pl. Zubur. Also zubar, pl. of zibr. From the Hebrew zimrah ( ) (psalm), meaning "music, melody or song" (Psalms 81:2, 98:5). For the passage

Before this We wrote in the Psalms (fi 'z-zaburi), after the Message (zikr) (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth." (al-Anbiya' 21:105, Yusuf Ali's translation)

Hughes says:

Both Sale and Rodwell take this last to be a quotation from Psa xxxvii.29 (it appears to be the only direct quotation from either the Old or the New Testament in the whole of the Qur'an), and they have both translated the Arabic zikr "the law", meaning of course, the Taurat. Amongst the Muslim commentators, there is considerable difference of opinion as to what is meant in this verse by zikr and zabur.

The commentator al-Baizawi says there are three views. Said ibn Jubair and Mujaiyid explained the word zabur to mean all inspired books, and that by zikr was meant the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauhu 'l-Mahfuz). Ibn `Abbas and az-Zahhak said by zabur was meant the Taurat, and by zikr those books which came after. And Sha`bi said that zabur was the Book of David, and the zikr that of Moses.

Al-Baghawi and al-Jalalan decide in favour of the first interpretation, Husain decides in favour of the third, whilest al-Baizawi leaves it an open questions.

Jalalu'd-din as-Suyuti gives the word zabur as one of the fifty-five titles of the Qur'an. (Hughes' Dictionary of Islam, p. 698)

Further reading:

  • Singing the Praises of God

  • Use of the word in the Qur'an:

    "zaboor" is singular, "zubur" plural. Nevertheless, the "zaboor" collectively means "David's psalms", "psalter". For the plural "zubur" my dictionary gives no special meaning, in the following I tentatively translate "scriptures".


     4:163	wa-aataynaa Daawooda zabooran
    	and we gave David    a psalter
    17:55	wa-aataynaa Daawooda zabooran
    	and we gave David    a psalter
    21:105	wa-la-qad katabnaa          fee z-zaboori  min ba`di dh-dhikri:
    	and we already have written in the psalter after the reminder:
    	(follows a quote from Ps. 37:29)


    3:184	bi-l-bayyinaati      wa-z-zuburi        wa-l-kitaabi l-muneeri
    	with the clear signs and the scriptures and the illuminating book
    16:44	bi-l-bayyinaati      wa-z-zuburi
    	with the clear signs and the scriptures
    35:25	bi-l-bayyinaati      wa-bi-z-zuburi          wa-bi-l-kitaabi l-muneeri
    	with the clear signs and with the scriptures and with the illuminating book

    Rudi Paret, Der Koran. Kommentar und Konkordanz, Stuttgart 1971, p. 111, gives the following comment:

    The word zaboor is to be explained as a mixing-up of Hebrew mismor, Aramaic mazmor or Ethiopic mazmur, resp.) 'psalm' and Arabic zaboor 'scripture', presumably entrenched from South Arabic. S. Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen, p. 70; Proper Names, p. 205f. Horovitz considers the indetermined [i.e. without article] form zabooran in 4:163 and 17:55 as an after-effect of the Arabic meaning 'scripture' (as an appellative). To explain this form one, however, may also argue with necessity of rhyme. At the quote from the Psalm in 21:105 the word is determined [with article] 'az-zaboori'.

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