GLOSSARY OF ISLAMIC TERMS USED:
servant, worshipper, slave. Muslims consider themselves servants and slaves of God. Common Muslim names such as Abdullah (Servant of God), Abdul-Malik (Slave of the King), Abdur-Rahmān (Slave of the most Beneficent), Abdus-Salām (Slave of Peace), all refer to names of Allah.
Traditionally describes good manners, as in etiquette. For example, being courteous is good ʾadab. However, the term can be used very broadly, and the proper translation would be “the proper way to go about something,” as in the example, ʾĀdāb al Qitāl, or, “The Proper Ways of Fighting in War,” (Qitāl in Arabic means mortal combat) in which the word “etiquette” does not befit the context. A secondary meaning of ʾAdab is “literature”.
call to salat (prayer), sometimes alternatively spelled and pronounced Azan, Athan and Adhan.
Anno Hegirae The Islamic calendar starts counting years starting from the time when Muhammad had to leave Mecca and go to Medina, an event known as the Hijra. The first day of the first Islamic year is 1 Muḥarram 1 (AH) and corresponds to 16 July 622 (CE).
literally “one.” Islamically, ahad means One Alone, unique, none like God. Al-Wahid is one of the names of God.
rulings and orders of the Qu’ran and Sunnah. Five kinds of orders: Wajib, Mustahab, Muharram, Makruh, and Halal. Singular Ḥukm.
ʾAhl al-Bayt (أهل البيت )
members of Muhammad‘s Household. Also known among Shia as the Maʿṣūmūn (معصومون) (infallibles; spiritually pure).
ʾAhl al-Fatrah ( أهل الفترة)
people who live in ignorance of the teachings of a revealed religion, but according to the “Fitra”, the “Natural Religion” innate to human nature as created by God.
ʾAhl al-Kitāb (أهل الكتاب )
hereafter or eternal life
The practice of virtue. Morals.
Al-ʾIkhlāṣ (الإخلاص)- Sincerity
Genuineness in religious beliefs.
Piety and righteousness and every act of obedience to Allah.
Literally “worlds”, humankind, jinn, angels and all that exists
ʿalayhi -s-salām (عليه السلام)
“Peace be upon him” This expression normally follows after naming a prophet (other than Muhammad), or one of the noble Angels (i.e. Jibreel[Gabriel], Mikaeel[Michael], etc.)
al-ḥamdu li-llāh (الحمد لله)
“Praise be to God!” Qur’anic exclamation and also same meaning as hallelujah.
The Arabic name of God.
Allāhu ʾAkbar (الله أكبر)
“Allah is the Greatest.” Islamic expression.
the trust. Of all creation, only human beings & jinns carry the “trust”, which is free will.
ʾAmīr ul-Muʾminīn (أمير المؤمنين)
In some countries like Morocco, a ʾAmīr ul-Muʾminīn or Commander of the faithful is the religious chief.
Al-ʾAmr Bi’l Maʿrūf (الأمر بالمعروف)
Islamic doctrine of enjoining right. There exists in Islam the (obligatory) principle of encouraging other people to do the right thing.
Spoils of war. (See Sūrat al-ʾAnfāl (8:1)) (سورة الأنفال)
“Helpers.” The Muslim converts at Medina who helped the Muslims from Mecca after the Hijrah.
Article of faith, tenet, creed, or dogma.
Islamic practice of shaving the head of the newborn male and contributing the weight in silver for charity as well as 2 lambs. One lamb is slaughtered for a baby girl.
Intelligence, intellect, mind, understanding
A.S. (ʿAlayhi s-salām) (عليه السلام)
This acronym evokes a blessing and is appended to the names of the prophets who came before Muhammad. It will also be applied to the mothers of those prophets. When following a woman’s name, the feminine form is ʿAlayha s-salām.
ʾAṣl ( أصل ) (pl. ʾuṣūl)
Root, origin, source; principle.
ʾaslim taslam (أسلِم تسلَم)
“Submit to Islam” (See dawah)
ʾAsmāʾ Allāh al-Ḥusnā (أسماء الله الحسنى)
List of God’s 99 names. According to a hadith, the one who enumerates them all will enter Paradise.
The third salat prayer. The time of the day before sunset and after noon. also means “era”.
The bridge by crossing which it is determined (judged) whether a person would go to heaven or hell. How a person crosses the Sirat depends on what they have done in their life and what they have believed in.
Tenth day of the month of Muharram. It is the day God saved Moses and the children of Israel from the Pharaoh. The grandson of the prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussayn sacrificed his life along with 72 of his companions on the sand dunes of Karbala. Sunni Scholars recommended to fast during this day. To the Shias, it is also a day on which they mourn the death of the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali, along with his family and companions, who were killed in the famous battle in Karbala. They cry and weep and organize lamentating programmes where they not only learn how to live a proper Islamic life and improve their Spiritual Self but also cry at the end of the ritual to show their true love and faith towards imam Hussayn.
As-Salāmu ʿAlaykum (السلام عليكم)
The Islamic greeting; literally “Peace be upon you”; In addition, wa-Raḥmatullāhi wa-Barakātuhu (ورحمة الله وبركاته) means “and the Mercy of God and His blessing”. The response to this greeting is wa-ʿAlaykum as-Salām wa-Raḥmatullāhi wa-Barakātuhu (وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته) –“And on you be the Peace and Mercy of God and His Blessing”.
ʾAstaghfir allāh (أستغفر الله)
“I seek forgiveness from God.” Islamic expression.
