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(5,043 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Abrogation (naskh) is used as a hermeneutical tool in Muslim jurisprudence in dealing with apparent inconsistencies within and between the Qurʾān and the sunna. It also has a polemical context, in which the notion perhaps finds its original development, such that the legal provisions within Judaism and Christianity, and thus, from the Islamic perspective, the entire salvatory value of the two dispensations, have been abrogated. 1. Qurʾānic technical terminology Discussions of abrogation generally involve consideration of two key passages in the Qurʾān that provid…
Date: 2020-06-10

Dhū l-Kifl

(780 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Dhū l-Kifl is a person, perhaps a prophet, of uncertain identity, mentioned twice in the Qurʾān. Investigations into the meaning of the name have not helped further to identify him. Not always understood as a prophet in the Muslim tradition, he is often held simply to have been a believer who is to be admired for his patience—in reference to Q 21:85, where he is mentioned alongside Ishmael and Idrīs (who is usually called Enoch) as having that quality. He is also one of the “best” believers—based…
Date: 2020-06-10


(812 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Ḥawḍ is the large cistern at which Muḥammad (as the faraṭ, the person to reach this place at the eschatological end of time) will await his followers on the Day of Resurrection. The term ḥawḍ is the most common Arabic word for any type of tank used for holding water but its application, almost as a proper noun, to this particular eschatological feature is prominent in Islamic texts. Although not mentioned in the Qurʾān, the Ḥawḍ is featured in most major collections of ḥadīth; it is also present in many popular elaborations of Judgement Day (e.g. in al-Ghazālī’s [d. 505/1111] Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm al-dīn)…
Date: 2020-06-10


(720 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Aaron is the biblical name for the brother of Moses, who is known as Hārūn b. ʿImrān in the Qurʾān and in Muslim tradition, with the Arabic form of the Hebrew name Aharōn likely resulting from transmission through Syriac in pre-Islamic times. Mentioned by name twenty times in the Qurʾān, revelation of the furqān (“criterion”) is given to him and Moses (Q 21:48; also see 19:53, 7:122, 23:45, 37:114–20 and 20:70; also 26:48, with the phrase “We believe in the Lord of Moses and Aaron”). His name appears within lists of prophetic figures: with Jesus, …
Date: 2020-06-10

Numbers and Enumeration

(3,355 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Words representing amounts and the designation of the number of objects. The Qurʾān makes full use of a range of Arabic words denoting numbers and counting. In doing so, it employs the number words both in terms of literal counting and of representative images and symbols (see symbolic imagery ), many with an ancient heritage. Words are employed for each of the cardinal unit numbers and occasional higher numbers, including 10, 11, 12, 19, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 99, 100, 200, 300, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 5,000, 50,000, and 100,000. The number wor…

Seeing and Hearing

(1,457 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The action of the eyes (q.v.), and of the ears (q.v.), respectively. Seeing and hearing are understood to be attributes of God and the terms are used literally as human bodily senses as well as metaphorically in the senses of “to know,” “to understand,” and “to learn” (see knowledge and learning; god and his attributes; hearing and deafness; vision and blindness; metaphor). Baṣīr, “the one who sees, the all-seeing,” is an attribute of God mentioned forty-two times in the Qurʾān, ten times immediately following “hearing” or “all-hearing,” samīʿ. The sequencing of these two attribut…


(615 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Saturday, technically, Friday evening to Saturday evening. While related etymologically to the Aramaic and Hebrew words for the Sabbath (in which tradition it connotes the day of “rest”), the Arabic term ( sabt) was provided with an appropriate Islamic sense by the Qurʾān and later Muslim interpretation. The Qurʾān uses the word sabt six times (plus once as a verb, yasbitu, “to keep the Sabbath,” in q 7:163) and clearly draws a relationship between the Jews, the Sabbath and not working on that day of the week, in keeping with the Jewish tradition (see jews and judaism ). The day was imposed…

Tools for the Scholarly Study of the Qurʾān

(3,465 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The entire body of scholarship, both Muslim and non-Muslim, must be the foundation of any responsible scholarly study of the Qurʾān. Certain tools, however, form key elements of any scholarly library. The text of the Qurʾān The basic tool for the study of the Qurʾān is, of course, the text itself. Unlike the situation in scholarly study of some other scriptures, decisions regarding the base text to be used for analysis do not face scholars from the outset. We have a text of the Qurʾān before us, accepted by every Muslim. It is the…


(691 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Son of Amos and a prophet who was sent to Israel. Isaiah (in Arabic, Shaʿyā or Ashaʿyāʾ) is not mentioned by name in the Qurʾān, although exegetical works (e.g. Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, xv, 22-3; Māwardī, Nukat, iii, 229) mention him in connection with q 17:4, “We decreed for the Children of Israel (q.v.) in the book (q.v.): ‘You shall do corruption (q.v.) in the earth twice, and you shall ascend exceeding high.’” Isaiah is well known in the “stories of the prophets” literature ( qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ, see prophets and prophethood ), especially for his predictions of the coming of Jesus (q.v.) and Muḥamma…


(2,451 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The distinguishing hues and shades reflecting or emanating from a light source. The Qurʾān speaks of color generically as an attribute of God's creation: The fact of the existence of diverse hues, alwān, is mentioned nine times (twice in q 2:69 and 35:27; also in q 16:13, 69; 30:22; 35:28; and 39:21), most often connected to evidence for God's handiwork in creation (q.v.). As might be expected, then, a majority of the mentions of individual colors are connected to this same motif. Before discussing the qurʾānic material, however, it is necessary to understand what is meant by…

