Adhan or Athan

Adhan is an Islamic way of calling Muslims to the five obligatory Prayers. The Adhan is announced daily from the Mosques.

A.H. (After Hijrah)

Hijrah means emigration. The Islamic calendar starts from the year Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) emigrated from the city of Makkah to Madinah, in 622 C.E.

Ahl al-Bait

Ahl al-Bait literally means ‘the people of the house’, a polite form of addressing the members of the family, including husband and wife. The words occur in the Holy Quran when angels came to give glad tidings to Prophet Abraham (S.A.W.) of a son at an old age. See Surah Houd (11:73).

Ahl al-Dimmah (or Dhimmis)

Are the non-Muslim subjects of an Islamic state who have been guaranteed protection of their rights- life, property and practice of their religion, etc.

Ahl al-Kitab

Literally ‘People of the Book,’ refers to the followers of Divine Revelation before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).


Ahmad is another name of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). See Holy Quran, As-Saff (61:6). See Muhammad for more details.


(After-Life, Hereafter, Next World). The term embraces the following ideas.

That man is answerable to God.

That the present order of existence will some day come to an end.

That when that happens, God will bring another order into being in which He will resurrect all human beings, gather them together and examine their conduct, and reward them with justice and mercy.

That those who are reckoned good will be sent to Paradise whereas the evil-doers will be consigned to Hell.

That the real measure of success or failure of a person is not the extent of his prosperity in the present life, but his success in the Next.


Allah – the greatest and most inclusive of the names of God. It is an Arabic word of rich and varied meaning, denoting the one who is adored in worship, who creates all that exists, who has priority over all creation, who is lofty and hidden, who confounds all human understanding. It is exactly the same word as, in Hebrew, the Jews use for God (Eloh), the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God. God has an identical name in Judaism, Christianity and Islam; Allah is the same God worshipped by Muslims, Christians and Jews.

“He is God, the One God, Independent and Sought by all; He begets not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like unto Him.” (The Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Ikhlas)

Islam teaches that all faiths have, in essence, one common message: the existence of a Supreme Being, the one and only God, whose sovereignty is to be acknowledged in worship and in the pledge to obey His teaching and commandments, conveyed through His messengers and prophets who were sent at various times and in many places throughout history.

Allahu Akbar

Allah is the Greatest.

Amirul Mumineen

Commander of the faithful. Title of the leader of the Islamic dominion after the death of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).


Ansar means the ‘Helpers.’ (Singular: Ansari). In Islamic parlance the word refers to the Muslims of Madina who helped the Muhajirin (immigrants) of Makka in the process of the latter’s settling down in the new environment.


Literally means belief. In Islamic terms, it means the following six articles of faith:

1. Belief in Allah, the One God.

2. Belief in Allah’s angels.

3. Belief in His revealed Books.

4. Belief in His messengers.

5. Belief in the Day of Judgment.

6. Belief in Fate and the Divine Decree.


Arafat is a pilgrimage site, about 25 kilometers east of Makka. Standing on ‘Arafat on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah and staying there from mid-day to sunset is the essence of the Hajj (the Pilgrimage).


‘Asr is the late afternoon Prayer, the third compulsory Prayer of the day. It can be prayed between midafternoon and a little before sunset. It is also the name of Surah 103 of the Holy Quran.

Assalamu ‘Alaikum

Assalamu ‘Alaikum means ‘Peace be on you.’ Greeting of the Muslims. The response to this greeting is ‘Wa ‘Alaikum Assalam,’ and on you be the Peace.

Ayah (pl. Ayat)

Ayah means a sign (or ‘token’) which directs one to something important. In the Quran the word has been used in four different senses: (1) sign or indication; (2) the phenomena of the universe (called Ayat of God for the reality to which the phenomena point is hidden behind the veil of appearances); (3) miracles performed by the Prophets; and (4) individual units (i.e. verses) of the Book of God.

Baitul Mal

An Islamic treasury intended for the benefit of the Muslims and the Islamic state and not for the leaders or the wealthy

Baitul Maqdis

Al-Aqsa Mosque, the famous Masjid in Al-Quds (Jerusalem). It was the first Qiblah of Islam. Then Allah ordered Muslims to face the first House of Allah, the Kabah, at Makkah (Saudi Arabia). Baitul Maqdis is the third greatest Masjid in the Islamic world, the first being the Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah, and the second being the Masjid al-Rasool (the Mosque of the Prophet (S.A.W.)). It is from the surroundings of Baitul Maqdis that Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) ascended to heaven. See Holy Quran, Al-Isra (17:1).


