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(1,086 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(in European literature one also finds ʿAzrāʾīl), the name of the an gel of death, one of the four archangels (next to D̲j̲ibrīl, Mīk̲h̲āʾīl, Isrāfīl). Like Isrāfīl, whose office of trumpet-blower at the last judgment is sometimes given to him, he is of cosmic magnitude; if the water of all the seas and rivers were poured on his head, not a drop would reach the earth. He has a seat ( sarīr ) of light in the fourth or seventh heaven, on which one of his feet rests; the other stands on the bridge between paradise and hell. He is however also said to have 70,000 feet. The description of his appearance a…


(1,031 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), in Egyptian colloquial pronunciation sibḥa ; in Persian and Muslim Indian usage, more often tasbīḥ , Ottoman Turkish tesbīḥ , modern tespih , rosary. It is used at present by nearly all classes of Muslims, except the Wahhābīs who disapprove of it as a bidʿa and who count the repetition of the sacred names on their hands. There is evidence for its having been used at first in Ṣūfī circles and among the lower classes (Goldziher, Rosaire , 296); opposition against it made itself heard as late as the 9th/15th century, when al-Suyūṭī composed an apology for it (Goldziher, Vorlesungen über den …

Aṣḥāb al-Rass

(166 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
, “the people of the ditch” or “of the well”, are twice mentioned in the Ḳurʾān (xxv, 38; L, 12), along with ʿĀd, T̲h̲amūd and other unbelievers. The commentators know nothing for certain about them, and so give widely divergent explanations and all manner of fantastic accounts. Some take al-Rass to be a geographical name (cf. Yāḳūt, s.v.); some hold that these people, a remnant of T̲h̲amūd, cast (rassa) their prophet Ḥanẓala into a well ( rass ) and were consequently exterminated. It is also related that the mountain of the bird ʿAnḳāʾ [ q.v.] was situated in their region. Al-Ṭabarī men…

al-Masd̲j̲id al-Ḥarām

(1,213 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
, the name of the Mosque of Mecca. The name is already found in the pre-Islamic period (Horovitz, Koranische Studien , 140-1) in Ḳays b. al-K̲h̲aṭīm, ed. Kowalski, v. 14: “By Allāh, the Lord of the Holy Masd̲j̲id and of that which is covered with Yemen stuffs, which are embroidered with hempen thread” (?). It would be very improbable if a Medinan poet meant by these references anything other than the Meccan sanctuary. The expression is also fairly frequent in the Ḳurʾān after the second Meccan period (Horovitz, op. cit.) and in various connections; it is a grave sin on the part ¶ of the polythei…


(1,146 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), patronymic, an onomastic element composed of Abū (m.) “father” or Umm (f.) “mother” plus a name. We have here a metonymic designation corresponding to a general tendency among primitive peoples to consider an individual’s name as taboo and not to pronounce it unless exceptionally (see J. G. Frazer, The golden bough, ch. xxii). The kunya was therefore accordingly the name which should be used, but in historical times, the original intention here was forgotten, and al-Ḏj̲āḥiẓ (see JA [1967], 70, 82), far from seeing here any ¶ connection with sympathetic magic, counts the kunya


(312 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
a she-camel or a ewe with slit ears. The Ḳurʾān and ancient poetry (cf. Ibn His̲h̲ām, 58) show that the ancient Arabs used to carry out certain religions cérémonies with respect to their cattle, which consisted firstly in letting the animal go about loose without making any use of it whatever, and secondly in limiting to males permission to eat its flesh (after it had died). In the varions cases the animais bore special names ( Baḥīra , Sāʾiba , Waṣīla , Ḥāmī ; on these names cf. Wellhausen as cited below). The lexicographers are not quite agreed on the p…


(736 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), pl. nawāfil , from n-f-l “to give something freely”, a term of law and theology meaning’ supererogatory work. 1. The word occurs in the Ḳurʾān in two places. Sūra XXI, 72, runs: “And we bestowed on him [viz. Ibrāhīm] Isaac and Jacob as an additional gift” ( nāfilatan ). In XVII, 81, it is used in combination with the vigils, thus: “And perform vigils during a part of the night, reciting the Ḳurʾān, as a nāfila for thee”. In ḥadīt̲h̲ it is frequently used in this sense. “Forgiveness of sins past and future was granted to him [Muḥammad] and his wor…


