Glossary of Arabic Terms
from the Al-Wala wal Bara by Shaykh Muhammad Seed Al Qahtani
Allah ta’Ala: Allah, the Most High, the Lord of all the worlds. Allah, the supreme and mighty Name, indicates the One, the Existent, the Creator, the Worshipped, the Lord of the Universe. Allah is the First without beginning and the Last without end and the Outwardly Manifest and the Inwardly Hidden.
ahlu’l-sunnah wa’l-jama’a: the people who follow the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and who hold together as a community on that basis.
alim: a man of knowledge from amongst the Muslims who acts on what he knows
aqeedah: belief or faith firmly based on how things are, rather than on how they may be imagined. Thus ‘aqeedah can only fully be derived from an original revelation from Allah and from the sayings of the Messenger to whom it was revealed: in this age, the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace
ayah: a sign, a verse of the Quran. ayat: the plural of ayah.
bara‘: withdrawing from and opposing all that is displeasing to Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
bida: innovation, changing the original teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in a
deen: the life-transaction, submission and obedience to a particular system of rules and practices, a debt of exchange between two parties, in this usage between the Creator and the created. Allah says in the Quran: Surely the deen with Allah is Islam. (3.19).
faqih: a scholar of fiqh who by virtue of his knowledge can give an authoritative opinion or judgement
fiqh: Islamic jurisprudence, the science of the application of the shar fisq: corruption.
fuqaha: the plural of faqih.
hadith: reported speech, particularly of, or about, the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
hadith qudsi: those words of Allah on the tongue of His Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which are not part of the Revelation of the Quran
hajj: the annual pilgrimage to Makka which every Muslim who has the means and ability must make once in his or her life-time; the performance of the rites of the hajj in the protected area which surrounds the Kaaba. The hajj is one of the indispensable pillars of Islam.
halal: permitted by the shariah.
haram: forbidden by the shariah; also a protected area, an inviolable place or object
hasan: good; a category of hadith which is reliable, but which is not as well authenticated as one which is sahih.
hijrah: emigration in the way of Allah. Islam takes its dating from the hijrah of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, from Makka to Madina, in 622 A.
ihsan: the state of being hasan; being absolutely sincere to Allah in oneself; it is to worship Allah as though you see Him, knowing that although you do not see Him, He sees you.
imam: the one who leads the prayer, an eminent scholar.
iman: acceptance, belief, trust, in Allah, a gift from Him. Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His revealed Books, His messengers, the Last Day, the Garden and the Fire, and that everything is by the Decree of Allah, both the good and the evil.
Islam: peace and submission to the will of Allah, the way of life embodied by all the prophets, given its final form in the prophetic guidance brought by the Prophet Muhammad, may the blessings and peace of Allah be on him. The five pillars of Islam are the affirmation of the shahada, doing the salat, paying the zakat, fasting the month of Ramadan, and doing the hajj once in a life-time if you are able.
isnad: the written record of the names of the people who form the chain of human transmission, person to person, by means of which a hadith is preserved. One of the sciences of the Muslims which was developed after the Prophet Muhammad’s death, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is the science of assessing the authenticity of a hadith by assessing the reliability of its isnad.
jahiliyyah: the time of ignorance, before the coming of Islam.
jihad: struggle, particularly warfare, to establish and defend Islam.
Inwardly, the jihad is to oppose whatever in your self is displeasing to Allah. Outwardly, it is oppose kufr by word and action.
jinn: unseen beings created from smokeless fire who co-habit the earth together with mankind
Kaaba: the cube-shaped building at the centre of the Haram in Makka, originally built by the Prophet Ibrahim, peace be on him, and rebuilt with the help of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace; also known as the House of Allah. The Ka’aba is the focal point which all Muslims face when doing the salat. This does not mean that Allah lives inside the Ka’aba, nor does it mean that the Muslims worship the Kaaba. It is Allah Who is worshipped and Allah is not contained or confined in any form or place or time or concept.
kafir: a person who commits kufr, the opposite of a mumin. kaflrun: the plural of kafir.
kalima: the declaration: There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
kufr: to cover up the truth, to reject Allah and His Messenger, may the blessings and peace of Allah be on him.
la ilaha ill allah: there is no god but Allah.
makruh: disapproved of, without being forbidden, by the shariah.
marfu: a hadith from a companion of the Prophet Muhammad containing words attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
Muhammad ar-Rasulullah: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, may the blessings and peace of Allah be on h
muhsin: someone who possesses the quality of ih-san, who remembers Allah constantly.
mumin: someone who possesses the quality of iman, who trusts in Allah and accepts His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. muminun: the plural of mumin.
munafiq: a hypocrite; the hypocrites amongst the Muslims outwardly profess Islam on the tongue, but inwardly reject Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, siding with the kafirun against the Muslims. The deepest part of the Fire is reserved for the munafiqun
munafiqun: the plural of munafiq. mushrik: one who commits shirk. mushrikeen: the plural of mushrik.
muslim: someone who follows the way of Islam, doing what is obligatory, avoiding what is forbidden, keeping within the limits prescribed by Allah, and following the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in what he or she is able. A Muslim is, by definition, one who is safe and sound, at peace in this world, and promised the Garden in the next world.
qadi: a judge.
qiblah: the direction faced in prayer, which, for the Muslims, is towards the Kaaba in Makka. Everyone has a direction in life, but only the Muslims have this qibla
Quran: the ‘Recitation’, the last Revelation from Allah to mankind and the jinn before the end of the world, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, through the angel Jibril, over a period of twenty-three years, the first thirteen of which were spent in Makka and the last ten of which were spent in Madina.
