Notes about Citing

In text references:

  • Qur’ān
    • The most common system of referencing the Qur’ān is to write in parenthesis (xx:yy), where ‘xx’ is the sūrah number and ‘yy’ is the verse number. For example: “it is stated in Qur’ān (21:105) that the world shall be inherited by His righteous servants”.
    • There are some scholars who have recently raised the question of the suitability of using this format for Qur’ānic citations. They argue that this system was essentially developed for Biblical citations. They assert that Muslims are familiar with the names of the sūrahs and reference to the number of the sūrah feels very alien. For this reason some scholars have started citing Qur’ānic references using the formula: (xxxx:yy), ‘xxxx’ is the sūrah name and ‘yy’ the verse number. For example: “the Qur’ān (al-anbiyā’:105) asserts that His righteous servants shall inherit the world”.
    • I also made it a habit in cases where the Qur’ānic reference was an essential one to include the Qur’ānic verse in Arabic in the main body of the text or in footnotes. You may use al-tafsir.com website search feature and copy and select the table that is generated for verses. This saves you typing the verse and adding vocalization to it. For example:
    • Indicate unmodified (verbatim) and modified Qur’ānic quotations[1]. The system I used was curly brackets for the verbatim quotes (followed by sūrah and verse reference in parenthesis) and for the modified quotes I used red-dotted underlining (followed by sūrah and verse reference in parenthesis—where necessary I also included in a footnote the actual verse that I perceived as being modified). Be sure to indicate the system of referencing in your ‘notes on transliteration, referencing and dates’ (after the acknowledgments). This is my note:
    • {الحمد لله رب العالمين}These brackets and red colored text denotes an unmodified Qur’ānic quote.
    •      Red dotted underlining denotes a modified Qur’ānic quote.
  • Ḥadīth
    • It is important in Ḥadīth citations to refer to the source of the tradition, i.e. Ṣaḥīḥ-Muslim and the number of the tradition in that source, not the page number. For example: “Its import in this context is evident in light of the Ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ -Muslim (no. 295 and 296) that states that a ṣalāh is incomplete, thus inacceptable, if the Fātiḥah is not recited”. Since there are so many different editions of Ḥadīth collections, citing page numbers is almost pointless. The numbering of the traditions within each of the ṣuḥāḥ is generally quite consistent from one edition to the other and even in online editions.
  • Sources from web-based and digital libraries
    • It is important to include, where possible, the digital page number of these sources. Although some academics frown upon the usage or citation of digital sources they are now an indispensible source and are here to stay. The majority of the online libraries referred to above are fairly stable and thus citing them should not be a problem. In alwaraq.com for instance, there is a stable (non-dynamic) pagination for the digital books. This actually becomes easier to look up references rather than the opposite.

Problems with Bibliographical Entries of Arabic Sources

  • It is important to decide whether you want to transliterate fully the names and titles of Arabic texts. I would recommend transliterating all Arabic names and titles simply to avoid confusion as to what transliterate and what not to.
  • Many editions of Arabic primary sources do not have full bibliographical information. It is not uncommon to find editions where the name of the editor is not known. In such cases try and include all the information that is present, such as the date of the edition for instance.
  • With online sources it is important to note the date of access, the digital page number and the direct URL if they exist.

[1] From my thesis (Qutbuddin, Aziz.2009.Taḥmīd-A Literary Genre? PhD diss. SOAS): Unmodified Qur’ānic quotes are verbatim quotes of the whole or part of a verse. A modified quote is one in which the author makes changes. The criteria for recognizing an unmodified quote is that it cannot be fully appreciated without referring back to its Qur’ānic context. Certain phrases used in every day speech such as al-ḥamd li Allāh or lā ilāh illā Allāh are not considered as quotes. The changes in the quotations range from a modification of pronouns to the addition of certain words or to a rearrangement of the word-order to suit the rhyme of the Taḥmīd.


(1) From my thesis (Qutbuddin, Aziz.2009.Taḥmīd-A Literary Genre? PhD diss. SOAS): Unmodified Qur’ānic quotes are verbatim quotes of the whole or part of a verse. A modified quote is one in which the author makes changes. The criteria for recognizing an unmodified quote is that it cannot be fully appreciated without referring back to its Qur’ānic context. Certain phrases used in every day speech such as al-ḥamd li Allāh or lā ilāh illā Allāh are not considered as quotes. The changes in the quotations range from a modification of pronouns to the addition of certain words or to a rearrangement of the word-order to suit the rhyme of the Taḥmīd.

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