Kadivar, Mohsen. “Dignity (Human)/ Karāmah” in John L. Esposito (ed.). Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World: Digital Collection. Oxford, U.K.:Oxford University Press, 2022.
Dignity (Human)/ Karāmah
Human dignity, referred to in Arabic as karāmah, is the cornerstone of Islamic bioethics. This article will explore the concept of dignity in the Islamic normative tradition with specific focus on relevant passages in the foundational sources, particularly the Qurʾān. Due to its centrality to most bioethical discussions, the article argues that the classical theory of Shariʿah objectives should be revisited to include preservation of human dignity.
Definition and Contextual Background
The root of karāmah is karuma (to be noble). Karāmah can appear in both infinitive (maṣdar), or noun (ism al-maṣdar) form in Arabic grammar. It means literally “nobility; high-mindedness, noble-heartedness; generosity, magnanimity, liberality, munificence; honor, dignity; respect, esteem, standing, prestige; mark of honor, token of esteem, favor” (Wehr, p. 822). Its Arabic synonyms include 1) sharaf (highborn, noble), 2) ḥurmah (sacredness, sanctity), 3) faḍīlah (virtue, merit), and 4) khayr (generous, open-handed) (al-Rāghib, p. 707, Ibn Manẓūr, 12:515, and al-Muṣṭafawī, 10:46; for the English meanings, see Wehr, pp. 466, 171, 718, 266, 853, 294, 1039). Karāmah is distinguished from its synonyms in that it connotes the thing per se, not in comparison and relation to the others. So karāmah is an inherent (nafsī) nobility and virtue, not relative (ḍāfī) priority (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 13:152).
Karuma and its derivatives are used in the Qurʾān forty-seven times (ʿAbd al-Bāqī, pp. 602–603). In the first group of verses revealed to the Prophet, God introduced Himself as akram: “Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One” (96:3; all translations of the Qurʾānic verses come from Abdel Haleem, 2005). Karīm is one of the beautiful names (al-asmāʾ al-ḥusnā) of God: “your generous Lord” (82:6 and 27:40). Gabriel, the angel of revelation, is introduced as karīm: “This is the speech of a noble messenger” (81:19, 69:40). It is the adjective used to describe the Qurʾān as well: “This is truly a noble Qurʾān” (56:77). Reward (ajr) and provision (rizq) in paradise are also referred to as karīm: “generous reward / provision” (four times for the former, including 57:11; and six times for the latter, including 33:31). Among these forty-seven verses, the ones most relevant to this essay are 17:62 and 70.
The Verse of Dignity
The verse of karāmah is the major Islamic source on the concept of dignity, as demonstrated in this passage: “We have honored the children of Adam and carried them by land and sea; We have provided good sustenance for them and favored them specially above many of those We have created” (17:70). The key word is karramnā (we have honored). In another example, Iblīs (Satan) refuses to bow to Adam: “You see this being You have honored above me?” (17:62a; see al-Ṭabrasī, 6:207). In other words, Iblīs asks, “Why have you honored human beings above me?” The word used in this verse is karramta (you have honored). Scholars have suggested that it is through these passages that God explains his reasons for establishing the karāmah of human beings.
The verse (17:70) has four main points: 1) We have honored the children of Adam; 2) We provided them with transportation by ships on the sea and by animals on the land, riding them to their destinations and seeking the favor of their Lord, and this is a manifestation of karāmah; 3) We have provided good sustenance, and favors including fruits and foods for them, and this is also another manifestation of karāmah; 4) we specially favored the children of Adam above many of those whom We have created, that is, jinn (an unseen creature, its origin is fire, divided into good and evil) and animals (al-Rāzī, 21:13-17). The angels are out of this comparison and beyond the domain of the material existences (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 13:154).
Karāmah is designated for the children of Adam, that is, all human beings regardless of their race, color, gender, class, disability, and especially religion and piety—including disbelievers (al-Jaṣṣāṣ, 5:31, al-Ṭabrasī, 6:207). It includes both the pious and licentious (al-Alūsī, 15:19; al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī , 13:152).
The opening of verse 17:70 is about karāmah, and its closing is about favor (tafḍīl). The opening line states the special characteristic of human beings per se, which is not shared with any other creation, that is, karāmah, but the ending expresses the superiority of human beings over other creatures including animals and jinn (al-Qurṭubī, 13:127).
