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Ranks and Orders

(1,730 words)

Author(s): Virani, Nargis
Arrangement of heavenly or earthly beings in military or other formation. Ṣaff, plural ṣufūf, literally “rank, row or line, company of men standing in a rank, row or line” (Lane, 1693, col. 3), is a term used in several different contexts and with various significations. The purely literal meaning, a very early understanding, referred to “straight lines and rows” of Muslim believers when offering obligatory prayers (see prayer; ritual and the qurʾān; community and society in the qurʾān). Over time, the additional meaning of “ranks and orders” acquired a certain sense of …