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Muslim/Arabic Terms

Terms You Should Know When Witnessing to Muslims

Allah: Muslim name for God

Allahu akbar: “God is greater”; phrase used by Muslims as a battle cry, in the call to prayer, and often in general conversation.

Abu Bakr: A rich ands respected merchant of Mecca, one of the first converts to Islam, and a close friend & companion of Muhammad. According to the Sunnis, he was the first Muslim Caliph.

A.H.: (After Hijrah), abbreviation for the years in Muslim calendars after the flight of Muhammad in 622 A.D.

Adhan: Daily call to prayer by the muessin from the mosque.

Ahad: The oneness of God. The denial that God has any partner.

Ali: The son of Abu Talib, the first cousin of Muhammad, who married Fatimah, Muhammad’s youngest daughter. He is recognized by Shiite Muslims as the true successor of Muhammad, from whom come the succession of Imams. According to the Sunnis, he is the fourth Caliph.

Alms: (See Sadaga)

Aqeedah: Those matters which are believed in, with certainty and conviction, in one’s heart and soul.

Aqida: A statement of religious belief.

Ayatollah: “Sign of God”; title used since the 20th century by a high-ranking Shiite leader.

Ayisha: The third wife of Muhammad and daughter of Abu Bakr.

Baraka: A blessing.

Caliph: Title of the spiritual and political leader who took over after Muhammad’s death.

Dar-al-harb: “The house of war” (non-Islamic world): Islamic doctrine divides the world into two parts, the other being dar-al Islam.

Dar-al-Islam: “The house of Islam” (Muslim world).

Dajjal: Name for Antichrist who will appear at the end of time.

Da’wah: “Call or invitation” summoning others to heed the call of God to Islam; spreading the faith.

Deen: Muslim religious practice (reciting a creed, fasting, praying etc.)

Dhimmi: A conquered Jew or Christian who lives under Islamic rule.

Dhimmitude- the Muslim system of controlling non-Muslim populations conquered through jihad. Specifically, it is the taxing of non-Muslims in exchange for tolerating their presence.

Diktat-a harsh settlement unilaterally imposed as on a defeated nation.

Fatima: Muhammad’s daughter by his first wife.

Fatwa: A religious/legal judgment. An expert legal opinion of Qur’anic law.

Five Pillars: The chief religious duties of Muslims.

Hadith: The traditions and sayings of Muhammad. Literally, a story; an oral tradition later written down of what Muhammad supposedly said (sunna), did, or approved of—something said or done in his presence.

Hafiz: One who memorizes the Qur’an, a professional reciter.

Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca (One of the five Pillars).

Hijrah: Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Median in 622 A.D. (Marks beginning of Muslim era).

Iblis: A Qur’anic name for Satan.

Ibrahim: Abraham

Ijma: Consensus of Muslim scholars introduced in 8th century to standardize legal practice.

Imam: A leader: a person considered by Sunni Muslims to be an authority in Islamic law and theology. A kind of Muslim pope in Shiite Islam.

Iman: A Muslim belief, such as in God, angels as opposed to deen (Muslim practice).

Injil: The New Testament Gospels as originally revealed by God. Many Muslims believe that the New Testament was corrupted by Christians. Some consider Injil to mean the New Testament.

Isa: Arabic word for Jesus.

Isahi: A follower of Jesus.

Islam: The religion revealed to Muhammad, meaning “submission” to the will of Allah.

Ishmael: The first son of Abraham by his wife’s handmaid, Hagar. Muslims believe Ishmael, not Isaac, was the son of God’s promise to Abraham.

Jamaat: A Muslim-background church.

Jihad: Sacred struggle with word or sword in the cause of Allah; a holy war.

Jinn: Demons; Spirits created by God, some good, some evil.

Jizyah: Tax paid by Jews and Christians to Muslim rulers.

Ka’ba: A cubical stone building in the court of the Mosque at Mecca that is called the “House of God,” toward which Muslims turn in prayer.

Kadija: Muhammad’s first wife and the first to believe that his message was from God.

Kafir: An unbeliever; the opposite of a believer (mumin).

Kufr: Disbelief. One who hides or covers up reality.

Mahdi: “The guided one” or coming world leader of righteousness. Sunnis wait for the first one to appear, while Shiites believe the last Imma, who disappeared in 874 A.D., will someday reappear as the Mahdi.

Mansukh: The abrogation of an earlier revelation (see Nasikh).

Maryam: Mary the mother of Jesus.

Masi: Messiah, Jesus.

Mecca: The birthplace of Muhammad, considered the most holy city in Islam.

Medina: (City of the Prophet) The second most holy city, previously named Yathrib, where Muhammad fled in 622 A.D.

Minaret: Tower at a mosque from which the call to prayer is made.

Mosque: Building in which Muslims meet regularly for prayer.

Muhammad: The founder of Islam, born around 570 A.D. and died 632 A.D. He is considered by Muslims to be the past and final prophet of God through whom God gave the revelations in the Qur’an.

Mujahidin: Muslims who fight in holy wars.

Mumin: A believer in contrast to an unbeliever (see Kafir).

Musa: Moses

Muslim: Literally, one who submits (to Allah); a follower of Muhammad.

Nasikh: That which abrogates, as mansukh is that which is abrogated.

Omar (Umar): According to Sunni teaching, the second Caliph and principal advisor to the first Caliph, Abu Bakr.

Qur’an: Believed by Muslims to be the full and final revelation of God to mankind, conveyed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel over a 23 year period and corresponding perfectly to the eternal original in heaven.

Ramadan: The 9th month of the Muslim lunar year now devoted to fasting, when the Qur’an was supposedly brought down to the first heaven.

Salam: Peace, a greeting of peace.

Salaam-Alaikum: “Peace be to you.” A Muslim greeting.

Salafist Jihadism- a school of thought of Salafi Muslims who support violent jihad.

Salat: Prescribed 5 daily prayers, one of the 5 Pillars.

Shahadah: Literally, “to bear witness,” which is done by reciting the creed. “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.” Saying this sincerely is all that is required to become a Muslim.

Shahid: A witness, and then a martyr who has born witness by his death.

Shariah: The legal code of laws and rules governing the life and behavior of Muslims; comprises not a single book, but various compilations of precedents.

Shiites: The Islamic sect that believes, in contrast to Sunnis, that Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali, was the true successor to Muhammad in the leadership of the Islamic community.

Suffis: The mystical wing of Islam that renounces worldly attachments.

Sunna: Written Islamic traditions about Muhammad’s conduct, considered authoritative by Sunni Muslims.

Sunnis: The main body of Islam that comprises about 80% of all Muslims who, in contrast to the Shiites, believe that the true line of succession from Muhammad is found in the four Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman, and Ali.

Sura (Surah, Surat): A chapter in the Qur’an of which there are 114.

Tahrif: The Islamic doctrine that the original text of the Bible has been corrupted.

Tawrat: Jewish Torah or Law of Moses. To some Muslims, it refers to the entire Old Testament.

Ummah: The community of all those who affirm Islam.

Zakat: A religious offering of a devout Muslim that is supposed to total 2.5% of his income, given primarily to the poor and needy.

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