A Glossary of Islamic Terms

The following is a glossary of commonly used Islamic terms and their translations and meanings in English.

It is incomplete right now and I will continue editing it soon Inshaa’Allaah.

  • ʿAđān (أذان) – The Call to Prayer

The ʿAđān is one of the most recognisable and apparent symbols of Islām. Prior to every one of the 5 daily prayers the mu’ađđin (see mu’ađđin) makes this call to prayer to inform the believers that the time for prayer has come.
This ʿAđān is made either from the inside or the outide of the masjid or also from atop of the minaret.

The wording of the ʿAđān is as follows in Arabic (with transcription and English translation below each line):

الله أكبر الله أكبر
Arabic – ‘Allāhu ‘Akbar (x4)
English – God is greater (than all things)

أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله
‘Ashhadu al-lā ilāha ill-Allāh (x2)
I testify that there is no god but Allāh

أشهد أن محمّدًا رسول الله
‘Ashhadu ‘anna Muhammadã-rasūl-ullāh
I testify that Muhammad is Allāh’s Messenger

حيّ على الصلاة
Hayya ʿalasSolāh
Hasten towards the Prayer

حيّ على الفلاح
Hayya ʿal al-falāh
Hasten towards Success

الله أكبر الله أكبر
‘Allāhu ‘Akbar-ullāhu ‘Akbar
God is greater (than all things)

لا إله إلا الله
Lā ilāha ill-Allāh

There is no god but Allāh

  • ʿAjīb· (عجيب) Strange/Amazing
  • ‘Akh (أخ)Brother

‘Akh is the Arabic term for brother. This may be used for one’s brother in family, or also for one’s brother in Islām. ‘Akhī means ‘my brother’ and is commonly used as a term of endearment when addressing another Muslim. (See also ‘Ukht)

المسلم أخو المسلم
« A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. »
(Narrated in Sahīh al-Bukhārī)

  • Al- (الـ) The

Al is a prefix to Arabic words which acts as the definite article. It works in the same way as the English word ‘the’ except that it becomes part of the word rather than a seperate word. As such it is usually represented when transcribing into English as being part of the word or joined by a hyphen to the word. The Arabic word for ‘the moon’ would be Al-Qamr or alternatively Alqamr.

The prefix Al changes according the the letters before and after it due to the rules of the Arabic language. The most noticeable change is when the second letter changes by borrowing the sound of the letter following it. This happens when the word Al is followed by what are called the ‘Sun Letters’, these are half of the letters of the Arabic alphabet, the other half are called ‘Moon Letters’. The reason for this naming is an example of the way the rule works. When the word Al is followed by the word ‘shams’ (sun) it becomes Ash-Shams, however as shown above, when it is followed by ‘qamr’ (moon) it stays as Al-Qamr. Due to this rule you will find words such as An-Nabi, At-Tawbah, Ad-Dar, As-Salam where the letter l in Al is replaced by the letter following it.

The following letters are known as the Moon Letters and the Al- does not change:

ي و ه م ل ك ق ف غ ع خ ح ج ب
(which correspond to the following in Latin script – b j h kh ` gh q k l m n w y)

And the following are the Sun Letters and the Al- changes according to the letter following it:

ن ظ ط ض ص ش س ز ر ذ د ث ت
(which correspond to the following in Latin script – t th d đ r z s sh s d t dh n)

  • ‘Al-‘Ākhirah (الآخرة)The Hereafter/The Afterlife

This may be Jannah (Paradise) or the Nār (Hellfire) depending on one’s Judgment from Allāh.

  • ʿĀlim (عالم)A scholar

ʿĀlim literally means ‘One who knows’ and is referred to as such for their knowledge in Islāmic fields. It comes from the word ˤilm (knowledge). The plural form of the word is ʿUlamā’

  • ‘Al-amdulillāh (الحمد لله)Praise be to God

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
All the praises and thanks be to Allāh (God), the Lord of the ‘Ālamīn (mankind, jinns and all that exists). [Al-Fātihah 1:2]

  • ‘Allāh (الله)God

    Allah written in Arabic script

    'Allah' written in Arabic script

Allāh is the name of God in the Arabic language. The word is a contraction of the Arabic term al-‘ilāh which means ‘the (one) god’. Allāh is the term used by all Arabic speakers to refer to God irrespective of their religion, so Jews and Christians alike also use the name Allāh to refer to God when speaking in Arabic.

  • ‘Allāhu ‘Akbar (الله أكبر)God is greater

The phrase Allāhu ‘Akbar in Arabic uses the comparative from of the word kabīr (كبير) which means ‘great’. The literal translation means ‘God is greater’, however the sentence may seem to be incomplete as it doesn’t state which object it is that Allāh is being compared to (usually a sentence would continue ‘Allāhu ‘akbar min..’ – Allāh is greater than.., this however implies that Allāh is greater than all things, no matter what they may be. As such the word ‘akbar takes on the role of the superlative, and may be translated as ‘greatest’ and as such Allāhu ‘Akbar can mean ‘God/Allāh is the greatest’.
The phrase is referred to in Arabic as the Takbīr.

