Ayatollah (ah-yuh-toh-luh) noun – among Shi??ites a title in the religious hierarchy achieved by scholars who have demonstrated highly advanced knowledge of Islamic law and religion.
Caliph (kal-if) noun – a spiritual leader of Islam, claiming succession from Muhammad.
Chador (chuhd-er) noun – the traditional garment of Muslim and Hindu women, consisting of a long, usually drab colored cloth that envelops the body from head to foot, and may also cover all or part of the face.
Dawah (daa-wa) noun – the practice of conveying the message of Islam to non-Muslims.
Deen (de-en) noun – religion, or a way of life.
Desi (day-see) noun/adjective – derived from the Sanskrit word “desh” meaning homeland, this term refers to something or someone who is from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Fatwa (fut-wa) noun – in Islamic law, an opinion made by a judicial/religious scholar on a legal, civil, or religious matter that is normally used as a guide and does not have the force of law.
Hadith (hah-deeth) noun – a traditional account of things said or done by Prophet Muhammad or his companions.
Halal (huh-lahl) adjective – lawful or permissible in Islam; (of an animal or its meat) slaughtered or prepared in the manner prescribed by Islamic law; of or pertaining to halal meat: a halal butcher.
Hanbali (han-buh-lee) noun – one of the four schools of thought and law within Sunni Islam founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Hanafi (han-uh-fee) noun – the oldest and largest of the four schools of Islamic though and law within Sunni Islam. Its founder, Abu Hanifa was the first to systematically arrange and compile Islamic law.
Hijab (hih-jab) noun – a traditional scarf worn by some Muslim women to cover the hair and neck; the traditional dress code of Muslim woman, calling for the covering of the entire body except the face, hands, and feet.
Ijtihad (ij-ti-hahd) noun – in Islamic law, the use of reason to arrive at a consensus or resolution about problems not covered precisely in the Qur’an or hadith.
Imam (ih-mahm) noun – the title of the religious leader of a mosque whose main responsibility is to lead the Friday sermon followed by the mid-day prayer
Iman (ih-mahn) noun – faith
Jihad (ji-hahd) noun – an Arabic word meaning “spiritual struggle,” but used without any qualifiers it is generally understood in the West to refer to a “holy war” on behalf of Islam.
Ka’ba (kah-buh) noun – a small, cubical building in the courtyard of the Great Mosque at Mecca which Muslims face when praying and, and believe was erected by Prophet Abraham as the first mosque.
Khutbah (khoot-baa) noun – a religious sermon or specifically the sermon delivered before the mid-day Friday prayers.
Mahdi (mah-dee) noun – the Muslim messiah, a spiritual and temporal ruler who, in Sunni Islam, will usher in a reign of righteousness throughout the world shortly before its end.
Maliki (mal-i-kee) noun – the third-largest of the four schools of thought and law within Sunni Islam founded by M??lik ibn Anas. It is followed by approximately 15 percent of Muslims, mostly in North Africa and West Africa.
Mufti (muhf-tee) noun – an attorney or judicial/religious scholar whose recorded opinions (fatwas) on legal subjects are a valuable source of information for the practical workings of Islamic law.
Namaz (na-maaz) noun – the second of the five pillars of Islam is prayer, namaz is a prescribed formal prayer performed five times a day (preferably in a mosque) and oriented toward Mecca.
Nikah (neh-kaah) noun – the Muslim marriage ceremony.
Niqab (neh-kaab) noun – a type of veil worn by some Muslim women that is made of lightweight opaque fabric and leaves only the eyes uncovered.
Qadi (kah-dee) noun – a judge in a Muslim community, whose decisions are based on Islamic religious law.
RA – an acronym for the Arabic “Radhiallahu ‘anhu” meaning “May Allah be pleased with him/her,” which usually follows mention of a pious, beloved Muslim.
Ramadan (ram-uh-dahn) noun – the ninth month of the Muslim calendar year, during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset.
Sadaqa (sa-da-kah) noun – voluntary charity.
Salafi (sa-la-fee) noun/adjective – a follower of the Islamic movement Salafiyyah which believes that the first three generations of Muslims, or the “Pious Predecessors,” are model examples and their understanding of the texts and tenents of Islam are Islamic orthodoxy.
SAW – an acronym for the Arabic “Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam” meaning “May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,” which follows mention of Prophet Muhammad.
Shafi’i (shah-fee-ee) noun – one of the four schools of thought and law within Sunni Islam founded by Imam ash-Shafi’i.
Shahada (shah-hah-duh) noun – the Islamic profession of faith, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.”
Shaikh (sheyk) noun – a religious guide (the scope of authority of such a person varies from region to region).
Sharia (shah-ree-ah) noun – the religious law of Islam which stems primarily from the Qur’an, the hadith, scholarly consensus, and ijtihad.
Shi’a (shee-uh) noun – the second largest sect in Islam which rejects the first three caliphs as usurpers.
Sufi (soo-fee) noun/adjective – an ascetic, mystical Muslim sect.
Sunni (soon-ee) noun – the largest sect of Islam, Sunnis acknowledge the legitimacy of the order of succession of the first four caliphs in contrast to the Shi’a sect. With no centralized clerical institution, Sunni Islam should be understood as an umbrella identity, grouping close to 90 percent of the world’s Muslims. The most constant expression of Sunni Islam throughout its history and geographic span is the idea of the human being having an intimate relationship with the Divine with no intermediaries.
Tawaf (ta-waaf) noun – one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage during which Muslims circumambulate the Ka’ba seven times, in a counterclockwise direction.
Ulama (oo-luh-mah) – noun – the scholars of Muslim religion and law.
Ummah (uhm-uh) noun – the Muslim community.
Wahhabi (wuh-hah-bee) noun/adjective – a follower of Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792), who stringently opposed all practices not explicitly sanctioned by the Qur’an. The Wahhabis are the most conservative Muslim group and are today found mainly in Saudi Arabia.
Walima (wa-lee-ma) noun – a wedding reception held after the nikkah has been performed.
Wudu (woo-doo) noun – ritual ablution.
Zakat (zuh-kaht) noun – the third of the five pillars of Islam, this is a religious tax, comprising two percent of personal income of every kind, levied as almsgiving for the relief of the poor.
Zamzam (zum-zum) – noun – a well located in the Great Mosque in Mecca believed to be a miraculously-generated source of healing water from God, which began thousands of years ago when Prophet Abraham’s infant son kicked the ground in his thirst (Muslims also refer to the water itself as Zamzam).