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Glossary

A
ʿAbbāsids descendants of ʿAbbās, the prophet Muḥammad’s uncle, who ruled as caliphs from 750 to 1258 C.E.
ablution ritual washing that Muslims must perform before prayer.
adhan Muslim call to prayer.
Aga Khan leader of the Nizarī Ismāʿīlī sect of Shīʿīi Muslims who oversees cultural and spiritual lives of followers.
ahl al-bayt literally, “people of the house,” referring to members of the household of the prophet Muḥammad.
ahl al-kitāb literally, “people of the book,” referring to Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
ahl al-sunnah literally,“people of the sunnah,” meaning the people in the early Islamic centuries who emphasized the importance of following the practice and custom (sunnah) of the prophet Muḥammad and established the foundation for Sunnī Islam.
ʿĀʾishah Muḥammad’s influential and favorite wife, daughter of the first Sunnī caliph, Abu Bakr, and acknowledged authority on history, medicine, poetry, and rhetoric, and one of the most important transmitters of ḥadīth.
ʿajām non-Arab, often identified with “Persian.”
akbar literally, “greater.”
al- the definite article in Arabic.
ʿAlawī followers of a Shīʿīi tradition, also called Nuṣayrīs after Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr, a ninth century follower of the eleventh imam, who established his own group. Also the name of the royal dynasty ruling Morocco since the seventeenth century.
ʿAlī prophet Muḥammad’s cousin and son-in-law by marriage to Muḥammad’s daughter Fāṭimah. Shīʿīi Muslims believe that ʿAlī was the first caliph to succeed Muḥammad, Sunnīs place him fourth. Shīʿīi s trace the ruling descendants of Muḥammad (imams) through him.
ʿAlid associated with the tradition of support for ʿAlī.
ʿalim a scholar, a possessor of ʿilm (knowledge).
Allāh God.
Allahu Akbar literally, “God is most great,” a phrase used in the Muslim call to prayer and other occasions for glorifying God.
amīr military commander, governor, or prince.
amīrate office or realm of authority of an amīir. Anṣar literally “helpers,” meaning the Muslims of Medina who supported the Prophet.
ʿaqīdah Islamic creed from the sunnah of prophet Muḥammad, which consists of the five articles of faith: belief in God, his angels, his prophets, his scriptures, and the Last Day, or Day of Judgment.
arabesque artistic style that uses outlines of foliage, fruit, or figures to produce an intricate pattern of interlaced lines.
ʿaṣabīyah group solidarity, a term important in the analysis of Ibn Khaldūn’s (d. 1406) theory of social cohesion as a factor in the strength of movements and states.
ʿĀshūrāʾ the tenth day of the month of Muḥārram; the Shīʿīi day of observance commemorating the martyrdom of the prophet Muḥammad’s grandson Ḥusayn.
Assassins eponym given to the Nizarī Ismāīʾlī sect of Shīʿīi Muslims due to campaign of terror and violence, including assassinations, they carried out against the Sunnī Seljuq Dynasty in the name of the Hidden Imam. The last grand master of this sect was executed in 1256 C.E.
asatīr myths.
asmaʾ Allāh al-husna the ninety-nine beautiful names of God.
ayah literally, “sign,” meaning a verse in the Qurʾān, and more generally a sign or wonder.
Ayatollah literally, “sign of God,” referring to the highest rank of Shīʿīi Muslim clerics, who are respected for knowledge and piety.
B
baraka literally, “blessing.”
bashar human.
basṭ sanctuary from oppression, especially in Iranian tradition.
bāṭin inner meaning, opposite of ẓahīr.
bay (or bey) nobleman or rich man.
bayʿah oath of allegiance.
bidʿah innovative or unacceptable departure from the example of Muḥammad (sunnah).
Bismillah literally, “In the name of God,” referring to the phrase “Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim” meaning “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” This phrase opens each surah of the Qurʾān as well as letters, books, speeches, ceremonies, and official documents throughout the Muslim world.
Black Muslim adherent of African-American type of Islam, member of African-American sect Nation of Islam, established in America by Wallace D. Fard around 1930 and more recently led by Louis Farrakhan.
burqa full veil worn by women in Afghanistan under Taliban regime that leaves only the eyes visible.
C
caliph title for successor to prophet Muḥammad as political leader of Muslim community.
chador Iranian term for a woman’s veil that covers hair and body, leaving only face, hands, and feet exposed.