Interpreters of the Qurʾān provide several reasons for the exclusivity of karāmah to humans. Al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/932), for example, argues that the Qurʾān allows humans to have dominion over other creatures. Another reason he mentioned for the supremacy of human beings over all others is that humans eat with their hands, while animals with their mouths (al-Ṭabarī, 5:51). Al-Zamakhsharī (12th century) provides other reasons, specifically intellect, speech, literature, art, and distinguishing right from wrong (al-Zamakhsharī, p. 603). Al-Ṭabrasī (12th century) elaborates on these reasons, concluding that the best approach is believing in all of them and other specific characteristics of human beings, not choosing only one of them (al-Ṭabrasī, 6:208).
Fakhr Dīn al-Rāzī (13th century) provided the most detailed account among the interpreters of the Qurʾān. According to him, human beings have the noblest souls and bodies among the creatures of the earth, thanks to their rational faculty that manifests God’s knowledge. He mentioned eleven reasons for the nobility of the human body, most of which involve the human intellect, and some of which are justification of specific karāmah (dignity only for believers and good doers) not general karāmah (for all human beings). The eleventh reason for karāmah is that the human body was created by God’s Hands (38:75), while non-humans were created with the phrase “Be, and it was done” (17:40). Scholars such as al-Rāzī have argued that the first kind of creation is the most perfect, demonstrating an intimacy with the almighty (21:13-16).
Al-Qurṭubī (13th century) also cites human intellect as the main reason for human dignity, because humans know God, understand His revelation, reap His blessings, and acknowledge His messengers (al-Qurṭubī, 13:126). Al-Alūsī (19th century) explained that all of these reasons were only examples and confining them to one was not correct (al-Alūsī,15:118).
Al-Ṭabrasī regarded the reasons for karāmah mentioned by the interpreters as allegorical, and classified these reasons into three groups: the first group includes the accessories of the intellect such as writing; the second group includes the particulars of priority or favor (tafḍīl); the third group consists of the characters out of the meaning of this verse, such as creation of man by God’s Hands, or selecting Muḥammad among them. In contrast, al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī (12th century) stated that it is wrong to say that human karāmah is justified by all of these reasons. According to him, the sole reason for human dignity is the intellect, which distinguishes right from wrong, good from evil, and beneficial from harmful. It is the demarcation and specialty of human beings in all material existences (al-mawjūdāt al-kawniyah) (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 13:152–153).
Based on the work of these major scholars (between the tenth and twentieth centuries), one can conclude that the Qurʾān and the Islamic tradition justify human dignity in one of three ways: 1) The main basis for karāmah is human intellect (ʿaql) and all other reasons, such as the faculty of distinguishing right from wrong, and human choice (ikhtiyār) are its accessories and subordinates. 2) Human dignity is multifaceted, including but not limited to the intellect. Karāmah is rooted in all of them equally, not merely in one. 3) Human dignity is rooted in human dominion over other creatures or other reasons; in this approach human intellect is not explicitly mentioned. The first approach represents the majority interpretation, while the second and third are in the minority.
Toward a Broader Scope
Although most of the interpreters of karāmah focused on the human intellect as the central point of human dignity, there are other principles found in the Qurʾān that provide more information about the Islamic perspective on the topic. These features include human stewardship (khilāfah) and the story of human creation, the trust verse (āyat-al-amānah) (33:72), the verse of original nature (āyat-al-fiṭrah) (30:30), and the primordial covenant (mīthāq ʿālam al–dharr) (7:172). There is a particularly strong link between karāmah on the one hand and khilāfah, fiṭrah, and the divine covenant of dharr on the other. Although karāmah was not used explicitly in these verses, it is inseparable from them.