Another name for Makkah. See Holy Quran, Ale Imran (3:96).

Bismillah Hir Rehman Nir Rahim

“In the name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful.” This utterance is usually made by every Muslim who is about to embark on something lawful (Halal), regardless of the magnitude of the task. This is also the first verse of Surah Al-Fatehah (Chapter 1) of the Holy Quran.


Anti-Christ. Also known as Maseeh ad-Dajjal.

Dhu’l-Hijjah (Zul Hejah)

The 12th month of the Islamic calendar. The month in which the great pilgrimage to Makkah takes place.


Supplication: invoking Allah for whatever one desires.


Noon. The second obligatory prayer (Salah) of the day. It can be prayed at any time between noon and mid-afternoon.

Eid Al-Adha

A four-day festival that completes the rites of pilgrimage and takes place on the 10th-13th of Dhul Hijjah Literally means “the feast of the sacrifice.” This feast commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah by being prepared to sacrifice his only son Ismael, peace be on both of them. See Holy Quran, as-Saffaat (37:100-103).

Eid Al-Fitr

Three day festival marking the end of Ramadan. It takes place on the 1st of Shawal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.

Fadal (Riba)

A type of interest. Taking something of superior quality in exchange for giving less of the same kind of thing of poorer quality. See Holy Qur’an, Al-Baqarah (2:275-280), Ale-Imran (3:130).


“The Dawn”. The time of the first obligatory prayer (Salah). It can be prayed at any time between the first light of dawn and just before sunrise. Also called Subh (morning). See Surah 89 of the Holy Qur’an.


A legal verdict given on a religious basis. The sources on which a fatwa is based are the Holy Qur’an, and the Sunnah of the Prophet.


Compensation for missing or wrongly practicing necessary acts of worship. Fidya usually takes the form of donating money, foodstuffs, or sacrificing an animal. Contrast with Kaffara (making amends).


Islamic jurisprudence.


Fitnah has been used in the Quran in two meanings. It refers, firstly, to persecution, to a situation in which the believers are harassed and intimidated because of their religious convictions. Secondly, it refers to the state of affairs wherein the object of obedience is other than the One True God.


Furqan signifies that which enables one to distinguish between true and false; between real and fake.

Gog and Magog

Two evil empires. They are mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith (Bukhari and Muslim) when mentioning some of the scenes just before the final hour. See Quran, Al-Anbiyaa (21:96).


The word Hadith literally means communication or narration. In the Islamic context it has come to denote the record of what the Prophet (S.A.W.) said, did, or tacitly approved. According to some scholars, the word Hadith also covers reports about the sayings and deeds, etc. of the Companions of the Prophet in addition to the Prophet himself. The whole body of Traditions is termed Hadith and its science ‘Ilm al-Hadith.

Hadith Qudsi

A saying of Allah narrated by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), that is not part of the Qur’an.

Hajar Al-Aswad

The ‘Black Stone’, a stone which some say fell from heaven, set into one corner of the Kabah in Makkah by Prophet Ibrahim(S.A.W.), which the pilgrims, in imitation of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) kiss, so unifying all the Muslims throughout the ages in one place.

Hajj (Major Pilgrimage)

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, a duty one must perform during one’s life-time if one has the financial resources for it. It must be performed during certain specified dates of Dhu al-Hijjah. In addition to tawaf and sa’y, there are a few other requirements but especially one’s standing (i.e. stay) in ‘Arafat during the day-time on 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah.


Lawful as defined by Allah the Almighty.


1. Any act or deed which is prohibited by Allah and will incur His wrath and punishment.

2. Sanctuary or boundary of any Masjid (mosque), but usually used with regard to the sanctuaries of the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Masjid al-Rasool in Madinah. This is why they are referred to as ‘Al-Haramain al-Sharifain,’ the two Holy Sanctuaries.


Any kind of veil-it could be a curtain, a facial veil, etc. The facial Hijab is divided into two types:

1. Niqab: full facial covering.

2. Khimar: partial facial covering, i.e., it covers the face, but leaves the eyes exposed. It is said that the universe is what veils the Creator from the creation. If you find the veil awe-inspiring, how much more awe-inspiring is the One behind the veil!


