A glossary of Muslim terms
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The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic, therefore Arabic is the language of Islam, Islamic worship, theology, ethics and jurisprudence. Islam is inextricably linked with the Arabic language despite the variety of languages spoken by the believers. When translated the Qur'an loses its status as the revealed word as a translation diminishes the message.
Pronunciation note: Certain words appear with an 'h' when alone but with a 't' when part of a phrase. A pause or breath is shown by an apostrophe. The glossary is a simplified version.
pbuh: The letters pbuh (peace be upon him) is used everytime the name of the prophet Muhammad pbuh is mentioned. Similar respect is accorded to the other prophets.


Abd Servant. As in Abdullah, servant of Allah.
Abu Bakr The first Khalifah, successor to the leadership of the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh
Adam Adam pbuh. The first man, and Prophet of Allah.
Adhan Call to prayer. From the same root as, Mu'adhin (one who makes the call to prayer)
Aishah One of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, and daughter of Abu Bakr (Radhi-Allahu-anhum - may Allah be pleased with him).
Akhirah Everlasting life after death - the hereafter.
Akhlaq Conduct, character, attitudes and ethics.
al-Amin The trustworthy. The name by which the Prophet Muhammad pbuh was generally known, even before the revelation of Islam.
al-Aqsa Masjid-ul-Aqsa (The Farthest Mosque) in Jerusalem, often known as the Dome of the Rock.
al-Fatihah The Opener. Surah 1 of the Qu'ran. Recited at least 17 times daily during the five times of salah. Also known as 'The essence' of the Qur'an.
al-hamdu-li-Llah All praise belongs to Allah. Frequently used as an expression of thanks to Allah.
al-Kafi The title of the books of the Hadith compiled by Muhammad ibn-Yaqub Koleini,a Shi'ah scholar.
al-Khulafa-ur-Rashidun The rightly guided Khalifahs. The first four successors to the leadership role of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. They were Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali .(May Allah be pleased with them).
al-Madinah Madinatu'n-Nabi (The city of the Prophet). The name given to Yathrib after the Prophet Muhammad pbuh migrated there in 622 CE and founded the first Islamic state.
Ali Cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh; husband of Fatimah Zarah; father of Hassan, Hussein and Zainab; the fourth of 'al-Khulafa ur-Rashidun' according to Sunnis, and the first successor accepted by Shi'ah Islam. (May Allah be pleased with them).
Allah The Islamic name for God in the Arabic language. Used in preference to the word God, this Arabic term is singular, has no plural, nor is associated with masculine, feminine or neuter characteristics.
Allahu Akbar Allah is most great
Angels Beings created by Allah from light. They have no free will and are completely obedient to Allah.
Ansar supporters. The Muslims of al-Madinah, who welcomed, helped and supported the Muslims who migrated there from Makkah.
Arafat A plain, a few kilometers from Makkah, where pilgrims gather to worship, pray and ask for forgiveness. This takes place on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah, the day before Id-ul-Adha.
Asr (Salat-ul-Asr) Mid-afternoon salah which may be performed from the late afternoon until a short while before sunset.
As-Salamu-Alaykum Peace be upon you. An Islamic greeting.
Ayah  (sing) A unit within a Surah of the Qur'an.
Barakah Blessings
Barzakh Partition or Barrier the divide between the life on earth and the life after. This barrier cannot be crossed except by death and judgement.
Bilal The first Mu'adin of Islam (see Adhan), a companion of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, a former Abyssinian slave (may Allah be pleased with him).
Bismillah In the name of Allah,
Bismillah-ur-Rahman- ir-Rahim In the name of Allah - all gracious, all merciful. The preface to all Suras of the Qur'an except the ninth one. It is usually said by Muslims before eating or beginning any action.
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Dar-ul-Islam House or abode of Islam. Sometimes used to refer to lands ruled by Islamic Shari'ah.
Da'wah Call. Inviting people to Islam, whether by literal invitation and preaching, or by the example of good actions.
Dawad David (pbuh). A prophet of Allah to whom the Zabur (the book of Psalms) was given.
Dhikr Remembrance. Remembrance of Allah in one's heart or be reciting His names or sections from the Qur'an.
Dhimmi A non-Muslim living freely under the protection of an Islamic state.
Dhul-Hijjah The month of the Hajj, last month of the Islamic year.
Din Way of life, religion together with its practices.
Din-ul-Fitrah A description of Islam as the natural way of life.
Du'a Varying forms of personal prayer and supplication.
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Fajr (Salat-ul-Fajr) Dawn salat which may be performed from dawn until just before the sunrise.
Fard Obligatory duty according to divine law, e.g. offering salah five times a day.
Fatihah See al-Fatihah
Fatimah (al-Zahrah) Daughter of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, wife of Ali; mother of Hassan, Hussein and Zainhab (May Allah be pleased with them).
Fatwa The legal guidance of a pious, just, knowledgeable Muslim scholar and jurist, based on the Qur'an, Sunnah and Islamic Shari'ah
Fiqh Understanding. Islamic jurisprudence.
