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Sīrat ʿAntar

(3,732 words)

Author(s): Heller, B.
, the romance of ʿAntar, rightly considered the model of the Arabic romance of chivalry. This sīra surveys five hundred years of Arab history and includes a wealth of older traditions. The story in the Kitāb al-Ag̲h̲ānī of how ʿAntar, the son of a slave-girl, was adopted into the tribe of Banū ʿAbs for saving them at a time of great crisis bears the stamp of a flourishing but already legendary tradition. The Sīrat ʿAntar far transcends the unconscious development of a legend. By a bold stroke ʿAntar, the solitary hero, is raised to be the represe…

Rāḥīl

(481 words)

Author(s): Heller, B.
, in the Bible Rachel, wife of Jacob, mother of Joseph and Benjamin, is not mentioned in the Ḳurʾān. There is, however, a reference to her in sūra IV, 27: “Ye may not have two sisters to wife at the same time; if it has been done formerly, God now exercises pardon and mercy.” This is said to allude to Jacob’s marriage with Liyā and Rāḥīl; before Moses revealed the Tora, such a marriage was valid. Al-Ṭabarī gives this explanation in his Annals , i, 356, 359-60. Ibn al-At̲h̲īr, i, 90, adopts it. But already in Tafsīr , iv, 210, al-Ṭabarī explains the verse correctly: Muḥ…

Lazarus

(308 words)

Author(s): Heller, B.
, the name in the Gospels of (1) the poor man who finds compensation in Abraham’s bosom for the misery of this world (Luke, xvi, 19-31); and (2) the dead man whom Jesus raises to life (John, xi). The Ḳurʾān mentions neither the one nor the other, but among the miracles with which it credits Jesus is included the raising from the dead (III, 43/49). Muslim legend with its fondness for the miracle of resurrection is fond of telling of the dead whom Jesus revives, but rarely mentions Lazarus. Al-Ṭabarī in his Taʾrīk̲h̲ talks of these miracles in general. According to …

Namrūd

(1,613 words)

Author(s): Heller, B.
, also Namrūd̲h̲ , Nimrūd , the Nimrod of the Bible, is associated in Muslim legend, as in Haggada, with the story of the childhood of Abraham. The Ḳurʾān, it is true, does not mention him but probably, as in many other cases, only from dislike of mentioning names. That the legend of Namrūd was known is evident from the following verses. “Do you not see how he disputed with Ibrāhīm about the Lord who had granted him dominion? When Ibrāhīm said: It is my Lord who gives life and d…

Nūḥ

(1,330 words)

Author(s): Heller, B.
, the Noah of the Bible, is a particularly popular figure in the Ḳurʾān and in Muslim legend. Al-T̲h̲aʿlabī gives 15 virtues by which Nūḥ is distinguished among the prophets. The Bible does not regard Noah as a prophet. In the Ḳurʾān, Nūḥ is the first prophet of punishment, who is followed by Hūd, ¶ Ṣāliḥ, Lūṭ, S̲h̲uʿayb and Mūsā. Ibrāhīm is one of his following ( s̲h̲īʿa ) (XXXVII, 81). He is the perspicuous admonisher ( nad̲h̲ir mubīn , XI, 27; LXXI, 2), the rasūl amīn “the true messenger of God” (XXVI, 107), the ʿabd s̲h̲akūr , “the grateful servant of God” (XVII, 3…

Lūṭ

(748 words)

Author(s): Heller, B. | Vajda, G.
the Biblical Lot [ Genesis , xiii, 5-13, xvii-xix). The Ḳurʾān, where his story is told in passages belonging to the second and third Meccan periods, places Lūṭ among the “envoys” whose career prefigures that of Muḥammad as a man in conflict with his compatriots, those at whom his message is directly aimed; the crimes of the “people of Lūṭ” were, besides the refusal to believe, their persistence in vices such as lack of hospitality and homosexual practices, a misconduct punished, in spite of intercession by Ibrāhīm [ q.v.], by the dispatch of angels of destruction who utterly devas…

Zakariyyāʾ

(558 words)

Author(s): Heller, B. | Rippin, A.
, also Zakariyyā, the father of John the Baptist, reckoned in the Ḳurʾān (VI, 85) along with John, Jesus, and Elias as among the righteous. The name most likely entered Arabic via its Syriac rendering. The Ḳurʾān gives the substance of Luke i. 5-25, as follows: Zakariyyāʾ guards the Virgin Mary [see maryam , at Vol. VI, 630] in the niche ( miḥrāb ) and always finds fresh fruits there. He prays to God; angels announce to him that a son will be born to him, Yaḥyā, a name not previously given to anyone, a pious man, a prophet, Jacob’s hei…

al-Sāmirī

(718 words)

