Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition

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ʿĀlam
(3,100 words)

(a., pl. ʿālamūn , ʿawālim ), world.

1. The word is found as early as the Ḳurʾān, where in borrowed formulae we have references to the rabb al-ʿālamīn and the seven samawāt .

Allāh is its lord and creator who has created it for man as a sign of his omnipotence. This transitory world [ dunyā ) is of little value—"not worth the wing of a midge" is the traditional expression—in comparison with the next ( āk̲h̲ira ). We are told very little about the structure of the world [cf. the article k̲h̲alḳ ]; the subjects of interest, in the Ḳurʾān as well as in Tradition, are God, the spiritual world and man.

This bec…

Cite this page
Boer, Tj. de and Gardet, L., “ʿĀlam”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Consulted online on 11 July 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0041>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004161214, 1960-2007



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