Bismillahi ar-Rahman ar-Rahim



Here is a glossary of some terms that are used on this website, for both Muslim and non-Muslim visitors.

AllahThe One God
AwraThe part of a person's body that must be covered before everybody but a spouse; for men this is from navel to knee, for women from upper chest to knee. It may also be used to refer to what must be concealed of a woman before non-related men
AyahLiterally means "sign"; used to refer to a verse of the Quran, each of which is a sign of God. Plural is "ayat"
Bid'aLiterally means "innovation"; it refers to adding an obligation to the religion that God and the Prophet Muhammad did not do. Some Muslims feel that adding anything at all to the religion, even if it's not an obligation, is a bid'a
DalilEvidence that is brought from Quran and Sunna to prove a point. For instance, to make a claim about the status of the face veil, one must present dalils
Da'wahThe "call" to Islam; inviting people to learn more about Islam to encourage them to convert
DeenAlso spelled "din". The Arabic word for "religion". Carries the sense of a debt that we owe God, and of a code for judging peoples' actions. Thus it means religion as a whole way of life not just as worship practices
Du'aPersonal prayer or supplication to God, contrasted with salat (which see), the fixed-time ritual prayer. The name means "calling on God"
EidMeans "festival"; also spelled "`Id". There are two Eids; Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha at the time of the end of the hajj
FardObligatory; performance will be rewarded and neglect will be punished (said of an action)
FatwaContrary to popular misconception, a fatwa is not a "death sentence" but is simply an official answer by a scholar to a legal question. One can ask for a fatwa on the status of pepperoni. Plural is "fatawa"
FiqhThe science of jurisprudence or interpreting the Shari'a
HadithA report about things the Prophet Muhammad said, did, or allowed; the hadiths are a textual source for the Sunna but are not identical to it
Hadith QudsiA special kind of hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad reports on what God said to him other than the Quran; these are considered to be paraphrases while the Quran is God's literal word
HajjThe pilgrimage to Mecca; one of the five pillars. It is obligatory once in a Muslim's life, if he or she is able to afford it
HalalLawful; something that is halal may be required, recommended, neutral, or even detestable. It is just that it is not forbidden
HanafiOne of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered the most liberal
HanbaliOne of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered the most conservative
HaramForbidden; performance will be punished and neglect will be rewarded (said of an action)
HijabThe modest dress of the Muslim woman; the word is sometimes used to refer only to the headscarf. A woman who wears hijab is a hijabi
IhramThe sacred state of the pilgrim on hajj; involves certain restrictions on conduct and certain changes in dress
InshallahGod willing; if God wills (said when discussing the future)
IstikharaA type of salat; it is offered when a Muslim faces a difficult decision, seeking God's aid
JannahParadise; the abode of the righteous in the Hereafter. The Arabic word "Jannah" means "garden"
JihadContrary to popular opinion in the West, this does not mean "holy war". A literal translation is "struggle". The struggle to establish justice and righteousness may or may not involve military action. Just as Westerners talk about their "crusade against poverty", so Muslims can use jihad in the same sense. There is also the "greater jihad", which is entirely against the caprices of the soul; the jihad in the world is the "lesser jihad"
JilbabA long coat or cloak; more generally, any type of outergarment that covers from the shoulders to the ankles. Commanded in Quran Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59
JinnOne of the created orders, made of smokeless fire. The jinn according to the Quran may choose good or evil. Those who choose evil are referred to as "the satans". They seem to be similar to the evil spirits mentioned in the Talmud and the Gospels. The singular form is properly "jinni" and the English word "genie" seems to be a corruption of this
MabrukAn Arabic term meaning "Congratulations!" or "May you be blessed"
MadhhabA term referring to a legal school in Islam. Each has a slightly different way of engaging in fiqh (which see)
MahramSomeone with whom there can never be marriage because of consanguinity or affinity. For example, a father is a mahram relative for a woman
MakruhDetestable; performance will not be punished, but neglect will be rewarded (said of an action)
MalikiOne of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered moderately liberal
MashallahWhat God has willed (said whenever something good or bad happens)
MasjidThe Arabic word from which the English word "mosque" is derived; it means "place of prostration" or more broadly "place of worship". The mosque is just the Muslim place of worship
MubahNeutral; peformance will not be rewarded and neglect will not be punished (said of an action)
MustahabbRecommended; performance will be rewarded but neglect is not punished (said of an action)
NiqabThe face veil; styles of dress that involve veiling the face. A woman who wears niqab is a niqabi
Qiyamah, Day ofThe Day of Resurrection; Judgement Day. The Arabic word "qiyamah" carries a sense of it being the day on which everybody is called to stand (before God)
QuranThe revealed Scripture of Islam; transmitted word-for-word from God to the Prophet Muhammad via the angel Gabriel
(rAa)An abbreviation for "radi Allahu anhu"; used after the names of the first few generations of Muslims, it means "May God be satisfied with him/her"
RamadanThe month of fasting; one of the five pillars. The fast is from dawn to sunset and involves abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations (if married)
RevertA person who returns to a religion they previously had; Muslim custom is to apply this term to converts to Islam as well, on the grounds that Islam is the religion that every person was born into, but their parents made them another religion
RibaThe practice of charging interest on loans; sometimes translated as "usury". Riba is forbidden under Islamic law, which makes the modern finance system challenging for Muslims
(sAas)An abbreviation for "salli Allahu alayhi wa sallam"; used after the name of the Prophet Muhammad, it means "may the blessings of God and peace be upon him"
SabrAn Arabic word meaning "perseverance" or "patience". The quality of continuing to trust in God even when everything seems to be going wrong. Sabr is one of the qualities that can lead to Paradise. Quran 33:35 mentions "the men who persevere and the women who persevere" as among those who will receive a great reward from God
SahabaThe Companions of the Prophet Muhammad; the singular is "sahabi" and the feminine plural is "sahabiyat"
SalafA general term for the early generations of Muslims
SalatThe fixed-time ritual prayer of Islam and one of the five pillars. It is offered five times a day: at dawn, mid-day, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall
Shafi'iOne of the four madhhabs (which see). Generally considered relatively conservative
ShahadahThe testimony of faith "Laa ilaha ill'Allah. Muhammadan rasul Allah" that makes a person a Muslim under the law
Shari'aIslamic law; the two sources are the Quran and the Sunna
ShaytanThe satan. The English word "satan" is actually adapted from a Hebrew word which means "adversary". The Arabic word "shaytan" is a cognate to this. Satan in Islamic teaching (where he is also named Iblis) is from the race of the jinn (which see) rather than being a fallen angel as in Christian teaching
ShirkThe associating of partners with God; usually translated as "polytheism" or "idolatry"
Sunna (1)The deeds, sayings, and silent approvals of the Prophet Muhammad; this consitutes the second source of Shari'a. It is obligatory for Muslims to follow the Sunna as well as the Quran
Sunna (2)Some action taken by the Prophet Muhammad; for instance one of the Prophet's sunnas is to fast three days each month
Sunna (3)Recommended; performance will be rewarded but neglect is not punished (said of an action). This is nearly synonymous with "mustahabb" but carries the sense that the form has specifically been established by the Prophet Muhammad
SurahRefers to the "chapters" of the Quran; there are 114 surahs
SWTAn abbreviation for "Subhana wa Ta'ala"; used after God's name, it means "be He glorified and exalted"
Tabi'unThe Successors; this refers to the second generation of Muslims, who were succcessors to the Sahaba
TafsirA commentary on the Quran, explaining the meaning of its verses
TasawwufIslamic mysticism; the English term is Sufism
TawhidIslamic monotheism
UlamaThe religious scholars of Islam. The singular is "alim" and the term "mullah" is synonymous. The place of ulama in Islam is similar in many ways to that of rabbis in Judaism
UmmaAn Arabic word meaning "community" or "nation"; specifically used to refer to the worldwide community of Muslims, as united by faith
Ummahat al-MumininAn Arabic phrase meaning "mothers of the faithful". It is a title given to the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, based on Surah al-Ahzab verse 6 which says "The Prophet is nearer to the faithful than their own souls, and his wives are their mothers"
WuduThe ritual ablutions that precede the salat, which involve washing the hands, mouth, nose, face, forearms, hair, ears, and feet
ZakatOne of the five pillars, it involves giving 2.5% of surplus wealth to help the needy