Constitution of Medina constitution promulgated by Muḥammad, which established principle of religious pluralism within single political entity.
Crusades during the Middle Ages lasting from 1095–1291 C.E., the holy wars declared by the pope against non-Christians, mostly Muslims.
D
daʾī one who invites people to accept Islam; a missionary.
dār al-ḥarb literally, “land of war,” meaning a place where inhabitants do not practice Islam.
dār al-Islām literally, “abode of peace,” referring to territories ruled by Islamic law (sharʾīah).
daraja literally, “degree,” meaning rank.
daʿwah literally, “call,” referring to missionary work.
dawlah literally, “state” or “dynasty.”
dervish an ascetic religious person, often identified as Ṣufi.
dhikr literally, “remembrance,” referring to Ṣufi chants for the remembrance of God.
dhimmī person enjoying protected status due to a treaty relationship with Muslims. Typically used to refer to “people of the book,” (ahl al-kitāab) particularly Jews and Christians.
Dhū al-Ḥijjah last month of the Islamic calendar and month of pilgrimage to Mecca.
dīn, deen literally, “religion.”
dūʾa private prayer of petition.
F
faḍala literally, “to prefer.”
falsafa literally, “philosophy.”
falasifa literally, “philosophers.”
fan̄aʾ mystical state of annihilation of self.
faqīh (plural: fūqahaʾ) jurisprudent, religious scholar.
faqīr literally, “poor,” meaning a poor person, usually a religious ascetic.
farḍ (plural: faraʾid) literally, “duty,”
Fāṭimah daughter of prophet Muḥammad, wife of ʿAlī, and mother of Ḥassan and Ḥusayn. Considered to be an example of perfect womanhood in Islam, especially honored in Shīʿīi tradition.
fatwā legal opinion issued by a private religious scholar (as opposed to a judge in a court of law). May be used by a judge in rendering a legal ruling.
fez red cap traditionally worn by Turkish men prior to the twentieth century.
fidāʾī (plural: fidaʾyūn) one who sacrifices himself (often with the presumption of a religious motive).
fiqh human efforts to understand and codify divine law.
fitnah civil war; strife.
fiṭra natural disposition toward good.
Five Pillars of Islam the five acts required of all Muslims: profession of faith (shahādah), prayer five times daily (ṣalāt), almsgiving (zakāt), fasting during Ramaḍān (sawm), and pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime (ḥajj).
G
ghāʾib absent or concealed
H
ḥadd limit or prohibition. Punishments fixed in the Qurʾān for certain specific offenses. See ḥudūd. ḥadīth traditions, reports of prophet Muḥammad’s deeds and sayings, an authoritative source of guidance for Muslims.
ḥajj pilgrimage to Mecca, which Muslims are required to make at least once in a lifetime if they are physically and financially able. One of the Five Pillars of Islam.
ḥalāl Qurʾānic term for what is lawful or permitted.
Ḥanafī major Sunnī Islamic school of law which emphasizes analogous reasoning of jurists over literal interpretation of ḥadīth. Predominates in the Arab world and South Asia.
Ḥanbalī major Sunnī Islamic school which more closely follows tradition or precedent over analogical reasoning. Predominates in Saudi Arabia.
ḥanīf upright and pure.
ḥaqiqa truth.
ḥarām illegal; prohibited by Islamic law.
harem the space in a Muslim household where the women and children live; also, female members of a Muslim household.
haẓrat literally, “excellency,” a title of great respect.
Hidden Imam Shīʿīi belief that the Twelfth Imam did not die but went into hiding or “occultation,” from which he is expected to return at the end of time as a messianic figure to bring in an era of peace and justice.
ḥijāb literally, “veil,” meaning a covering for the hair and head of a Muslim woman which may include long-sleeved, long, flowing dress as well.
hijrah literally, “emigration,” referring to the departure of Muḥammad and early Muslims from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., which marks first year of Muslim lunar calendar.
hudān literally, “guidance.”
ḥuḍūd literally, “limits,” referring to crimes of theft, extramarital sexual activity, false accusations of unchastity, and consumption of alcohol specified by the Qurʾān and carrying harsh capital penalties.
ḥukm (plural: ahkām) judgment, rule, government.