  • ‘Allāh ul-Mustaʿān (الله المستعان)God (alone) is the one whom is sought for help
  • ʿAqd – (عقد) Covenant
  • ʿAqīdah – (عقيدة)Creed/Core belief

Link – What is Aqeedah?

  • ‘Astaghfirullāh (أستغفر الله)“I Ask forgiveness of Allāh”

This is a phrase often used by Muslims, it is essentially a duʿā’ (see Duʿā’) by which a Muslim asks forgiveness of God. This phrase is an example of istighfār.

  • ‘Āyah (آية)*Verse

‘Āyah is usually used to refer to a verse from the Qur’ān, however it may mean any verse in general. ‘Āyah may also mean a sign (from God) and is used in the Qur’ān in this context.
The plural of ‘Āyah is ‘Āyāt

*An alternate Arabic spelling is – ءاية

  • ʿAzza wa Jall (عزّ وجلّ)
  • Barakah (بركة) Blessing
  • Bayʿah (بيعة) Pledge of Allegiance

The bayʿah is a pledge of allegiance given to a leader. This pledge was given by the saḥābah to the Prophet Muḥammad, and later to the Righteous Khalifas. This pledge necesitates that those giving the pledge will obey and follow the one whom the pledge is made to.

لَقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ فَأَنزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا﴿
Indeed, God was pleased with the believers when they gave their Bayʿah to you (O Muḥammad) under the tree, He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakīnah (calmness and tranquillity) upon them, and He rewarded them with a near victory. [Qur’ān 48:18]

Link – To whom should ba’yah (allegiance) be given?

‘Ad-Dajjāl (الدّجّال)The Antichrist/False Messiah

Links – Who is the DajjaalVarious Fatāwa related to the Dajjāl

Daʿīf (ضعيف)Weak

Daʿīf may refer to a physical weakness though in Islamic texts it is used to refer to a narration or report that is lacking in its verifiable authenticity. A weak Hadith for example may be a Hadith that has been narrated by an untrustworthy narrator, or it may be unverifiable and therefore may be classed as weak by the scholars of Hadith. A weak Hadith may not necessarily mean that it is incorrect or fabricated, but rather that it cannot be verified to be authentic due to any number of issues.

Dār (دار) Home/Abode

Daʿwah (دعوة)Proselytism/Inviting to Islām

Đikr (ذكر) – Remembrance

Dīn (دين)Religion

The word Dīn most closely corresponds to the English word religion. Islam for example is considered as a religion in English and a Dīn in Arabic, the same with Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism etc. The word Dīn however also can be used to describe other groups which are non-faith based. Communism for example can be referred to as a Dīn, so could atheism. Many translators like to describe a Dīn as a way of life, any system which a person follows or bases their actions upon.

The word Dīn also means ‘judgment’ as is used in the term Yawm ud-Dīn, the Day of Judgment. This alternate meaning also helps to understand better the first meaning of religion/way of life. Any system a person devises, even if done by one’s self to judge the way they think or act can be a Dīn.
In the semetic languages the word dīn (or the verb D-N) can also mean ‘Law’. The Hebrew name Daniel is comprised of 2 words – Dani El, translated as ‘My Judge is God’, so we see that the  concept of dīn means that one would be judged by certain laws which they should follow. Those laws whatsoever they may be become the persons Dīn.

Duʿā’ (دعاء) Supplication/Prayer

الدعاء هو عبادة
« Duʿā’ is worship. »
(Saḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ #3407)

‘Ad-Dunyā (الدّنيا)The World

Fatwā (فتوى)Ruling

Fiq·h (فقه)Jurispredence

Gharīb· (فقه)Strange

‘Al-Ghayb· (الغيب) The Unseen

Ghībah (غيبة)Backbiting

Ḥadīth (حديث)

Ḥajj· (حجّ)Pilgrimage.

Ḥalāl (حلال)Permissible.

Ḥaqq· (حقّ)Truth.

Ḥarām (حرام)Impermissible.

Ḥaram (حرم)Sanctuary

Ḥijāb· (حجاب)Islamic clothing regulations

Ḥikmah (حكمة)Wisdom.

ʿIbādah (عبادة)Worship/Servitude

‘Ib·līs (إبليس)Satan

‘Īmān (إيمان)Faith/Belief

‘Injīl (إنجيل)The Gospel of Jesus

‘Innā lillāhi wa ‘innā ‘ilayhi rājiʿūn (ٳنّا لله وٳنّا إليه راجعون)‘Verily, to Allāh we belong, and to Him we return’

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

Those who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Verily! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return

(Al-Baqarah 2:156)

ʿIlm (علم)Knowledge

ʿĪmād· (عماد)Column/Pillar

‘In shā‘ Allāh (إن ساء الله)If God has willed

‘Islām (إ سلام)Islam

Istighfār – Seeking forgiveness

Jamāʿah (جماعة) Congregation

Janāzah (جنازة)Funeral

Jannah (جنّة)Paradise

Jayyid· (جيّد)Good

Jazākum ‘Allāhu Khayran (جزاكم الله خيرًا)May Allah reward you with good

Jihād· (جهاد)Jihad

Jinn (جنّ)Demon/Evil spirit.

