Islamic Center of Saint Joseph
AdhabBehaviour appropriate to a given situation; good manners. Fundamental to our religious lives, in our relationship with Allah and with our fellow beings.(See section on Adhab)
AdhanThe call to prayer, usually delivered several minutes before the second call (Iqama, q. v.)
Ahlu’l KitabThe people of the Book i.e. Christians and Jews.
AkhiraThe next world.
Alim Knowledgeable person; Scholar (pl. Ulama q.v.)
AmirThe leader of the community. Every group of more than two or gathering of Muslims should have an Amir.
Aqida Doctrine, or creed.
Aqiqa The slaughtering of a sheep (one for a girl, two for a boy) in thanksgiving for the birth of a child. The meat may be distributed, cooked and eaten at a collective community gathering or its equivalent donated to a reputable Islamic aid centre for the poor.
Aql Intelligence; the faculty of reason or at a higher level the faculty of the soul (Ruh) which gives spiritual understanding.
ArkanPillars; the 5 pillars of Islam – Shahada; the declaration of Faith, Salat; the Five obligatory daily Prayers, Zakat; Alms paying, Sawm; fasting the month of Ramadan, and Hajj; Pilgrimage to Mecca if it is within ones means.
Ayatullah A spiritual leader of the Shi’i Muslims. Means “sign of Allah”.
Ayat/AyahLit: a sign. Usually means a verse of the Qur’an, such as Ayatu’l Kursi, the Throne verse.The Qur’an also speaks of natural phenomena such as the sun, trees, sea, etc., as being among the ‘Signs of God’. We cannot see Him directly but we may come to know Him through His signs in what He has created and what He has revealed in the Qur’an.
Bay’a/AyahOath of allegiance, initially to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) then to his successors (Khalifs q.v.), an Amir.
Bid’a Innovation, usually unfavorable, in religious belief or practice.
al-Bukhari (810-870) The greatest of the Hadith compilers, born and died at Bukhara in Central Asia.
Dar ul-Islam According to the’ medieval theorists’, the lands where the Shari’ah is politically dominant. Contrasted with Daru’l Sulh, the lands in treaty with Muslims, and Daru’l Harb, areas at war with Islam.
Dawah Work aimed at revitalizing or spreading the message of Islam.
Derwish Persian word for a religious mendicant; often a synonym for Faqeer (q.v.)
Dhikr Broadly, any activity involving the remembrance of God. Used often as a technical term for the repetition of Qur’anic formula, either individually or in a group ceremony. The function of Dhikr is the purification of the heart.
Deen Usually translated as religion, the Arabic word itself has a much wider connotation and can be taken to mean an entire way of life. While the word can be applied to any religion or way of life, it is used for Islam in the understanding that there has only ever been one Deen from God to man.
Prayer of supplication. Can form part of, but is not restricted to, the obligatory Salat (Five times daily Prayer). May take the form of a spontaneous address to God, or of petitionary formulas.
‘This world’. The opposite of Akhira (q.v.). Dunya is the realm of action; Akhira is the place of requital for action.
Urdu for Salawat (q.v.); invoking blessings upon the Prophet (PBUH).
A festival. Two principal festivals are recognized in Islam: – Eidu’l-Fitr is celebrated on the day following the month of Ramadan (The 9th month of the Islamic calendar also the fasting month) i.e. the end of fasting. – Eidu’l-Adha or Eidu’l-Kabir is celebrated on the 10th of the month of Dhu’l-Hijja (the 12th month of the Islamic calendar) and commemorates the end of the Hajj season.It commemorates the sacrifice of Ismael by Abraham. Thus it is the Festival of Sacrifice.
Faqeer Lit. ‘a poor man’. A Sufi term for the member of a Tariqa, a Sufi way or spiritualist path.
An obligatory act, like the Prayer (Salat) or the Annual Fast (Ramadan). Fardi ayn is obligatory on every individual provided adult, sane and capable. Fardi kifaya where the obligation is to be provided within the community; it should take place/be implemented in the community before some people.