Ḥusayn [or Ḥussein] grandson of Muḥammad and son of ʿAlī and Fāṭimah who was killed in Karbala, Iraq, along with followers when he contested the ʿUmayyad claim to sovereignty over Muslim community in 680 C.E. For Shīʿīi Muslims, his martyrdom set paradigm of suffering, oppression, and need to fight injustice.
I
ibādāh (plural: ibādāt) act of worship, devotion, or service.
ʿId al-Aḍḥā feast of the Sacrifice, a major Muslim holiday falling at the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. See ḥajj.
ʿId al-Fiṭr feast of the Breaking of the Fast, a major Muslim holiday that concludes the month of Ramaḍān.
iḥṣan literally, “beneficence.”
iftāʾ ruling, writing, or delivering a fatwā.
ijmāʿ literally, “consensus.”
ijtihād independent reasoning used in determining a legal rule.
ikhwān literally, “brothers” or “brotherhood.”
Ikhwān al-Muslimīn the Society of Muslim Brothers, founded in Egypt as an Islamist-reformist movement in 1928, with branches and similar groups in many countries, especially in the Arab world.
ʿilm literally, “knowledge,” also science.
īmām prayer leader and person who delivers Friday sermon for Sunnī Muslims. Shīʿīi Muslims use Imam as title for Muḥammad’s male descendants through ʿAlī and Fāṭimah who are the rightful leaders of the Muslim community. Shīʿīi believe that Imams, although human, are divinely inspired and infallible. The term is also used as an honorific for religious scholars believed to be especially learned, pious, and just.
īmān literally, “faith.”
insān literally, “human being.”
insānīyat literally, “humanity.”
inshaʾa Allāh literally, “if God wills.”
intifada Palestinian uprising that began in 1987. An alleged second intifada began in 2000.
islām literally, “submission (to God).”
Ismāʿīlī the branch of Shīʿīi Islam which recognizes Ismāīl, the eldest son of the sixth Imam, Jaʿfar al-Ṣadiq, as the legitimate seventh Imam in the Shīʿī tradition in a disputed succession. Founders of Faṭimid Empire in Egypt, ruled 909–1171 C.E.
isnād literally, “chain,” referring to a chain of transmission among sources,
istiḥsān equity; using personal judgment to mitigate the literal application of law.
ithār self-sacrificing generosity.
Ithnā ʿAsharī literally, “Twelver,” referring to the largest branch of Shīʿī Islam, which recognizes twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be in hiding. (See Hidden Imam)
itlaq infinity.
ittibāʾ critical acceptance of precedent or authority.
J
jadīd literally, “new,” or modern.
Jaʿfarī major Shīʿī school of Islamic law, tracing authority back to the sixth imam, Jaʿfar al-Ṣadiq (d. 765).
jahl literally, “ignorance.”
Jāhilīyah the pre-Islamic era.
jamʾī congregational mosque used specifically for Friday prayers.
jihād literally, “struggle” or “exertion.” “Greater” jihād is the struggle within oneself to live a righteous life and submit oneself to God’s will. “Lesser” jihād is the defense of Islam and the Muslim community.
jinn spirit beings.
jizyah poll or head tax paid by dhimmīs in order to enter into protective treaty relationship with Muslims.
jumʿah literally, “gathering,” refers to Friday congregational prayer.
K
Kaʿbah cube-shaped structure in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the focal point of the ḥajj (pilgrimage), and the location that all Muslims face during prayer.
kāfir unbeliever.
kaffīyah traditional male head covering typically associated with Palestine and Jordan.
kalām literally, “speech,” referring to the field of theology.
kalām Allah literally, “God’s speech,” referring to the Qurʾān.
Khadījah Muḥammad’s first and only wife for twenty-four years, the first convert to and one of the strongest supporters of Islam.
khan honorific title of Turkish origin used for leaders in certain Islamic societies.
khānqah meeting house, mainly for Ṣufis. See tekke and zāwiyah.
Khārijites extremist minority tradition in Islam beginning in the conflict over succession to the caliphate in 660–661 C.E. They initiated a tradition of declaring other Muslims to be unbelievers (kāfir)and engaging in jihād against them. Always a very small sectarian tradition.
khilāfat caliphate.
khums literally, “one fifth.” A Shīʿī tax on profits of various sorts.
khuṭba sermon preached during Friday congregational prayer (jumʿah).
kiswa the black drape covering the Kaʿbah.
kitāb literally, “book.”
kohl black powder applied to the edge of the eyelids.