Aʿudhu billah (أعوذ بالله ʾAʿūdhu billāh)
“I seek refuge in God”. This is a paraphrase on the beginnings of the two last suras in the Qur’an.
Friends, protectors, helpers, caretaker, maintainer. (singular: wali)
The parts of the body, male or female, must be covered in public but not between spouses, such as, body parts must be concealed of a woman before non-related men.(non-related men means she can marry those men lawfully).
ʾĀyah (آية), plural ʾāyāt (آيات)
A sign. More specifically, a verse in the Qur’an.
Āyatullāh (آية الله, also spelled Ayatollah)
Sign of God Title given to highly ranked religious scholars in Sh’ia sect.
Baitullāh (بيت الله baytu -llāh)
A mosque, literally “house of God”. Specifically means the Ka’aba at Makkah (Mecca).
a form of blessing.
Bārak Allāhu Fīkum (بارك الله فيكم)
may Allah bless you; response to expression of thanks.
Barrier. Used in the Qur’an to describe the barrier between sweet and salty water. In theology, the one-way barrier between the mortal realm and the spirit world which the deceased soul crosses and waits for qiyamah judgment.
humankind, mankind, man, human(s), etc.
Insight, discernment, perceptivity, deep knowledge. Sometimes used by Sufis to denote the ability to directly perceive a transcendental Truth.
The interior or hidden meaning. A person who devotes himself to studying such hidden meanings is a batini.
B.B.H.N. (عليه الصلاة والسلام)
Blessed be His Name – acronym for S.A.W.S. See P.B.U.H (Peace Be Upon Him).
Innovation in religion, i.e. inventing new methods of worship. Bad Bidʿahs in Islam are considered a deviation and a serious sin by many Muslims.
Bidʿah sayyiʾah (بدعة سيئة)
Inquiry prohibited in Islam.
Bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم)
“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”.
In general terms, it means a “cloak” or “outer garment”. Specific reference is to the “burda” of the Prophet Muḥammad (see Qaṣīda al-Burda).
Caliph (خَليفة) khalīfah
literally successor; refers to the successor of the Prophet Muhammad, the ruler of an Islamic theocracy.
atheist – from the root ad dahr meaning time. In Islam, atheists are seen as those who think that time only destroys, hence the term ad dahriyyah for the concept of atheism.
an Islamic figure similar to the Antichrist; means “liar” or “deceiver”.
Dār al-ʿAhd (دار العهد)
the Ottoman Empire’s relationship with its Christian tributary states.
Dār al-ʾAmn (دار الأمن)
means house of safety; refers to status of a Muslim living in some of the Western world.
Dār ad-daʿwa (دار الدعوة)
a region where Islam has recently been introduced.
Dār al-ḥarb (دار الحرب)
means house of war; refers to areas outside Muslim rule at war with Muslim states.
Dār al-Islām (دار الإسلام)
the abode, or land, of Islam.
Dār al-Kufr (دار الكفر)
Dār aṣ-Ṣulḥ ( دارالصلح )
domain of agreement
Dār ash-shahāda (دار الشهادة)
See Dar al-Amn
Darūd (الدرود، الصلاة على النبي)
the call to Islam, proselytizing.
an initiate of the Sufi Path, one who practices Sufism
A devotional practice whereby the name of God is repeated in a rhythmical manner. Remembrance of God; spiritual exercise; Muslims believe that the primary function of prophets is to remind people of God.
Dhimmi (ذمّي) (pl. dhimam)
“protected person”; Jews and Christians (and sometimes others, such as Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and Zoroastrians), living in an Islamic state who must pay special taxes and whose right to practice their religion is subject to strict control under Islamic law.
Dhuhr (ظهر) (ẓuhr)
the second obligatory daily prayer.
(literally ‘religion’) the way of life based on Islamic revelation; the sum total of a Muslim’s faith and practice. Dīn is often used to mean the faith and religion of Islam.
“blood money”, recompense for loss of a life.
personal prayer, supplication
The physical Universe, as opposed to the Hereafter; sometimes spelled Dunya.
Eid al-Fitr (عيد الفطر)
Marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm).
Fajarah (فجرة) (also fujjār (فجّار))
Wicked evil doers. Plural of “fājir” (فاجر).
dawn, early morning, and the morning prayer. The time of the day when there is light in the horizon before sunrise.
deliverance, salvation, well-being.
“philosophy” The methods and content of Greek philosophy which were brought into Islam. A person who tries to interpret Islam through rationalist philosophy was called a faylasuf (فيلسوف), “philosopher”.
Sufi term meaning extinction – to die to this life while alive. Having no existence outside of God.
Faqīh (فقيه)(pl. fuqahāʾ)(فقهاء)
One who has a deep understanding of Islam, its laws, and jurisprudence. (see fiqh)
the return of the Shia Mahdi
Farḍ (فرض), plural furūḍ (فروض)
a religious duty, or an obligatory action: praying 5 times a day is fard Neglecting a fard will result in a punishment in the hereafter. (See wajib)
Farḍ ʿain ( فرض عين)
obligatory on every individual Muslim to aid in any way he can.
Farḍ kifāyah (فرض كفاية)
an obligation on the Muslim community as a whole, from which some are freed if others take it up such as for jihad.
corrupt, invalid/violable (in Islamic finance)
anyone who has violated Islamic law; usually refers to one whose character has been corrupted (plural “fāsiqūn”).
the short, opening sura of the Qur’an, which begins “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds…” These words hold an important place in Muslim liturgies and forms the core of the salat.