FatihaThe first Surah (Chapter) of the Qur’an, recited in every rak’at (unit) of Salat. Lit. ‘Opening’, It opens the Qur’an and also opens up the human heart in that the meaning of the whole of the Qur’an is contained within it.
Fatwa A legal ruling given by a Mufti (q.v.).
Fiqh ‘Islamic jurisprudence; the science of correct public and private life’. The study and codification of the Divine Law (Shari’a q.v.). The main sources of these codes are the Qur’an and Sunnah, but also Ijma (consensus), Qiyas (analogical reasoning) and Ijtihad (applied knowledge to arrive at a judgement). By this study a number of codes or Schools of Law (Madhhab) came into existence named after their founders.
Fitra‘Instinct, natural inclinations. Islam is the Deenu’l fitra, or the religio naturalis, for its provisions are in complete harmony with man’s natural disposition.
al-Ghazali (1058-1111) Abu Hamid al-Ghazali is usually considered one of Islam’s greatest theologians. His greatest work the Ihya Ulumi’d din, (Revival of the Religious Sciences), served to demonstrate the inseparable and mutually dependent nature of the Shari’ah and Sufism.
GhuslThe major ritual ablution, effected by the washing of every part of the body with clean running water. Recommended before taking Shahada; declaration of Faith, Jum’a; congregational Friday Prayer only obligatory for men, and Eid Prayer performed on the occasion of the two Eid’s.
Hadith A report verifying how the Holy Prophet performed an action, dealt with an incident or reacted to a situation together with any dialogue which took place at the time.
Hafiz A person who has memorized the entire Qur’an.
Hajj The annual pilgrimage to the holy places in and around Makkah. It is obligatory on every Muslim to make the trip once in a lifetime if one is financially able.
Hakeem In Urdu, Persian etc one skilled in the traditional science of Islamic medicine or homeopathy.
Halal Anything lawful in the sight of God. Everything which is not expressly forbidden (Haram) is lawful. The Qur’an says that the pure food of the Ahlu’l-Kitab (ie Christians and Jews) is Lawful (Halal). [There are some differences of interpretation of this verse between the different Madhhabs].
Hanafi It is the largest Sunni school of law in the world in term of followers. The Hanafis are mainly found in South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, etc.), in Western Asia and the Middle-East (Turkey, 1/2 up to 2/3 in Egypt, etc.), and in the United Kingdom.
Haqiqa Sufi term for reality, the authentic essence behind forms and attributes. Distinct from Haqq which refers to the essence of God alone.
Haqq Absolute Reality, Truth, Justice. One of the names of Allah.
Haram The sacred precincts of Makkah, Medina and Jerusalem.
Haram Anything forbidden by God.
Hidaya/HudaDivine Guidance, given to individuals or communities.
HijabIslamic dress for women.
Hijra The migration of the Holy Prophet and his companions from Makkahto Medina in 622 AD. It is the base year of the Muslim calendar. (AH meaning After Hijra).
Hilal The crescent moon, the observation of which proclaims the start of a month.
Ibada Principally used in the sense of ‘worship’ i.e. prayer, fasting etc., but includes any act that confirms man’s status of ‘abd, servant of Allah.
IblisThe personal name of the Devil.
Iftar The time at which the fast may be broken, i.e. sunset (Maghrib).
Ihram The sacred state entered into by Muslims embarking upon the Pilgrimage. It includes performing ghusl and dressing (for men) in two seamless garments. Women in Ihram wear the usual hijab ensuring to cover completely except the hands and face.
IhsanLit. doing good ‘par excellence’ but bears a wider meaning denoting a spiritual state; the Holy Prophet defined it as Worshipping God as though you could see Him.
IjtihadThe use of reasoning to arrive at a ruling of the Shari’a where no specific reference to the issue exists in the Qur’an or Hadith. (Done only by those with sufficient knowledge).
Ikhlas Purity of intention, sincerity.
Ikhwan (Derived from the Arabic word Ukhuwwa) Brethren. The Prophet (PBUH) emphasized the brotherhood of believers, hence the fashion for calling Muslims brother or sister.