The story of the creation of human beings can be found in several places in the Qurʾān, and several passages relate specifically to karāmah:
—“[Prophet], when your Lord told the angels, ‘I am putting a successor [khalīfah] on earth,’ they said, ‘How can You put someone there who will cause damage and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?’ but He said, ‘I know things you do not.’ He taught Adam all the names [of things], then He showed them to the angels and said, ‘Tell me the names of these if you truly [think you can].’ They said, ‘May You be glorified! We have knowledge only of what You have taught us. You are the All Knowing and All Wise.’ Then He said, ‘Adam, tell them the names of these.’ When he told them their names, God said, ‘Did I not tell you that I know what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and that I know what you reveal and what you conceal?’ When We told the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ they all bowed. But not Iblīs, who refused and was arrogant: he was one of the disobedient” (2:30–34)
—“We created you, We gave you shape, and then We said to the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ and they did. But not Iblīs: he was not one of those who bowed down. God said, ‘What prevented you from bowing down as I commanded you?’ and he said, ‘I am better than him: You created me from fire and him from clay’” (7:11–12)
—“When I have fashioned him and breathed My spirit into him, bow down before him,’ and the angels all did so. But not Iblīs: he refused to bow down like the others. God said, ‘Iblīs, why did you not bow down like the others?’ and he answered, ‘I will not bow to a mortal You created from dried clay, formed from Dark mud’” (15:29–33, and also 17:61–62 and 38:71–76)
There are four key concepts in these verses that relate to karāmah directly: stewardship of human beings (khalīfah); Adam’s knowledge of the Names (ʿilm al-asmāʾ); prostration of the angels before Adam, and breathing God’s spirit into Adam (nafakhtu fihī min rūḥī).
The term khalīfah is interpreted to mean steward, deputy, or vice regent of God, rather than successor of preceding humans or other kinds of beings, such as angels (al-Qurṭubī, 1:394) or jinn (al-Alūsī, 1:220; al-Rāzi, 2:180–181; Ibn Kathīr, 1:216). Moreover, some scholars have interpreted the term khalīfah as not only referring to Adam in particular (al-Ṭabrasī, 1:98; al-Zamakhsharī, 70; al-Alūsī, 1:221), but to the entire human species in general.
In this second approach to the text, human stewardship of the earth is complete only when the successor (khalīfah) becomes the manifestation of the divine predecessor (mustakhlaf) (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 1:116). Because God possesses the most comprehensive meaning of the beautiful names (al-asmāʾ al-ḥusnā), free of any defect and evil, His successor should be the representative of these perfect aspects (ibid, 1:117).
This succession extends to the entire human species (Faḍl Allāh, 1:214). The applicability of succession to the entire human species (and not specifically to Adam) is explicitly mentioned in other verses such as “Who makes you successors in the earth?” (27:62). Successors in plural is translated as khulafāʾ al-arḍ, which means the stewardship of human beings, not only Adam. In 2:31, when God teaches Adam “all the names [of things]” (ʿilm al-asmāʾ), this concept was also not confined to Adam, and includes human species (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 1:117).
The aforementioned verses (7:11) address all human beings, and suggest two major points: first, although the angels were ordered to bow to Adam, the act of bowing can be seen as directed toward all human beings because Adam can be viewed as the representative of his species. Second, God’s command to the angels to bow to human species, not to Adam in person, is the consequence of stewardship. Iblīs objected to the children of Adam without any mediation (15:39 and 38:82). Creation of Adam was creation of all human beings (32:8 and 40:67). Iblīs did not hide that he would seduce all human beings, not only Adam (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 1:117).
The significance of God’s teaching Adam the Names is that He entrusted this duty to the human species inherently (al- Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 1:118). There is a link between these Names and the original nature in āyat-al-fiṭrah: “This is the natural disposition God instilled in mankind—there is no altering of God’s creation” (30:30).
This principle, that is, the God-taught original nature of human species, is expressed in symbolic language: “[Prophet], when your Lord took out the offspring from the loins of the Children of Adam and made them bear witness about themselves, He said, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ and they replied, ‘Yes we bear witness.’ So you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘We were not aware of this’” (7:172). This symbolic witness and acknowledgment of the Lord is specific to the human species (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 7:312), which can be seen as part of the original human nature or fiṭrah.
These Names or their named (musamma) are living rational existences behind the screen of the unseen (ḥijāb al-ghayb). This is completely different from ordinary knowledge of the names of the things. Mere knowledge of the names does not merit any nobility for Adam, because the angels learned them after Adam’s response to God, and they thus became equal to Adam in knowledge. In addition to this, the ordinary names and words are the tools for verbal communication, and the angels do not need verbal communication. The unique knowledge endowed to Adam was the knowledge of the reality of the Names through God’s teaching, which was beyond the angels’ ability to comprehend. This knowledge is the means for the discovery of archetypes of the Names or existential essences, not something related to linguistic conventions. Such a knowledge was possible for human beings, but beyond the ability of angels. This is the point of succession or stewardship (khilāfah).