Jumuʿah (جمعة) Friday
Literally it means ‘the day of gathering’. Unlike the other days of the week which are named for their numerical order, Friday is named after the congregational prayer (Sạlāt ul-Jumuˤah) which occurs on this day and is compulsory for all male Muslims to attend.

Juz’ (جزء)Portion (of the Qur’ān)

Khalīfah (خليفة)Caliph

Kufr (كفر)Disbelief

Lā Ḥawla wa Lā Quwwata Illā Billāh (لا حول ولا قوّة إلا بالله)

Lā ‘ilāha ‘ill-Allāh (لا إله إلا الله)There is no god but Allāh

Madīnah (مدينة)City

Mađhab· (مذهب)School of Islamic jurispredence

Makkah (مكّة) Makkah (Mecca)

Malā’ikah (ملائكة)Angels

Mu’ađđin (مؤذّن) – (see Ađān)

Musībah (مصيبة)Catastrophe

Mus-ḥaf (مصحف)Manuscript/Book

Nabī (نبي)Prophet

‘An-Nār (النّار) Hell/Hellfire
‘An-Nār literally means ‘The Fire’ and as such refers to the fire of Hell.

Nikāḥ (نكاح)Marriage

Niyyah (نيّة)Intention

Qab·r (قبر)Grave

‘Al-Qud·s (القدس)Jerusalem
Al-Quds literally means ‘The Holy (city)’. Jerusalem was the home of many of the Prophets of Islām (such as Moses and Jesus). Jerusalem is viewed by many as being the 3rd holiest city in the world, after Makkah and Madinah.
Al-Quds is also referred to as Bayt al-Maqdis or Bayt al-Muqaddas, both of which refer to the city as being the ‘house of holiness’. These are synonomous with variant names for the city in Hebrew – הקדש HaKodesh and בית המקדש Beit HaMikdash

Qur’ān (قرءان)Qur’an/Koran

Radī Allāhu ʿAnhu (رضي الله عنه)May Allah be pleased with him/Allah is pleased with him

Rasm (رسم)Orthography

Rasūl (رسول)Messenger

Ribā (ربا) Interest/Usury

Rukn (ركن) Pillar

Sadaqah (صدقة)Charity

Saabāh (صحابة)Companions of the Prophet Muḥammad

Saḥīḥ (صحيح)Authentic

‘As-Salaf us-Sāliḥ (السّلف الصّالح)The Righteous Predecessors

Sạlāh (صلاة)Prayer

Salām (سلام)Peace

As-Salāmu ʿAlaykum (السّلام عليكم)May Peace be upon you

Wa ʿAlaykum as-Salām () –

…wa Rahmatullāhi wa Barakātuhu

Sallallāhu ʿAlayhi wa Sallam May the Blessings and Peace of God be upon him

Sawm (صوم)Fasting

Shahādah (سهادة)Testimony/Declaration

Sharīʿah (شريعة)Islamic Law

Shaykh (شيخ)Sheikh

Shaytān (شيطان)Satan/Devil

Shirk (شرك)Polytheism

Sihr (سحر)Witchcraft/Sorcery

Sub·ḥān Allāh (سبحان الله)Glory be to God

Sub·ḥānahu wa Taˤāla (سبحانه وتعالى) – Glorious and Exalted is He

Sūrah (سورة)Chapter (of the Qur’ān)

Tablīgh (تبليغ)Conveying

Takbīr (تكبير)
The utterance of ‘Allāhu ‘Akbar – When one says this it is known as the Takbīr. A single utterance of it alone is referred to as a Takbīrah (تكبيرة). The initial takbīr of the prayer is referred to as the Takbīrat ul-‘Iḥrām (التكبيرة الإحرام).

Taq·līd· (تقليد)Imitation

Taq·wa (تقوى)Piety

Tawḥīd· (توحيد)Monotheism

Tawrāh (توراة)Torah

Tayyib· (طيّب)Good/Pure

‘Ukht (أخت)Sister

‘Ummah (أمّة)Nation

ʿUmrah (عمرة)Lesser Pilgrimage

ʿUrf (عرف)Custom

‘Usūl (أصول)Foundations

‘Al-Walā’ wal-Barā’ (الولاء والبراء)Allegiance and Disavowal

Walī (ولي)Protector

Waq·f (وقف)Endowment

Wudū’ (وضوء)Ablution

Yawm al-Qiyāmah (يوم القيامة)The Day of Resurrection

Zabūr (زبور)Psalms

Zinā (زنا)Fornication/Adultery


1 Comment »

  1. nice post for newbi

    Comment by eemoo — December 1, 2009 @ 3:32 am | Reply

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