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Elijah

(852 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Elijah, a biblical prophet who is commonly identified with Ilyās and Ilyāsīn, is mentioned three times in the Qurʾan. The Arabic name Ilyās was probably borrowed, via Syriac, from the Greek form (Ἠλίας) of the Hebrew Eliyāhū; a variant form, Ilyāsīn, found only in Q 37:130, is probably best explained as demanded by the rhyme scheme of the passage (Horovitz, 99). Q 6:85 simply lists Ilyās along with Zechariah, John, and Jesus as being among the righteous. Q 37:123–32 tells a more extensive story of Ilyās being sent as a messenger to worshippers of Baʿl (Ba…
Date: 2018-07-12

Aaron

(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: 2019-01-15

Ḥourī

(1,646 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Ḥourīs are the virgins of Paradise promised to believers in the afterlife. The English word “houri” is derived from the Persian ḥūrī via French, which ultimately comes from the Arabic noun ḥūriyya. The Arabic word ḥūr is the plural of the adjective ḥawrāʾ (fem.)/ aḥwar (masc.), which denotes a general sense of “whiteness.” The term is used to describe the eye of a gazelle or oryx as it contrasts with the vivid blackness of its pupil, exemplified in the expression ḥūr al-ʿīn, “having eyes like those of gazelles and of cows,” which is often applied to women (Lane, Lexicon, 666). The word ḥūr is us…
Date: 2018-07-12

Qurʾān: Qurʾān and Early Tafsīr: Overview

(2,632 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
The process of Muslim reflection on, and interrogation of, the text of the Qurʾān, known as tafsīr , incorporated a broad range of interests and concerns during classical Islamic times. Working with the tools of narrative, grammar, lexicography, theology, and legal principles, the exegetes aimed both to make the text of the Qurʾān relevant to their contemporary Muslim audiences and to ensure that the full meaning of the text had been extricated. Given the immensity of the literary genre of tafsīr, it is possible here to provide only the broadest of generalizations and to su…

Āya

(899 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Āya , (pl. āy, āyāt), a word used 373 times in the Qurʾān and found in pre-Islamic poetry, maintains the biblical sense associated with the same Hebrew root word, ōth, as the “sign” or “wonder” that stands as evidence by which a person comes to understand something, especially something about God. The signs of nature are a particular emphasis of the Qurʾānic usage, including rain (Q 16:65, 45:5, etc.), the cycle of the seasons (Q 45:5), day and night (Q 17:12, 45:5), the sun and the moon (Q 10:5), and the creation of the he…
Date: 2019-01-08

ʿĀd

(326 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
ʿĀd, an ancient Arab tribe, is mentioned by name twenty-four times in the Qurʾān, as the people to whom the prophet Hūd was sent. One of the peoples associated with the long-lost past, they are named in pre-Islamic poetry and are a part of ancient Arabian mythology. They represent the origin of the Arabs in the distant past and exemplify their power, longevity, and pride; this sense is found in dictionaries, with the word ʿādī, meaning “very ancient,” connected etymologically to the ʿĀd (see Lan…
Date: 2019-01-09

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: 2018-07-12

Ezekiel

(690 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Ezekiel, Ḥizqīl in Arabic (occasionally Hizqīl) is the biblical prophet whose full name is completed variously by Ibn Būdhī, Ibn Būzī, or Ibn Būrī (cf. Buzi in Ezekiel 1:3). While he is not named in the Qurʾān, he is developed as a character in later Muslim tradition, especially in relationship to Q 2:243, “Consider those people who abandoned their homeland in fear of death, even though there were thousands of them. God said to them, ‘Die!,’ and then He brought them back to life again.” It is re…
Date: 2018-07-12

Ḥawḍ

(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: 2018-07-12

Abrogation

(5,044 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: 2019-01-15

Witness to Faith

(2,338 words)

Author(s): Rippin, Andrew
Arabic shahāda, i.e. the statement “I testify that there is no god but God and I testify that Muḥammad is the messenger of God,” ashhadu an lā ilāha illā llāh wa-ashhadu anna Muḥammadan rasūlu llāh. The utterance of the statement in Arabic is required of all Muslims to signify acceptance of Islam and thus it must be said at least once, with full intention, in a lifetime. The shahāda also plays a central role in the structure of the daily prayer (q.v.; ṣalāt) as well as in other life-cycle occasions and thus is repeated frequently in a Muslim's life. In the Qurʾān the statemen…

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…

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

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…

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…

Isaiah

(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…

Jacob

(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 …

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…

Aaron

(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
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