God’s command to the angels to bow down to humans was not because of his creation from clay, but it was because of breathing his spirit into humans. When God, who is the origin and the source of every goodness, declared the honor or nobility of something, that thing becomes the bearer of nobility, honor and virtue in real existence. God’s command regarding humans is thus regarded as an existential command (al-ḥaqq al-takwīnī) (2:117) rather than a mere utterance command. This command of the bowing down of the angels made humans the bearers of nobility, virtue, honor of proximity to the divine, the blessing of stewardship, and the honor of guardianship (karāmāt al-wilāyah) (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 8:26–27 and 29) This existential issue described in this verse: “We offered the Trust to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains, yet they refused to undertake it and were afraid of it; mankind undertook it—they have always been inept [put something out of its place] and foolish” (33:72). This trust could be reason and moral responsibility (Abdel Haleem, 271), or more than this, that is, the divine guardianship (al-wilāyah al-ilāhiyah) that could be reached by sound faith and good deeds. Humans have this ability to rise from the perigee of matter to the apogee of purity and piety that God Himself will be his guardian. The inept foolish human was not aware of the heaviness of the trust. Human beings are divided into believers, hypocrites, and disbelievers, but non-humans are obedient believers. Because the human is empty of (ordinary) knowledge, and justice, he has the tendency to be inept and foolish; yet the human also has the potential to become the apogee of knowledge and justice. This is the point that humans have the merit of God’s Guardianship (al-wilāyah al-ilāhiyah) (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 16:356-357), while others, including the angels, do not. This proximity to God that is possible for man, is unique to him and non-humans are not able to reach it.
The ensoulment of human beings is described in the Qurʾān as “breathing from His spirit”: “When I have shaped him and breathed from My Spirit into him, bow down before him” (38:72 and 15:29). It is referred to as “another creation” that is different from the three-stage process of material (bodily) creation, which will be discussed below. There are important ḥadīths that explain this Qurʾānic reference to the breathing of the spirit. I mention only one group of ḥadīths that were narrated from the Prophet under the notion of “God created Adam in His image” (Khalaq Allāh Adam ʿalā ṣūratihī) (al-Bukhārī, 1554 and Muslim, 1303).
This group of ḥadīths is similar to the Christian notion that God made the first man and woman “in His own image” (Genesis 1:26-27). His image (ṣūrah) was interpreted as his attributes or beautiful names (al-asmāʾ al-ḥusnā). The finest state in the Qurʾān (96:4) is human body with this soul, which is honored by God’s breath.
In this context it is worth noting that some scholars distinguished two kinds of karāmah: universal and specific. Universal karāmah applies to all human beings regardless of their religion or piety while specific karāmah applies only to the believers and good-doers. These two types should not be confused as they function at different levels as this verse indicates:. “People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware” (49:13).
The verse expresses the egalitarian perspective of Islam. Diversity is an essential part of the human experience, and the source of real dignity for humans is God. Human beings are privileged with dignity and honor. But real honor, which leads to real happiness, is possible only through piety (taqwā). In this context real happiness refers to eternal good life (ḥayāh ṭayyibah) in the presence of the Lord. This kind of dignity and honor is achieved through mindfulness of God (taqwā) and it is the key to happiness in the Hereafter (8:67 and 2:197; see al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 18:331).
Applied Human Dignity in Bioethical Debates
Avoiding overlap with other articles, this section is restricted to basic principles of applying the Islamic concept of human dignity to certain bioethical issues, such as the beginning of life, life termination, brain death, and the human body.
Although rationality is the most prominent function of the human soul, the principle of rationality as the foundation of dignity does not apply in these cases: brain death, mental disabilities, dementia, infants and young children. Undoubtedly dignity of all these persons are approved in Islamic teachings, as they are regarded as having a soul. And though dignity is inseparable from human rationality, there are cases in which it applies regardless of rationality. It is obvious that human choice (ikhtiyār) or human responsibility are essential components of human rationality, neither of which may not be present in certain extreme cases.
The Qurʾān describes the process of growth from conception to birth in this way:
We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place, then We made that drop into a clinging form, and We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We produced him as another creature––glory be to God, the best of creators!––then you will die and then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be raised up again (23:12–15).
