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EQ-Rev

EQ-Rev

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Published by ytur1954
A review of Encyclopedia of the Qur'an
A review of Encyclopedia of the Qur'an

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Published by: ytur1954 on Jan 20, 2012
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5
 
 Journal of Qur
ā
anic Research and Studies
Volume 3 Issue 5 2008
The Qur
āĀ
n, Orientalism, and
the
 
 Encyclopaedia of the Qur
āĀ
n
Muzaffar Iqbal
*
 The Qur
āĀ
n entered the flow of human history over a twenty-three- year period, beginning in 610
CE
with the first revelation to ProphetMu
Ą
ammad while he was in the cave of 
Č
ir
Āā
, some fifteen kilometersfrom the Ka
Ă
bah, the ancient House of Allah (
 Bayt All
 Ā
 h al-
c
 at
 ą 
q
), builtby Prophet Ibr
Ā
h
ą
m and his son Ism
ĀĂą
l, approximately twenty-fivehundred years before the event. Its final
Ā
 yahs were revealed in 632
CE
, just a few days before the death of the Prophet in Madinah—theoasis town to where he had migrated in 622
CE
. Ever since itsrevelation, the Qur
āĀ
n has drawn two fundamental responses fromhumanity: (i) belief in its Divine origin and in the veracity of theMessenger to whom it was revealed; and (ii) disbelief in its Divineorigin and consequently disbelief in the Prophetic status of Mu
Ą
ammad.The first responses to the Qur
āĀ
n came from those who lived inMakkah and its environs. At that time, most residents of Makkah wereeither polytheists or atheists. In addition, there were some people whocalled themselves
 Ą
 unaf 
 Āā
, the monotheistic followers of the religion of Ibr
Ā
h
ą
m. There were also pockets of Jewish and Christian tribes innorthern and central Arabia.During the twelve-and-a-half-year period of the Prophet’s residencein Makkah after the first revelation (610-622
CE
), only about 350 peopleaccepted the Qur
āĀ
n as a Divine Book.
1
More so than others the leadersof the Prophet’s own powerful clan—Quraysh—rejected it. They accused
*
Founder-president of the Center for Islam and Science, Canada.
 
1
This estimate is based on the number of Muslims who migrated to Abyssinia in thefifth year of 
 nubuwwah
(Prophetic mission) (16); those who left Makkah for Abyssinia in the second hijrah to Abyssinia (82 or 83); those from Yathrib whoaccepted Islam before the hijrah (there were 12 men at the first
Ă
 Aqabah which tookplace in Dhul-
Č
ijjah, the 12
th
year of 
 nubuwwah
, and 73 men and two women at thesecond
Ă
 Aqabah which took place in Dhul-
Č
ijjah 13
 nubuwwah
). There were 82, 83,or 86 Muh
Ā
 jir at the battle of Badr. Thus 350 is a generous estimate and includesfamilies of these early Muslims.
 
