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Deliverance

(706 words)

Author(s): Renard, John
Throughout the Qurʾān, but especially in later Meccan sūras, various forms of deliverance ( najjā/ anjā, anqadha, waqā) illustrate God's saving power (see power and impotence; salvation). God typically speaks in the divine plural, recalling specific settings in which he had acted on behalf of either the prophets or their people. Many of the references occur in the context of Muḥammad's efforts to counteract Meccan opposition (see opposition to muḥammad ). Prominent among the beneficiaries of divine deliverance are the prophets (see prophets and prophethood ), several of whom God…

Adoration

(834 words)

Author(s): Renard, John
The acts and attitudes of praise and honor accorded to God. The standard English renderings of the Qurʾān typically use “adoration” and its cognates to translate sajada (to prostrate oneself; see bowing and prostration ), the quintessential Islamic ritual of adoration (see prayer ). There is, however, a great deal more to adoration ¶ than a physical gesture. A variety of qurʾānic terms vividly communicate the sense of “adoration” as a response to the divine being, including various forms of the roots ḥ-m-d (praise), s-b-ḥ (glorify), m-j-d (exalt) and ʿ-ẓ-m (magnify). Certain verses …

Alexander

(1,335 words)

Author(s): Renard, John
The Macedonian conqueror who lived from 356 until 323 b.c.e. Traditional and modern scholars have identified the figure the Qurʾān refers to as the Possessor of the Two Horns (Dhū l-Qarnayn, q 18:83, 86, 94) as Alexander the Great (al-Iskandar in Arabic). His “two horns” may be the east and the west, suggesting breadth of his dominion. Anomalously, some early scholars saw the epithet as reference to a pre-Islamic monarch of south Arabia or Persia. The famous mystic Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 638/1240) interpreted the figure allegorically, identifying the “Possessor of the Two Horn…

Despair

(710 words)

Author(s): Renard, John
The loss of hope. Rendered in Arabic by the following five different roots: y-ʾ-s, q-n-ṭ, b-ʾ-s, b-l-s, w-h-n. Loss of hope in God's mercy (q.v.) is the chief cause of despair in the Qurʾān which contrasts human responses in good times with feelings that can prevail in dire straits. Human beings consider bounty to be the result of their own doing, but when they encounter difficulties, they assume God is to blame and give up ( q 11:9; 17:83; 41:49; 57:23; see 30:49, 42:28 for the converse). In fact, human beings often cause their own sense of ¶ desperation through evil deeds (q.v.; q 30:36; 47:35). …

Khaḍir/Khiḍr

(1,533 words)

Author(s): Renard, John
Islamic tradition identifies as al-Khaḍir (or Khiḍr), an otherwise unnamed “servant (q.v.) of God” who appears in Sūrat al-Kahf (“The Cave”; q 18:60-82), in connection with Moses' (q.v.) quest for the “confluence of the two seas” (see barrier; nature as signs). Interpretations run a wide gamut. Al-Zamakhsharī (d. 538/1144; Kashshāf, ii, 703) asserts that Khiḍr lived from the time of Dhū l-Qarnayn (see alexander ) to that of Moses; Sayyid Quṭb (d. 1966; Ẓilāl, iv, 2276-82) sets that tradition aside, calling him only “the ¶ righteous servant.” Moses and an unnamed companion (traditi…