Fī ʾAmān allāh (في أمان الله)
“In the protection of God”. Said when a person departs.
Fī sabīl allāh (في سبيل الله)
for the sake of Allah; common Islamic expression for performing acts such as charity or Jihad and for ‘qatlu’ (fighting in mortal combat for the sake of Allah)
Fitna (pl. fitan) (فتنة)
innate disposition towards virtue, knowledge, and beauty. Muslims believe every child is born with fitrah.
the criterion (of right and wrong, true and false); for example, the Qur’an as furqan.
vermin, evil from the root fasaqa meaning to deviate from the right way
(verb in past tense) to forgive, to cover up (sins). A characteristic of God.
heedlessness, forgetfulness of God, indifference
the unseen, unknown.
spoils of war, booty.
(archaic) roughly, “raider”: a holy warrior; a mujahid
full ablution of the whole body (see wudu). Ghusl janaba is the mandatory shower after having sexual discharge.
Ḥadath akbar (حدث أكبر)
major ritual impurity which requires Niyyat for cleaning.
Ḥadath aṣghar (حدث أصغر)
minor ritual impurity
Hādhā min faḍl rabbī (هَذَا مِن فَضْلِ رَبِّي)
Qur’anic expression and phrase meaning This is by the Grace of my Lord.
a guide, one who guides; A Muslim name for God is The Guide, or Al-Hadi.
Ḥadīth (حديث ḥadīth) plural ahādīth
Ḥadīth mashhūr (حديث مشهور)
Well-known hadith; a hadith which reported by one, two, or more Companions from the Prophets or from another Companion, but has later become well-known and transmitted by an indefinite number of people during the first and second generation of Muslims.
someone who knows the Qur’an by heart. Literal translation = memorizer or Protector.
Ḥājj (حاجّ) plural Ḥujjāj (حجّاج) and Ḥajīj (حجيج)
Pilgrim, one who has made the Hajj.
Ḥajj (حجّ) and Ḥijjah (plurals Ḥijjāt (حجّات) and Ḥijaj (حجج))
Ḥajj at-Tamattuʿ (حج التمتع)
performing ʿUmrah during the Hajj season, and on the Day of Tarwiah a pilgrim gets into the state of Ihram for Hajj. Before making ʿUmrah, approach the Miqat and declare the intention. End by sacrificing an animal.
Ḥajj al-Qirān (حج القران)
At Miqat, declare intention to perform both Hajj and ‘Umrah together. After throwing the Jamrah of Al-‘Aqabah, and getting hair shaved or cut that take off his Ihram garments and sacrifice animal.
Ḥajj al-ʾIfrād (حج الإفراد)
At Miqat, declare intention for Hajj only. Maintain Ihram garments up to the Day of Sacrifice. No offering is required from him.
a ruler’s or governor’s title; in some Muslim states, a judge. See Ahkam.
A gathering or meeting for the primary purpose of learning about Islam.
pre-Islamic non-Jewish or non-Christian monotheists. Plural: ḥunafā’ (حنفاء).
truth, reality, right, righteousness. Al-Haqq is one of 99 names of God.
Good, beautiful, admirable. Also a categorization of a hadith’s authenticity as “acceptable”. (other categorizations include authentic and fabricated).
Hawa (هوى) (pl. ʾahwāʾ (أهواء))
Vain or egotistical desire; individual passion; impulsiveness.
guidance from God.
literally “cover”. It describes the covering of the body for the purposes of modesty and dignity; broadly, a prescribed system of attitudes and behaviour regarding modesty and dignity. (See abayah, al-amira, burqa, chador, jilbab, khimar, milfeh, niqab, purdah, shayla)
Muhammad and his followers’ emigration from Mecca to Medina. Literally, “migration”. This holiday marks the beginning of the Muslim New Year on the first day of the month of Muharram. See Rabi’ al-awwal and abbreviation AH.
Literally this means “wisdom” and refers to the highest possible level of understanding attainable by a Muslim. In particular, it refers to the illuminative, mystical sort of wisdom that a Gnostic or Sufi might attain.
Truce. Cease-fire (often temporary)
Ḥudūd (حدود) (sing. hadd)
Literally, limits or boundaries. Usually refers to limits placed by Allah on man; penalties of the Islamic law (sharia) for particular crimes described in the Qur’an – intoxication, theft, rebellion, adultery and fornication, false accusation of adultery, and apostasy. (See ta’zeer)
ruling in the Qur’an or Sunnah. Also spelled Hukum.
Ḥūrī (حورية ḥūrīya; pl. ḥūrīyāt حوريات)
beautiful and pure young men and women that Muslims believe inhabit Paradise, or Heaven.
submission, worship, but not limited to ritual: all expressions of servitude to Allah, including the pursuit of knowledge, living a pious life, helping, charity, and humility, can be considered ibadah.
festival or celebration. Alternatively transliterated Eid.
ʿId ul-Adha (عيد الأضحى)
“the Festival of Sacrifice.” The four day celebration starting on the tenth day of Dhul-Hijja.
ʿId ul-Fitr (عيد الفطر)
“the Festival of Fitr (Breaking the fast).” A religious festival that marks the end of the fast of Ramadan.
a meal eaten by Muslims breaking their fast after sunset during the month of Ramadan.
state of consecration for hajj. Includes dress and or prayer.
perfection in worship, such that Muslims try to worship God as if they see Him, and although they cannot see Him, they undoubtedly believe He is constantly watching over them.
Also Ahwat. A Precaution, either obligatory or optional.
