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Corruption

(688 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
Decay, depravity, impurity. The topic of corruption has two general references in the Qurʾān: (1) committing mischievous and depraved deeds that willfully subvert God's order and purposes (see disobedience ); (2) perverting scripture (see scripture and the qurʾān ) so as to mislead and conceal its meanings. The first reference is most often expressed by the Arabic root f-s-d, occurring principally in late Meccan and Medinan passages, e.g. q 2:251: “If God did not check one group of people by means of another, the earth (q.v.) would certainly have been corrupted” (la-fasadati l-arḍ). Th…

Eyes

(758 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
The organ of sight. The human eye, both as anatomical object and as capacity for physical sight or mental apprehension, is frequently encountered in the qurʾānic text, with examples from all chronological periods (see chronology and the qurʾān ), most often with respect to human beings but occasionally, also, as anthropomorphic characterizations of divine capacity (see anthropomorphism ). The most frequently used Arabic roots are ʿ-y-n, producing the forms ʿayn, pl. ʿuyūn and aʿyun, “eye(s),” and ʿīn, “wide-eyed female”; and b-ṣ-r, producing baṣar, pl. abṣār, “sight, eyesight, …

Feet

(727 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
The terminal parts of the legs. There are three Arabic terms for foot in the Qurʾān: 1) qadam (pl. aqdām), occurring eight times, 2) rajil (pl. rijāl), occurring three times, and 3) rijl (pl. arjul), with fifteen instances. Another term, athar (pl. āthār), occurring fourteen times, may mean “footstep” or “track,” in the sense of a mark or impression left behind. References to the human foot in the Qurʾān are generally symbolic and metaphorical (see metaphor ), usually in a positive sense of being on a firm footing when expressed by qadam, pl. aqdām, but most often in a negative sense wh…

Ears

(820 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
The organs of hearing. The Arabic term used in the Qurʾān for ear is udhun (pl. ādhān), occurring eighteen times in both Meccan and Medinan passages. The ear as anatomical object (see anatomy ) is presented, for example, in q 4:119, where Satan (see devil ) induces superstitious people to slit their cattle's ears; in q 2:19, where fools ( sufahāʾ, q 2:13), upon sighting menacing storm clouds “press their fingers in their ears (ādhān) by reason of the thunderclap, fearing death”; in q 18:11, where God sealed the ears (fa- ḍarabnā ʿalā ādhānihim) of the youths sleeping in the cave for a n…

Hand(s)

(862 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
The terminal part of the arm; also, figuratively, control or agency. The hand, in both its literal and symbolic senses, is most often expressed in the Qurʾān by the Arabic yad (dual yadān, pl. aydī), with some 119 occurrences, found in all chronological periods of revelation (see chronology and the qurʾān ). (The expression bayna yaday, “between two hands,” as in q 36:12 [cf. 36:45, bayna aydīkum, “between your (pl.) hands”], means “before, in front of, in the presence of.”) Another term, kaff, is encountered only twice, with reference to one who futilely stretches out his ha…

Boast

(765 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
To vaunt oneself or one's possessions. Several passages in the Qurʾān warn of the dangers of boasting. Boastfulness is contrasted with positive virtues that should be cultivated by the righteous. For example, q 4:36 commands serving God alone, in part by doing good to others, and by being neither boastful ( fakhūran), nor arrogant nor stingy. q 11:10 tells of those who exult and boast (innahu la-fariḥun fakhūrun) after experiencing blessing (q.v.) in the wake of adversity. q 31:17-8 admonishes people to “enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong [i.e. al- amr bi-l-maʿrūf]; and bear pa…

Community and Society in the Qurʾān

(12,249 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
It is noteworthy that the Qurʾān, as Islam's preeminent source of information about God, is also the tradition's definitive guide to what constitutes a godly community and society, in both theory and practice. Although the Qurʾān's discourse on social dimensions of human existence is intended principally for guidance, inspiration and ¶ regulation of Muslims in the service of God, there is also an abundance of information on a diverse range of human groupings viewed from a religious perspective. The Qurʾān is not a textbook that explicates the sociology of ancient Arabia (see p…

Face

(904 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
The front part of the head, including the eyes (q.v.), cheeks, nose, mouth, forehead and chin. The Arabic term for face (wajh, pl. wujūh) in the Qurʾān is generally applied to the face of human beings, seventy-two times across all chronological periods (see chronology and the qurʾān ), but is also used less frequently to refer to the face of God (q.v.), eleven times in such constructions as “the face of God” (wajh Allāh), “his face” (wajhuhu) and “the face of your lord” ( wajh rabbika). Depending on context and purpose, the term may also be rendered as countenance, essence, bein…

Circumcision

(828 words)

Author(s): Denny, Frederick Mathewson
The removal of the foreskin of the penis or, in the case of females, of the internal labia. Male circumcision is denoted in Arabic by the term khitān, and sometimes by ṭahāra, “purity.” For female circumcision, the term usually employed is khafḍ, “reduction,” i.e. of the clitoris. Circumcision of either type is nowhere mentioned in the Qurʾān but was practiced by pre-Islamic Arabs and is mentioned in poetry (see pre-islamic arabia and the qurʾān; poetry and poets). There are two qurʾānic occurrences of the plural form of an Arabic term ( aghlaf,¶ pl. ghulf) that can mean uncircumcised. …