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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Mysterious Letters

(3,165 words)

Author(s): Massey, Keith
The alphabetic characters of the Arabic language (q.v.) that appear in non-verbal combinations at the beginning of certain sūras (q.v.) of the Qurʾān, just after the basmala (q.v.). The gift of “letters” came to ¶ the Arabian peninsula by way of a slow evolution of orthographies (see arabic script; calligraphy; orality and writing in arabia). While the whole story is quite complex, the cursive consonantal alphabet of twenty-eight letters in which the Qurʾān was recorded was derived from a form of the Nabatean script, which in turn had descended from Syriac/Aramaic forms (see sy…

Myths and Legends in the Qurʾān

(10,864 words)

Author(s): Neuwirth, Angelika
Myths are narratives that serve to explain and describe the experienced world by laying bare its archetypal patterns (see cosmology ); they are often staged in a cosmic or supernatural framework so as to manifest binding truths, to generate meaning and provide guidance. Legends, raising no such universal claim, may be understood as narratives of pious imagination celebrating an exemplary figure. Are there myths and legends in the Qurʾān? Even today, this is a controversial question, since the term “myth,” in particular, is sometimes thought to be irreconc…