islamic terms glossary

Islamic Terms

Islamic Terms Glossary

Following is an islamic terms glossary provided for your ease for gaining knowledge. Feel free to share the knowledge.

Allah The One God
Awra The part of a person’s body that must be covered before everybody but a spouse; for men this is from navel to knee, for women from upper chest to knee. It may also be used to refer to what must be concealed of a woman before non-related men
Ayah Literally means “sign”; used to refer to a verse of the Quran, each of which is a sign of God. Plural is “ayat”
Bid’a Literally means “innovation”; it refers to adding an obligation to the religion that God and the Prophet Muhammad did not do. Some Muslims feel that adding anything at all to the religion, even if it’s not an obligation, is a bid’a
Dalil Evidence that is brought from Quran and Sunna to prove a point. For instance, to make a claim about the status of the face veil, one must present dalils
Da’wah The “call” to Islam; inviting people to learn more about Islam to encourage them to convert
Deen Also spelled “din”. The Arabic word for “religion”. Carries the sense of a debt that we owe God, and of a code for judging peoples’ actions. Thus it means religion as a whole way of life not just as worship practices
Du’a Personal prayer or supplication to God, contrasted with salat (which see), the fixed-time ritual prayer. The name means “calling on God”
Eid Means “festival”; also spelled “`Id”. There are two Eids; Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha at the time of the end of the hajj
Fard Obligatory; performance will be rewarded and neglect will be punished (said of an action)
Fatwa Contrary to popular misconception, a fatwa is not a “death sentence” but is simply an official answer by a scholar to a legal question. One can ask for a fatwa on the status of pepperoni. Plural is “fatawa”
Fiqh The science of jurisprudence or interpreting the Shari’a
Hadith A report about things the Prophet Muhammad said, did, or allowed; the hadiths are a textual source for the Sunna but are not identical to it
Hadith Qudsi A special kind of hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad reports on what God said to him other than the Quran; these are considered to be paraphrases while the Quran is God’s literal word
Hajj The pilgrimage to Mecca; one of the five pillars. It is obligatory once in a Muslim’s life, if he or she is able to afford it
Halal Lawful; something that is halal may be required, recommended, neutral, or even detestable. It is just that it is not forbidden
Hanafi One of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered the most liberal
Hanbali One of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered the most conservative
Haram Forbidden; performance will be punished and neglect will be rewarded (said of an action)
Hijab The modest dress of the Muslim woman; the word is sometimes used to refer only to the headscarf. A woman who wears hijab is a hijabi
Ihram The sacred state of the pilgrim on hajj; involves certain restrictions on conduct and certain changes in dress
Iman Faith
Inshallah God willing; if God wills (said when discussing the future)
Istikhara A type of salat; it is offered when a Muslim faces a difficult decision, seeking God’s aid
Jannah Paradise; the abode of the righteous in the Hereafter. The Arabic word “Jannah” means “garden”
Jihad Contrary to popular opinion in the West, this does not mean “holy war”. A literal translation is “struggle”. The struggle to establish justice and righteousness may or may not involve military action. Just as Westerners talk about their “crusade against poverty”, so Muslims can use jihad in the same sense. There is also the “greater jihad”, which is entirely against the caprices of the soul; the jihad in the world is the “lesser jihad”
Jilbab A long coat or cloak; more generally, any type of outergarment that covers from the shoulders to the ankles. Commanded in Quran Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59
Jinn One of the created orders, made of smokeless fire. The jinn according to the Quran may choose good or evil. Those who choose evil are referred to as “the satans”. They seem to be similar to the evil spirits mentioned in the Talmud and the Gospels. The singular form is properly “jinni” and the English word “genie” seems to be a corruption of this
Mabruk An Arabic term meaning “Congratulations!” or “May you be blessed”
Madhhab A term referring to a legal school in Islam. Each has a slightly different way of engaging in fiqh (which see)
Mahram Someone with whom there can never be marriage because of consanguinity or affinity. For example, a father is a mahram relative for a woman
Makruh Detestable; performance will not be punished, but neglect will be rewarded (said of an action)
Maliki One of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered moderately liberal
Mashallah What God has willed (said whenever something good or bad happens)
