Muzaffar Iqbal

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Umma (pl. ummam) is a polysemous Qurʾānic term denoting:

  1. a group of people (ʿuṣba) within a larger community;
  2. as a synonym of qawm (people);
  3. Prophet Ibrāhīm, upon him peace, as a paragon of submission--ummatan qānitan (Q 16:120);
  4. past unbelieving generations;
  5. people to whom the Prophet Muḥammad, upon him blessings and peace, was sent, including those who accepted his message and became Muslim;
  6. as well as those who rejected it (kuffār);
  7. as a synonym of milla (religion, the way), always associated with a certain Prophet, implicitly or explicitly;
  8. all living creatures, including animals and birds (Q 6:38);
  9. a duration of time, ḥīn, “because it is a collection of years and months” (Q 11:8; 12:45);

(Muqātil, Wujūh wal-naẓāʾir pp. 47-49; Dāmaghānī, Wujūh wal-naẓāʾir, 1: 120; Ibn al-Jawzī, Nuzhat al-aʿyun, p. 147).

Definition and Usage

Umma, from the root '-m-m, appear 53 times in its singular form and 11 times in plural in nine distinct meanings.

See also

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