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Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī

(2,583 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
Abū l-Faraj ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. al-Haytham al-Umawī al-Iṣfahānī (or al-Iṣbahānī) (d. shortly after 360/971) was a celebrated man of letters, a historian with sociological interests, a musicologist, and a poet. He is best known for his great “Book of songs,” the Kitāb al-aghānī, one of the most important works of classical Arabic literature. He was born in 284/897, probably in Baghdad. Tradition ally, he was thought to have died there in 356/967, but recent research suggests his death should be dated to the early 360s, s…
Date: 2019-11-11

Education, general (up to 1500)

(10,350 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
In its general sense, the word “ education” denotes the act, process, and result of imparting and acquiring knowledge, values, and skills. This expression applies to both early childhood instruction and basic and higher learning that has the goal of providing individuals or groups of people with the intellectual, physical, moral, and spiritual qualities that will help them to grow, develop, and become usefu…
Date: 2019-11-11

Day, Times of

(4,449 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
Day ( yawm) together with the corresponding terms night ( layl) and daytime ( nahār), as well as the regular intervals of the day and parts or particular times of the day. Such apparently familiar concepts actually have considerable importance in the Qurʾān. Five sūras are named for times of day or daily natural phenomena: “The Dawn” (al-Fajr, q 89); “The Night” (al-Layl, q 92); “The Forenoon” (al-Ḍuḥā, q 93); “The (late) Afternoon” (al-ʿAṣr, q 103) and “The Daybreak” (al-Falaq, q 113). Times of day serve as a framework for the events of the history of revelation and someti…


(5,374 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
The inability to read or write any language. This inability puts a person at a disadvantage and is regarded as a defect in societies where culture transmission and human communication occurs through writing (Meagher, Illiteracy, 1766b). In considering the situation in Arabia at the time of the prophet Muḥammad (d. 632 c.e.), however, quite different categories have to be applied: the common cultural and historical property …


(3,253 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
The act of instructing; imparting knowledge and information. Most of the numerous teaching-related passages in the Qurʾān are dedicated to the sound instruction of the believers in the faith (q.v.) and to their spiritual growth as individuals and members of the community (see belief and unbelief; knowledge and learning; ignorance). These passages include instruction on the creed, worship and other aspects of religious life. Some passages in the Qurʾān, however, also provide detailed instruction on secular matters (human relations; political, social, and legal affairs, etc.; see …

Clients and Clientage

(1,356 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
The legal attachment of a person or group to another person, family, clan or tribe (see family; tribes and clans). The term “client” ( mawlā, pl. mawālī) plays, along with “confederate, ally” (ḥalīf) and “protected neighbor, temporary protégé” ( jār), a prominent role in pre-Islamic Arabia and in early Islamic society and law (see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān;¶ community and society; law and the qurʾān…


(1,025 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
Killing or injuring human life (q.v.). The Qurʾān bans bloodshed (safk al- dimāʾ), but it is specifically mentioned in the Qurʾān only twice ( q 2:30, …


(2,837 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
The ability to read and, often, to write. Literacy (framed in contemporary Arabic by expressions such as maʿrifat al-qirāʾa wa-l- kitāba, thaqāfa and their derivatives) is in many cultures considered a primary requisite for learning and education. In Arabia at the beginning of the first/seventh century, however, oral transmission of knowledge, memorization and the spoken word had a long tradition and were highly appreciated among the tribes (see tribes and clans; orality and writing in arabia; memory; speech). Until that time, the use of writing and written matter — due …


(2,709 words)

Author(s): Günther, Sebastian
A qurʾānic epithet for the prophet Muḥammad that acquired significantly different interpretations in the course of Islamic history. Traditionally, Muslims understand ummī as “illiterate” and as unequivocally identifying Muḥammad as “the illiterate Prophet” (al-nabī l-ummī) — a view that has come to constitute an article of orthodox faith and spirituality in Islam (see illiteracy ). Recent research, however, recovering some of the earliest exegetical glossing, has suggested that ummī in the Qurʾān signifies the ethnic origin (being an Arab, Arabian) and the origi…