ʾIḥtiyāṭ mustaḥabb(إحتياط مستحبّ)
A preferred precaution.
ʾIḥtiyāṭ wājib(إحتياط واجب)
An obligatory precaution.
miracle, the character of the Qur’an in both form and content.
a certificate authorizing one to transmit a subject or text of Islamic knowledge
During the early times of Islam, the possibility of finding a new solution to a juridical problem. Has not been allowed in conservative Islam since the Middle Ages. However, Liberal movements within Islam generally argue that any Muslim can perform ijtihad, given that Islam has no generally accepted clerical hierarchy or bureaucratic organization. The opposite of ijtihad is taqlid (تقليد), Arabic for “imitation”.
disagreement among the madhhabs (scholars) of a religious principle; opposite of ijma.
honouring, hospitality, generosity – Dhul jalaali wal ikraam is one of the 99 names of Allah.
mental or physical force.
deity, a god; including gods worshiped by polytheists.
literally, leader; e.g. a man who leads a community or leads the prayer; the Shi’a sect use the term only as a title for one of the twelve Allah-appointed successors of Prophet Muhammad.
successorship of Prophet Muhammad and the leadership of mankind.
ʾInna lilāhi wa ʾinna ʾilaihi rājiʿūn (إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ)
To Allah we belong and to Him is our return – said to mourners
the habitual inclination to give rather than take in life; the basis for charity
Arabic term for the holy book called The Gospel said to have been given to Jesus, who is known as Isa in Arabic; Muslims believe the holy book has been lost and the New Testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are not the word of Allah, only Christian stories about Jesus.
ʾIn shāʾa -llāh (إن شاء الله)
the second call to prayer. Similar to the azhan.
apostasy (see murtadd). Also riddah ردة
Jesus – ‘Isa ibn Maryam (English: Jesus son of Mary), (a matronymic since he had no biological father). The Qur’an asserts that Allah has no sons and therefore, ‘Isa is not the son of Allah. Muslims honor ‘Isa as a nabi and rasul.
night; the fifth salat prayer
ʾIṣlāḥ (إصلاح )
“reform”. This term may mean very different things, depending on the context. When used in reference to reform of Islam, it may mean modernism, such as that proposed by Muhammad Abduh; or Salafi literalism, such as that preached by Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani
“submission to God”. The Arabic root word for Islam means submission, obedience, peace, and purity.
chain of transmitters of any given hadith
public interest – a source of Islamic Law.
Negative reward for bad deeds that is tallied on qiyamah(judgment day.) Opposite of thawab.
seclusion in the masjid for the purpose of worship usually performed during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
ʾItmām al-hujjah (إتمام الحجة)
clarification of truth in its ultimate form.
That which is allowed or permissible. As a rule, everything that is not prohibited is allowed. (See halal, mustahabb, mandub)
the Hell-fire; Hell
the time of ignorance before Islam was realized. Describes polytheistic religions.
Jalsa – sitting
“gathering”; i.e. a university, a mosque, or more generally, a community or association.
A state of spiritual impurity that occur due to sexual intercourse or ejaculation and necessitates major ritual ablution (ghusl),
Funeral. Ṣalāt al-Janāzah is a funeral prayer.
Paradise, Heaven, the Garden
Jazāka-llāhu khayran (جزاك اللهُ خيرًا)
“May God reward you with good.” Islamic expression of gratitude.
struggle. Any earnest striving in the way of God, involving personal, physical, for righteousness and against wrongdoing;
Jihād aṣ-ṣaghīr (جهاد الصغير)
Offensive jihad declared by caliph.
Jihād aṭ-ṭalab (جهاد الطلب)
Jihād ad-dafʿa (جهاد الدفعة)
Jihād bil-māl (جهاد بامال)
Jihād bis-saif ( جهاد بالسيف)
literally ‘struggle by the sword’; holy war.
An invisible being of fire
A tax specified in the Koran (9:29) to be paid by non-Muslim males living under Muslim political control.
To deny. Jaahid (the denier). Disbelief out of rejection. When there comes to them that which they [should] have recognized, they refuse to believe in (kafaru) it. ( 2:89) Accordingly, juhud includes rejection (kufr at-taktheeb) and resistance (kufr al-‘inaad)
an unclean state of body as in breaking Wudu
one of thirty parts of the Qur’an
cube-house; the cube-shaped building, i.e., in Mecca toward which Muslims pray.
Kāfir (كافر kāfir sing.; كفّار kuffār pl.)
from the word kafara, “to hide.” Those who deliberately hide the truth; unbelievers, truth-concealers; one who is ungrateful. Plural: Kāfirūn. Extreme care ought to be taken with this word, as it is was (and is) occasionally misused as an offensive term for black people by white South Africans.
Kalām (علم الكلام) (ʿilm al-kalām)
Literally, “words” or “speech,” and referring to oration. The name applied to the discipline of philosophy and theology concerned specifically with the nature of faith, determinism and freedom, and the nature of the divine attributes.
Every kind of good
Caliph, more generally, one performing the duties of khilafa.
Creation – the act of measuring; determining, estimating and calculating. Khalq is the noun form of the verb khalaqa (see bara, sawwara).
The Creator, Allah.
the speaker at the Friday Muslim prayer, or Jumu’ah prayer.
Complete recitation of the Qur’an.
a land tax.
goodness. See birr (righteousness) See qist (equity) See ‘adl (equilibrium and justice) See haqq (truth and right) See ma’ruf (known and approved) See taqwa (piety.)
Controversy, dispute, discord.