Kufic angular style of Arabic calligraphy.
kufr unbelief.
kuttāb Islamic elementary school.
L
loya jirga tribal council in Afghanistan.
M
madhhab literally “school” or “orientation,” usually meaning one of the schools of Islamic law.
madrasah religious college or university; also religious school for young students.
Maghrib literally, the “place of the sunset,” referring to Northwest Africa particularly Morocco.
Mahdī Muslim messianic figure expected to return at the end of time to usher in an era of peace and justice.
maktab elementary school.
mal property.
Mālikī major Sunnī Islamic law school. Predominant in North, Central, and West Africa.
mamlūk literally “owned,” referring to “slave” soldiers, like the medieval military elite that ruled Egypt.
marabout French term for Ṣūfī leaders in North Africa.
maʿrūf that which is generally recognized as sound, good, worthy.
mashhad gravesite of a martyr.
mashriq literally, the “place of the sunrise” or the east, used to describe the Muslim world of the eastern Mediterranean region.
masjid mosque, place for Muslim prayer.
maṣlaḥah concept of public interest or public welfare that allows for consideration of the general good in interpreting Islamic law.
mawlā (plural: mawālī) in early Islamic society, a non-Arab Muslim; non-member client of a tribe to whom protection is extended.
Mawlid al-Nabī Muḥammad's birthday.
Mecca (Makkah) holiest city in Islam, located in Saudi Arabia. Birthplace of Muḥammad and location of the Kaʿbah. City where Muslims go on the ḥajj (pilgrimage).
Medina second holiest city in Islam; located in Saudi Arabia; city to which Muḥammad and the early Muslims emigrated (hijrah) when they were forced to leave Mecca; city where Muḥammad is buried.
Mevlevī (Mawlawīyah) Ṣūfī brotherhood in the devotional tradition of Jalal al-Din Rumi.
miḥrāb niche in mosque wall indicating direction of Mecca (qibla), toward which all Muslims must pray.
millet religious or faith community officially recognized by the Ottoman Empire.
minaret high tower in a mosque from which the call to prayer (adhan) is made.
minbar pulpit in a mosque from which the Friday sermon (khuṭbah) is delivered.
monotheism belief that there is only one God.
mosque Muslim place of prayer.
muʿāmalat Islamic civil law, code of behavior ruling social relations (as opposed to ʿibadat, or devotional acts).
muʿāwada reciprocity.
mudārabah Islamic financial principle of profit-sharing, which abides by Islamic prohibition of usury.
muezzin person who issues the call to prayer (adhan).
muftī specialist in Islamic law who is authorized to deliver a legal opinion (fatwā).
muhajīr person who undertakes an emigration (hijrah).
Muḥammad prophet of Islam who received revelation of the Qurʾān. Muslims believe that he was the perfect human being (al-Insān al-Kamīl) and seek to emulate his example (sunnah), as recorded in the ḥadīth.
Muḥarram first month of the Islamic calendar.
mujāhid (plural: mujāhidīn) person engaging in jihād.
mujtāhid person qualified to exercise independent reasoning in the interpretation of Islamic law. See ijtihād.
mukhabarat secret service, intelligence service.
mullah Muslim cleric or learned man.
muʾmin (plural: muʾminīn) believer.
munkār reprehensible, not allowed.
muqallid follower, one who engages in taqlīd.
murīd a disciple or follower, usually a follower of a spiritual guide in a Ṣūfī order.
murshid a guide, usually a spiritual guide in a Ṣūfī order.
musallah informal areas and open air spaces for prayer.
mushārakah Islamic financial principle of equity-sharing, which abides by Islamic prohibition of usury.
mushrik one who associates an idol or other divinity with God, a polytheist.
Muslim (plural: muslimīn) literally, “one who submits.” Adherent of faith of Islam
mutʿah a type of marriage contract allowing temporary marriage; prohibited in Sunnī Islam.
**mutashabih uncertain.
Muʿtazilah a Muslim school of thought beginning in the eighth century, emphasizing God’s oneness and in methodology utilizing rationalist philosophical approaches.
Muwaḥḥidūn literally, “Unitarians,” or upholders of absolute monotheism. The self-identification of Muslims in the tradition of Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (d. 1792) and also movement of strict puritanical reform in North Africa in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Also used by the Druze in referring to themselves.
mystic one who seeks to experience spiritual enlightenment and truth through various physical and spiritual disciplines.
