Re-Visiting the Meaning of ‘ẓann’ in the Qurʾān

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    The Qurʾānic term, ‘ẓann,’ is usually understood and translated as conjecture. However, I argue that the Qurʾān uses ‘ẓann’ to mean dogmatic zeal or, in other words, being zealous to a certain belief. For conjecture, the Qurʾān uses the root ‘ḥ-s-b,’ such as, ‘ayaḥsabu.’ Although the Qurʾān may criticize some people's conjectures, it does not criticize the act of formulating opinions with the root ‘ḥ-s-b.’ However, the Qurʾān does criticize the act of ‘ẓann.’ This further emphasizes the distinction between conjecture and ‘ẓann,’ according to the Qurʾān. The main emphasis is that when the Qurʾān requires people to shun most ‘ẓann,’ it is argued that it is asking to shun zealous beliefs and dogmas, and it is not asking to shun the formulation of conjectures. The method used is philological, in which the cognates are analyzed in their contexts and compared with their uses in the Qurʾān. Defining ‘ẓann’ as dogmatic zeal rather than conjecture has far-reaching implications in understanding Qurʾānic epistemology and the epistemic process it expects its audience to have.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)436-456
    Number of pages21
    JournalMuslim World
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022


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