Hijrah signifies migration from a land where a Muslim is unable to live according to the precepts of his faith to a land where it is possible to do so. The Hijrah par excellence for Muslims is the Hijrah of the Prophet (S.A.W.) which not only provided him and his followers refuge from persecution, but also an opportunity to build a society and state according to the ideals of Islam.


Name of the Islamic lunar calendar. It took its name from the early Muslims who migrated from Makkah to Madinah, and commences from the date of Prophet Muhammad’s Hijrah, (S.A.W.), which he made with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), in 622 C.E. The months of the Islamic calendar are:1. Muharram 2. Safar 3. Rabi al-Awal 4. Rabi al-Thani 5. Jumada al-Awal 6. Jumada al-Thani 7. Rajab 8. Sha’ban 9. Ramadan 10. Shawal 11. Dhul Qi’da 12. Dhul Hijjah


Iblis literally means ‘thoroughly disappointed; one in utter despair.’ In Islamic terminology it denotes the jinn, who refused the command of Allah to prostrate before Adam out of vanity. He also asked God to allow him a term when he might mislead and tempt mankind to error. This term was granted to him by God where after he became the chief promoter of evil and prompted Adam and Eve to disobey God’s order. He is also called al-Shaytan (Satan). He is possessed of a specific personality and is not just an abstract force.


Breaking of the fast immediately after sunset. Iftar takes place at Maghreb as soon as the Call to Prayer (Adhan) is called.


Ihram denotes the state of consecration which is essentially required for performing Hajj and ‘Umrah. The outward garb which consists in the case of men of just two sheets of cloth instead of tailored clothes is one of the conditions of ihram but not identical with it. Apart from donning that garb, one is required to pronounce talbiyah (Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk…). In the state of ihram the pilgrim is required to observe many prohibitions; e.g. he may not hunt, shave or trim his hair, shed blood, use perfume, or indulge in sexual gratification.


1. Imam signifies the leader, and in its highest form, refers to the head of the Islamic state.

2. It is also used with reference to the founders of the different systems of theology and law in Islam.

3. A person who leads the prayer.

Insha Allah

“If Allah wills.”


Isha’ (Night) Prayer signifies the prescribed Prayer which is performed after the night has well set in.


1. “The Night Journey”, refers to the journey of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) from Makkah to Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

2. Another name for Surah Bani Israel (Surah 17) of the Holy Qur’an.


Asking Allah the Almighty to guide one to the right decision and action regarding a particular problem. The Istikhara Prayer consists of two Rakahs. A special invocation is said. See Bukhari, Hadith 263, Vol. 2.


Invoking Allah for rain in the time of a drought. The Istisqa Prayer consists of two rakahs. See Bukhari, Hadith 119, Vol. 2.


Jihad literally means ‘to strive’ or ‘to exert to the utmost.’ In Islamic parlance it signifies all forms of striving, including armed struggle, aimed at making the Word of God spread.


Jinn are an independent species of creation about which little is known except that unlike man, who was created out of earth, the jinn were created out of fire. But like man, a Divine Message has also been addressed to them and they too have been endowed with the capacity, again like man, to choose between good and evil, between obedience or disobedience to God. See Surah 72 of the Holy Qur’an.


“Friday.” The Muslims’ day of gathering together, when all Muslim males must go to the Masjid to hear the Friday Khutba (sermon) and to do the Jum’ah Salat (prayer), which is prayed instead of Dhur. Surah 62 of the Holy Qur’an.

Ka’aba or Kabah

The cube-shaped stone building whose foundations were built by the angels and completed by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son, Prophet Ismael, peace be on them, in Makkah. It was rebuilt with the help of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). It is the focal point towards which all Muslims face when praying.


Kaffarah means atonement, expiation.


Kafir signifies one who denies or rejects the truth, i.e. who disbelieves in the message of the Prophets. Since the advent of Muhammad (S.A.W.), anyone who rejects his Message is a kafir.

Khalifah or Caliph

Khalifah or vicegerent is one who exercises the authority delegated to him by his principal, and does so in the capacity of his deputy and agent. This term has been used in the Quran with reference to man: ‘Just think when your Lord said to the angels: Lo! I am about to place a vicegerent on earth…’ (2:30). At certain places in the Qur’an, khulafa (pl.) also means (a) people with power to mobilize all that is on earth (27:62); (b) successors or inheritors who will inherit the earth and succeed one after another (24:55; 38:26). In the political history of Islam, khalifa became the title of the successors of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), notably the first four Rightly-Guided Caliphs known as al-Khulafa al-Rashidun (11-35 A.H., 632-655 C.E.). With the establishment of the Umayyad hereditary rule immediately after this, the institution of the Caliphate changed into monarchy. Yet the rulers called themselves Caliphs. Formally the institution of the Caliphate came to an end in 1924 C.E. when Kamal Ataturk of Turkey arbitrarily declared its abolition.