N
nabī literally,“one who announces”; Arabic term for prophet.
nafs literally, “soul” or “self.”
Nation of Islam An African-American Muslim movement that preached a message of black supremacy and separatism. The majority moved to mainstream Sunnī Islamic positions beginning in the 1970s, although a remnant led by Louis Farrakhan continues the older tradition.
niqāb a veil for the face of Muslim women; an aspect of hijāb. Currently the full covering of a woman except for an opening for the eyes.
niṣāb in Islamic law, the basic minimum property for payment of zakāt.
Nizārī Ismāʿīlīyah sect of “Sevener” Shīʿīs historically known as “Assassins”; contemporary movement is nonviolent. See Aga Khan.
P
Pan-Islamic refers to the movement to unify all Islamic peoples.
pasha Turkish term for a title of high rank in Muslim government and military.
People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb) religious group with a revealed scripture or divine revelation. Used by Muslims to refer to Christians and Jews.
pir Ṣūfī master.
polygyny practice of having more than one wife at the same time.
polytheism belief in more than one god.
pre-Islamic (Jāhilīyah) refers to the Arabian Peninsula or to the Arabic language before the founding of Islam in the early 600s C.E.
prophet one who announces divinely inspired revelations.
Q
qāḍī Muslim judge.
qānūn secular law.
qawwām literally, “in charge of,” referring to responsible party or leader.
qibla direction of prayer for Muslims, located in Mecca..
qiwāma responsibility.
qiyās Islamic legal principle of analogical reasoning.
Qurʾān literally, “recitation”; the record of revelations received ad seriatum by Muḥammad between 610–632 C.E., forming the Holy Book of Muslims.
Quraysh The major Arab tribe in Mecca at the time of the Prophet. Muḥammad and many early Muslim leaders came from clans of this tribe.
R
rakʿah (plural: rakʿat) literally, “bowing,” a Muslim cycle of prayer.
Ramaḍan Muslim month of fasting, which ends with celebration of ʿId al-Fiṭr. Fasting during Ramaḍan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
revelation message from God to humans transmitted through a prophet.
ribā usury or interest. Outlawed by Islamic law.
ribāt fortress or stronghold, often serving as a Ṣūfī center for devotional activities and study.
risāla divine inspiration; dissertation or treatise.
rukn support, pillar, basic principle.
S
sadaqah voluntary charitable offering of an amount beyond what is required, which may enable a Muslim to atone for sins or other offenses.
salaf, salafīyah pious ancestors, the early Muslims.
ṣalam peace.
As-ṣalam alaykum literally, “Peace be upon you”; the Muslim greeting whose response is “And peace be upon you also” or “Wa-alaykum as-ṣalam.
ṣalāt prayer required of all Muslims five times daily. One of the Five Pillars of Islam.
ṣawm fasting during the month fo Ramaḍan. One of the Five Pillars of Islam.
sayyid descendant of Muḥammad. See sharīf.
scripture sacred writings believed to contain revelations from God.
Shāfiʿī Major Sunnī Islamic law school, predominant in East Africa and Southeast Asia.
shah Persian term for “king”; ruler of Iran.
shahādah bearing witness to or making the profession of faith: “There is no God but God (Allāh), and Muḥammad is the messenger of God.” One of the Five Pillars of Islam.
shahīd martyr.
shaʾn al-nuzūl (plural: shuʾun) circumstance or occasion of revelation.
al-Shārʾ divine revelation.
sharīʿah that which is considered to be God’s will for humanity, especially as presented in the Qurʾāan and the Sunnah of the Prophet, providing the basis for Islamic law as defined by Muslim scholars over the centuries.
sharīf nobleman; descendant of prophet Muḥammad.
shaykh tribal elder; also, title of honor given to those who are considered especially learned and pious.
Shīʿī Muslims who believe that succession to the political and religious leadership of the Muslim community should be hereditary through Muḥammad’s daughter Fāṭimah and her husband, Muḥammad’s cousin ʿAlī. Although Shīʿīs do not believe that these successors (imams) are prophets, they do believe that they are divinely inspired and infallible. Approximately 15 percent of all Muslims are Shīʿīs.