Masjid The Arabic word from which the English word “mosque” is derived; it means “place of prostration” or more broadly “place of worship”. The mosque is just the Muslim place of worship
Mubah Neutral; peformance will not be rewarded and neglect will not be punished (said of an action)
Mustahabb Recommended; performance will be rewarded but neglect is not punished (said of an action)
Niqab The face veil; styles of dress that involve veiling the face. A woman who wears niqab is a niqabi
Qiyamah, Day of The Day of Resurrection; Judgement Day. The Arabic word “qiyamah” carries a sense of it being the day on which everybody is called to stand (before God)
Quran The revealed Scripture of Islam; transmitted word-for-word from God to the Prophet Muhammad via the angel Gabriel
(rAa) An abbreviation for “radi Allahu anhu”; used after the names of the first few generations of Muslims, it means “May God be satisfied with him/her”
Ramadan The month of fasting; one of the five pillars. The fast is from dawn to sunset and involves abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations (if married)
Revert A person who returns to a religion they previously had; Muslim custom is to apply this term to converts to Islam as well, on the grounds that Islam is the religion that every person was born into, but their parents made them another religion
Riba The practice of charging interest on loans; sometimes translated as “usury”. Riba is forbidden under Islamic law, which makes the modern finance system challenging for Muslims
(sAas) An abbreviation for “salli Allahu alayhi wa sallam”; used after the name of the Prophet Muhammad, it means “may the blessings of God and peace be upon him”
Sabr An Arabic word meaning “perseverance” or “patience”. The quality of continuing to trust in God even when everything seems to be going wrong. Sabr is one of the qualities that can lead to Paradise. Quran 33:35 mentions “the men who persevere and the women who persevere” as among those who will receive a great reward from God
Sahaba The Companions of the Prophet Muhammad; the singular is “sahabi” and the feminine plural is “sahabiyat”
Salaf A general term for the early generations of Muslims
Salat The fixed-time ritual prayer of Islam and one of the five pillars. It is offered five times a day: at dawn, mid-day, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall
Shafi’i One of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered relatively conservative
Shahadah The testimony of faith “Laa ilaha ill’Allah. Muhammadan rasul Allah” that makes a person a Muslim under the law
Shari’a Islamic law; the two sources are the Quran and the Sunna
Shaytan The satan. The English word “satan” is actually adapted from a Hebrew word which means “adversary”. The Arabic word “shaytan” is a cognate to this. Satan in Islamic teaching (where he is also named Iblis) is from the race of the jinn (which see) rather than being a fallen angel as in Christian teaching
Shirk The associating of partners with God; usually translated as “polytheism” or “idolatry”
Sunna (1) The deeds, sayings, and silent approvals of the Prophet Muhammad; this consitutes the second source of Shari’a. It is obligatory for Muslims to follow the Sunna as well as the Quran
Sunna (2) Some action taken by the Prophet Muhammad; for instance one of the Prophet’s sunnas is to fast three days each month
Sunna (3) Recommended; performance will be rewarded but neglect is not punished (said of an action). This is nearly synonymous with “mustahabb” but carries the sense that the form has specifically been established by the Prophet Muhammad
Surah Refers to the “chapters” of the Quran; there are 114 surahs
SWT An abbreviation for “Subhana wa Ta’ala”; used after God’s name, it means “be He glorified and exalted”
Tabi’un The Successors; this refers to the second generation of Muslims, who were succcessors to the Sahaba
Tafsir A commentary on the Quran, explaining the meaning of its verses
Tasawwuf Islamic mysticism; the English term is Sufism
Tawhid Islamic monotheism
Ulama The religious scholars of Islam. The singular is “alim” and the term “mullah” is synonymous. The place of ulama in Islam is similar in many ways to that of rabbis in Judaism
Umma An Arabic word meaning “community” or “nation”; specifically used to refer to the worldwide community of Muslims, as united by faith
Ummahat al-Muminin An Arabic phrase meaning “mothers of the faithful”. It is a title given to the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, based on Surah al-Ahzab verse 6 which says “The Prophet is nearer to the faithful than their own souls, and his wives are their mothers”
Wudu The ritual ablutions that precede the salat, which involve washing the hands, mouth, nose, face, forearms, hair, ears, and feet
Zakat One of the five pillars, it involves giving 2.5% of surplus wealth to help the needy

Know more about the few of these terms in detail here.

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