Tax imposed on the revenue from land taken from non-Muslims to ensure their equal rights under Islamic law.


Sermon. The greatest sermon in the history of mankind was called al-Khutbatul Wida’ (the farewell address), given by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), during his last Hajj in 10 AH. There are various types of sermons:

1. Khutbatul Jum’ah (the Friday Sermon). This is given immediately before the Jum’ah Salah (Friday Prayer).

2. Khutbatul Eid (the Eid Sermon) This is given immediately after the prayer of the two Eids.

3. Khutbatul Nikah (the marriage sermon). This is given during the marriage ceremony.


Sunset. The fourth obligatory Prayer of the day. It consists of three Rakahs and can be offered between just after sunset and before the stars appear in the sky.


Mahr (bridal gift) signifies the amount of payment that is settled between the two spouses at the time of marriage, and which the husband is required to make to his bride. Mahr seems to symbolize the financial responsibility that a husband assumes towards his wife by virtue of entering into the contract of marriage.




Mosque. Plural Masajid.

Masjid al-Aqsa (al)

The ‘Furthest Mosque’ built by the early Muslims in Jerusalem, on or near where the Temple of Solomon once stood. See Baitul-Maqdis.

Masjid Al-Haram (al)

The Grand Masjid in Makkah. The Kabah (the Qiblah of the Muslims) is situated within it.

Masjid an-Nabawi (al)

Another name for the Masjid ar-Rasool in Madinah. It is the second greatest Masjid in Islam, the first being the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, and the third being the Masjid al-Aqsa in Al-Quds (Jerusalem).


Prayer niche of a Masjid, in front of which the Imam stands when leading the congregational prayers.

Mimbar or Minbar

Steps on which the Imam stands to deliver the Khutba (address) on the day of the Jumah (Friday).


The Night Journey of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) from Makkah to Jerusalem and then through the realms of the seven heavens, beyond the limit of forms, the Sidrat al-Muntaha, to within a bow-span’s length or nearer to the presence of Allah. See the Qur’an, Al-Isra (17:1), Bukhari Hadith 345, Vol. 1, 227, Vol. 5.

Muhammad (S.A.W.)

Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last Messenger of God.


1. The first month of the Islamic calendar.

2. An act that is strictly forbidden in Islam.


A person who accepts Islam as his or her way of life.




A type of veil that covers the entire face including the eyes.




Peace be upon him. Somewhat English equivalent of S.A.W. used whenever the name of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) is read or heard. See S.A.W.


Qiblah signifies the direction to which all Muslims are required to turn when offering their prescribed Prayers, namely towards the Kabah, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.


Law of equal retaliation when punishing a person for injuries intentionally inflicted on someone else. See Al-Baqarah (2:178-179).


The Arab tribe to which the Prophet (S.A.W.) belonged

Rabi al-Awal

The third month of the Islamic calendar.


The seventh month of the Islamic calendar.

Rak’ah or Rakah

Rak’ah (pl. raka’at) represents a unit of the Prayer and consists of bending the torso from an upright position followed by two prostrations.


The ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting is obligatory during this month for all Muslims.


Messenger and prophet of Allah.


Riba literally means ‘to grow; to increase.’ Technically, it denotes the amount that a lender receives from a borrower at a fixed rate in excess of the principal. It is of two kinds:

1. Riba Nasi’a – taking interest on loaned money.

2. Riba Fadal – taking something of superior quality in exchange for giving less of the same kind of thing of poorer quality.

Rooh al-Qudus

“The Holy Spirit.” Another name for the Angel Gabriel (Jibreel), peace be on him.


See Sallallahu ‘Alaihe wa Sallam.


Sabbath, which means Saturday, was declared for the Israelites as the holy day of the week. God declared the Sabbath as a sign of the perpetual covenant between God and Israel. (Exodus 31:12-16.) The Israelites were required to strictly keep the Sabbath which meant that they may not engage in any worldly activity; they may not cook, nor make their slaves or cattle serve them. Those who violated these rules were to be put to death. The Israelites, however, publicly violated these rules. For further details, see Surah 7.


