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Āṣaf b. Barakhyā

(1,414 words)

Author(s): Harris, Russell
Āṣaf b. Barakhyā, vizier, scribe or companion of the prophet Sulaymān (Solomon). Almost all of the accounts to be found in the Muslim commentaries and qiṣaṣ works which mention his name refer to Sūrat al-Naml in which Sulaymān asks his courtiers to bring him the throne of Bilqīs (or Bilqays, the Queen of Sheba) before her arrival. One of the courtiers responds, ‘I will fetch it to you in the twinkling of an eye’ (Q 27:39–40). Exegetes are divided over the identity of the person who made this suggestion. Some of them state that i…

Āyāt al-aḥkām

(1,796 words)

Author(s): Pakatchi, Ahmad | Harris, Russell
Āyāt al-aḥkām: ‘verses of the rules’, is a phrase applied those verses of the Qurʾān from which legal rulings are derived. It was well known amongst later jurists that the number of āyāt al-aḥkām is five hundred (e.g. see al-ʿAllāma al-Ḥillī, 242; al-Miqdād al-Suyūrī, 1/5); when the jurists refer to ‘the Book’ as their foremost evidence and legal support regarding legislation they are referring to these verses. The difference between āyāt al-aḥkām and the other transmitted proofs is that they are deemed to be of definitive provenance ( qaṭʿiyat al-ṣudūr), but the literal meaning of …

Aḥmad Mashhadī

(3,555 words)

Author(s): Semsar, Mohammad Hassan | Harris, Russell
Aḥmad Mashhadī, Mīr Aḥmad al-Ḥusaynī Mashhadī (d. 986/1578), was a renowned calligrapher in the nastaʿlīq style. His father was a chandler at the shrine complex of Imām al-Riḍā in Mashhad (Pīr Budāq Munshī, 222; Qāḍī Aḥmad, Gulistān, 90). All the biographers regard Aḥmad Mashhadī as the student of Mīr ʿAlī Harawī, but they differ as to whether he studied under him in Herat or Bukhārā: in his Qawānīn-i khuṭūṭ (written in 969/1562), Maḥmūd b. Muḥammad says, ‘When Mīr ʿAlī Harawī was in Bukhārā, al-Sayyid Aḥmad was under his tutelage for a while’ (p. 52; see also P…

Aḥmad Nayrīzī

(8,800 words)

Author(s): Semsar, Mohammad Hassan | Harris, Russell
Aḥmad Nayrīzī, b. Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad (alive in 1151/1738), one of the greatest Iranian calligraphers in the naskh script. Life Even though the major part of his artistic life took place in the 12th/18th century, the contemporary written sources give no information on him. Muḥammad ʿAlī al-Qūjānī (Mīrzā Sanglākh), in his Tadhkirat al-khaṭṭāṭīn, was the first person to give an account of Aḥmad Nayrīzī’s life. This account was largely fictional but unfortunately was used uncritically as the basis for subsequent biographies. As it was his habit to…

Adam in Islam

(8,497 words)

Author(s): Manouchehri, Faramarz Haj | Harris, Russell | Hirtenstein, Stephen | Negahban, Farzin
Adam in Islam. Muslim beliefs on Adam (Ādam), his creation as the father of humanity (Abū al-Bashar) and the first prophet are taken from the Qurʾān, with extra material found in ḥadīths and expanded in Qurʾān commentaries. Adam is explicitly mentioned twenty-five times in the Qurʾān. The Qurʾānic account describes the creation of Adam, his presence in Paradise and his consuming the fruit of the forbidden tree, his descent from Paradise and life on earth as the father of humanity. When God told the angels that He would create…


(21,761 words)

Author(s): Bagher, Ali Rez | Waley, M. I. | Harris, Russell
(in Arabic, al-Qāhira), capital of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and one of the largest and most important cities of the Muslim world as well as in the continent of Africa. The city is situated 23 metres above sea level, at latitude 30°6’ N. and longitude 31°26’ E., on both banks of the River Nile and along the delta extending south from the foot of the Muqattam Hills (Jabal al-Muqaṭṭam) (Rogers, 4/424; see Governorate of Cairo website). Origins Before becoming part of the Islamic world, the area where Cairo now stands passed through a number of historical phases. Recent ar…


(34,553 words)

Author(s): Waley, M. I. | Semsar, Mohammad Hassan | Tehrani, Hamid | Afsari, Hamid Rez | Abbas, Najam | Et al.
1. Calligraphy in the Arab World Through the spread of the Arab people a new language and alphabet found their way to a large area of the world, from Spain to Turkistan, along with a new religious dispensation. This article considers the art of handwriting, as distinct from details of the history of Arabic writing systems. The Arabic letters readily lend themselves to a wide variety of expressive forms, not only in manuscripts and other written documents but also in architectural and other inscription…