Qur’anic Encyclopaedia (Introduction and Unique Features)

Qur’anic Encyclopaedia (Introduction and Unique Features)

Dr Tahir ul Qadri Quranic Encyclopaedia Introduction and Unique Features

After creating man, God Almighty sent Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them), and initiated the process of divine revelation for the upliftment of mankind. Through the means of the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) and the revelation of the Qur’an, He brought man to the peak of excellence and made the Qur’an a code of life for mankind until the Day of Judgement. In every century, in light of the Qur’an’s teachings, He gave man his share of guidance. This guidance provided a comprehensive set of principles for man’s individual, social and collective affairs, and illuminated his ethical, political and economic activities. In reality, man’s spiritual ascent is based on his understanding of and adherence to the teachings of the Qur’an, whereas his decline is in his aversion to it. The universality and comprehensiveness of the Qur’an’s teachings have had a profound impact on world history, such that even those who do not believe in its divine origin acknowledge its contribution to humanity and to the various academic sciences and disciplines.

The Qur’an was revealed in Arabic, a language known for its eloquence where every word is pregnant with meaning. To understand the Qur’an, knowing Arabic grammar is a prerequisite; however knowing the causes of revelation (asbab al-nuzul), the science of abrogation (al-nasikh wa al-mansukh), the science of hadith, the reports of the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them), i.e., al-athar, the history and culture of the Arabs, the biography of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and the classical Arabic usage is just as important. Without proficiency in these sciences it is not possible to appreciate the signification of words, the linguistic style or the intended meaning of the Qur’an. As the Qur’an is not the word of any mere mortal but the word of the Creator, its eloquence, inimitability and linguistic style are matchless. Concerning its uniqueness and incomparability, God says in the Qur’an:

قُلْ لَئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنْسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَى أَنْ يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَذَا الْقُرْآنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا.

“Say: ‘Should all men and jinn join in the attempt to produce (some other book) the like of this Qur’an, (even) then they will not be able to produce the like thereof, though they may become supporters to one another.’” [al-Isra’ 17:88]

It is the miraculous nature of the Qur’an that deep contemplation and reflection over its verses give rise to new meanings and insights. This proves that the Qur’an holds in its midst such knowledge that caters for the needs of every period. Concerning this, God says:

وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ.

“And We have revealed to you that Glorious Book which is a clear exposition of everything and is guidance, mercy and glad tidings for the believers.” [al-Nahl 16:89]

God has made the Qur’an a treasure-trove of divine guidance and gnosis. The purpose of revealing this book is to bring man to the Straight Path and to elevate him to the rank of the best of creation, for which he was created. The path to this most exalted and supreme goal can only be actualised through an in-depth study, deep reflection and practical implementation of the Qur’an’s teachings. This is why it is stated in the Qur’an:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَى قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا.

“Do they not think over the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked?” [Muhammad 47:24]

The materialistic tendencies and worldly greed of our age have robbed man of the passion and interest in contemplating the verses of the Qur’an. Such is the change in the general attitude today that this last book sent to man, which came to bring a radical change in his mode of thinking and state of affairs, has been reduced to a ritual, recited for the purpose of merely seeking reward and blessings. As a result, the Muslims have become subject to the philosophies, ideologies and customs of those whose worldviews are inconsistent with the Qur’anic ideals.

Keeping this in mind, there is a dire need to motivate people in general and the educated classes in particular to study the Qur’an. To this end, there was a need to present the subject-matter and topics of the Qur’an in a thematic and organised manner to enable those who are not Qur’anic scholars to navigate their way through the Qur’an and gain guidance. Moreover, non-Arabs, who may feel distanced from the teachings of the Qur’an due to their unfamiliarity with Arabic, will have within their reach such a resource that will provide ease of access to the verses of the Qur’an.

There is no doubt that reciting the Qur’an rewards the reader and is a source of blessings and inner peace. However, guidance and success in this life and the hereafter can only be attained by deeply reflecting over its verses and acting upon its teachings. There are hidden meanings and secrets encoded in its every juz’ (part), sura (chapter) and aya (verse). In every era, God gives certain individuals the proficiency, faculty and insight to delve deep into its shoreless ocean to pick out its pearls of knowledge, guidance and wisdom in order to fulfil the demands and challenges of the era.

Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri today has risen up to meet the demands and challenges of our age. Among the objectives set out by his eminence on the road to Islam’s revival is the goal of returning the Umma to the teachings of the Qur’an (al-Ruju‘ ila al-Qur’an). It is for this reason that he named his religious and educational movement ‘Minhaj-ul-Quran’, which means ‘the way of the Qur’an’. In order to make this movement live up to its name, Shaykh-ul-Islam has attempted to restore the Umma’s broken connection with the Qur’an by presenting a refreshing and innovative style that combines the traditional with the contemporary. In doing so, he has proven that the Qur’an is a treasure-trove of knowledge, a source of guidance and the key to uniting the Umma.

The 565 of his books that have been published (as of 2019) are a living testimony of his mastery of the Qur’an and hadith and his ability to derive knowledge from the primary scriptural sources. He is arguably the most skilled and experienced scholar in our era who has explained the primary scriptural sources through both traditional and contemporary sciences and disciplines. His contribution in the field of hadith consists of a study of five hundred thousand hadiths, in both their chain of transmission and text, resulting in him compiling hundreds of books of hadith, consisting of thousands of hadiths categorised under headers that are relevant to the needs of the modern era. These hadith collections also contain explanatory notes and commentaries where required. Without doubt, these hadith books are a great gift to the Umma as they have filled a centuries-old gap in this field.

Where he has carried out his service in the field of hadith, Shaykh-ul-Islam has also rendered a great scholarly service to the Qur’an. Although he has authored many books in the field of Qur’anic sciences, there was a need for the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia, which functioned as a key to opening the doors of Qur’anic knowledge.

By the grace of the Almighty, today he has handed this key to the Umma, opening the door to direct access to the myriad of subjects encompassed by the Qur’an—not only for scholars and academics but also students and those educated in the secular sciences. The Qur’anic Encyclopaedia is such a comprehensive collection of Qur’anic topics that it fulfils the contemporary need to return to the Qur’an in addition to providing intellectual, ideological, moral, spiritual, political, economic and social guidance for generations to come.

Unique Features of the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia

The value and benefit of any book can be judged by its subject-matter, contents of the book and the author’s academic expertise and stature. The author of the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia is an internationally renowned personality, a scholar in both traditional and contemporary sciences who is bridging the academic gap between the East and the West. History is testament to the fact that such a personality only comes to the Umma after centuries.

The books authored by Shaykh-ul-Islam cover all topics related to human life. In order to promote the true, moderate and peaceful teachings of Islam he has travelled the world setting up centres to impart knowledge as well providing moral and spiritual training in one hundred countries. He has played a historic role in safeguarding the younger generation from heresy, extremism and terrorism. His individual achievements are recognised by government bodies and institutions, the distinguishing feature of which is his political and social effort for the revival of the spirit of peace and moderation in Islam.

This encyclopaedia is the cumulation of his fifty-year long effort in studying the Qur’an and it comprises eight volumes consisting of around five thousand subjects. The subjects have been worded according to contemporary requirements and needs. From the encyclopaedia’s unique features, one will find modern, scientific and philosophic subjects addressed. It is impossible to encompass all the subjects and topics that are discussed in the Qur’an. However, the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia, with its approximately five thousand subjects, is exhaustive and comprehensive in terms of contemporary needs and requirements. What follows is a brief outline of the prominent features and subjects covered in each volume.

Volume 1: Contents Page and Index of Qur’anic Topics

The first volume consists of the contents page which alone consists of about 400 pages. A quick glance over the contents pages gives a general overview of the encyclopaedia. For the benefit of the reader, the thirty chapter-headings have been listed separately to give the reader an overview of the encyclopaedia’s structure. This is followed by a summarised version of the contents page, which includes the subheadings of each chapter. Hopefully, this will facilitate the reader to navigate the contents of the encyclopaedia with ease.

In the first volume, there is also a comprehensive index of the topics covered in the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia. The required topic can be accessed by merely searching for the main entry in the alphabetical arrangement. For example, if the topic ‘creation of the universe’ is required then the entry ‘creation’ would be searched under the letter ‘C’. In this way, it will facilitate the reader to find the desired topic with ease.

Volume 2: Belief in God; Belief in Prophethood and Belief in the Divinely Revealed Books

The second volume consists of subjects pertaining to the existence of God, the concept of Divine Oneness (tawhid) and God’s being and attributes. Arguments are given to prove the existence of God. Some examples of these are: the origination of the universe ex-nihilo, the purpose of creation, the orderliness of the solar system, the alternation of the night and day, the evolution of the embryo in the womb, the expanses of the heavens and the earth, the creation of the mountains and oceans and the philosophy of life and death.

