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Scripture and the Qurʾān [Supplement 2016]

(6,759 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
Addressing the issue of “scripture” in relation to the Qurʾān is both a straightforward and a complicated venture. It is straightforward because in many respects the Qurʾān itself offers a generic concept of scripture that is consistent with that widely used today in the general study of religion. It is complicated because it raises numerous questions of historical, sociological, and theological import for any understanding of either Islamic scripturalism or the relation of Islamic scripturalism to that of other religious traditions (see theology and the Qurʾān). To sum up, both…
Date: 2016-11-17

Fātiḥa [Supplement 2016]

(2,932 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
The Fātiḥa (“Opener,” or, more properly, “The opening of/to scripture,” fātiḥat al-kitāb, see book), is the first sūra of the Qurʾān. It occupies a unique place, both formally and theologically, within the ʿUthmānic text of the Qurʾān and in ritual prayer (ṣalāt, see codices of the Qurʾān; ritual and the Qurʾān; prayer). Its seven brief verses come at the very beginning of the Qurʾānic text, a placement in contrast to the remaining 113 sūras, which are roughly arranged from longest to shortest. It is the one sūra that every Muslim must be able to recite by heart in order to perform the rit…
Date: 2016-11-17

Basmala [Supplement 2016]

(3,160 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
The invocation bi-smi llāhi l-raḥmāni l-raḥīm(i), “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” also known as the tasmiya, “naming/uttering (God's name),” occurs 114 times in the Qurʾān: at the beginning of every sūra except the ninth, which is entitled “Repentance” (Sūrat al-Tawba or Sūrat al-Barāʾa), and also in Q 27:30, as the opening of Solomon's letter to the queen of Sheba (see Bilqīs). Of its 113 occurrences at the head of a sūra, only the first, that which commences the opening sūra, Sūrat al-Fātiḥa (see Fātiḥa), is commonly reckoned as an āya , i.e. as Q 1:1, although t…
Date: 2016-11-17

Orality [Supplement 2016]

(2,226 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
Orality is the quality of spoken, as opposed to written, communication. The Arabic Qurʾān emerged against the backdrop of a long history of oral poetic composition and recitation (see poetry and poets; orality and writing in Arabia). It is a composite text consisting of oral recitations that was born in an oral culture of great refinement. It is hard to over-emphasise the importance of oral poetry among the northern Arab tribal nomads of the pre-Islamic world (see pre-Islamic Arabia and the Qurʾān; Arabs; bedouin). Their major art form was the spoken word of poetry, and in pa…
Date: 2016-11-17

Scripture

(2,304 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
Abstract: The generic term “scripture” is used today for any text(s) revered in a given religious tradition as uniquely sacred and authoritative. The scope of the concept in the Near Eastern and clas…