Shī ʿīsm branch of Islam that believes that Muḥammad chose ʿAlī ibn ʿAbī Ṭālib (d. 661 C.E.) and his descendants as the spiritual-political leaders of the Muslim community
shirk the association of someone or something as equal to or part of God.
shūrā consultation.
silsila the chain of transmission from teacher to disciple over generations, the passing on of devotional exercises and teachings within a Ṣūfī order.
softa seminary student.
Ṣūfī Muslim mystic.
Sufism Islamic mysticism, which seeks to develop spirituality through discipline of the mind and body.
sultan political and military ruler of a Muslim dynasty or state.
sunnah customary practice or way of life. “al-Sunnah” refers to the approved standard of practice established by Muḥammad and early Muslims.
Sunnī Muslims who emphasize the importance of the actions and customs of Muḥammad and the first generations of Muslims, viewing as legitimate the establishment of the caliphate, in contrast to Shīʿī beliefs (See Shīʿī). About 85 percent of all Muslims are Sunnīs.
surah chapter of the Qurʾān.
T
tadabbur reverent reflection.
tafsīr (plural: tafāsir) interpretation, exegetical analysis of the Qurʾān.
tahlīl procedures required in Islamic law for remarriage after a divorce.
takbīr stating the phrase “Allahu Akbar,” or the word itself stands for the phrase.
takfir declaring someone to be an unbeliever (kafir).
ṭalāq type of divorce in which a husband repeats the words “I divorce you” three times.
tanattuʾ transgressing, meticulous religiosity.
tanzīmāt literally “reorganization” involving reforms intended to make government administration more orderly, usually identified with the major nineteenth century Ottoman reform program.
taqiyah act of concealing one's true religious beliefs in order to prevent death or injury to oneself or other Muslims.
taqlīd (plural: taqālīd) unquestioned imitation or following of tradition, past legal or doctrinal precedents; the opposite of ijtihād.
taqwā piety, virtue, and awareness or reverence of God.
ṭarīqah path followed by Ṣufis to attain oneness with God; Ṣufi brotherhood.
tasāmuh tolerance.
taṣawwuf the intellectual and devotional framework of Islamic mysticism (Ṣufism).
tawāf the circumambulation of the Kaʿbah in Mecca during the ḥajj (pilgrimage).
tawhīd oneness of God, monotheism.
taʾwīl interpretation.
taʿzīr crimes punished at the discretion of a Muslim judge (qāḍī).
taʿziyah Shīʿī religious drama about the martyrdom of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, Muḥammad’s grandson.
tekke Turkish term for a Ṣūfī center. See zāwiyah and khānqah.
turban head covering worn by Muslim males consisting of a long cloth wound around the head, usually with a cap in the center.
U
ʿulamāʾ Muslim religious scholars.
Umayyads prominent Meccan Arab family who ruled from Damascus as caliphs from 661–750 C.E.
umm literally, “mother.”
ummah the worldwide Muslim community, community of believers.
umrah lesser pilgrimage in which Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca outside the period during which the ḥajj occurs; considered commendable though not a substitute for the ḥajj itself.
ustadh literally, “teacher.”
uṣūl principles.
V
vizier Muslim minister of state.
W
Wahhābī the name popularly given to the puritanical reformist movement established in the Arabian Peninsula by Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb in the eighteenth century.
walī literally, “friend,” a helper, or patron; a Muslim saint.
waqf Muslim religious endowment whose profits are used for charitable purposes.
waṭan homeland or birthplace.
wazīr administrator, minister, secretary.
Z
ẓahīr outward appearance; opposite of bāṭin.
zakāt literally, “purification”; annual almsgiving or charity consisting of 2.5 percent of a Muslim’s entire wealth (not just income). One of the Five Pillars of Islam.
Zamzam literally, “bubbling”; well in Mecca that Muslims believe was revealed to Hagar by God in order to preserve her and Ismāʿīl from dying of thirst. Drinking water from this well is one of the ḥajj (pilgrimage) rituals.
zāwiyah Ṣufi center that serves as a place of worship and a welfare institution. See khānqah and tekke.
Zaydīyah sect of Shīʿī Islam also known as “Fivers” because they recognized Zayd ibn ʿAlī as the legitimate fifth imam in a disputed succession. Zaydī imams ruled in Yemen for a millennium, with the last being overthrown in 1962.
ziyādah in a mosque, an additional wall that holds the facilities for ablution, or ritual cleansing.
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