This volume also consists of verses pertaining to the greatness of God’s names, the reality of shirk (idolatry), the attitude and mentality of the idolaters, one’s relationship with God, ones duty to worship, love and trust in Him, having a good opinion of Him, having sincerity in one’s beliefs, the importance of God’s remembrance and highlighting the attacks against a person’s faith, among other important matters pertaining to belief in God.

After discussing belief in God, other subjects pertaining to beliefs are discussed, such as belief in Messengership, covering one’s belief in all the Prophets, with an extensive focus on belief in the Messengership of Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) and the finality of his Prophethood. The unique qualities of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) are covered in depth along with Qur’anic injunctions on loving, following and respecting the Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him). Answers from the Qur’an are given to the objections of the idolaters and disbelievers against the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him).

In relation to belief in the divinely revealed books, the virtues and unique qualities of the Torah, Psalms, Gospel and Qur’an are detailed in light of the Qur’anic verses, along with evidence for the truthfulness and veracity of the Qur’an and its divine safeguarding. God has declared the Qur’an to be solemn advice, guidance and mercy for mankind. This divine, universal and all-embracing message has been given special prominence in this volume.

Volume 3: Belief in the Angels, the Divine Decree and Life after Death; Different Types of Worship: Marriage and Family Law; the Halal and Haram and Rights and Responsibilities

The third volume continues with the subject of belief in the divinely revealed books, such as the topics of respecting and revering the Qur’an, the blessings attained in adhering to it and the supplications of the Prophets (peace be upon them). After this, it then moves onto other areas of beliefs such as belief in the angels, the divine decree and life after death.

Some of the verses concerning belief in the angels, include verses on their existence, duties and the names of some prominent angels, such as Angels Jibril, Mika’il, Israfil, Harut and Marut, Kiraman Katibin and the Angel of Death. The existence of the Jinn is also mentioned as well as the reality of the Shaytan (Satan) and his enmity to the God-fearing people. Hopefully, this will motivate the reader towards the practice of pious deeds and abstaining from sin. There are verses pertaining to the Divine Decree (Qadr). Concepts such as the predestination of good and evil, and the concept of predestination held by the disbelievers and idolaters are covered.

Following on from this, belief in life after death, resurrection, the accountability and other related topics are also covered under dozens of subject headings, such as the events of the Day of Judgement, description of Paradise and its inhabitants, description of Hell and its denizens. The general knowledge of the lay Muslims regarding the life hereafter, the hardships and accountability of the Day of Judgement and the subsequent punishment and reward, is attained through the stories and accounts they hear from preachers. Through the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia, people of all academic abilities will be able to gain direct knowledge from the Qur’an about these realities.

After discussing belief in God, the different types of ritual worship are discussed such as the ritual prayer, fasting, the alms-due, charity, the Pilgrimage and the Visitation. Verses pertaining to their obligation and importance have been given as well as those that warn people who fail to practice them.

This volume also delves into family law, such as marriage and divorce, the veil, the rights of men and women, the wife’s right to separation (khula‘), the rights of widows and the injunctions pertaining to the waiting period (‘idda). In addition to family law, verses pertaining to the halal and haram are also given highlighting the things that are either permitted or prohibited in the Sharia.

The volume concludes with a chapter on the individual’s rights and responsibilities. The rights of parents, women, relatives, orphans, the poor and needy, neighbours, guests, employees and prisoners have been covered with reference to many Qur’anic verses, the study of which will be beneficial for not only lay people but also for lawyers and people involved in social work.

Volume 4: Knowledge; Science; Peace, Love and Non-Violence; World Religions and Stories of the Prophets (peace be upon them)

The fourth volume begins with a chapter on the importance of seeking knowledge and pursuing scientific discoveries. Scientific realities, such as the chemical and biological evolution of the human body, the creation of a baby in the womb and its stages of development, the determination of gender in the womb, five senses, the wisdom behind fingerprints and the scientific aspects of the creation of the universe are mentioned. The scientific aspects of the creation of the heavens and the earth and the sciences of psychology, astronomy, meteorology, botany, biology and ecology among others are from the unique features of this volume. These subjects are of importance to the ordinary reader as well as scientists, engineers and medical doctors.