The Quran amends, encompasses, expands, surpasses and abrogates all the earlier revelations revealed to the earlier messengers, peace be on all of them.
The Quran is the greatest miracle given to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah, for he was illiterate and could neither read nor write.
The Quran is the uncreated word of Allah. The Quran still exists today exactly as it was originally revealed, without any alteration or change or addition or deletion. Whoever recites the Quran with courtesy and sincerity receives knowledge and wisdom, for it is the well of wisdom in this age.
raka: a unit of the prayer, a complete series of standing, bowing, prostrations and sitting
rakat: the plural of raka.
Ramadan: the month of fasting, the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar, during which all adult Muslims who are in good health fast from the first light of dawn until sunset each day. The Quran was first revealed in the month of Ramadan. The fast of Ramadan is one of the indispensable pillars of Islam.
sahaba: companions, particularly the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, may the blessings and peace of Allah be on him and on his family and on his companion
sahih: healthy and sound with no defects; often used to describe a fully authenticated hadith. The two most reliable collections of hadith by Imam AIBukhari and Imam Muslim are both described as saheeh
saIafi: adjective from as-salaf, ‘the early years’, and used generally to describe the early generations of the Muslims, particularly the sahaba, the companions of the Messenger of Allah, may the blessings and peace of Allah be on him and on his family and on his companions. In the present age the term is sometimes used to describe those Muslims who closely follow the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.
salat: the prayer, particularly the five daily obligatory ritual prayers of the Muslims which are called maghrib, ‘isha, fajr, dhur and ‘asr. They consist of fixed numbers of rak’at in worship to Allah. Salat is one of the indispensable pillars sawm: fasting, particularly the fast of Ramadan, from food and drink and making love if you are married during daylight, from the first light of dawn until sunset.
shahada: to witness, to bear witness that: There is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The shahada is the gateway to Islam and the gateway to the Garden in the next world. It is easy to say, but to act on it is a vast undertaking which has far reaching consequences, both in inward awareness and in outward action, both in this world and in the next world. Continual affirmation of the shahada is one of the indispensable pillars of Islam.
shariah: a road, the legal and social modality of a people based on the revelation of their prophet. The last shariah in history is that of Islam. It abrogates all previous shariahs. It is, being the last, therefore the easiest to follow, for it is applicable to the whole human race wherever they are.
shaytan: a devil, particularly Iblis (Satan), an evil jinn who prompts mankind and the jinn to rebel against Allah. Shay tan is part of the creation of Allah, and we seek refuge in Allah from the evil that He has created
shirk: the unforgivable wrong action of worshipping something or someone other than Allah or associating something or someone as a partner with Him; the opposite of Tawheed which is affirmation of Divine Unity. Shirk is idol worship, which is attributing form to Allah by attempting to confine Him within an object, a concept, a ritual or a myth whereas Allah is not like anything and has no form. He cannot be conceived of or perceived.
sirah: the historical study of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, may the blessings and peace of Allah be on sunnah: a form, the customary practice of a person or group of people. It has come to refer almost exclusively to the practice of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, but also comprises the customs of the first generation of Muslims in Madina, who acted in accordance with what they had learned from him and who transmitted what they had learned to the next generation.
The sunnah is a complete behavioral science that has been systematically kept outside the learning framework of this society, but which nevertheless has been preserved by those to whom it has been transmitted and who continue to embody it as their way of life. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: T have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go the wrong way. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.’ (AI-Muwatta of Imam Malik, 46.1.3)
tafsir: commentary on the Quran.
taqwa: being careful, knowing your place in the cosmos. Its proof is the experience of awe of Allah, which inspires a person to be on guard against wrong action and eager for actions which are pleasing to Him.
tawaf: circling the Kaaba; tawaf is done in sets of seven circuits followed by two rakat of prayer
tawba: returning to correct action after error, turning away from wrong action to Allah and asking His Forgiveness, turning to face the Real whereas before one turned one’s back
Tawheed: the Divine Unity, Unity in its most profound sense. Allah is One in His Essence and His Attributes and His Acts. The whole of the creation and what it contains is one unified event which in itself has no lasting reality. Allah is the Real: Surely we come from Allah and surely to Him we return. (2.156 ‘ulama: the plural of ‘alim.
Ummah: the body of the Muslims as one distinct and integrated community or nation.
wala: loyalty, holding fast to all that is pleasing to Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Whoever possesses alwala’ wa’l-bara’ loves with the love of Allah and hates with the hate of Allah.
zakat: the wealth tax obligatory on Muslims each year, usually payable in the form of one fortieth of surplus wealth which is more than a certain fixed minimum amount, which is called the nisab. Zakat is payable on accumulated wealth, especially gold and silver, merchandise, certain crops, certain livestock, and on subterranean and mineral wealth. As soon as it is collected it is redistributed to those in need, as defined in the Quran and the hadith. Zakat is one of the indispensable pillars of Islam.
zakat al-fitr: a small obligatory head-tax imposed on every responsible Muslim who has the means for himself and his dependants. It is paid once yearly at the end of Ramadan just before the Id al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.