(741 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
, the hoopoe, belongs to the order Scansores and bears a remarkable tuft of feathers on its head. Only a part of what is related concerning its habits and character can be mentioned here. Its piety is particularly emphasized. In Umayya b. Abi ’l-Ṣalt (ed. Schulthess, in Beiträge zur Assyriologie , viii, 26, 84 f.; cf. also Ibn Ḳutayba, al-S̲h̲iʿr , 279 f.) there is a story that the hoopoe enshrouded its dead mother and carried the body on its back and head till it found a resting-place for it; this is why its back is brown; but it i…


(357 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), verbal noun of form II from the root k-b-r in the denominative sense, to pronounce the formula Allāhu akbar . It is already used in this sense in the Ḳurʾān (e.g. LXXIV, 3; XVII, 111 with God as the object). On the different explanations of the elative akbar in this formula, see LʿA , s.v., and the Ḳurʾānic elative akram also applied to God (XCVI, 3) and aʿlā (XCII, 20; LXXXVII, 1). The formula, as the briefest expression of the absolute superiority of the One God, is used in Muslim life in different circumstances, in which the idea of God, His greatness and go…


(210 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
, name of the second month of the Islamic year, also called Ṣ al-k̲h̲ayr or Ṣ al-muẓaffar because of its being considered to be unlucky (C. Snouck Hurgronje, The Atchehnese , i, 206; idem, Mekka , ii, 56). The Muslim Tigrē tribes pronounce the name S̲h̲afar, the Achehnese Thapa. According to Wellhausen, in the old Arabian year, Ṣafar comprised a period of two months in which al-Muḥarram (which name, according to this scholar is a Muslim innovation) was included. As a matter of fact, tradition reports that the early Arabians called al-Muḥarram Ṣafar and considered an ʿumra


(381 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a., pl. nud̲h̲ur , Ḳurʾān, LIII, 57), from form IV of n-d̲h̲-r , with the meaning of warner; sometimes also as a verbal noun, e.g. LXVII, 17. The plural nud̲h̲ur is also found in the sense of an infinitive, e.g. LXXVII, 6. The term occurs frequently in the Sacred Book, where it is even said to be synonymous with rasūl ; its opposite is bas̲h̲īr , mubas̲h̲s̲h̲ir . Nad̲h̲īr as well as bas̲h̲īr are applied to the prophets, the former when they are represented as warners, the latter as announcers of good tidings (cf. XVII, 106; XXV, 58; XXXIII, 44; XLVIII, 8; mubas̲h̲s̲h̲iran wa-nad̲h̲īran


(3,041 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), circumcision. The term is used indifferently for males and females, but female excision is particularly called k̲h̲ifāḍ or k̲h̲afḍ [ q.v.]. In the dual, al-k̲h̲itānāni are “the two circumcised parts” (viz. that of the male and that of the female), and according to tradition “if the two circumcised parts have been in touch with one another, g̲h̲usl is necessary” (Buk̲h̲ārī. G̲h̲usl , bāb 28; Muslim, Ḥayḍ , trad. 88; Abū Dāwūd, Ṭahāra , bābs 81, 83). Some words connected with the root k̲h̲-t-n denote the father-in-law, the son-in-law, the daughter-in-law ( k̲h̲atan , k̲h̲atana


(124 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a., pl. rawātib ), a word meaning what is fixed and hence applied to certain non-obligatory ṣalāts or certain litanies. The term is not found in the Ḳurʾan nor as a technical term in Ḥadīt̲h̲ . On the first meaning, see nāfila . As to the second, it is applied to the d̲h̲ikr [ q.v.] which one recites alone, as well as to those which are recited in groups. We owe to Snouck Hurgronje a detailed description of the rawātib practised in Acheh [ q.v.]. (A.J. Wensinck) Bibliography C. Snouck Hurgronje, De Atjèhers, Batavia-Leiden 1893-4, ii, 220. English tr. O’Sullivan, The Achehnese. Leiden 1906, ii…