IlmKnowledge, especially of something outward, as opposed to ma’rifa (q.v.). The Prophet (PBUH) ordered the seeking of knowledge as compulsory upon every Muslim man and woman.
Imam Lit. The one in front. (leader) A leader with religious authority having political responsibilities. Also any person who leads the congregational prayer.There is no formal priesthood in Islam, an Imam is chosen according to the individual’s character and knowledge of Islam.
Iman Faith. It is subject to strengthening or weakening according to how we live.
Imsak For the fasting person, that time at which food and drink may no longer be taken so that preparation can be made to resume fasting. It’s time is a few minutes before first light (Fajr). Injeel The Gospel. Iqama The second call to prayers, an abbreviated and modified version of the Adhan. Its function is to assemble those present in the Mosque so that the Prayer can commence.
Isa Prophet Jesus, Peace Be Upon Him. Islam Lit. submission. Used to refer to man’s formal submission to the will of God as mediated through His final Messenger.
Isra wa’l Miraj Al-Isra. The Holy Prophet’s miraculous “night journey” from Makkah to Jerusalem. (Qur’an 18:1). Al-Mi’raj is his ascent with Gabriel through the seven heavens to the presence of God.
Istighfar Seeking forgiveness. ‘Astagfir-Allah’ I seek forgiveness from Allah.
Istinja The practice of cleaning with water ones private area having used the toilet.
JahannamHell, the punishment appointed for evil.
Jahiliya ‘Ignorance’ as in Arabia before the advent of Islam. Also used to refer to the state of mind characterised by ignorance and pride.
Jama’a(t) A group of Muslims united under the authority of a leader or Amir.
Janaba The state of impurity, brought about by the sexual act, or any other cause of seminal emission. The person in this state may not perform Salat; prayer. It is also preferable not enter a Mosque, or touch a copy of the Qur’an. The state is lifted by the act of Ghusl (q.v.)
Janaza The Islamic funeral rites. The body is washed, placed in a linen shroud, and buried without unnecessary delay. The Janaza or funeral prayer is offered collectively; four Takbirs (q.v.) interspaced with prayers said silently in the standing position, with no bowing or prostration of Ruku or Sujud.(q.v.)
Janna The Garden of Bliss promised for the righteous. Jihad ‘Effort’, also military effort in the services of Islam. Jihad’l Akbar ‘The Greater Jihad’ – The struggle in oneself between the base desires and the natural inclination towards a higher spiritual ideal.
Jinn Intelligent beings created with smokeless fire (Q. 55:15) not normally perceptible to humans. Jum’a The Friday congregational worship, required of all adult males not on a journey. It replaces the Zuhr (midday prayer) on Friday with a public address called a Khutba (q.v.) followed by two Rak’at (units) of the collective salat.
Ka’ba The Temple of Abraham in Mecca, directional focus of Salat; prayer, and centre for the circumbulation rites (Tawaf) of the Hajj; pilgrimage.
Kafir Lit.’one who conceals’, usually refers to those people who conceal from themselves the will of God. Often, rather generally applied to all non-believers.
Kalifah/Caliph 1. Political successor to the authority of the Holy Prophet over all Muslims. 2. Man in his role as God’s representative on earth.Khalifatu’l – rashida (the rightly guided caliphs) refers to the first 4 successors to the Prophet i.e. Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali.
Khamr ‘Wine’. Defined by the Prophet as any intoxicant.
Khatib The man (usually the Imam) who delivers the Khutba address or sermon on Friday and on the two Eid festivals. Khutba The address delivered before the Jum’a prayer and after the prayer of Eid. Kufr The state of being a Kafir (q.v.)
Madhhab The name for a school of Islamic Law. Four of those recognised as orthodox among Sunnis are the Shafi’i, the Maliki, the Hanafi, and the Hanbali (q.v.) Differences between them are generally minor and are due to different interpretations of the the Sunnah.(q.v.) Madrasa An Islamic School. Mahdi In Islamic eschatology, the ‘man of absolute guidance’ expected near the end of time to deliver the Muslim nation from political and moral decline. Makruh ‘Disliked’, an action not expressly forbidden, but preferably avoided if possible. Ma’lak ‘An Angel’, a creature of light, obedient to God (pl. Mala’ika)
Maliki A follower of the school of Imam Malik ibn Anas of Medina (c. 720-795). The Maliki’s live mainly in Northern and West Africa and France.
