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(2,280 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
Conversations between two or more persons. Dialogue is an important and frequently occurring feature of qurʾānic style. Direct speech, in fact, predominates in many sūras while narration (see narratives ) occupies relatively little space. Of the four periods into which the qurʾānic sūras are usually divided (three Meccan and one Medinan; see chronology and the qurʾān ), the second and third Meccan periods are especially rich in dialogue. The lack of dialogue in the sūras from the early period may be explained by the fact that, throughout the first Meccan period, the Quraysh (q.v.) igno…


(652 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
An article of food made from flour or meal by moistening, kneading and baking. The word “bread” ( khubz) occurs only once in the Qurʾān, in the story of the prophet Joseph (q.v.) in the twelfth sūra. The wife of Potiphar (in the Qurʾān Potiphar is called ʿazīz, “powerful,” that is, one holding a powerful position [cf. q 12:30, 51, 78, 88]), on failing to persuade Joseph to sleep with her, carries out her threat to him and he is thrown into prison. Two young fellow-prisoners ask Joseph to interpret their dreams. One of them (whom the commentators on the Qurʾān, accepting the Biblical account in Gen 4…

Polytheism and Atheism

(2,537 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
The worship of many gods; the belief in no god. Although the concept of atheism was unknown to the qurʾānic audience, the human tendency to ascribe divine tendencies to something other than the one, true God was not. The qurʾānic allusions to “polytheism” have been variously understood: idolatry on the part of pre-Islamic ¶ Arabian tribes; the pre-Islamic Arabs' ascription of divine attributes to lesser beings, perhaps even within a monotheistic framework; o…

Unity of the Text of the Qurʾān

(695 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
As a subject of study, the unity of the qurʾānic text assumes special importance because the Qurʾān does not always seem to deal with its themes in what most readers would call a systematic manner (see form and structure of the qurʾān ). Western scholars of Islam have often spoken of the “disconnectedness” of the Qurʾān (see pre-1800 preoccupations of qurʾānic studies; post-enlightenment ¶ academic study of the qurʾān…


(733 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
Visible appearance of God. In the Qurʾān, the closest one comes to a visible appearance of God is in q 7:143. …


(597 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
Undeserved favor or unmerited salvation. Grace has no linguistic or conceptual equivalent in the Qurʾān, although faḍl in certain contexts suggests shades of that meaning. q 2:64, criticizing the Israelites (see children of israel ) for breaking a covenant (q.v.) with God, says “Were it not for God's faḍl upon you and his mercy (q.v.), you would have been among the losers.” This implies that while, strictly-speaking, the breach called for punishment (see chastisement and punishment ), God's faḍl gave the Israelites respite and another chance. It was David's (q.v.) special gift that…

Glorification of God

(651 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
The adoration and exaltation of God, the Arabic terms for which (derived from the root letters s-b-ḥ) cover a range of meanings: worship (q.v.) or prayer (i.e. q 3:41); wonder at his ability to perform miraculaous deeds (i.e. q 17:1); constant remembrance (q.v.) of God ( dhikr, exemplified in q 13:13); contrition ( tawba, exemplified in q 24:16; see repentance and penance ); as well as a negative assertion of what God is not (see Dāmaghānī, Wujūḥ, i, 446-7 for an elaboration of these themes). Tasbīḥ, the qurʾānic word most often translated as glorification of God, is essentially…


(700 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir
Height of splendor and renown. The word jalāl (“majesty”) comes closest to being the qurʾānic term for glory. The only two occurrences of the word are in sūra 55, and in both instances it is constructed with


(626 words)

Author(s): Mir, Mustansir

Literature and the Qurʾān

(14,013 words)

Author(s): Kadi (al-Qāḍī), Wadad | Mir, Mustansir
This article deals with two main topics: the Qurʾān as literature, which focuses on the literary aspects of the Qurʾān, and the Qurʾān in literature, which focuses on the use of the Qurʾān in various Islamic literatures: Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, and Malay. For further and more comprehensive discussion of the utilization of the Qurʾān in various non-Arabic Islamic literatures, see the articles south asian literature and the qurʾān; southeast asian literature and the qurʾān; turkish literature and the qurʾān; persian literature and the qurʾān; african literature. Qurʾān as literature The literary study of the Qurʾān focuses on how the Qurʾān uses its form, i.e. its language, style, and structure (see language and style of the qurʾān; form and structure of the qurʾān) to convey its message or content, i.e. its worldview, values and norms (see ethics and the ¶ qurʾān…