(253 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
This is the name given by the commentators to Pharaoh’s wife, who is twice (xxviii, 9 and lxvi, 11) mentioned in the Ḳurʾān. She plays the same part as Pharaoh’s daughter in the Bible, so that there is obviously confusion. In the second passage these words are put into her mouth: "My Lord, build me a house with thee in Paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his doings and deliver me from the wicked". In connexion with this passage it is related that Āsiya endured many cruelties at the hands o…


(829 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), intention. The acts prescribed by the Islamic s̲h̲arīʿa , obligatory or not, require to be preceded by a declaration by the performer, that he intends to perform such an act. This declaration, pronounced ¶ audibly or mentally, is called niyya . Without it, the act would be bāṭil [ q.v.]. The niyya is required before the performance of the ʿibādāt , such as washing, bathing, prayer, alms, fasting, retreat, pilgrimage, sacrifice. “Ceremonial acts without niyya are not valid”, says al-G̲h̲azālī ( Iḥyāʾ , Cairo 1282, iv, 316). Yet a survey of the opinions of the lawyers regarding the niyya


(994 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
, the archangel Michael [see also malāʾika ], whose name occurs once in the Ḳurʾān, viz. in II, 92: “Whosoever is an enemy to God, or his angels, or his apostles, or to Gabriel or to Michael, verily God is an enemy to the unbelievers.” In explanation of this verse two stories are told. According to the first, the Jews, wishing to test the veracity of the mission of Muḥammad, asked him several questions, to all of which he gave the true answer. Finally, they asked him, who transmit…


(839 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
, from Arabic k̲h̲adama “to serve (a master)”, means properly “servant, domestic”, but it has acquired the euphemistic sense, first in Arabic and then in the other Islamic languages, of “eunuch”; hence the word is often ambiguous. In this article, only servants of free status are covered; for slaves, see ʿabd and for eunuchs k̲h̲aṣī . At the side of the slaves, there have always been free servants (coll. k̲h̲adam , pl. k̲h̲uddām ). Anas b. Mālik [ q.v.] entered Muḥammad’s service as a youth (al-Buk̲h̲ārī, Ḏj̲ihād , bāb 74 etc.) and he records it to his master’…


(1,028 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), a technical term of Islamic religion, with various meanings, regarding the fundamental signification of which there is no unanimity among the lexicographers. “Refraining from speaking”, “prayer during the ṣalāt ”, “humility and recognition that one’s relation to Allāh is that of a creature to his creator”, “standing” — these are the usual dictionary definitions which are also found in the commentaries on different verses of the Ḳurʾān where ḳunūt or derivatives from the root ḳ-n-t occur. There is hardly one of these for which the context pro…


(797 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), covering, protection, shelter, especially at the ṣalāt , where sutra means the object which the worshipper places in front of himself or lays in the direction of the ḳibla , whereby he shuts himself off in an imaginary area within which he is not disturbed by human or demoniacal influences. “The fictitious fencing off of an open place of prayer, the sutra, seems to have had among other objectives that of warding off demons” (Wellhausen, Reste 2, 158). In one tradition, the man who deliberately penetrates into this imaginary area is actually called a s̲h̲ayṭān (al-Buk̲h̲ārī, Ṣalāt , bāb


(484 words)

Author(s): Wensinck, A.J.
(a.), passive participle of form IV verb ṭ-l-ḳ , “to loose the bond ( ḳayd ) of an animal, so as to let it free” (e.g. Muslim, D̲j̲ihād , trad. 46; Abū Dāwūd, D̲j̲ihād, bāb 100). The term is also applied to the loosening of the bowstring (al-Buk̲h̲ārī, D̲j̲ihād, bāb 170), of the garments, the hair, etc. Thence the common meaning absolute, as opposed to restricted ( muḳayyad ), and further the accusative muṭlaḳ an “absolutely”. The use of the term is so widely diffused that a few examples only can be given. In grammar, the term mafʿūl muṭlaḳ denotes the absolute object (…
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