Ma’rifa ‘Knowledge’, more specifically inner illumination granted by God. Masjid ‘Mosque’. A large Mosque is often referred to as a ‘Jamih’ as well.
Mawlana ‘Our master’. Common honorific title of religious person in the subcontinent.
Mawlud/Mawlid A festival commemorating the birth of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), fixed as the 12th of Rabi ul Aw’wal.
Mihrab Niche let into the Qibla (q.v.) wall of many Mosques to indicate the direction of prayer.
Minbar Pulpit in a Mosque.
Miswak Toothbrush made from a twig of arak wood. It is recommended dental hygiene and breath freshner to be used before Salat; prayer, as part of Wudu; purification, or at any other time.
Mubah The very wide area of action which, in Islamic law, is neither made compulsory nor prohibited. Muezzin/Mu’adhdhin The man who delivers the call to prayer.
Mufti A person qualified to give a legal ruling (fatwa q.v.).
Muhajirun The Makkan companions of the Holy Prophet who accompanied him during the Hijra; migration to Medina.
Mujaddid A ‘Reformer’, specifically one whose work and actions leads to substantial change in the society.
Mujahid One who engages in Jihad.
Mu’min A believer. A person possessed of Iman; faith.
Munafiq A hypocrite.
Murid One who has submitted to the personal direction of a Sufi teacher in order to further his spiritual growth.
Murshid A guide. In Sufi terminology, a saint qualified to communicate his inward knowledge to pupils.
Musafir A traveler. People traveling are in certain circumstances entitled to shorten and combine the obligatory prayers.
Mushrik One who follows Shirk, the conscious or unconscious ascription of ultimate authority to anything other than God. Muslim A follower of Islam; a person submitting to the will of God.
Mut’a Marriage contract with a specified expiry date. Prohibited in the 4 Sunni schools.
Nabi A Prophet. Several are listed in the Qur’an. Not always a Rasul. Nafl An optional act of Ibadah: worship usually carried out before and/or after a Fard: obligatory act of worship. Nafs ‘Self’, The Qur’an tells of 3 principal types of nafs: 1. An-nafs al-ammara (12:53), the lowest, animal self, “commanding to evil”. 2. An-nafs al-lawwama (75:2), the self which feels torn between right and wrong, the “reproachful self”. 3. An-nafs al-mutma’inna (84:27), the “tranquil self” which has overcome it’s lower aspects.
Najis impure’, opposite of Tahir (q.v.). Namaz Turkish, Persian and Urdu for salat.
Nifaq Hypocrisy, dissimulation.
Nikah The legal institution of marriage. An Islamic marriage is contracted between the bridegroom and the bride, or her guardian. The Mahr, or bridal gift is given by the groom to the wife and becomes her property. The ceremony is simple, requiring only the presence of an officiating party and two witnesses.
Niyya Conscious intention. It is the part of an action which affects the heart and is counted by Allah. Without sincere intention no act, and particularly no act of worship, has any value.
Nur Divine light.
Qabar The grave. Between death and the moment of resurrection there exists an intermediate stage in the tomb, where the dead have a foretaste of what is to come.
Qadi A judge in an Islamic court of law. Qadar God’s decree, which limits human freedom of action.
Qalb The heart, the center of religious inspiration and illumination. Qalbun Salim A heart made pure, whole and perfect. Our hearts must be transformed into this condition for our admittance into the Divine presence. Qard Hasan Interest free loan with an unstipulated due date.
Qasr The practice of shortening Zuhr, Asr and Isha prayers to two rak’at each in place of four, allowed to those who have left their town of residence on a journey exceeding a certain distance (usually 56 km). Qibla The direction of the Ka’ba in Makkah, towards which Muslims turn to pray. Qiyama Resurrection. Yawmi’l Qiyama is the day when we shall be raised up from death to receive judgement.
