article of food made from flour or meal by moistening, kneading and baking. The word “bread” ( khubz) occurs only once in the Qurʾān, in the story of the prophet Joseph (q.v.) in the twelfth sūra. The wife of Potiphar (in the Qurʾān Potiphar is called ʿazīz, “powerful,” that is, one holding a powerful position [cf. q 12:30, 51, 78, 88]), on failing to persuade Joseph to sleep with her, carries out her threat to him and he is thrown into prison. Two young fellow-prisoners ask Joseph to interpret their dreams. One of them (whom the commentators on the Qurʾān, accepting the Biblical account in Gen 4…

Breaking Trusts and Contracts

(1,055 words)

Author(s): Wheeler, Brannon M.
Not honoring one's legally enforceable obligation to another. Muslim exegetes identify a number of qurʾānic verses which require that contracts ( ʿuqūd, sing. ʿaqd, see contracts and alliances ) not be broken, the most general of which is q 5:1. Other verses enjoin keeping covenants ( ʿuhūd, sing. ʿahd, see covenant ), trusts (amānāt, sing. amāna), oaths ( aymān, sing. yamīn, see oaths ) and pacts (mawāthīq, sing. mīthāq). According to many qurʾānic exegetes, the meanings of these terms are closely related but each carries particular legal obligations. q 9:4 and q 16:91, both of which…


(837 words)

Author(s): Motzki, Harald
The obligatory payment of a sum of money by the groom to the bride as stipulated in the marriage contract, a sum which in turn becomes her property. Modern English usage has shown a preference for the term bridewealth or marriage payment over the earlier term “dowry” (cf. Encyclopaedia Britannica 1996, s.v. “bridewealth” and “dowry”). In the Qurʾān three different words are used for the concept: ajr (reward), farīḍa (legal obligation) and ṣaduqa (nuptial gift). Several aspects of bridewealth are treated in the Qurʾān: (1) The payment of bridewealth is a prerequisite of…


(8 words)

 see material culture and the qurʾān Bibliography

Brother and Brotherhood

(2,980 words)

Author(s): Mottahedeh, Roy P.
The term brother ( akh) is used in the Qurʾān in several senses: in its strict biological sense; in several partly metaphorical senses, especially to indicate membership in a genealogical group; and, in a more extended metaphorical sense, to indicate membership in a group united by a shared belief. There are verses in the Qurʾān that indicate that the sense of community and mutual respect, concern and aid implied by brotherhood in this extended, metaphorical sense can unite not only Muslims but any humans who do virtuous acts in response to God's expectations of them (see community and soc…

Bucaille, Maurice

(4,266 words)

Author(s): Daneshgar, Majid
Maurice Bucaille (1920-98) was a French physician whose fame relies primarily on his book La Bible, le Coran et la science, first published in 1976, which was translated into English  two years later. It had a global impact on both Muslim and non-Muslim apologists and scholars and paved the way for scientists to (re-)join the large number of Qurʾān commentators (mufassirūn, sing. mufassir) since it enabled them to interpret the Qurʾān from a so-called scientific perspective. Very soon after its publication, Bucaille’s book became an instrument by which Muslims not onl…
Date: 2019-10-22


(10 words)

 see house — domestic and divine; mosque; markets Bibliography


(1,270 words)

Author(s): Campo, Juan Eduardo
The interment of the body after death and accompanying practices involving the preparation of the body, its transportation to a cemetery, mourning, and erection of tombstones and mortuary buildings. In Islam, burial and its attendant preparations are the method prescribed for disposing of the dead. Islamic burial rituals ( janāʾiz) normally require four elements: washing the body, shrouding, funeral prayers, and prompt burial with the face oriented towards the Kaʿba (q.v.) in Mecca. They are discussed most fully in Islamic legal literature ( fiqh) and in modern ethnographies. …