 
6
The Qur
āĀ
n, Orientalism, and the
 Encyclopaedia of the Qur
āĀ
n
Muzaffar Iqbal
him of fabricating the Book, although he did not know how to read or write; they called him a poet (
 sh
 ĀĂ
 ir
), even though he had nevercomposed poetry; a soothsayer (
 k
 Ā
 hin
), even though he had neverlearned that dark art; and a liar (
 k
 Ā
 dhib
), even though they themselveshad given him the title of 
 al-
Ď
 ad
 ą 
q
and
 al-Am
 ą 
 n
, the truthful andtrustworthy. They were deeply troubled by the message of the Qur
āĀ
n which demanded that they give up their practice of worshipping idolsand, instead, worship only one God: Allah, the Creator and theSupreme Sovereign, the Infinitely Clement, the All-Merciful. TheQur
āĀ
n invited them to reflect on their own creation and on the creationof the heavens and the earth, the movement of planets and stars, thealternation of the day and the night, and numerous other observablephenomena in and around them in order to ascertain for themselvesthat this cosmos and all that it contains could not have come intoexistence without a Creator and could not sustain itself without Him. Indistinct contrast to their beliefs, the Qur
āĀ
n explained its message of 
Taw
 Ąą 
 d
, the Unicity-Oneness of the Creator, in a sublime language thatsurpassed everything they had ever heard. It provided proofs for theimpossibility of the existence of more than one God. It demanded thatthey give up idolatry and instead worship only Allah, cease their practiceof burying alive their infant daughters, deal justly with orphans, givecharity, and treat the weak with respect and kindness. It warned them of the ultimate consequence of their disbelief—an everlasting abode of firein the Hereafter. To those who believed in its message, it promised aneverlasting life of bliss, happiness, and felicity. With his hijrah to Madinah, the Prophet and the first Muslimcommunity came in direct contact with Ban
Ĉ
Qaynuq
ĀĂ
, Ban
Ĉ
al-Na
ăą
r,and Ban
Ĉ
Quray
ĉ
ah, the three Jewish tribes who then lived at the Oasis,as well as with certain Christian tribes who lived in other parts of the Arabian peninsula. The
 s
 ą 
 rah
literature has preserved details of theProphet’s childhood trip to Syria, where the trading caravan met aChristian monk who recognized in him the future Prophet.
1
Theevidence for the presence of Christian communities in areas frequentedby Arabs of the
Č
ij
Ā
z is also well established. Exegetical literature alsocontains specific references to a delegation of Christians from Najr
Ā
n which visited the Prophet in Madinah in the ninth year after hijrah and
1
Ibn Hish
Ā
m,
 al-S
 ą 
 rah al-Nabaw
 ą 
 yyah
(Beirut: D
Ā
r al-Kit
Ā
b al-
Ă
 Arab
ą
, 1424/2004), 121-23; hereinafter
 al-S
 ą 
 rah
.
 
 
7
 
 Journal of Qur
ā
anic Research and Studies
Volume 3 Issue 5 2008
argued with him about Prophet
Ăč
s
Ā
.
1
The geographical region of thefirst impact of the Qur
āĀ
n expanded to include the entire ArabianPeninsula within the lifetime of the Prophet. Thus both the Jews of Madinah, and through them other Jewish tribes of the region, as well asChristians of the region were well aware of the message of the Qur
āĀ
neven during the life of the Prophet. This knowledge slowly made its wayto other regions and became the mainstay of the first polemical worksby Christians and Jews written in Europe.Since the Qur
āĀ
n had confirmed all previous revelations even as itpointed out that the followers of the earlier revelations had brokentheir covenant with Allah and had falsified their Scripture, it accordeda special status to the People of the Book (
 ahl al-kit
 Ā
b
). One of the firstthings the Prophet did upon his arrival in Madinah was to sign anagreement with the three Jewish tribes as well as with al-Aws and al-Khazraj, the two tribes of Helpers (al-An
ĆĀ
r) who lived in Madinah.This agreement, known as the Constitution of Madinah (
 m
 ą 
th
 Ā
q al- Mad
 ą 
 nah
), outlined the respective rights and duties of all parties.
2
  While confirming the religious status of Jews and Christians, theQur
āĀ
n demanded that they accept the final revelation being sent to theProphet. Historical evidence suggests that, except for some individuals,most Jews and Christians who came to know about the Qur
āĀ
n duringthe life of the Prophet refused to accept it as a revealed Book. Thisrefusal by Jews and Christians to accept the Qur
āĀ
n as the finalrevelation and Prophet Mu
Ą
ammad as the last and final Messenger inthe line of Prophets which included their own Prophets—M
Ĉ
s
Ā
and
Ăč
s
Ā
—in time led to the emergence of Jewish and Christian polemicalliterature against the Qur
āĀ
n and Prophet Mu
Ą
ammad.
Literature about the Qur
āĀ
n
Literature about the Qur
āĀ
n falls into four broad categories: (i)exegetical literature produced by believers, explaining the message of the Qur
āĀ
n from a variety of different perspectives; (ii) polemics written by disbelievers, refuting the Qur
āĀ
n; (iii) works of theOrientalists attempting to distinguish themselves from polemical
1
This event is mentioned in almost all major exegeses in connection with the “
Ā
 yahsof 
 Mub
 Ā
 halah
” in s
Ĉ
rah
 Ċ 
l
Ă
 Imr
 Ā
 n
: 3:61-2.
2
al-S
 ą 
 rah
, 306-10; also see Muhammad Hamidullah,
The Prophet’s Establishing a State and his Succession
(Islamabad: Pakistan Hijrah Council, 1408/1988).

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