Man’s trusteeship and stewardship of Earth; Most basic theory of the Caliphate; Flora and fauna as sacred trust; Accountability to; God for harms to nature, failure to actively care and maintain. Three specific ways in which khalifa is manifested in Muslim practice are the creation of haram to protect water, hima to protect other species (including those useful to man), and by resisting infidel domination over Muslim lands, in jihad.
al-khulafāʾ ar-rāshidūn (الخلفاء الراشدون)
four first caliphs, believed by most Muslims to be most righteous rulers in history
Khimār (خمار) (pl. khumur (خُمُر) or ʾakhmirah (أخْمِرة))
headcovering (Q. 24:31).
Khuluq (خُلُق) pl. ʾakhlāq (أخلاق)
humility, devotion, concentration (especially in prayer).
the sermon at Jumu’ah prayer.
book; The Qurʾān is often referred to as “Al-Kitāb” (The Book).
Kufr al-ḥukm (كفر الحكم)
Disbelief from judgment.
Kufr al-ʿInād (كفر العناد)
Disbelief out of stubbornness
Kufr al-ʾInkār (كفر الإنكار)
Disbelief out of arrogance and pride.
Kufr al-ʾIstibdāl (كفر الإستبدال)
Disbelief because of trying to substitute Allaah’s Laws.
Kufr al-ʾIstiḥlāl (كفر الإستحلال)
Disbelief out of trying to make HARAM into HALAL.
Disbelief due to mockery and derision
Kufr al-jahl (كفر الجهل)
Disbelief from not being aware of or not understanding.
Kufr al-juhud (كفر الجهد)
Disbelief from obstinacy after being presented with truth.
Kufr an-Nifāq (كفر النفاق)
Disbelief out of hypocrisy.
Kufr al-ʾIʿrāḍ (كفر الإعراض)
Disbelief due to avoidance.
God’s command to the universe, ‘Be!’ is sufficient to create it.
Lā ilāha illā-llāh (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله)
“There is no god but God.” The most important expression in Islam. It is part of the first pillar of Islam. Also is the message of all the Prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
Labbayka -llāhumma (لبّيكَ اللّهُم)
God, I obey you (said during hajj)
Dirty, false, evil vain talk
Curse, execration, or imprecation.
Laylat al-Qadr (ليلة القدر)
the Night of Power, towards the end of Ramadan, when Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur’an.
the fourth daily salat prayer
“a guide”. More specifically al-Mahdi (the guide) is a figure who will appear with Prophet Jesus before the end of time, when God allows it, to bring world peace, order and justice, after it has been overcome with injustice and aggression.
Mahdūr ad-damm (مهدور الدم)
he whose blood must be wasted
a relative of the opposite gender usually described as being “within the forbidden limits”; a better description is “within the protected limits”. means relatives who one can appear before without observing hijab and who one cannot marry.
Means “detested”, though not haraam (forbidden); something that is disliked or offensive. If a person commits the Makruh, he does not accumulate ithim but avoiding the Makhruh is rewarded with thawab.
angels (Sing. Malak). It was one of these mala’ika, Jibril (Gabriel) who delivered Allah’s revelation to Muhammad.
Mā malakat ʾaymānukum (ما ملكت أيمانكم)
one’s rightful spouse (literally: what your right hands possess)
the rules specifying the requirements of a legally valid hajj
the methodology by which truth is reached
That which is abrogated. The doctrine of al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh (abrogation) of certain parts of the Qur’anic revelation by others. The principle is mentioned in the Qur’an (2:106) see naskh
one of seven equal parts of the Qur’an
consensus of the community
Maqāṣid (مقاصد) sing. maqṣid (مقصد)
goals or purposes; such as the purposes of Islamic law
Maṣāliḥ (مصالح) sing. maṣlaḥah (مصلحة)
Mā shāʾa -llāh (ما شاء الله)
Allah has willed it
the (Biblical) Messiah, Jesus Christ
Masjid (مسجد) pl. masājid, مساجد
place of prayer; mosque
Masjid al-Ḥarām (المسجد الحرام)
the mosque surrounding the Kaʿbah in Mecca.
- Madhāhib (مذاهب) school of religious jurisprudence, school of thought;Mawali or mawala (موالي): Non-Arab Muslims
Mawlā [mawlan (مولى)] [pl. mawālin (موالٍ)]
protector or master
an Arabic word literally meaning “our lord” or “our master”. It is used mostly as a title preceding the name of a respected religious leader, in particular graduates of religious institutions. The term is sometimes used to refer to Rumi.
an honorific Islamic religious title often, but not exclusively, given to Muslim religious scholars or Ulema preceding their names. Maulvi generally means any religious cleric or teacher
Mecca (مكّة Makkah)
the holiest city in Islam
Medina (مدينة Madīnah)
“city”; Medinat-un-Nabi means “the City of the Prophet.” See Hijra (Islam)
the Resurrection; God will resurrect all of humankind to be judged. Shi’as regard this as the fifth Pillar of Islam.
a niche in the wall of all mosques, indicating the direction of prayer
In Arabic, millah means “religion,” but it has only been used to refer to religions other than Islam, which is din.
(see Millah) (Turkish word also meaning a nation, community, or a people). In an Islamic state, “Ahl al Kitab” may continue to practice their former religion in a semi-autonomous community termed the millet.
a tower built onto a mosque from the top of which the call to prayer is made
a raised pulpit in the mosque where the Imam stands to deliver sermons
methodology, e.g. methods, rules, system, procedures.
