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Introduction

Of some seven billion men, women, and children now living on earth, every fourth proclaims that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah. This testimony makes them Muslims. Muslims believe that the Qurʾān is the last revealed Book sent by Allah to guide humanity to the Straight Path, and that the life of Prophet Muḥammad, upon him blessings and peace, is the best model to follow. Any understanding of Islam beyond a basic minimum requires a deeper reading of the Qurʾān and the vast repository of texts dealing with the sciences of the Qurʾān and the life of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace. Both of these are in classical Arabic, which only about 8 to 10 per cent of Muslims today have knowledge of classical Arabic. This inability to directly access the multi-layered linguistic richness of the original sources is further compounded by a lack of sufficient training to read the Qurʾān, a Book that operates at the supra-rational plane and requires the simultaneous participation of inner resources and faculties including the heart and the intellect guided by revelation. If the paths to the Qurān have become difficult for Muslims to access, they are almost completely blocked for a vast majority of non-Muslims. This is a great calamity not only for those who have never really come into contact with the Words of their Creator preserved in this Book for all time to come, but also for the entire human race, because it creates an unbridgeable divide between the fourth of humanity that believes in this Book and the rest who do not.

Non-Muslim scholars in the academy face yet another dilemma when approaching the Qurʾān. They cannot, by definition, commit themselves to any position about the Divine origin of the Qurʾān; their professional obligation is to maintain an objective detachment from their object of study, yet, in this case, the object of study—the Qurʾān—insists and demands that one must settle the fundamental issue of its authorship before any further engagement can occur. This means accepting or rejecting the Qurʾānic claim to be the actual Speech of God Himself. A corollary of whatever choice one makes involves one’s position regarding the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace. This dilemma has been recognized by a number of academic scholars in the West along with the admission that no workable solutions are available for this intractable situation.

Against this historical background, the Center for Islamic Sciences (CIS) launched an international project in 2007 to produce The Integrated Encyclopedia of the Qurʾān (IEQ)—a unique reference work in seven volumes that encapsulates fourteen hundred years of Islamic scholarship on the Qurʾān and shares with its sources the premise that the Qurʾān is a revealed text while maintaining scholarly norms of the highest order... read more.

IEQ is for both Muslim and non-Muslim readers, whether they are serious seekers of in-depth knowledge of any aspect of the Qurʾān or academic specialists working in the field of Qurʾānic studies. A general reader will find articles which explain fundamental themes and concepts of the Qurʾān in accessible language. Academic scholars whose work focuses on the Qurʾān will discover a much-needed and, to date, unavailable reference work that taps into the vast corpus of Muslim scholarship produced over the last millennium and a half. For those who work in the general field of Islamic studies, IEQ presents references to hundreds of classical works that are otherwise scattered over a vast body of often inaccessible texts.

IEQ is a useful starting point for new research on the Qurʾān as it will bring to the academic world well-referenced articles covering all concepts, persons, places, things, and events mentioned in the Qurʾān. Readers will discover a wealth of classical material, opening to them fourteen centuries of Muslim reflection and scholarship on the Book that is a guide and a luminous reminder to all humanity that there exists an eternal life of bliss in the shade of His Mercy for all who pay heed to its message and follow the Straight Path.

IEQ assumes serious engagement but no prior knowledge of Arabic or of the Qurʾān. It employs English-language lemmata and its extensive cross-referencing facilitates research.

IEQ draws its entries from the thematic structure of the Qurʾān, integrates fourteen centuries of Muslim scholarship, and presents a breadth of authoritative knowledge about the Qurʾān which is not found in any existing reference work in a Western language.

IEQ is simultaneously a classical and contemporary work. It brings to the academic world a wealth of new material ranging from bibliographic resources to specialized texts on the Qurʾān.

IEQ addresses all concepts, persons, places, and things mentioned in the Qurʾān in approximately 600 articles, amounting to over 4000 pages in seven volumes. The seventh volume of IEQ, devoted to indices including those organized by subject, author, proper nouns, themes and place names, is conceived as a unique and comprehensive guide.

Volume I (A-Bea)

ISBN: 978-1-926620-00-8.

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