For a good glossary of Islamic terms see the following web site:
See also the glossary proved by Charles Kurzman, in Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook, pp 329-330.
Anyone who embarks on a study of Islam will encounter a number of Arabic words which are often used as "technical terms" in Islam. This glossary has been prepared to help a student of Islam read and study the literature and to help the student to gradually acquire this vocabulary. As with learning any language, vocabulary is absorbed by hearing, use, and reading; this hearing and using must often be supplemented by direct study and memorization. By the end of the semester I would hope that the words printed in red below would be an "automatic" part of your vocabulary.
ahl at-kitab people of the Book (that is, Jews, Christians, and Muslims)
Al hamdu lillah Praise God! (The Praise be to Allah)
Allah-u-akbar God is Great -- This phrase (called: Takbir) is recited by Muslims in many different situations. For example, when they are very happy, to express approval, to praise a speaker, or as a battle cry, during times of extreme stress. In the Islamic world, instead of applause, often someone will shout takbir and the crowd will respond "Allahu Akbar" in chorus. The phrase is said during each stage of both obligatory prayers. The Muslim call to prayer (adhan) by the muezzin and to commence prayer (iqama) also contains the phrase. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takbir
Allah God. From a contraction of Al-ilah the-God.
Al-Fatiha The first Surah (book/chapter) in the Qur'an.
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to God, who loves and sustains the world.
God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
Master of the Day of Judgment.
We worship you, O God, and seek your aid.
Show us the straight path,
The way of those on whom
You have bestowed your grace;
The way of those whose portion
is not wrath, and who go not astray. Amen.
Assalaam Alaikum Peace be up on you / Wa Alaikum assalaam And peace be upon you
Ayat (plural = ayat) Arabic for sign. Used for a unit (verse) of a Surah (book/chapter) in the Qur'an Proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.
bedouin Arabic for nomad; someone who lives in the desert
Bismillah In the name of God... Short for: b-ismi-llahi r-ramani r-rahim. In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. We begin everything "in the name of the Lord" and acknowledged that God is to be praised in all that we do.
dar al-harb Land of war, non -Islamic lands
dar al-Islam Land of Islam, Islamic lands, the Islamic world
Making an invitation to Islam, especially by being the best Muslim that you can be for others. (Muslims do not see any compulsion in religion, and most Muslims do not see or enact da'wah as proselytizing.)
faqih (plural: fuqaha') religious scholar
fiqh Islamic jurisprudence
Hadith tradition of the Prophet
Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during the lifetime of each Muslim for those who can afford it. The fifth of the Five Pillars [or five essential duties] of Islam.
halal divinely sanctioned
haram prohibited, protected
hijra migration of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina in year 622
ijtihad exercise of independent judgment as opposed to the imitative of medieval authorities. [contrast with: taqlid = imitation.]
Insha'allah If Allah wishes (Used whenever speaking of a future event... I will see you tomorrow, Inshallah.)
Islam A participle meaning grateful surrender, submission. [Muslim = one who practices Islam; one who submits to the will of God. [Christians: "Behold I come to do your will ..." "Our Father, ... Thy will be done..."]
jihad "striving" or "exertion in the way of God" either personally, by struggle against lack of faith and devotion, or publicly, by preaching, teaching, and, if necessary, armed struggle. The inner striving is the Great Jihad. Sometimes jihad is included as the sixth of the Five Pillars [or five essential duties] of Islam.
jumuah Friday. [There is a contemporary Muslim magazine entitled Al Jumuah. "The Friday."]
juz' A pious division of the Qur'an into 30 sections for reading during a month.
Kaba cube The "holiest place" for the Muslim. The building built by Abraham and cleansed by Mohammad in Mecca.
Madina When Muhammad fled from Mecca he and his followers went to this city in Saudi Arabia.
maslaha public interest
Mecca The city of the prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca. The Kaba is in Mecca.
Muslimin Muslims; literally, those who submit.
Qur'an recitation Note: In societies in which "reading" books as we know "reading" is not common, "reading" is always done "out loud" and consequently there is no difference between "reading" and "reciting" -- Hence, the angel Gabriel can tell Mohammad "Read!" or "Recite!" for this is essentially the same thing in that culture.
salat the ritual prayers, or worship services, performed daily during five specified intervals, facing Mecca, at dawn, at noon, in mid-afternoon, at dusk, and after dark. The second of the Five Pillars [or five essential duties] of Islam.
saria [literally: path to the sea, (which becomes) path to God] Islamic law
shahada witness. The shahada (The Witness) is "I bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." The first of the Five Pillars [or five essential duties] of Islam.
sheikh old man
shi'at a partisan
sh'iat Ali a partisan of Ali, that is, a Shi'ite
Shi'ite one the major branches of Islam [Sunni 80% / Shi'ite 20%]
Shokran -- thank you
sunna the exemplary conduct of Muhammad
sunni [those who follow the sunna, the exemplary conduct of Muhammad ] the (majority) branch of Islam
sawm fasting during the daylight hours during the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Muslim [lunar] calendar). The fourth of the Five Pillars [or five essential duties] of Islam.
Surah A "surah" (chapter) of the the Quran. A surah is divided into ayat (verses [arabic = signs]) [singular = ayat, verse]
takbir Takbir is the Arabic name for the phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great).
taqlid imitation. [contrast with: ijtihad -- the exercise of independent judgment as opposed to the imitation of medieval authorities.]
taqwa fear of God, piety
tariga Path. A formally constituted religious order.
yemen south, the south
zakat ritual almsgiving based upon the value of stipulated property. The third of the Five Pillars [or five essential duties] of Islam. Perhaps "Purification of Money" is a better translation than "almsgiving".
Copyright: Tom Richstatter. All Rights Reserved. This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own. Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it. This site was updated on 10/02/15 . Your comments on this site are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org