Mīqāt (ميقات )
the Ascension to the Seven Heavens during the Night Journey See also: isra
a person who performs the call to prayer
literally permissible; neither forbidden nor commended. Neutral. (See halal)
person who recites Qur’an
an Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law (Sharia), capable of issuing fataawa (plural of “fatwa”).
woman who wears hijab (polite form of hijabi).
unequivocal verses of Qur’an. (See mutashabehat.)
a person who wages war against God
Muḥammadun rasūl allāh (محمدٌ رسول الله)
“Muhammad is the messenger of God.” This statement is the second part of the first pillar of Islam. This is the second most important statement in Islam.
evil-doer a person who wages jihad (war) not in accordance with the Qur’an. Plural mufsideen.
a person who performs good deed. Plural muhsineen. Opposite of Mufsidun.
The first Muslims that accompanied Muhammad when he traveled to Medina.
a fighter for Islam. Plural Mujāhidūn (مجاهدون).
a scholar who uses reason for the purpose of forming an opinion or making a ruling on a religious issue. Plural: Mujtahidun.
are Islamic clergy. Ideally, they should have studied the Qur’an, Islamic traditions (hadith), and Islamic law (fiqh).
A Muslim who observes the commandments of the Qur’an.
hypocrite. Plural: Munafiqun
Muntaqabah (منتقبة) pl. muntaqabāt (منتقبات)
woman who wears niqab
Murābaḥah ( مرابحة)
a type of sharia-compliant mortgage (see Ijara)
a Sufi teacher
Murtadd (مرتد) female apostate is Murtaddah
a copy, codex or redaction of the Qur’an.
Mushrik (مشرك)(pl. mushrikūn) (مشركون)
One who associates others in worship with God; a polytheist.
a follower of the religion of Islam. One who submits their will to Allah (God)
literally enjoyment; compensation paid to a divorced woman; when used in the phrase nikāḥ al-mutʿah (نكاح المتعة) it refers to temporary marriage.
equivocal verses of Qur’an. (See Muhakkamat.)
Muṭawwaʿ (مطوّع) plural muṭawwaʿūn (مطوّعون)
religious man in certain regions, a volunteer teacher
Muṭawwaʿūn (مطوّعون) (مطوعين) (singular muṭawwaʿ)
“agreed upon”—used to describe hadith that were narrated by many witnesses through different narration chains (isnads) leading back to Muhammad
literally, prophets. In the Islamic context, a Nabi is a man sent by God to give guidance to man, but not given scripture. The Prophet Abraham was a Nabi. This is in contrast to Rasul, or Messenger. Plural: Anbiya. See: Rasul.
soul, the lower self, the ego/id
An optional, supererogatory practice of worship, in contrast to farida
Nakīr and Munkar (نكير و منكر)
two malaikah who test the faith of the dead in their graves
The doctrine of al-Nasikh wal-Mansukh (abrogation) of certain parts of the Qur’anic revelation by others. The principle is mentioned in the Qur’an (2:106) see mansukh.
a known, clear legal injunction
the bleeding after childbirth (see Haid)
falsehood; dishonesty; hypocrisy
the matrimonial contract between a bride and bridegroom within Islamic marriage
veil covering the face
prophethood. Shi’as regard this as the third Pillar of Islam.
a great munkar – prohibited, evil, dreadful thing.
light. Muslims believe angels were created from light and jinn from fire.
an acronym that stands for “peace be upon him” a blessing which is affixed to Muhammad‘s name whenever it is written. In some circles and English writings, Sufis regard PBUH to signify “Peace and Blessings Upon Him” (the Rasul or Messenger of Allah). These are the primary English explications of the P.B.U.H. acronym. The Arabic version is S.A.W.
the direction Muslims face during prayer
Qitāl fī sabīl allāh ( قتال في سبيل الله )
fight in the cause of Allah.
resurrection; return of the dead for the Day of Judgment
equitable retribution – a fine for murder if the heirs forgive the perpetrator. (See hudud, tazeer)
to stand, a position of salat prayer
analogy – foundation of legal reasoning and thus fiqh
classification of a hadith that are believed to be narrated by Muhammad from God.
closeness to God. Term is associated with Sufism.
The word Qur’an means recitation. Muslims believe the Qur’an (Koran) to be the literal word of God and the culmination of God’s revelation to mankind, revealed to prophet Muhammad in the year AD 610 in the cave Hira by the angel Jibril.
Lord, Sustainer, Cherisher, Master.
- A., raḍiya -llāhu ʿanhu (رضي الله عنه)
May Allah be pleased with him. Variants are ʿanhā (her) and ʿanhum (them).
Merciful; Ar-Rahman (الرحمن) means “The Most Merciful”
compassionate; Ar-Rahim (الرحيم) means “The Most Compassionate” as in the Basmala
the practice of stoning
one unit of Islamic prayer, or Salat. Each daily prayer is made up of a different number of raka’ah.
month of fasting when the Qur’an was first revealed
Sunnis consider the first four caliphs as the “orthodox” or “rightly guided” caliphs. They were Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali.
messenger; Unlike prophets (Nabi), messengers are given scripture. Moses (as), David (as), Jesus (as) and Mohammed (as) are considered messengers. All messengers are considered prophets, but not all prophets are given scripture. See: Nabi.
Guarding Muslims from infidels
apostasy, in which a person abandons Islam for another faith or no faith at all.
literally, message or letter. Used both in common parlance for mail correspondences, and in religious context as divine message.
spirit; the divine breath which God blew into the clay of Adam.
the bowing performed during salat.
blasphemy: insulting God (sabb Allah) or Muhammad (sabb ar-rasūl or sabb an-nabī).
patience, endurance, self-restraint
charity; voluntary alms above the amount for zakat.