Ghusl Greater ablution. Formal washing of the whole body prior to worship (see Wudu).
Hadith Saying; report; account. The sayings of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, as recounted by his household, progengy and companions. These are a major source of Islamic law. Some Hadith are referred to as Hadith Qudsi (sacred Hadith) having been divinely communicated to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh.
Hafiz Someone who knows the whole Qur'an by heart.
Hajar Hagar. Wife of the Prophet Ibrahim, and mother of the prophet Isma'il. (Peace be upon them).
Hajj Annual pilgrimage to Makkah, which each Muslim must undertake at least once in a lifetime if he or she has the health and the wealth. A Muslim male who has completed Hajj is called Hajji, and a female Hajjah.
Halal Any action or thing which is permitted or lawful.
Haram Anything unlawful or not permitted.
Haram Sharif The grand mosque in Makkah, which encompasses the Ka'bah, the hills of Safa and Marwah and the well of Zamzam.
Hijab Veil. Often used to describe the head scarf or modest dress worn by women, who are required to cover everything except face and hands in the sight of anyone other than the immediate family.
Hijrah Departure, exit, emigration. The emigration of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, from Makkah to Medinah in 622 CE. The Islamic calendar commences from this event.
Hira The name of a place near Makkah, where the Prophet Muhammad pbuh went for solitude and worship. It was there that he received the first revelation of the Qur'an.
Ibadah All acts of worship. Any permissible action performed with the intention to obey Allah.
Iblis The Jinn who defied Allah be refusing to bow to Adam (pbuh) and later became the tempter of all human beings (see Shaytan).
Ibrahim Abraham (pbuh). A Prophet of Allah to whom the 'scrolls' were given.
Id Recurring happiness. A religious holiday; a feast for thanking Allah and celebrating a happy occasion.
Id Mubarak Id blessings ! Greeting exchanged during Islamic celebrations.
Id-ul-Adha Celebration of the sacrifice, commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishma'il for Allah (peace be upon them). Also known as Id-ul-Kabir - the Greater Id - and Qurban Bayram (Turkish) - feast of sacrifice.
Id-ul-Fitr Celebration of breaking the fast on the day after Ramadan ends, which is also the first day of Shawal, the tenth Islamic month. Also known as Id-ul-Saghir - the Lesser Id - and Sheker Bayram (Turkish) - sugar feast.
Ihram The state or condition entered into to perform either Hajj or Umrah. During this period, many normally permitted actions are placed out of bounds to Muslims. Also, the name of the two plain white unsewn cloths worn by male pilgrims to indicate the brotherhood, equality and purity of the pilgrim. For, woman, the dress of Ihram consists of their normal modest clothing.
Ijma General consensus of scholars, expressed or tacit, on matters of law and practice.
Imam Leader. A person who leads the communal prayer, or a founder of an Islamic school of jurisprudence. In Shi'ah Islam, Imam is also the title of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and his successors.
Imamah Office and function of an Imam. Religious authority in Shi'ah Islam; successor to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, as leader of the Muslim community.
Iman Faith.
Injil Gospel. A book given to the Prophet Isa (pbuh).
Iqamah Call to stand up for salah.
Isa Jesus. A prophet of Allah, born of the virgin Mary (peace be upon them).
Isha (Salat-ul-Isha) Evening salah which may be performed from just over an hour after sunset until midnight.
Islam Peace attained through willing obedience to Allah's divine guidance.
Isma'il Ishmael. A prophet of Allah. Son of the Prophet Ibrahim and Hajar (peace be upon them).
Isnad Chain of transmission of each Hadith.
Jahannam Hell, the punishment for those who are judged to be evil
Jannah  Paradise, the reward for those who are judged to be good 
Jibril  Gabriel. The angel who delivered Allah's messages to His Prophets. 
Jihad Personal individual struggle against evil in the way of Allah. It can also be collective defense of the Muslim community.
Jinn Being created by Allah from fire.
Jumu'ah (Salat-ul-Jumu'ah) The weekly communal salah, and attendance at the khutbah performed shortly after midday on Fridays. 
Ka'bah A cube-shaped structure in the center of the grand mosque in Makkah. The first house built for the worship of the One True God.
Khadijah First wife of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Mother of Fatimah Zahrah. (may Allah be pleased with them).
Khalifah Successor; inheritor; custodian; vice-regent (see al-Khulafa-ur-Rashidun).
Khilafah The institution of the Khalifah.
Khums Contribution (additional to zakat) of the fifth of surplus annual income paid by Shi'ah Muslims. Sunni Muslims only apply Khums to booty.
Khutbah Speech. Talk delivered on special occasions such as the Jum'uah and Id prayers.
Laylat-ul-Qadr The Night of Power, when the first revelation of the Qur'an was made to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. It is believed to be one of the last ten nights of Ramadan.
Madinah See al-Madinah
Maghrib (Slat-ul-Maghrib) Sunset salah which is performed after sunset until daylight ends. 
Mahdi, al-Muntazar The (rightly) guided one who is awaited and will appear towards the end of time to lead the Ummah and restore justice on Earth. The one who is promised in the Judaic, Christian and Islamic traditions.
