Textual Analysis of the Term Ummī: A New Perspective

Document Type : Original Article


Associate Professor of Department of Quranic Sciences and Hadith, Faculty of Theology, Law and Political Sciences, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.


The Arabic word ummī is commonly translated as "unlettered." In the Qur’an, Muhammad is described as "ummī" and traditionally this has meant for Muslims that Muhammad was illiterate, completely unable to read or write. Thus, the fact that he was able to recite the Qur’an should be regarded as miracle (i'jaz) and evidence that it really does have a divine origin. This paper, according to the verses of the Qur’an and historical evidence, proves that ummī should not be taken to mean illiterate, but rather scriptureless. This would mean that when Muhammad is described as ummī, it denotes the fact that he is not one of the People of the Book or simply that he is not a member of a group which has already received a revelation from God - at least, not until he received the Qur'an.


Volume 1, Issue 1
September 2023
Pages 67-84
  • Receive Date: 04 June 2023
  • Revise Date: 21 September 2023
  • Accept Date: 21 September 2023
  • First Publish Date: 21 September 2023
  • Publish Date: 01 September 2023