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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Social Interactions

(8 words)

 see ethics and the qurʾān Bibliography

Social Relations

(11 words)

 see family; community and society in the qurʾān Bibliography

Social Sciences and the Qurʾān

(6,420 words)

Author(s): Eickelman, Dale F.
The rise and growth of the social sciences as we know them today coincided with the commercial and industrial revolutions that began in the eighteenth century. Formal economics, political science, and sociology emerged only with a differentiation between state and society and the ability to think abstractly about texts, social contexts, and institutional structures. For the Qurʾān or any other sacred text to be understood from a sociological perspective, language had to be developed to think abstractly about religion and text (see contemporary critical practices and the qurʾān ). ¶ …


(8 words)

 see social sciences and the qurʾān Bibliography


(1,005 words)

Author(s): Soucek, Priscilla
The son of the biblical king David (q.v.) and heir to his throne. Solomon (Ar. Sulaymān) is presented in the Qurʾān as playing three important roles, although they are often interwoven in its narrative (see narratives ). He was a ruler who inherited his father's knowledge as well as his kingdom (see kings and rulers; knowledge and learning; power and impotence); a prophet (see prophets and prophethood ) who, despite occasional lapses in devotional practice (see piety; worship; ritual and the qurʾān), enjoyed divine protection (q.v.) and was assured an honored place in paradi…


(1,423 words)

Author(s): Stewart, Devin J.
One who foretells or interprets events. The Arabic term kāhin, related to Hebrew kohen (“priest”), designates a soothsayer, seer or diviner. It appears twice in the Qurʾān, reflecting one of several accusations di-¶ rected at the prophet Muḥammad: that he was a madman (see insanity ), poet (see poetry and poets ) or soothsayer or that he was instructed by someone else ( muʿallam; see informants ). The text emphatically rejects such slurs: Therefore warn (humankind), for, by the grace of God, you are neither a soothsayer nor a madman” ( q 52:29; see warner ). But nay! I swear by all that y…


(4 words)

 see magic Bibliography


(7 words)

 see weeping; joy and misery Bibliography


(2,566 words)

Author(s): Homerin, Th. Emil
That which makes a creature animate, and to which individuality is attributed. From the second/eighth century until today, the vast majority of Muslims have believed that each human being has a soul. Opinion has varied regarding the soul's nature and its relationship to the body, though most Muslim scholars have envisioned the soul as a subtle form or substance infused within or inhabiting a physical body. Generally, Muslims have believed that souls are created by God, joined to a body at birth, taken from the body at death and reunited with the body on the resurrection day (see creation; bi…

South Arabia, Religions in Pre-Islamic

(6,249 words)

Author(s): Robin, Christian Julien
The religious history of south Arabia is divided into two periods of unequal length: polytheistic from its beginnings (eighth century b.c.e.) until around 380 c.e. (see polytheism and atheism ), then monotheistic thereafter. Only the first is dealt with here; for the second,   see yemen; jews and judaism; christians and christianity. (For other aspects of pre-Islamic religious traditions of which the Qurʾān evinces knowledge, see e.g. abyssinia; magians; mecca; medina; najrān; sabians; sheba; soothsayer; syria.) The main source for understanding the religions of pre-Islamic sou…

South Asian Literatures and the Qurʾān

(2,454 words)

Author(s): Asani, Ali S.
With a Muslim population of over 300 million, south Asia ( India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) is home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the world. Muslims in the region have employed a wide variety of languages to compose their literatures. Among these languages, Arabic and Persian have historically played a cosmopolitan role, for they have enabled south Asian elites to participate and share in literary cultures that extend well beyond the subcontinent to central Asia and the Middle East. In addition to these transnational languages, Muslims have employed a host of ot…

Southeast Asian Qurʾānic Literature

(2,741 words)

Author(s): Feener, R. Michael
This entry is meant to provide an overview of literature of the Qurʾān in southeast Asia, including both texts produced locally and those imported from elsewhere in the Muslim world that have been important to the region's religious and intellectual history. Commentary in Arabic As in many parts of the Muslim world, the most popular Arabic work of commentary ( tafsīr) in southeast Asia from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries was the Tafsīr al-Jalālayn. In addition to being read and studied in its original Arabic, this text formed the primary basis of the…


(979 words)

Author(s): Khir, Bustami
(Sole) authority and power, rulership. In exploring the notion of sovereignty much care should be given to terminology. Sovereignty generally means authority (q.v.) and power (see power and impotence ) but it lacks precise definition and has many divergent interpretations in English usage as do its cognates in other Western languages. The word ḥākimiyya, a derivative of the verb ḥakama, has been commonly used in modern Islamic thought to denote sovereignty. The form ḥākimiyya itself does not occur in the Qurʾān but ḥakama and other derivatives of ḥ-k-m are used in more than a hund…


(6 words)

 see agriculture and vegetation Bibliography

Spatial Relations

(2,741 words)

Author(s): Neuwirth, Angelika
Relative physical and geographic placement (above, below, close, etc.). In Islamic tradition, the qurʾānic corpus is understood as consisting of two kinds of text units, Meccan sūras and Medinan sūras (see mecca; medina; sūra). While this division serves the juridical purpose of distinguishing earlier texts from later texts (see abrogation ), by such geographic identification sūras are explicitly related to places (see geography and the qurʾān ) rather than time periods (see chronology and the qurʾān ). This is in accord with a general qurʾānic trend to focus on space r…


(2,630 words)

Author(s): Heemskerk, Margaretha T.
The act of speaking and the expression or communication of thoughts and feelings by spoken words. The Arabic word for “speech” is kalām. It is derived from the root k-l-m, just like the Arabic verbs “to speak,” kallama and takallama. Several other qurʾānic verbs refer to the act of speaking, such as the verbs qāla, “to say,” naṭaqa, “to articulate,” and nādā, “to call or shout.” Some verbs indicate the speaker's intention, such as saʾala, “to ask,” ajāba, “to answer,” nabbaʾa, “to inform” (see news ), waʿada, “to promise” (see reward and punishment ), nahā, “to forbid” (see forbidden; virtue…

Spell (to cast a)

(7 words)

 see magic Bibliography


(11 words)

 see biology as the creation and stages of life Bibliography


(702 words)

Author(s): Eisenstein, Herbert
Creature whose body contains two main divisions: one with four pairs of walking legs, the other with two or more pairs of spinnerets for spinning the silk that is used in making the cocoons for its young, nests for itself or webs to entangle its prey. The ¶ word spider ( ʿankabūt), which provides the name for q 29, Sūrat al-ʿAnkabūt, occurs twice in the Qurʾān in one and the same verse, q 29:41. In this verse, the spider exemplifies an agent for warning and threatening the infidels for their ungrateful conduct (see animal life; belief and unbelief; gratitude and ingratitude). Those who choose …


(2,261 words)

Author(s): Sells, Michael
Life force or supernatural being. In pre-Islamic poetry the Arabic word rūḥ refers to a blowing or breathing (see air and wind; poetry and poets; pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān). In the Qurʾān, the word appears twenty-one times but in the sense of spirit rather than of blowing, in a manner analogous to its Hebrew cognate, ruach, in the Bible (see scripture and the qurʾān ). The qurʾānic rūḥ evokes spirit in passages related to the three boundary moments in the Qurʾān: creation (q.v.), the sending down of prophetic revelation (see revelation and inspiration; prophets and prophethood), an…
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