Abū Bakr

(76 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
A prosperous merchant in Mecca who was an early convert to Islam (see Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh, ed. M.J. de Goeje et al., i, 1165-6) and the first caliph of the community. Abū Bakr (d. 13/634) is often thought to be referred to in the Qurʾān, for example, in q 39:33, where he is considered to be the one who “confirms the truth” of Muḥammad's message. See also companions of the prophet . Andrew Rippin Bibliography

Occasions of Revelation

(2,469 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Reports, transmitted generally from the Companions of Muḥammad (see companions of the prophet ), detailing the cause, time and place of the revelation of a portion (usually a verse; see verses ) of the Qurʾān. Underlying the material transmitted as “occasions of revelation” ( asbāb al-nuzūl) are certain understandings about the process of qurʾānic revelation (see revelation and inspiration ). The Qurʾān is understood to have been revealed piece by piece over the period of some twenty-two years of Muḥammad's preaching career. Muslim exegetes (see exegesis of the qurʾān: …


(919 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The ritual practice of touching objects or persons with scented oils. A practice common to various cultures of the ancient Near East, anointing is typically done on festive occasions and avoided during periods of fasting and mourning, although it is used in burials. It has also been a ritual act of the dedication of an individual to the deity. In the ancient Near East, kingship especially was conferred formally through anointing rather than through a crown or other fabricated symbols. The practice of anointing was …

Trade and Commerce

(2,829 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Economic activity focused on the exchange of goods among people. The language of the Qurʾān is imbued with the vocabulary of the marketplace both in practical, day-to-day references and in metaphorical applications (see metaphor; literary structures of the qurʾān). The way in which commercial activities are to be conducted among people is dealt with as a moral issue and a matter of social regulation (see ethics and the qurʾān ). For example, rules governing contracts and trusts, and general economic principles find their place in the text and have been used within the sharīʿa to formula…

Abū Lahab

(123 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
An individual named once in the Qurʾān at q 111:1. The name literally means “father of the flame,” that is of hell. “ Abū Lahab ” was the nickname of an uncle of Muḥammad by the name of ʿAbd al-ʿUzzā b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib who was a major opponent of the Prophet. See also opposition to muḥammad . Andrew Rippin Bibliography Ibn Isḥāq, Sīra, i, 231 U. Rubin, Abū Lahab and sūra CXI, in bsoas 42 (1979), 13-28

Foreign Vocabulary

(6,992 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
From the earliest period of Islam down to the present day, attentive readers have ¶ observed that there are words in the Qurʾān which appear to be of non-Arabic origin. Such observations, motivated by varying factors, have been the source of controversy, discussions and extensive study in traditional Muslim and Euro-American scholarship. Why foreign words? When the Qurʾān proclaimed itself to be written in “clear Arabic,” the seeds of discussion, disagreement and analysis concerning the presence of “foreign words” within the text were sown. Not only…


(3,067 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The brother and companion of Moses (q.v.). Aaron (Hārūn b. ʿImrān) is mentioned by name twenty times in the Qurʾān. He is given prophetic status alongside Moses, having received the criterion (q.v.) of revelation ( furqān, q 21:48-9; cf. 19:53; 7:122; 23:45; 37:114-20; and 20:70 and 26:48, containing the phrase, “We believe in the Lord of Moses and Aaron”; see revelation and inspiration ), and is listed with a number of other prophets ( q 4:163; 6:84). Moses asked God to make Aaron his partner (wazīr) in his affairs when he was commanded to go before Pharaoh


(2,225 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The fallen angel (q.v.) or jinn (q.v.) known by two names in the Qurʾān, Iblīs (q.v.) and Shayṭān. The ambiguities present in the English word “devil” (themselves a result of early Christian translation activities; see Jeffrey Burton Russell, The devil. Perceptions of evil from antiquity to primitive Christianity, Ithaca 1977) are precisely those reflected in the Qurʾān, such that the heritage of the ¶ Greek demon “accuser” and the Hebrew “adversary” are brought together in one character. The word shayṭān is used 70 times in the Qurʾān in the singular form, including six t…

John the Baptist

(909 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The New Testament herald of Jesus (q.v.) who also figures in the Qurʾān (see scripture and the qurʾān ). John the Baptist, son of Zechariah (q.v.), called in Arabic Yaḥyā b. Zakariyyā, is mentioned by name five times in the Qurʾān. In q 3:39, John is described as noble, chaste and a prophet who will “witness the truth (q.v.) of a word from God,” that is, Jesus (see prophets and prophethood; word of god; witnessing and testifying). q 6:85 speaks of John along with Zechariah, Jesus and Elias (see elijah ) as being of the “righteous.” q 19:7 announces the forthcoming birth of John to Zechariah (see …


(728 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Biblical patriarch, son of Isaac (q.v.), mentioned sixteen times by name in the Qurʾān and probably referred to by the name Isrāʾīl another two times (see israel ). The form of the name in Arabic, Yaʿqūb, may have come directly from the Hebrew or may have been filtered through Syriac (Jeffery, For. vocab., 291; see foreign vocabulary ); the name was apparently used in pre-Islamic times in Arabia (Horovitz, Jewish proper names, 152; id., ku, 152-3; see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān ). Most frequently, Jacob is mentioned simply within the list of patriarchs along with Abraham (q.v.) and …
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