This volume also covers subjects pertaining to peace and love, social reform, the sanctity of human life, condemnation of sectarianism, the importance of and need for the unity of the Umma, good conduct with non-Muslims and the protection of their lives, property and places of worship. It also covers world religions and other important topics, such as the stories of the Prophets (peace be upon them) and the accounts of past nations. The relating of these stories and accounts provides admonition to the reader. All regions and cities that are mentioned in the Qur’an are also covered at the end of this volume.

Volume 5: The Prophet’s Family and Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them); Character; Politics; Economics; Human Nature; Jihad and the Chronicles of the Prophet’s Battles

This fifth volume contains Qur’anic verses concerning the respect and reverence for the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them), the family of the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), the Saints (awliya’ Allah) and righteous. It also contains verses on the importance and excellence of good character and the condemnation of bad character, the study of which will facilitate Muslims in being good human beings. In addition to this, other subjects that are covered in this volume include: injunctions and rulings from the Qur’an concerning anarchists, rebels and terrorists, the sanctity of human life and the importance of interfaith harmony and human freedom.

In this volume, under the section of government and politics, the following subjects are covered: Islamic system of governance, responsibilities of the state and the system of justice. Under economic and financial matters, the following areas are covered: principles of trade and industry, prohibition and condemnation of usury, the concept of taxes and other related subjects that are of interest to economists.

In addition to the above, human nature, its states and temperament, nations of the world and their circumstances, the different states and conditions of the human heart, the impermanence of human life, tourism and the principles and methodology of propagation are also covered. Factors that lead to the rise and fall of nations, injunctions on Jihad and self-defence, injunctions on peace and reconciliation, the chronicles of the Prophet’s battles, their background, causes and scenarios are also covered under assigned subject headings.

Volumes 6 to 8: Comprehensive Index of Qur’anic Words

The sixth, seventh and eighth volumes contain a comprehensive index of Qur’anic words. This index will facilitate in accessing the shoreless oceans of meaning in the Qur’an. Although there are other lexicons available on the Qur’an, this current work is unique in that it is designed for non-Arabic speakers. In other Qur’anic lexicons, the root word must be known to access the lexicon, thus making it difficult at times for those unfamiliar with Arabic morphology. Knowledge of Arabic morphology is not required for the index of Qur’anic words in the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia, as the word can be accessed easily by looking it up alphabetically. For instance, for the word ‘ya‘lamun’, knowing its root word is not required but the word can be searched alphabetically under the section ‘ya’’.

Another useful feature of the index of Qur’anic words is that the number of repetitions of any given word and the verses in which that word is contained are also provided. Moreover, translations of every word have also been given. However, instead of providing a detailed explanation of the word’s meaning, only a basic translation has been provided. For example, the word ‘anzalna’ has the literal meaning of ‘we sent down’ or ‘we revealed’, but it could also come in the meaning of ‘we created’ (Cf. 7:26). This specific conjugation has been mentioned in forty Qur’anic verses, and all forty verses have been listed under the entry of this word.

The last three volumes of the Qur’anic Encyclopaedia, along with being an extensive index of Qur’anic words, also serve the purpose of bringing new subjects to light as every word has been indexed. For example, if one requires verses containing words such as water, fire or river, they will find all the verses with these words under their relevant entry. In this way, thousands of other words and the verses in which they are contained can be accessed easily thereby facilitating the reader.

The following points provide the basic details of how to use the index of Qur’anic words:

  1. In this index, Qur’anic words have been arranged according to the hija’i (i.e. alif-ba’i; alphabetical) order. For example, words that begin with the letter ‘jim’ will be arranged in order of jim-alif, jim-ba’, jim-ta’ and so on until it ends with jim-ya’. The reader does not need to know the root word to find the specific entry that they are searching for. Rather, whatever Qur’anic word the reader requires can be found by looking up the entry alphabetically as it is written in that specific conjugation. For example, if one is searching for the word ‘ya‘lamun’, there is no need to search for its root word, ‘alima-ya‘lamu; instead one can find the entry by searching it alphabetically under the section ‘ya’’.
  2. One of the salient features of this index is that a word count has been given for every word with all the relevant verses listed under that entry.
  3. In translating the meanings of the Qur’anic words, instead of giving extensive detail, a basic translation has been provided, sufficing on the prevalent meaning of that word. Only where required, multiple translations have been given.
  4. A single Qur’anic word can have multiple meanings depending on the context. Encompassing all those meanings is not viable. Therefore, only one or two prominent meanings of the words were chosen. However, all the verses in which that word is contained have been listed. For example, the word ‘anzalna’ has the literal meanings of ‘we sent down’ or ‘we revealed’, but it could also come in the meaning of ‘we created’ (Cf. 7:26). This specific conjugation has been mentioned in forty Qur’anic verses, and all forty verses have been listed under the entry of this word.
  5. In many places, a basic linguistic translation has been given for the meanings of the words. Due to technical reasons, Shaykh-ul-Islam’s translation ‘The Glorious Qur’an’ has been referred to though not adhered to completely. However, the spirit of the translation has been kept in mind.
  6. The governing agents (‘awamil) that precede the imperfect verb (fi‘l mudari‘) have not been mentioned alongside their respective verbs. However, the grammatical state (i‘rab) that the verb takes has not been changed as though the governing agent is still preceding it. For example, the words ‘lam yaf‘alu’ will be listed in the index as ‘yaf‘alu’. It must be noted that the negative polarity of the verb has not been given, rather the positive polarity has been given in every place. For example, as opposed to translating it in the negative (nafi) as ‘he did not do’, it has been rendered in the positive (ithbat) as ‘he does/he will do’.
  7. The imperfect verb (fi‘l mudari‘) contains two verb tenses, namely the present (hal) and the future (mustaqbal). However, in the current work, only the present tense has been translated in most instances, with both present and future tenses being given in some cases. The context of the verb will not be taken into account; only the linguistic meaning of the word is considered. Thus, the reader must take care in understanding the contextual usage of the word in addition to its linguistic meaning.
  8. In some places, grammatical particles (huruf) are attached before certain nouns (asma’) and verbs (af‘al). These particles have not been translated when they precede a noun, but in a number of verbs, where required, their translation is given. For example, for the word ‘bi-aba’ina’, instead of translating it as ‘with our forefathers’, it was simply translated as ‘our forefathers’. The word ‘la’at’ has been translated as ‘forthcoming’ as opposed to ‘certainly forthcoming’. The word ‘fa’tahum’ has been translated as ‘he gave them’ as opposed to ‘thus he gave them’. Whereas the word ‘li-yuzhirahu’ has been translated as ‘in order to make him dominant/prevail’ where the translation of the a particle ‘li’ has been taken into consideration.
  9. The pronouns that have been attached to nouns and verbs have been translated assiduously. For example, the noun ‘aba’ana’ has been translated as ‘our forefathers’ and ‘aba’akum’ has been translated as ‘your forefathers’. Likewise, the verb ‘yusibana’ has been translated as ‘he afflicts us’ and ‘yusibahum’ has been translated as ‘he afflicts them.’
  10. The names and titles of the venerated personalities that are mentioned in the Qur’an have been translated courteously in the ‘The Glorious Qur’an’ translation. However, in preparation of this index, special attention was not paid in this regard, rather the conventional style adopted by other dictionaries and indices was adopted.
  11. When the nouns and verbs are not composed in a sentence, it is generally written in the nominative case (marfu‘) and read with a sukun on its final letter. However, in the index of Qur’anic words, this rule is not adopted. Rather, the nouns and verbs have been listed in the index as they appear in the Qur’an. For this reason, one will notice that some words end with a damma, fatha, kasra or sukun. Essentially, whatever the grammatical state the word is in, the index will list it as it is without any changes to its case-ending. The purpose is to list the word with its meaning, and not its grammatical state, so that the reader may gain easy access to the Qur’an.
  12. If a word comes in different grammatical states, then each grammatical state will be listed separately, even if its linguistic meaning does not change, so that a word with different grammatical states can be found together in one place. For example, the word ‘qalil-un’ which is in the nominative case (raf‘) has been listed separately from ‘qalil-an’ which is in the accusative (nasb). Likewise, the words ‘qawl-un’ and ‘qawl-an’ will be listed as two separate entries, though in the same place within the index.

Finally, it is important to note that the Qur’anic script used in this encyclopaedia is in the ‘Mushaf al-Madina al-Nabawiyya’ script, which is popular in Arab countries, and not in the Majidi script, which is popular in the Indian Subcontinent and some other parts of the Muslim world. Thus, the symbols for pausing will be according to the former script and not the latter.

We pray to the Almighty that He not only makes this Qur’anic Encyclopaedia a source of guidance for the Umma and mankind but also a great means of attaining His pleasure, the pleasure of His Holy Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) and success in the Hereafter. Amen.

Muhammad Farooq Rana
Director, Farid-e-Millat Research Institute (FMRi)
16th of Shawwal 1440 ah/20th of June 2019 ce

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