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Nabi al-Ummi, al-

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

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    Nabi al-Ummi, al-

    A term used to refer to the Prophet Muhammad and variably translated as “the unlettered prophet,” “the prophet sent to a people without a scripture,” or “the prophet of the community of Muslims” (Quran 7:157 ). The term ummi derives from the noun umm, which means “mother,” “source,” or “foundation,” as in the Quranic umm al-kitab (sourcebook, primordial book). Ummi may also mean “motherly,” “uneducated,” or “illiterate.” The most common meaning of al-nabi al-ummi is “the unlettered prophet,” which refers to the Prophet Muhammad's inability to create a major literary work such as the Quran. Some commentators have traced the term to the noun ummah, which refers to a primary community sharing a common religious orientation. In this sense, al-nabi al-ummi means “the prophet sent to an unscripted community,” or a community that has not yet received a scripture.

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