Qur’an Lit. Recitation, lecture. The Holy Book of Islam, the uncreated word of God, the final scripture as presented to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through the Angel Gabriel. Quraysh The Arab clan to which the Holy Prophet belonged. It was the dominant clan in Makkah.
Rabb One of the names of Allah most commonly used, meaning the One to whom we owe allegiance and service and who supports and nourishes all.
Rahma Usually translated as ‘mercy’ but is much wider, including compassion, love and beneficence. It emanates from God and fills the whole of creation.
Raka’a One prayer cycle or unit in the salat, including one Ruku and two Sujud (q.v.).
Ramadan The blessed month of fasting.
Rasul ‘Messenger’,’Apostle’. Such people of whom Muhammad was the last, that have been sent to every nation in history. Belief in them, and in their freedom from mortal sin, is an indispensable article of faith.
Riba ‘Usury’. God has forbidden the usurious lending of money. Rizq Provision, sustenance.
Roza The Urdu word for fasting (sawm).
Ruh 1. Man’s soul. 2. The angel Gabriel i.e. Ruhu’l Qudus – the Holy Spirit. Ruku The act of bowing in the prayer.
Sawm/Siyam Fasting. God has made fasting obligatory during the month of Ramadan, but many Muslims, following the Sunna or example of the Holy Prophet fast at other times as well.
Sabha A set of prayer beads.
Sabr This word is usually translated as ‘patience’ but it has a much wider meaning; to accept with contentment and without complaint everything that comes to us from our Lord, to await the coming of events in their due time, and to persevere in working towards our aim despite difficulties that are put in our path. Sadaqa Giving to the poor etc over and above the obligatory Zakat (q.v.) Sahaba The companions of the Holy Prophet.(Sahabi : sing.) Sahih (Lit: right) Term given to certain Hadith (q.v.) which pass the most rigorous tests of authentication, particularly the collection of the Imams Bukhari and Muslim. Sajda cf. Sujud Sajjada A prayer mat.
Salat The canonical prayer. The means given by Allah for mankind to make contact with him. It is a worship of the whole person; heart, mind, tongue and body. It is the second of the five pillars of Islam. Salawat An invocation to Allah for peace and blessings upon the Prophet. Used during the prayers (salat) or an etiquette when the Prophet’s name is mentioned or as a repeated invocation etc. Samawat The Heavens (pl. of sama – sky) There are usually said to be seven. Satr The parts of the human body which should remain covered for decency.
Shafi’i Today the Shafi`is are mainly found in Western Asia and the Middle-East (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, 1/3 up to 1/2 in Egypt, etc.), in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, etc.), in South-East Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.), East Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, etc.). It is the second biggest Sunni school of law in the world in term of followers, but the most widely expanded school all around the world.Shahada
The confession of faith, consisting to two formulae: 1. Ashhadu Anlaa Ilah Illa’llah – I witness that there is no god except Allah. 2. Wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasoolu’llah – And I witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
ShaytanThe devil, or one of his followers.
Shari’/Shar Lit. road sometimes translated as Divine Law. The formal principles of the Islamic Way of Life, which includes guidance on questions of worship, behaviour, personal law, criminal law and the conduct of state. Sharif A descendent of the Holy Prophet.
Shaykh/Sheikh As an Islamic term, one qualified to teach religion and or sufism. Shi’a Loyalists of the cause of Ali – an historical dispute over the early succession to the Prophet, and not a difference about the fundamentals of Islam. Shi’ites comprise about 8% of Muslims, being the majority in Iran.
Shirk The conscious or unconscious ascription of ultimate authority to someone or something other than Allah.
Shura The principle and act of mutual consultation. Sidq The attribute of honesty and truthfulness.
Seerah The life of the Holy Prophet.
Sufi An exponent of Tasawwuf. According to themselves the term is not applied to the followers but only to those who have achieved and have authority to teach.
