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Witnessing and Testifying

(9,637 words)

Author(s): Radscheit, Matthias
Perceiving something and giving evidence of it. These two notions are distinct from each other but interrelated, insofar as the one is the prerequisite of the other. Also, the act of perception results in knowledge that can later be passed on, and so may be considered to be oriented towards the future; bearing evidence, by contrast, refers to the past. Thus, witnessing and testifying establishes a chain of information, with the witness serving as a connecting link between a past event and a pers…


(2,083 words)

Author(s): Radscheit, Matthias
The relation of an agent to a norm-giving and evaluative instance. It consists of the ¶ imposition of a set of norms, action in regards to these norms, and the assessment of the committed acts according to these norms with any consequences that might ensue. The idea of responsibility is a central feature of social activities, law, ethics and religion (q.v.; see also law and the qurʾān; ethics and the qurʾān; social interactions). As a result of the complexity of the concept of responsibility, there are several Arabic terms relating to different aspects of it. The com…

Springs and Fountains

(4,513 words)

Author(s): Radscheit, Matthias
Natural or artificial sources of water that issue from the earth and — in contrast to wells — provide running water (q.v.). There are several Arabic words for a natural spring. The most common designation is ʿayn, which occurs twenty-one times in the Qurʾān (with the respective dual and plural forms ʿaynān and ʿuyūn; e.g. q 2:60; 15:45; 34:12; 55:50). The word maʿīn — probably of Syriac or Hebrew origin (see foreign vocabulary) — is used four times ( q 23:50; 37:45; 56:18; 67:30); yanbūʿ ( q 17:90) and its plural yanābīʿ ( q 39:21) each appear only once. Although the Arabic term for hot springs, ḥam…

Word of God

(4,406 words)

Author(s): Radscheit, Matthias
Divine verbal utterance that bridges the gap between God's transcendence and the created world. That God addresses himself to the world by means of speaking is one of the most influential concepts in the whole monotheistic tradition and is also a central issue for the Qurʾān (see revelation and inspiration; orality; scripture and the qurʾān; south arabia, religions in pre-islamic). There, several verbs describe God as speaking, e.g. nādā, “to call” (ten times), qaṣṣa, “to relate” (thirteen times), or nabbaʾa, “to tell” (twenty-one times); but the most important verbs are qāla, “to sa…


(1,810 words)

Author(s): Radscheit, Matthias
A supported horizontal surface that facilitates actions like working, writing or eating. There is no precise equivalent in classical Arabic for this English term. Words like minḍada, sufra and simāṭ only signify “table” by derivation; their basic meanings are respectively “a device where mats, carpets or cushions are piled up,” “food provision for the traveler,” and “a cloth or coat upon which the dishes are put.” By contrast, several designations for “table” entered Arabic from neighboring, non-Semitic languages. These include mēz and khiwān from Persian, ṭarabēza from Greek, ṭāwu…


(3,284 words)

Author(s): Radscheit, Matthias
An arousal of anger by words or deeds. Provocation consists of manifesting disdain for individuals or their values and is always characterized by a certain degree of unfairness. Instead of attempting to come to terms with a contentious issue between conflicting parties, an act of provocation aims at stirring up the opponents' emotions and leading them to an ill-considered reaction. In order for an action to qualify ¶ as a provocation, at least one of two conditions must be met: an underlying intention to provoke and a consequent feeling of anger. If both condit…