Anything given away in charity for the pleasure of Allah.

Sahih Bukhari

A book of Hadith compiled by Imam Bukhari.

Sahih Muslim

A book of Hadith compiled by Imam Muslim.


Going seven times between the small hills of Safa and Marwa; an essential rite of Hajj and Umra.


Prayers. There are five daily obligatory prayers. These prayers and their time zones are:

1. Fajr (morning prayer); After dawn but before sunrise;

2. Duhr (early afternoon or noon prayer); early afternoon till late afternoon;

3. ‘Asr (late afternoon prayer) late afternoon prayer till sunset;

4. Maghreb (sunset prayer); just after sunset;

5. Isha (late evening prayer); late evening till late at night.Consult a prayer manual for full details. Each prayer consists of a fixed set of standings, bowings, prostrations and sittings in worship to Allah.

Salat al-Janaza

Funeral prayer. The prayer is done in standing position only and consist of four takbirs: 1. After the first Takbir, read Al-Fatihah. 2. After the second takbir, recite Tashahhud and Salat al-Ibrahimiya. 3. After the third Takbir, pray for the deceased person, his or her relatives, and all Muslims in general. 4. After the fourth Takbir, finish the prayer by uttering Assalamu Alaikum while turning to the right.

Salat al-Khawf

Salat al-Khawf means Prayer in the state of insecurity. For its procedure see Surah al-Nisa 4:102.

Sallallahu ‘Alaihe wa Sallam (S.A.W.)

“May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.” This is said whenever the name of prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) is mentioned or read. The equivalent English phrase is usually abbreviated as S.A.W. (peace be upon him).


The eighth month of the Islamic calendar.


Shari’ah signifies the entire Islamic way of life, especially the Law of Islam.


The tenth month of the Islamic calendar.

Sidrat al-Muntaha

“The lote-tree of the furthest limit.” A tree over the seventh Heaven near Paradise, the place where form ends and beyond which no created being may pass. See An-Najm (53:14-18).

Subhan Allah

“Glory be to Allah.”


A meal taken before Fajr in the month of Ramadan to begin fasting.


Hadith and the way of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).

Sunnah Prayers

Sunnah Prayers are prayers which are considered recommended in view of the fact that the Prophet (S.A.W.) either performed them often and/or made statements about their meritorious character.


A chapter of the Qur’an. Literally means “a form”. There are 114 Surahs in the Holy Quran. Plural: Suwar.


The pronouncement pilgrims make to Allah during Hajj:

“Labbaik, labbaik, Allahumma labbaik. La shareeka laka labbaik. Innal hama wa n’imata laka walmulk. La shareeka lak.”

(I am totally at Your service; I am totally at Your service, O Allah I am totally at Your service. You have no partner; I am totally at Your service. Truly, the praise and the blessing are Yours, and the dominion. You have no partners.)


The circling of the Holy Kabah. Tawaf is done in sets of seven circuits.


‘Umrah (Minor Pilgrimage) is an Islamic rite and consists of pilgrimage to the Kabah. It consists essentially of ihram, tawaf (i.e. circumambulation) around the Kabah (seven times), and sa`y (i.e. running) between Safa and Marwah (seven times). It is called minor Hajj since it need not be performed at a particular time of the year and its performance requires fewer ceremonies than the Hajj proper.

Wa Alaikum Assalam

“And on you be peace.” The reply to the Muslim greeting of “Assalamu Alaikum.” (peace be on you).


Endowment, a charitable trust in the name of Allah.


Wudu refers to the ablution made before performing the prescribed Prayers. it requires washing (1) the face from the top of the forehead to the chin and as far as each ear; (2) the hands and arms up to the elbow; (3) wiping with wet hands a part of the head; and (4) washing the feet to the ankle.


The Holy Book revealed to Prophet Dawood (David), peace be on him.


Zakah (Purifying Alms) literally means purification, whence it is used to express a portion of property bestowed in alms, as a means of purifying the person concerned and the remainder of his property. It is among the five pillars of Islam and refers to the mandatory amount that a Muslim must pay out of his property. The detailed rules of Zakah have been laid down in books of Fiqh.


The sacred well inside Al-Haram ash-Shareef in Makkah

Have you heard any term that didn’t make sense to you, please ask us about it: