Glossary

A

Alim

Knowledgeable person or scholar (pl. ulama).

Allah

Arabic word for God.

Allahu akbar

God is the greatest. An expression used when worshipping God which implies God is greater than anything we can imagine.

Aqida

Creed or beliefs, and a branch of Islamic study describing beliefs.

C

Caliph

Successor. Name used to describe the Muslim leader of the Islamic empire up to the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1924.

D

Dawah

Invitation. In a religious context it means the act of inviting someone to the faith or spreading the word of Islam.

F

Fatwa

Legal verdict or opinion of a qualified scholar.

Fiqh

Legal opinion according to Islamic law.

Fitna

Chaos, particularly brought about by discord among Muslims.

H

Hadd

The limit, often in law (pl. hudud). Refers to extreme and capital punishments used in some interpretations of Islam.

Hadd

The limit, often in law (pl. hudud). Refers to extreme and capital punishments used in some interpretations of Islam.

Hajj

Pilgrimage to Mecca and one of the 5 Pillars of Islam.

Halal

Everything that is lawful and allowed in Islam.

Haram

Everything that is unlawful and not allowed in Islam.

Hijab

Refers to the concept of modest dress for men and women. Most commonly refers to the headscarf.

I

Ibadah

Worship. The Islamic theory or philosophy of Muslim religious rituals.

Ihsan

The Muslim responsibility to obtain perfection in worship and life.

Ijma

Debating and celebrating differences of opinion.

Ijma

Finding consensus in society.

Ijtihad

Reasoning and good judgment.

Imam

Leader, particularly in prayer. For Shias: A leader to succeed after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Iman

Faith. Outlined through belief in God, the angels, the Qur’an, the Prophets, the Day of Judgment, and God’s predestination.

Islah

Improving things through reform.

Islam

The name of the religion of Muslims which translates as peace and obedience to a higher will, as well as being whole.

J

Jahiliya

The period of ignorance before the revelation of the Qur’an.

Jihad

In general, the struggle for good or against wrongdoing. In most cases, this means the greater internal struggle to be better Muslims. However, jihadists prioritise the lesser interpretation to mean physical struggle.

Jilbab

Traditional Arabic term describing a loose over garment. Historically worn by women as a simple overcoat.

K

Kafir

An insulting term used by some Muslims to describe non-Muslims (pl kuffar).

M

Madrasah

A centre of learning. Often means an Islamic school.

Mahr

This is the gift the groom gives his bride, which is an essential part of the marriage contract.

Mawlana

Formal title for qualified religious teachers especially in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Muezzin

Person who calls Muslims to prayer.

Mufassir

Commentator or interpreter of the Qur’an.

Mufti

A jurist qualified to make a judgment of religious law.

Muhaddith

Person who relayed reports or statements (hadith) concerning the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the 7th century.

Muhammad

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is believed to be the final prophet of God sent to present God’s word as revealed in the Qur’an to him in the early 7th century by the Angel Gabriel, God’s messenger.

N

Nikah

The name given to the ceremony and contract in an Islamic marriage.

Niqab

A full veil, predating Islam, worn by women to cover the face.

P

Pbuh

"An acronym used every time the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is written or spoken about and stands for: peace be upon him. It shows the reverence in which he is held."

Q

Qur’an

Islam’s central religious text, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

S

SWT

‘Subhanahu wa ta'ala’ in Arabic which translates as ‘May He be glorified and exalted.’

Sabr

Patience. One of the two important parts of faith, alongside shukr (thankfulness).

Sadaqah

From truth. Refers to charitable actions of any kind, even non-financial.

Salafi

Muslims whose literal interpretation and austere practice are based on the first three generations of Muslims living during and after the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Salah/Salat

Ritual prayer performed five times a day by practising Muslims. One of the 5 Pillars of Islam.

Sawm

Abstaining from. Fasting during Ramadan. One of the 5 Pillars of Islam.

Shahada

'To witness or testify: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”. One of the 5 Pillars of Islam.'

Sharia

The name given to the way religious scholars interpret the Qur’an to guide Muslims on how to live their lives. Scholars are free to debate with each other and allowed to hold a diverse range of interpretations.

Shia

Muslims who believe Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) descendant, and the line of imams that stem from him are the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) rightful heirs.

Sirah

The life or biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Sufi

Muslims who emphasise the spiritual and mystical ideals of Islam and often affiliate to a spiritual order.

Sunnah

The trodden path or way of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with an emphasis on his character.

Sunni

General term describing the body of Muslims who accept the appointment of Abu Bakr as Muhammad’s (pbuh) successor (Caliph) in 632CE.

T

Tafsir

Commentary or analysis of the Qur'an.

Tajdid

Renewal of Islamic faith and practice.

Tawhid

To declare the oneness of God. Monotheism – belief there is only one God.

U

Ummah

The broader community. Refers to the worldwide community of Muslims. Used by early Muslims to mean all the people in a community.

W

Wasat

The centre or middle ground. Balanced, moderation.

Z

Zakat

The purification of wealth by means of charitable giving. Similar to a tax, based on an individual’s wealth and savings. One of the 5 Pillars of Islam.