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People of the Thicket

(833 words)

Author(s): Nawas, John
An English rendering of the Arabic phrase aṣḥāb al-ayka that occurs in four Meccan sūras ( q 15:78; 26:176; 38:13; 50:14). No consensus exists about the identity of these people who suffered the fate of punishment by destruction for their unbelief (see belief and unbelief; punishment stories). There are at least five different theories about the identity of these people who are associated with the prophet Shuʿayb (q.v.). Some exegetes consider them to have been the inhabitants of a place called Madyan (see midian ) or, secondly, a subgroup of a people called Madyan; it is also …


(673 words)

Author(s): Nawas, John
The site of Islam's first major military victory which occurred in the month of Ramaḍān (q.v.) in the second year after Muḥammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina (March 624, see emigration ). Badr is mentioned explicitly only a single time in the Qurʾān ( q 3:123), but there are allusions to it in at least thirty-two other verses. Almost all of these references are found in the eighth sūra, “The Spoils” (Sūrat al-Anfāl), which addresses the issues that arose as a direct consequence of this Muslim victory and stresses above all the spiritual gains that gave Islam its firm foundations. Badr, also …


(860 words)

Author(s): Nawas, John
Challenge to be endured. Some one hundred verses in the Qurʾān deal directly or indirectly with trial, in particular as a trial or test of true belief. Four verbs and/or their verbal nouns are especially used, of which the first two constitute the vast majority of these references: balāʾ, ibtilāʾ (e.g. q 2:49; 3:186; 47:31; 89:16), fatana, fitna (e.g. q 8:28; 64:15), maḥḥaṣa (only in q 3:141 and 154) and imtaḥana (only in q 49:3 and 60:10; q 60 is additionally entitled al-Mumtaḥana, literally, “she who was tested,” but its main concern is relations between believers and non-b…


(1,515 words)

Author(s): Nawas, John A.
Client is the commonly used translation for the Arabic word mawlā (pl. mawālī). The term denotes the subordinate in the patronate system (walāʾ),which probably existed in some form amongst the Arabs before the advent of Islam (Landau-Tasseron). However, in Arabic the word “ mawlā,” can refer to the client as well as to the patron. If needed, distinction between the two parties of the patronate could be made by adding a specification: mawlā min taḥt or al-asfal (“from under,” “the lower,” i.e., the client) as opposed to mawlā min fawq or al-aʿlā (“from above,” “the higher,” i.e., the p…
Date: 2020-02-11

Days of God

(531 words)

Author(s): Nawas, John A.
A literal translation of the Arabic expression ayyām Allāh. The expression assumes its fuller significance in analogy to the phrase ayyām al-ʿarab, i.e. battles of Arab tribes in the pre-Islamic era (see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān ), leading to the more appropriate translation, “battles of God.” The phrase ayyām Allāh occurs twice in the Qurʾān. The first occurrence is q 14:5 ( Sūrat Ibrāhīm), which reflects God's retribution — grace and reward for believers and punishment for unbelievers (see reward and punishment; chastisement and punishment). More specifically, ayyām Allā…


(1,026 words)

Author(s): Nawas, John A.
Act or process of questioning; judicial or official questioning before a jury, often with the connotation of pursuit of heresy (q.v.) and the punishment of heretics. Two Arabic roots appear in the Qurʾān with the sense of “inquisition:” the fifth verbal form of f-q-d and the eighth form of m-ḥ-n. Tafaqqada is attested once, at q 27:20, where Solomon (q.v.) searches among the birds¶ for the hoopoe (see animal life ), who finally brings him news of the Queen of Sheba (q.v.; see also bilqīs ). The eighth verbal form of the root m-ḥ-n (whence also miḥna, discussed below) is attested twice ( q 49:3; 60:…