Preserving the semantic structure of Islamic key terms and concepts: Izutsu, al-Attas, and al-Raghib al-Isfahani

Islam & Science 5 (2):107 (10) (2007)
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This article compares the elucidation of the semantic structure and fixity of a number of key terms and concepts of the Qur'an by two contemporary scholars, Toshihiko Izutsu (1914-1993) and Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas (1931--), with that of al-Raghib al-Isfahani (d. ca 443/1060), the author of the celebrated Kitab al-mufradat fi gharib al-Qur'an. By 'key terms and concepts' are meant those words used by the Qur'an which play a decisive role in making up the basic conceptual structure of the Qur'anic worldview. The article shows how the Qur'an profoundly changed and subsequently fixed the meaning of Arabic terms, particularly those key terms relating to religion and ethics, and it highlights the fact that the contemporary semantic analysis of the Qur'anic vocabulary has its precedent in the fifth/eleventh century.
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