Here is also a glossary of different names that are given to the dress of the Muslim woman and their various meanings

AbayaA type of outergarment that covers the head and body; it is all but shapeless
BoushiyaA veil that is tied on at the forehead and falls to cover the entire face but has no cut-out for the eyes; instead, the fabric is sheer enough to be seen through
BuknukThis is similar to Khimar (2) - see below - but comes down just to the bosom. Sometimes called "Amira hijab" if it has embroidery at the edge
Burqa (1)A veil that covers the face and entire head but with a place cut out for the eyes
Burqa (2)Also known as the Afghan Burqa. Covers the entire body and has a grille over the face that the woman looks through. May have slits for the hands
ChadorA type of outergarment that covers the head and body; it is sort of like Khimar (2) - see below - but comes down to the ankles or the ground. May have slits for the hands
DupattaAlso called "shayla" and "milfeh"; a type of headcovering that is wrapped around the head
Hijab (1)The entire modest dress of the Muslim woman
Hijab (2)The headscarf; this is properly referred to as a "khimar"
Hijab (3)A type of headcovering that is a square of fabric folded into a triangle then placed over the head and fastened under the chin; this is probably the most common style
Jilbab (1)The term used in the Quran (Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59) to refer to the outergarment
Jilbab (2)A type of outergarment that looks like a long raincoat or trenchcoat
Khimar (1)The term used in the Quran (Surah an-Nur ayah 31) to refer to the headscarf; the word "hijab" is more commonly used with this meaning
Khimar (2)The word "khimar" is most commonly used to refer to a circular type of headcovering with a hole cut out for the face, which usually comes down to the waist. Note the variations Buknuk and Chador above, which are the same style but different lengths
MilfehSee Dupatta
Niqab (1)Any type of veil for the face or outfit that covers the face
Niqab (2)A veil that is tied on at the forehead and falls to cover the entire face with a place cut out for the eyes. Also called "full niqab"
Niqab (3)A veil that is tied on at the bridge of the nose and falls to cover the lower face. Also called "half niqab"
Shalwar KameezAn outfit common in Pakistan that involves a very long tunic (at least knee length) and trousers. Also worn by men
ShaylaSee Dupatta