This is the most oft-cited Qurʾānic passage regarding the process of human development in the womb; it divides the pregnancy into two distinct periods. The first period discusses the development of vital organs. The Qurʾān discusses the second period as follows: “We produced him as another creature” (thumma anshaʾnāhu khalqan ākhar; see the Arberry translation in particular). This is the period of ensoulment (al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī, 15:21), and it is typically said (according to most interpretations) that it begins after four months (al-Suyūṭī, 10:574). This means that the concept of dignity applies to the fetus when it has a soul.
There are two other issues here. The first is the starting time of the second period of the fetus, which the Qurʾān does not specify. The second is about the dignity of the fetus in the first period, that is, before ensoulment. According to the analysis of dignity in this article, there is no Qurʾānic evidence for human dignity in this period, because, according to most interpretations, there is no human soul at this time, but almost all of the jurists disagreed on the permissibility of abortion in general including during this initial period except under medical necessity.
In modern science there is a debate on brain death and whether it accords with heart death, or some other factor. And even for those who argue that heart failure is the time of death, determining the exact moment depends on scientific considerations. Islamic teachings on dignity tend to suggest that death should be defined as complete end of vital signs, including heartbeat rather than merely brain death.
Thanks to modern medical technology, a new issue arose, namely the extension of human life. The issue of euthanasia—that is the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma—is beyond this article. Defenders of euthanasia have argued that deep suffering from irreversible diseases or disability are hindrances to human dignity, and thus the practice of mercy killing would be allowed under certain circumstances.
It is not easy to accept the justification of euthanasia by human dignity in Islamic bioethics, as the tradition is typically understood as prohibiting killing of any kind, as well as suicide. Moreover, suffering from diseases is considered by some to be a form of spiritual testing (ibtilāʾ) or penance in Islamic teachings. This is often related to Qurʾān 12:87, when Jacob advised Joseph and his brothers: “Do not despair of God’s mercy—only disbelievers despair of God’s mercy.”
In the Islamic tradition the human body has dignity because of its companionship with the soul. Though necessary medical surgery is not regarded as a violation of human dignity, there are questions surrounding the proper treatment of a corpse. Although a dead body does not have a soul, the previous companionship with a spirit gives it a form of dignity. All these rules regarding the treatment of a corpse are derived from the Sunnah of the Prophet, and are unanimously upheld by the various legal schools: proper washing (taghsīl), shrouding (takfīn), prayer (ṣalāt al-mayyit), funeral (tadfīn), and memorial ceremony in the presence of the relatives, neighbors, and friends. Any disrespect to the grave of a human being is forbidden. Exhumation is strongly prohibited in Shariʿah, except in specific circumstances by court order. Mutilation (muthlah) even in the field of battle is forbidden in any circumstances. Cutting, disruption, or extraction of any organs of a human corpse after death is religiously forbidden as well.
The use of a human corpse in anatomy classes in medical school is typically permitted. But there are restrictions meant to preserve the individual’s dignity. Dissection of a human corpse is allowed only when the training is impossible without it. Thus the practice is accepted only in necessary circumstances (ḍarūrah).
Juristic discussions over organ transplantation distinguish three main situations: when a healthy person offers to donate; when a person is in a coma or near brain death; or immediately after death has been confirmed. However, these cases are complicated by the concern regarding mutilation of the body—a clear violation of the person’s dignity. There is no violence to dignity in the case of a live donation, provided it does not harm the donor, and who could live in relatively good health without the organ or tissue. In the latter case the concerns regarding dignity can be outweighed by the need to preserve the life of another human being. This organ transplantation is permitted in Shariʿah if the dead person left a will expressing consent, or if the first degree relatives permit it.
The challenge of organ transplantation in the second case, that is, when the person is in a coma, is that this person is not acknowledged as a dead person by most jurists. For some jurists, this condition could be equated to real death, provided that a committee of doctors confirms the incurability of the patient. In such a case the will of the patient expressing consent, or the permission of the first-degree relatives, is necessary to perform the procedure.
There is no violence of human dignity in cases of in vitro fertilization because ensoulment happens in the uterus—before implantation. Cloning and genetic engineering are not accepted in Islam, not because of violating human dignity, but because of interference in the creator’s effort that is beyond the scope of this article. The concern regarding stem cell research is not dignity necessarily, but rather the fear of interference in the creator’s effort.