Author(s): Heller, B. | Rippin, A.
"the Samaritan", is the name in Ḳurʾān, XX, 85, 87 and 95 of the man who tempted the Israelites to the sin of the Golden Calf. The sin itself is mentioned twice in the Ḳurʾān. In the first narrative, VII, 148-57, the story is told of the sin of Israel and Aaron as in Exodus, xxxii, but with the elaboration that the calf cast out of metal was "lowing" ( khuwār ). The second version, XX, 83-98, presents al-Sāmirī as the tempter of Israel in the same situation. At al-Sāmirī’s bidding, the Israelites cast their ornaments into the fire and he made …

Yāfit̲h̲

(426 words)

Author(s): Heller, B. | Rippin, A.
, the Japheth of the Bible. He is not mentioned by name in the Ḳurʾān (although he is alluded to in VII, 64, X, 73, XI, 40, XXIII, 27 and XXVI, 119), but the exegetes are familiar with all the sons of Noah [see nūḥ ]: Ḥām, Sām [ q.vv.] and Yāfit̲h̲ (the pronunciation Yāfit is mentioned as possible in al-Ṭabarī, i, 222). The Biblical story (Gen. ix. 20-7) of Ḥām’s sin and punishment and the blessing given to Sām and Yāfit̲h̲ is known in Muslim legend, but it is silent about Noah’s planting the vine and becoming intoxicated. Al-Kisāʾī totally tr…

Luḳmān

(3,485 words)

Author(s): Heller, B. | Stillmann, N.A.
, a legendary hero and sage of pre-Islamic Arabia. He appears in the Ḳurʾān as a monotheist and a wise father giving pious admonitions to his son. In later Islamic lore, he became the creator of fables par excellence and a striking parallel of Aesop. 1. Luḳmān in Old Arab tradition. The Arabs of the Ḏj̲āhiliyya knew of a certain Luḳmān b. ʿĀd. The connection with the long-lost tribe of ʿĀd [ q.v.] places him in the dimmest recesses of the Arab past. The two attributes upon which his fame apparently rested were his wisdom and his longevity. Many early poets, includin…

ʿŪd̲j̲

(679 words)

Author(s): Heller, B | Wasserstrom, S.M.
, also ʿĀd̲j̲ b. ʿAnaḳ or ʿAnāḳ , the Arabic name of the Biblical ʿŌg, the giant king of Bas̲h̲an. The Ḳurʾān does not mention him. Al-Ṭabarī tells of his great stature and death: Moses was ten cubits in height, his staff ten cubits long, he jumped ten cubits high and smote ʿŪd̲j̲ in the heel; the body of the fallen giant served as a bridge across the Nile. Al-T̲h̲aʿlabī gives more details: ʿŪd̲j̲ was 23,333 cubits high, drank from the clouds, could reach to the bottom of the sea …

Ḳiṭfīr

(420 words)

Author(s): Heller, B. | Stillmann, N.A.
, one of the most common names for the biblical Potiphar in Islamic tradition. It is probably a corruption of Fiṭfīr, based upon an early scribal error. Other forms of the name based on confusions of similar letters in Arabic script are Ḳiṭfīn, Ḳiṭʿīn, and Ḳiṭṭīn. The form Ḳiṭfīr is frequently corrupted further to Iṭfīr (so generally in Ṭabarī, T̲h̲aʿlabī, Zamak̲h̲s̲h̲arī, Bayḍawī, and others), and in some manuscripts Iṭfīr. He is given the patronymic Ibn Ruhayb (also Ibn Ruḥayb and Ibn Rūḥīt in…

Mūsā

(1,723 words)

Author(s): Heller, B. | MacDonald, D.B.
, the name in Arabic for the Biblical prophet Moses. 1. In the Ḳurʾān. Here, Mūsā is considered as the precursor of, the model for, and the annunciator of Muḥammad (VII, 156). The two prophets share the same belief (XLIII, 11). Mūsā is also conceived in Muḥammad’s image. Charges are brought against him similar to those made against Muḥammad and he is said to want to pervert people from the faith of their fathers (X, 79); he practises magic (XXVIII, 18). Mūsā and Hārūn seem rather to be sent to the stubborn Pharaoh [see firʿawn ] than to the believing Israelites. Revelation is granted him: tawrāt , ki…