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Qurʾān: Modern Interpretations: South Asian Languages

(3,203 words)

Author(s): Hermansen, Marcia
One of the major developments in South Asian Qurʾān interpretation in the modern period is the shift from atomistic tafsīr, where material related to women and gender issues is treated only in the context of specific verses of the Qurʾān, to a proliferation of works that treat the subject more topically and comprehensively, invoking Qurʾānic verses as proof texts for the authors' interpretations. A further dimension of modern Qurʾān interpretation in this region is the prominent role of South Asians as translators of the scripture either from Arabic to Urdu…

Religious Practices: Conversion: North America

(1,812 words)

Author(s): Hermansen, Marcia
Recent claims that the majority of North American converts to Islam are women may be correct, although definite statistics are lacking. This is due to several factors. For women, marriage to a Muslim man is a major avenue to conversion. Because of cultural attitudes, Muslim men are usually freer to socialize with and subsequently marry outsiders than are Muslim women. According to some interpretations of Islamic …

Sufi Orders and Movements: United States

(1,650 words)

Author(s): Hermansen, Marcia
In the United States Sufi orders range from universal or New Age movements whose membership is largely Euro-American to transplanted communities of recent Muslim immigrants. Other American Sufi orders are hybrids of traditional Islamic and modern Western attitudes, practices, and individuals. To the degree that Sharīʿa-based rituals are incorporated by a particular Sufi order, gender distinctions become visibly operative in its functioning in America. In the more strictly Islamic Sufi movements such as the Naqshbandī-Ḥaqqānī order led …

Sufi Orders and Movements: Turkey, South Asia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, the Caucasus, and the Arab East

(3,607 words)

Author(s): Hermansen, Marcia
Many contemporary scholars have noted that the mystical or Sufi interpretation and practice of Islam is an arena that provides scope for female participation and women's leadership. Others (Murata, Ahmed) have understood Sufism as providing a counter or alternative philosophical strand within Islamic traditions that allows for greater expression of feminine spirituality. The fact that many manifestations of Sufism take place outside of the mosque relieves female participants of the strict imposition of certain formal ritual restrictions such as g…


(504 words)

Author(s): Hermansen, Marcia
A gift, ability or propensity provided by God. There is no specific qurʾānic term for talent although meanings related to this concept may be associated with ideas such as degrees, ability, capacity and gifts (see gift and gift-giving; grace; blessing). In modern Arabic, terms derived from the root w-h-b, “gifts,” and ʿ-d-d, “preparation,” refer to talent, but these roots and their derivations are not employed in this sense in the Qurʾān. In addition, istiṭāʿa, “ability, capacity,” is an important theological concept in Islam (see theology and the qurʾān ), but it is usually discus…


(737 words)

Author(s): Hermansen, Marcia
The female reproductive organ, the uterus, by extension, the importance of kinship and blood relationships. The root of the Arabic term for “womb” ( raḥim, riḥm, pl. arḥām), r-ḥ-m, is also the base of raḥma, “compassion,” and the divine names al- raḥmān and al- raḥīm, the merciful and compassionate, each of which signals the feminine associations of the divine quality of mercy (q.v.; see also god and his attributes; arabic language; gender). The use of the term “womb” in the Qurʾān most often refers either to the generative function of the female reproductive organ ( q 2:228; 3:6; 13:8; 22:5;…

ʿAbd al-Raḥīm Dihlawī

(721 words)

Author(s): Hermansen, Marcia
Shāh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm Dihlawī (1056–1131/1646–1719) was a prominent Indian Ṣūfī and scholar and father of Shāh Walī Allāh Dihlawī (d. 1176/1762). His family claimed descent from the caliph ʿUmar (r. 13–23/634–44) and his father, Wajīh al-Dīn, had been a soldier in the Mughal army who then retired to pursue the Ṣūfī path. Despite close family connections with the villages of Rohtak, in present-day Haryana, and Phulat, in present-day Uttar Pradesh, Shāh ʿAbd al-Raḥīm was born and raised in Delhi. He stu…
Date: 2019-11-11