According to the Qurʾān, human dignity is universal, regardless of religion, sect, piety, gender, race, color, and class. Human dignity is an essential character of humanity, allowing humans to take on the role of stewardship. God is the treasury and source of all dignities, virtues, and honors in Islam. He bestowed a portion of His dignity to his creature on earth when he breathed His spirit to the human body. The human soul is the bearer of dignity and has the potential to reason and distinguish between good and evil. These are the consequences of the human soul or its dignity, not the major foundation of dignity, and it is an important point. The human species is noble because of the soul that God breathed to it. In other words, although rationality and human choice are not separable from human dignity, in precise analysis they are also not the major point of human dignity. Albeit they are the major functions of the human soul. It has a lot of impact and effect on bioethics. Human dignity and human original nature (fiṭrah) are two sides of one coin. God installed it in the human soul or created human nature with this characteristic. There is an inherent knowledge in both. It is an existential knowledge that the human soul knows its Lord, distinguishes between good and evil, and has an inclination to good. This knowledge is not ordinary acquired knowledge and does not have any human teacher. This is the knowledge of Name that God taught human beings, and did not teach to anyone else, even the angels. Referring to this knowledge, God asked human beings and all of them to bear witness that God is their sustainer (rabb). Bearing witness is impossible without knowledge. There is a link between divine trust and human dignity. Human beings may actualize this potential of dignity and be promoted above angels and become the closest existence to God, or destroy it and become lower than animals.
Preserving life (nafs) has been one of the five high objectives of Shariʿah since the eleventh century in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), the others being preserving religion (dīn), reason (ʿaql), progeny (nasl), and property (amwāl) (al-Ghazālī, 286–287). This theory could be reconstructed to include human dignity as one of the high objectives of Shariʿah. It is one of the essential objectives (al-ḍarūrāt), not complimentary objectives (hājiyāt) and embellishments (taḥsīniyyāt). This article argues that human dignity as one of the high objectives of Shariʿah should be considered in the process of ijtihād (independent reasoning) and determining Islamic rules (al-aḥkām al-Sharʿiyah). This high objective of Shariʿah is the cornerstone of Islamic bioethics.
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- al-Qurṭubī, Muḥammad Ibn Aḥmad. Al-Jāmiʾ li-Aḥkām al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risālah, 2006. (It is a thirteenth-century Mālikī exegesis of the Qurʾān.)
- al-Rāghib al-Iṣfahānī, Ḥasan. Al-Mufradāt fī Gharīb al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Dār al-ʿIlm, 1991. (It is one of the best vocabularies of the Qurʾān written in the twelfth century.)
- al-Rāzī, Fakhr al-Dīn Muḥammad. Mafātīḥ al-Ghayb: al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1981. (It is an Ashʾarī early thirteenth-century exegesis of the Qurʾān.)
- al-Suyūṭī, Jalāl al-Dīn. Al-Durr al-Manthūr fī al-Tafsīr bi-al-Maʾthūr. Cairo: Markaz Hajr, 2003. (It is a Shāfiʾī early sixteenth-century exegesis of the Qurʾān based on ḥadīth.)
- al-Ṭabātabāʾi, Sayyid Muḥammad Husayn. al-Mizān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Aʿlamī li-al-Maṭbūʿāt, 1997. (It is one of the most important twentieth-century exegeses of the Qurʾān and the major source of this article.)
- al-Ṭabarī, Muḥammad Ibn Jarīr. Jāmiʾ al-Bayān ʿan Taʾwīl āyi al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Muʾasisa ar-Risala, 1994. (It is a famous tenth-century Sunni exegesis of the Qurʾān.)
- al-Ṭabrasī, al-Faḍl Ibn al-Ḥasan. Majmaʾ al-Bayān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Dār al-ʿUlūm, 2005. (It is a twelfth century Shīʿī exegesis of the Qurʾān.)
- Wehr, Hans.A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. New York: Spoken Language Services, 1976.
- al-Zamakhsharī, Jār Allāh Maḥmūd Ibn ʿUmar. Tafsīr al-Kashshāf. Beirut: Dār al-Maʾrifah, 2009. (It is a twelfth century Muʿtazilī exegesis of the Qurʾān.)