Makkah City where the Prophet Muhammad pbuh was born, and where the Ka'bah is located.
Maryam Mary. The virgin mother of the Prophet Isa (Jesus) (pbuh).
Masjid Place of prostration. The Mosque.
Mihrab Niche or alcove in a mosque wall, indicating the Quiblah - the direction of Makkah, towards which all Muslims face to perform salah.
Miqat Place appointed, at which pilgrims enter into the state of Ihrim.
Mi'raj The ascent through the heavens of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh.
Mu'adhin Caller to prayer (see Adhan) Known in English as 'muezzin'.
Muhammad (pbuh) Praised. Name of the final Prophet (pbuh).
Muharram First month in the Islamic, calendar, which is calculated from the time the Prophet Muhammad pbuh migrated to Yathrib (Madinah).
Musa Moses (pbuh). A Prophet of Allah to whom the Tawah (Torah) was given.
Mumin Faithful. A believer, a practicing Muslim who wholeheartedly yields to Allah's guiding wisdom and is thus harmony with His will and at peace with himself and fellow creatures.
Muslim One who claims to have accepted Islam by professing the Shahadah.
Muzdalifah Place where pilgrims on Hajj stop for a time during the night of the day they spend at Arafat.
Nabi Prophet of Allah.
Niyyah Intention. A legally required statement of intent, made prior to all acts of devotion such as salat, Hajj or sawm.
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Qadar Allah's complete and final control over the fulfillment of events or destiny.
Qiblah Direction which Muslims face when performing salah - towards the Ka'bah (see Mihrab)
Qur'an That which is read or recited. The Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Allah's final revelation to humankind.
Rak'ah A unit of salah, made up of recitation, standing, bowing and two prostrations.
Ramadan The ninth month of the Islamic calender, during which fasting is required from just before dawn until sunset, as ordered by Allah in the Qur'an.
Rasul Messenger of Allah.
Sa'y Walking and hastening between Safa and Marwah, as part of the Hajj, in remembrance of Hajar's search for water for her son Isma'il (peace be upon them).
Sadaqah Voluntary payment or good action for charitable purposes.
Safa and Marwah Two hills in Makkah, near the Ka'bah, now included within the grand mosque (see Sa'y)
Sahih al-Bukhari The title of the books of Hadith compiled by Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari, a Sunni scholar. The collection is described as Sahih (authentic).
Sahih Muslim The title of the books of Hadith compiled by Abul Husayn Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, a Sunni scholar. The collection is described as Sahih (authentic).
Salah Prescribed communication with, and worship of, Allah, performed under specific conditions, in the manner taught by the Prophet Muhammad pbuh,.and recited in the Arabic language. The five daily times of salah are fixed by Allah.
Sawm Fasting from just before dawn until sunset. Abstinence is required from all food and drink (including water) as well as smoking and conjugal relations.
Shahadah Declaration of faith, which consists of the statement, "There is no god except Allah, Muhammed is the Messanger of Allah".
Shari'ah Islamic law based upon the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Shaytan Rebellious, proud. The devil (see Iblis).
Shi'ah Followers Muslims who believe in the Imamah, successorship of Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) after the Prophet Muhammad pbuh and 11 of his most pious, knowledgeable descendants.
Shirk Association. Regarding anything as being equal or partner to Allah. Shirk is forbidden in Islam.
Shura Consultation of the people in the management of religious and worldly affairs. A duty prescribed in the Qur'an to leaders at all levels, from family to government.
Sirah Biographical writings about the conduct and example of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh.
Subhah String of beads used to count recitations in worship.
Sunnah Model practices, customs and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh. This is found in both Hadith and Sirah.
Sunni Muslims who believe in the successorship of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) after the Prophet Muhammad pbuh.
Surah Division of the Qur'an (114 in all).
Takbir Saying "Allahu Akbar!" Recited during salah, Id and other celebrations.
Tawaf Walking seven times around the Ka'bah in worship of Allah. Also, a part of Hajj and Umrah.
Tawhid Belief in the Oneness of Allah - absolute monotheism as practices in Islam.
Tawrah The Torah. The book given to the Prophet Musa (Moses) (pbuh).
Ulama Scholars of Islamic law and jurisprudence (singular Alim)
Umar ibn ul-Khattab Second Khalifah of Islam.
Ummah Community. World-wide community of Muslims, the nation of Islam.
Umrah Lesser pilgrimage which can be performed at any time of the year.
Uthman The third Khalifah of Islam.
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Wudu Ablution before salah.
Yathrib Town to which the Prophet Muhammad pbuh migrated from Makkah (see al-Madinah)
Zabur The Book of Psalms given to the Prophet Dawud (David) (pbuh).
Zakah Purification of wealth by payment of annual welfare due. An obligatory act of worship.
Zakat-ul-Fitr Welfare payment at the end of Ramadan.
Zamzam Name of the well adjacent to the Ka'bah in Makkah. The water first sprang in answer to Hajar's search and prayers (see Hajar and Sa'y).
Zuhr (Salat-ul-Zuhr) Salah which can be performed after midday until afternoon.