Sujud/Sajda The act of prostration in the prayer cycle. Sunnah The example of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in character and behaviour. As what he did was not from his own will but from his Lord he is both the exponent of the Qur’an in practical human life and the model of perfect humanity. When Muslims follow the example of the Prophet, even in one simple act they are making a link not only with the Prophet but also with Allah.It is the second source of the Shariah, after the Qur’an.
Surah A Chapter in the Qur’an.
Tabligh A synonym for Dawah, it means to convey the message.
Tafsir A commentary on the Qur’an. Tahajjud An optional salat during the later part of the night. Particularly recommended during Ramadan and before the two festivals.
Tajwid The traditional art of Qur’an recitation. Tajwid today is most commonly heard in the Ottoman Imperial style, which is a slow melodious cantillation. Other progressively faster styles are Tahqiq, Tartil, Tadwir and Hadr. Takbir The act of saying Allahu Akbar – Allah is most great.
Taqwa A state in which one is conscious of being in the presence of Allah and therefore fearing to do wrong or what is harmful to oneself or others.
Tarawih Optional prayers during Ramadan held after the Isha (night) prayers. Very often held in congregation. The practice of the Prophet PBUH was to pray eight Rak’at. According to the practice of the Companions it can extend to 20 Rak’at. Tariqa Lit.’Way’.A word generally used to indicate the spiritual or Inner Way, which goes beyond the requirements of the outer application of the Shari’a. Tasawwuf The methods and teachings of Sufis.
Tasbih The act of saying Subhan Allah -Glory to Allah or hymning the merits of Allah. The Qur’an says that everything in the heavens and the earth does this.Tawba Lit. Turn Back (to Allah). The recognition of wrong action and the resolution to set it right.
Tawhid The doctrine of the absolute unity and indivisibility of Allah.
Tawaf Ritual act of walking round the Ka’ba 7 times.
Tawrat The Torah, The Old Testament, the scripture given to Moses. It is one of the fundamentals of faith to believe in the scriptures of Allah.
Tayammum The practice of symbolic ablution. Used when unable to find water or because of health reasons.
Tayyib Good, Wholesome. We are commanded in the Qur’an to eat not only what is lawful but also what is wholesome.
Thawab Reward in the next world for good actions.
Uluma Scholars versed in religious sciences. (Pl. of Alim)
Ummah The Community of Believers. Its basis is common faith in Allah the Almighty and allegiance to His Messenger Muhammad (PBUH).
Umrah The lesser Pilgrimage, which may be undertaken at any time of year.
Wajib A necessary action.
Wali The legal guardian of a minor or marriage partner.
Wali A “Friend of Allah”, a saint.
Walima A party to celebrate and make public a happy occasion – usually marriage. Witr An optional prayer after the Isha or night prayer, having an odd number of rak’at (usually three). Wudu Ritual ablution. Before the prayer it is necessary to perform wudu.
Yathrib Pre-Islamic name for Madinah.
Zaboor The Psalms – the Scripture given to David.
Zakat The obligatory annual alms given from property and wealth. This becomes due only when a person has kept wealth above a certain limit for one year. The proportion (nisaab) for cash and highly liquid assets is usually set at 2.5%
Zamzam The sacred well which provided water for the baby Ishmael, son of Prophet Ibrahim and his wife Hajar who ran between the hills of Safa and Marwa in search of water to quench her child’s thirst. The well is located near the Haram in Makkah. Zawiya A center of Sufi activities. Zina Adultery or fornication.
Other Common PhrasesLa illaaha Illalah There is no god but Allah Bismillah In the name of Allah Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem In the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful Allah Akbar Allah is Great Masha Allah Allah has enjoined this to be so Subhan Allah Exalted is Allah. Alhmadlillah All Praise is due to Allah Astaghfir Allah I seek forgiveness from Allah. Insha Allah If Allah wills Assalamu Alaikum Peace be upon you Wa alaikum as-salaam And Peace also with you Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barrakatuhu May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be with youWa Alaikum mus-Salam wa Rahmatullah wa Barrakatuhu And may the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be with you also Source: The New Muslim Project