adhkar: plural of dhikr, q.v.
al-hamdu-lillah: praise be to Allah.
Allahu akbar:“Allah is most great”.
Ansar:(literally, “helpers”), the Muslim of Yathrib (Madinah) who welcomed those who migrated from Makkah and helped them to settle in their new home.
`ashura’: the tenth day of Muharram. It is a sunnahto fast on the ninth and tenth days of Muharram.
astaghfir-Allah: I seek forgiveness from Allah.
awqaf (sing. Waqf): Endowment. A charitable trust for the sake of Allah, usually set up in perpetuity for the purpose of teaching, feeding the poor or treating the sick, etc.
ayah (pl. ayat):(literally, “sign”) a “verse” of the Qur’an.
bay`ah:oath of allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH) sworn by those who embraced Islam during his lifetime.
bid`ah:reprehensible innovation, the introduction of rites or beliefs into Islam which have no basis in the Qur’an or Sunnah.
birr:righteousness, kindness, good treatment. This word is often used to describe the attitude that a Muslim should have towards his or her parents, which may be summed up as “filial piety.”
da`i (fem. da`iyah):(literally “caller”) one who calls people to Islam
dajjal:(literally “liar”) Antichrist
da`wah:(literally, “invitation” or “call”) calling people to Islam
dhikr (plural, adhkar):(literally “remembrance” i.e. of Allah). Remembering Allah should be a constant feature of the Muslim’s life. The Prophet (PBUH) also taught some phrases and prayers that help us to remember Allah.
duha:an optional prayer performed at midmorning.
dunya:this world, as opposed to the Hereafter, the transient physical world.
du`a’:supplication, “private” or “informal” prayer, which may be in Arabic or one’s own language.
fajr:the early morning prayer, performed before sunrise.
fiqh: jurisprudence, the understanding and application of shari`ah.
fitnah:trial, temptation; tribulation, tumult.
fitrah:the natural state of man, which is Islam.
hadith: a saying or tradition of the Prophet (PBUH).
hadith qudsi: (literally “sacred hadith“) A hadithcontaining words of Allah that were narrated by the Prophet (PBUH), but which do not form part of the Qur’an.
hajj:pilgrimage to Makkah, performed once a year during the Islamic month of Dhu`l-Hijjah; this is one of the pillars of Islam, and should be performed once in a lifetime by every Muslim who is able to do so.
hijab:the Islamic dress-code and related attitudes. Although the word “Hijab” is often used by English-speaking Muslims to refer specifically to the head-covering, it in fact refers to the whole dress-code.
hijrah:migration for the sake of Allah. “The Hijrah” is the historic migration of the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions from Makkah to Yathrib (Madinah) but the word “hijrah” may describe any migration (for example, to find a better environment in which to practise Islam and raise children or to spread the message of Islam), that is undertaken for the sake of Allah. The Hijrah of the Prophet (PBUH) also marks the beginning of the Islamic or Hijr_ calendar.
`iddah: “waiting period,” usually three menstrual cycles, which a divorced woman must observe before she is free to remarry. The purpose is to establish whether she is pregnant with her ex-husband’s child (if she were to remarry immediately, there is the possibility of doubt regarding the paternity of a child conceived immediately). If she is pregnant, her `iddahlasts until the baby is born.
imam:leader; may refer to the person who leads others in prayers, or to the ruler or leader of an Islamic state. The word is also used as a title of respect for eminent scholars.
iqamah: call to prayer, similar to the adhan, that is given immediately before the prayer.
`isha’:the night-time prayer, performed after the sun has set.
isnad: “Chain of authority,” the chain of people who conveyed a hadith from the Prophet (PBUH). Scholars who specialized in hadith, such as al-Bukhari and Muslim, subjected the isnad of each hadith they came across to intense scrutiny. Only if they were certain that each person in the isnad was competent and truthful, and that each had been in a position to meet and learn from or teach the next person in the chain, would the scholars accept a hadithas being authentic.
i`tikaf:seclusion or spiritual retreat. It was the custom of the Prophet (SAAS) to spend the last ten days of Ramadan in seclusion, concentrating on prayer and worship.
jahili: of or pertaining to jahiliyyah, q.v.
jahiliyyah:ignorance. The time preceding the revelation of Islam is known as the “Time of Ignorance.”
jama`ah:group or congregation
Jibril:the Archangel who conveyed the revealtion of the Qur’an to the Prophet (SAAS). The English version of his name is Gabriel.
jihad: (literally “struggle” or “striving”). Although this word is often translated as “holy war,” it has a broader meaning than warfare on the battlefield. Any act of striving to please Allah may be described as jihad.
jinn:created beings made from smokeless fire. In many ways they are a parallel creation to humans, as there are Muslims and kafirs among them, they are born, have children and die, etc. They can see us, but we cannot see them. Trying to see or contact them is forbidden, and Muslims are encouraged to protect themselves by constantly remembering Allah.
jumu`ah: Friday, the Muslim day of gathering when men have to go to the mosque to hear the khutbahand pray the congregational prayer. (Attendance is optional for women.)
kafir:disbeliever, one who rejects the truth.
khalifah:successor or vicegerent. Specifically, it refers to the Muslim ruler.
khutbah:speech, address or sermon, especially that given at Friday and Eid prayers.