Ṣaḥābah (الصحابة) (sing. Ṣāḥib) (صاحب)
“Sound in isnad.” A technical attribute applied to the “isnad” of a hadith.
divine “tranquility” or “peace” which descends upon a person when the Qur’an is recited.
Salaf (السلف الصالح)
(righteous) predecessors/ancestors. In Islam, Salaf is generally used to refer to the first three generations of Muslims. Anyone who died after this is one of the khalaf or “latter-day Muslims”.
Ṣalāt (صلاة) sala(t)
any one of the daily five obligatory prayers. Sunnis regard this as the second Pillar of Islam
Prayer for guidance is done in conjunction with two rakaahs of supererogatory prayer.
peace (see sulh)
Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam (صلى الله عليه و سلم)
“May Allah bless him and grant him peace.” The expression should be used after stating Prophet Muhammad’s name. See abbreviation: S.A.W. or S.A.W.S. also P.B.U.H.
eternal, absolute; Muslims believe Allah is “The Eternal.”
a river in heaven (al-firdaus)
S.A.W. (or S.A.W.S.)
Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam (صلى الله عليه و سلم). See P.B.U.H.
refer to some of the ceremonies used by various sufi orders
The testimony of faith: La ilaha illa Allah. Muhammadun rasulullah. (“There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”). Sunnis regard this as the first Pillar of Islam. Also may be used as a synonym for the term Istish’hād meaning martyrdom.
Shahīd (شهيد) pl. shuhadāʾ (شهداء)
witness, martyr. Usually refers to a person killed whilst fighting in “jihād fī sabīl Allāh” (jihad for the sake of Allah). Often used in modern times for deaths in a political cause (including victims of soldiers, deaths in battle, et cetera) which are viewed by some Muslims as a spiritual cause not just a political cause. But the real meaning of Jihad is to defend Islam in any way; thus, it could be in an economic way or could refer to fighting for the rights of the oppressed or the believers; most often it refers to mastering one’s own inclination for evil and shirk.
a spiritual master, Muslim clergy
a title bestowed upon the descendants of Muhammad through Hasan, son of his daughter Fatima Zahra and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib
Satan, the Devil; also known as Iblis
A branch of Islam who believe in Imam Ali and his sons (Hassan and Hussayn) as custodians of Islam by the will of the Prophet Mohammed.
idolatry; polytheism; the sin of believing in any divinity except God and of associating other gods with God.
Majlis ash-shūrā (مجلس الشورى)
advisory council in a Caliphate
Sidrat al-Muntaha (سدرة المنتهى )
a lotus tree that marks the end of the seventh heaven, the boundary where no creation can pass.
aṣ-Ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm ( الصراط المستقيم)
the Straight Path
Subḥānahu wa taʿāla (سبحانه و تعالى)(abbreviated S.W.T.)
expression used following written name or vocalization of Allah in Arabic meaning highly praised and glorified is He.
Subḥān allāh (سبحان الله)
“Glory to God” – this phrase is often used when praising God or exclaiming awe at His attributes, bounties, or creation.
a Muslim mystic; See: Sufism (tasawwuf).
the meal eaten by fasting Muslims just before dawn.
kneeling down, a position of salat.
bond that generates revenue from sales, profits, or leases rather than interest.
A condition of peace, an armistice, or treaty. It is related to the word muṣālaḥah (مصالحة) which means peace, conciliation, or compromise.
the “path” or “example” of the Prophet Muhammad, i.e., what the Prophet did or said or agreed to during his life. He is considered by Muslims to be the best human moral example, the best man to follow.
the largest denomination of Islam. The word Sunni comes from the word Sunnah (Arabic: سنة), which means the words and actions or example of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
chapter; the Qur’an is composed of 114 suras
followers of the Ṣaḥābah
exegesis, particularly such commentary on the Qur’an
Ṭāghūt (طاغوت) (taghout)
originally Aramaic, meaning “false god”; also tyranny.
optional (supererogatory), late-night (pre-dawn) prayer
pure, ritually clean
Uttering the formula of faith: “Lā ilāha illā -llāh”, (i.e. “There is no god but God”)
‘Tahnik’ is an Islamic ceremony of touching the lips of a newborn baby with honey, sweet juice or pressed dates.
corruption, forgery. Muslims believe the Bible Scriptures were corrupted but the Qur’an is in its original form.
to purify and reform society in order to move it toward greater equity and justice, literally meaning to make new in present tense
a special manner of reciting the Qur’an according to prescribed rules of pronunciation and intonation.
Takāful ( التكتاقل)
Based on sharia Islamic law, it is a form of mutual insurance. See retakaful.
a proclamation of the greatness of Allah; a Muslim invocation.
declaration of individual or group of previously considered Muslim as kaffir.
Takhrīj (تخريج الحديث )
The science of hadith extraction and authentication, including validation of chains of transmitters of a hadith by this science’s scholars and grading hadith validity.
to follow the scholarly opinion of one of the four Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence.
a principle that one is allowed to hide his true beliefs in certain circumstances or to lie to save himself of being killed or harmed or to further the cause of Islam.
righteousness; goodness; Piety: Taqwa is taken from the verbe Ittaqua, which means Avoiding, Fearing the punishment from Allah for committing sins. It is piety obtained by fearing the punishment of Allah.
extra prayers in Ramadan after the Isha prayer.
slow, meditative recitation of the Qur’an
Uttering the formula: “Subhan Allah”, i.e. (Glory be to Allah)
vocalization of Arabic text by means of diacritical marks. An integral part of the Arabic writing system. Literally meaning to form or arrange
salutation at the end of prayer
Shia Ashura ceremony of self-flagellation by hitting head with sword.
total reliance on Allah.
asking Allah Almighty through the medium and intercession of another person.
circumambulating the Ka’bah during Hajj.
Divine help in getting to the purpose to one who deserves.
monotheism; affirmation of the Oneness of Allah. Muslims regard this as the first part of the Pillar of Islam, the second part is accepting Muhammad as rasoul (messenger). The opposite of Tawheed is shirk
all that is good as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc. Means “pure.” The Shahaddath is tayyib.
Discretionary punishment – a sentence or punishment whose measure is not fixed by the Shari’ah. (See hudud, qisas)
Purification of the Soul.
Reward for good deeds that is tallied on qiyamah (judgment day.) Opposite of ithim.
ritual recitation of passages of the Qur’an.
state of motionlessness, calm
ʿUlamāʾ (علماء) or ulema
the leaders of Islamic society, including teachers, Imams and judges. Singular alim.
ʾUmmah (الاُمّة) or umma
(literally ‘nation‘) the global community of all Muslim believers
the lesser pilgrimage performed in Mecca. Unlike hajj, ʿumrah can be performed throughout the year.
the branch of sharia that deals with punishment. (See hudud, qisas, tazeer)
custom of a given society, leading to change in the fiqh
ʾUṣūl (أُصول) (sing. ʾaṣl)(أصل)
ʾUṣūl al-Fiqh (أصول الفقه)
the study of the origins and practice of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh)
Wa ʿalaykum as-salām (وعليكم السلام)
Wa ‘Alaykum as-Salaam!, meaning “and upon you be peace”. (see As-Salamu Alaykum)
death. (Barah-wafat) Muhammad was born on the twelfth day of Rabi-ul-Awwal, the third month of the Muslim year. His death anniversary also falls on the same day, the word ‘barah’ standing for the twelve days of Muhammad’s sickness.
Waḥdat al-wujūd (وحدة الوجود)
revelation or inspiration of God to His prophets for all humankind
literal meaning is “weakness” or “feebleness”. According to one hadith, the Prophet explained it as “love of the world and dislike of death”
obligatory or mandatory see fard
friend, protector, guardian, supporter, helper
An endowment of money or property: the return or yield is typically dedicated toward a certain end, for example, to the maintenance of the poor, a family, a village, or a mosque. Plural: awqaf
traditional scribe, publisher, printer, notary and book copier
the middle way, justly balanced, avoiding extremes, moderation
the means by which one achieves nearness to Allah (see tawassul )
a voluntary, optional night prayer of odd numbers rakaats.
Yā Allāh (یا الله)
Ya Rasūl Allāh (یا رسول الله)
O, Messenger of God!. Term used by companions when interacting with Prophet Mohammad.
Yaʾjūj wa-Maʾjūj (يأجوج ومأجوج )
certainty, that which is certain
Yarḥamuk-Allāh (يرحمك الله)
“May God have mercy on you”, said when someone sneezes; the same as “(God) bless you” in English
Allāh Yarḥamuhu (الله يرحمه), fem. yarḥamuhā(يرحمها)
“May God have mercy of his/her soul”, (said when someone dies)
Yawm ad-Dīn (يوم الدين)
Day of Reckoning, Awe
Yawm al-Ghaḍab (يوم الغضب)
Day of Rage, Wrath
Yawm al-Qiyāmah (يوم القيامة)
“Day of the Resurrection”; Day of Judgement
the Psalms revealed to King Daoud (David) عليه السلام
Zabīḥa (Dhabīḥah) (ذَبِيْحَة) see dhabiha
Islamic method of slaughtering an animal. Using a sharp knife the animal’s windpipe, throat and blood vessels of the neck are severed without cutting the spinal cord to ensure that the blood is thoroughly drained before removing the head. See halal
Zakāt (زكاة), Al-Māl
Zakāt al-Fiṭr (زكاة الفطر)
Charity given at the end of Ramadan.
polytheists, wrong-doers, and unjust.
Zināʾ (زناء, زنى)
sexual activity outside of marriage (covering the English words adultery and fornication)
Zulfiqar (Dhu-l-fiqār) (ذو الفقار)
Sword of Ali رضي الله عنه, presented to him by Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم
- Arabic words are created from three-letter “roots” which convey a basic idea. For example, k-t-b conveys the idea of writing. Addition of other letters before, between, and after the root letters produces many associated words: not only “write” but also “book”, “office”, “library”, and “author”. The abstract consonantal root for Islam is s-l-m.
- Some Islamic concepts are usually referred to in Persian or Turkish. Those are typically of later origin than the concepts listed here; for completeness it may be best to list Persian terms and those unique to Shi’a on their own page, likewise Turkic terms and those unique to the Ottoman period on their own page, as these are culturally very distinct.
- The word “crusade” in English is usually translated in Arabic as “ḥamlah ṣalībīyah” which means literally “campaign of Cross-holders” (or close to that meaning). In Arabic text it is “حملة صليبية” and the second word comes from “ṣalīb” which means “cross.”
- The verses in the Qur’an that Christians usually refer to as jihād verses have the phrase “Qitāl fī sabīl allāh” (fighting for the sake of Allah).