kufr:disbelief, rejection of the truth.
kunyah:agnomen beginning with Abu or Umm (father of, mother of) and the name of the oldest child or more frequently, the name of the oldest son. This is an ancient Arabic custom which was continued in Islam and adopted by other people who became Muslim. The kunyah of the Prophet (PBUH) was Ab’ al-Qasim.
la ilaha ill-Allah:“There is no god but Allah.” The fundamental declaration of Tawhid, the central tenet of Islam.
laylat al-qadr: The “Night of Power,” one of the odd-numbered nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. It is not known precisely which night it is. The Qur’an describes it as “better than a thousand months” [al-Qadr97:3]. Muslims concentrate on worship and reading the Qur’_n during this ten-day period, seeking the blessing of this special time.
maghrib: sunset prayer
mahram: a man whom a woman may never marry because of the degree of closeness of the blood-relationship, i.e. father, brother, son, uncle, etc. A woman is not required to observe hijab in front of her mahram.
minbar: “pulpit,” the steps on which the imam stands to deliver the khutbahat Friday prayers.
mufassir: Qur’anic exegete, a scholar who comments on and explains the meanings of the Qur’an. Many scholars have written such works, known as Tafsir. Famous books of Tafsir include those by Ibn Kathir, Sayyid Qutb and Maulana Mawdudi, parts of which are available in English translation.
Muhajir: migrants, one who migrates for the sake of Allah. The original Muhajirinwere the Muslims who migrated from Makkah to Yathrib (Madinah).
Muharram:the first month of the Islamic calendar.
munafiq:hypocrite, one who pretends to believe in Islam, but does not.
mushrik:polytheist, one who associates others in worship with Allah.
nafil:supererogatory or optional prayers, fasts, etc., that may be performed in addition to those that are obligatory.
qadi:judge in a shar_`ah court.
qawwam: protector, maintainer.
qiblah:the direction faced when praying, i.e., the direction of the Ka`bah in Makkah.
qiwamah: position or role of being a qawwam.
qiyam al-layl:standing in prayer during the night.
rak`ah: a “unit” or “cycle” of prayer, consistingof standing and reciting Surat al-Fatihah, bowing, standing upright again, then kneeling and prostrating twice. Prayers consist of two, three or four rak`ahs.
Sahabah:the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH).
Sahabi: singular of Sahabah.
sahih: with reference to ahadith, sound, authentic.
salaf:the early generations of Muslims, i.e., the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) and the generation immediately following them.
salat:the “formal” prayer which is to be offered five times daily.
Shawwal:the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, immediately following Ramadan.
shirk: polytheism, the sin of associating anything in worship with Allah. This is the only sin for which there will be no forgiveness: if a person dies as a mushrik, he is truly doomed.
sirah:biography, specifically that of the Prophet (PBUH).
siwak: a small stick which comes from a specific tree and is used as a toothbrush. In the West, siwakmay be purchased at Islamic bookstores and halal grocery stores.
subh: another name for fajr(early morning) prayer.
suhur:the pre-dawn meal eaten before fasting.
tabarruj:wanton display, flaunting oneself in contradiction to the Islamic rulings on dress and modest behaviour.
Tabi`i: (literally “follower”) a member of the generation of Muslims following the Sahabah, may Allah be pleased with them. A Muslim who met or saw a Sahabi is described as a Tabi`i.
tahajjud: voluntary prayer that is performed at night between the times of `isha’ and fajr.
tajwid:correct recitation of Qur’an, following precise rules of pronunciation and articulation.
takbir: saying “Allahu akbar.”
Tarawih: extra prayers that are performed after `isha’during Ramadan. They are usually performed in congregation and as much of the Qur’an as possible is recited during these prayers.
tasbih: saying “subhan-Allah” (“Glory be to Allah”).
`ulama’ (singular: `alim): scholars, people of knowledge.
ummah:community or nation, the body of Muslims as a distinct and integrated entity. The ummah of Islam is not based on language, race or ethnicity, but encompasses everyone who believes in Allah alone and in the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH).
`umrah: the “lesser pilgrimage,” consisting of fewer rites than Hajj. `Umrahmay be performed at any time of the year.
witr: a prayer which has an odd number of rak`ahs. It is offered last thing at night before sleeping, or following tahajjud.
wudu’:“partial” ablution which is required before prayer if one has passed wind, urine or stools.
Yawm `Arafah:the 9th day of the Islamic month of Dhu`l-Hijjah. In the most essential part of Hajj, the pilgrims spend this day standing and praying at `Arafah, a mountain and plain outside Makkah. Muslims who are not on Hajj may observe this sacred day by fasting (this fast is optional but is encouraged).
zakat: “poor-due” or “charity-tax.” Muslims whose wealth is above a certain limit must pay a percentage of it (in most cases 2.5%) to the poor and needy. Zakatis one of the pillars of Islam.
The following abbreviations are also used in this book:
(PBUH): sall-Allahu `alyahi wa sallam: May Allah bless him and grant him peace (said following mention of Prophet Muhammad)
(PBUH): `alayhi’s-salam: Peace be upon him (said following mention of Prophets or the names of angels).
(RAA): radiy Allahu `anhu/`anha/`anhum: May Allah be pleased with him/her/them (following mention of the Prophet’s Companions and wives).