The second major Muslim dynasty (following the Umayyads), centered in Iraq (Baghdad, 750-1258 A.D.), under which Islamic civilization achieved maturity.
"People of the Book," the term referring Jews and Christians as peoples tolerated by Islam.
The ruling Islamic party in Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey with affinities to Shiite groups.
Mohammad's cousin and son-in-law married to his daughter, Fatima. In Shi'a Islam, 'Ali is considered the first Imam, a position he held from 632 when Mohammad died.
The personal name of the one true God in Islam. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. From the 112th sura of the Qur'an: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Say (O Mohammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone."
"The Base." Osama bin Laden's network of terrorist organizations.
The League of Arab States, an organization of Arabic-speaking nations, including Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It was established March 22, 1945 to coordinate political, cultural, health and communications activities, and to safeguard the independence and sovereignty of each member nation.
Arabic is a member of the Semitic language stock, very closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic (so "anti-Semitic" actually means "against Arabs, Jews, and other Semitic peoples"). Semitic belongs to the Afroasiatic family, which also include Berber, Cushitic, and Chadic languages (372 all tolled). The Semitic languages are unique in their reliance on 'revowelling'—changing the form of words by replacing the vowels in them. Words are listed in the dictionary as all consonants, e.g. *ktb "write." From this root you may derive kataba "he wrote," yaktubu "he writes," kitab "book," and maktaba "library." This explains why "holy war" is jihad but those who fight in it are called "mujahideen." The verb is "jahada."Arabic has several sounds not found in English. First, the glottal stop is usually omitted or represented by a single quote ['] in transliterations, e.g. 'eid. It is the sound we make between the two oh's in "oh-oh." Second, the consonants [k] and [g] are the sounds produced the farthest back in the mouth in English (called 'velars' because the tongue touches the soft palate or velum). Arabic also contains a sound produced in the same spot in the mouth as English [k] but with a hissing sound. It is usually transliterated as [kh] and corresponds to the Scottish and German [ch] sound. Two other Arabic consonants are pronounced even farther back in the throat than [k]. One is called a 'uvular,' because the tongue touches the uvula, and is transliterated [q]. Another consonant is pronouced even father back, the tongue touching the back wall of the throat (pharynx) just enough to produce a hissing sound. This pharyngeal sound is sometimes transliterated , i.e. the Arabic symbol for the numeral three, sometimes [c].
Pillars (requirements) of Islam. There are five: shahada "testifying that 'There is no god but God and Mohammad is the Messenger of God,'" salat "five daily prayer services," zakat "almsgiving," sawm "fasting during daylight in the month of Ramadan," and hajj "the pilgrimage to Mecca."
The tribal designation of the earliest known people of Afghanistan is *arya-n, from which modern day "Aryan" and "Iran" derive. It was an old Indo-European stem that came to mean "noble" in the Sanskrit of ancient India. Ironically, the word that referred to the blue-eyed blond ideal of Nazi Germany originates with the predominately dark-haired, dark-eyed people we are now fighting in Central Asia.
Practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline.Assalamu alaikum An expression that Muslims say whenever they meet one another. It is a greeting translated as "Peace be upon you."
"Sign of God." A title used in Iranian Islamic Shiism for the most highly honored members of the ulama.
"Blessing" or "spiritual power" believed to reside in holy places and persons, especially the Sufi master.
"Innovation" of Islamic culture and law recently introduced. It has come to mean "heresy" in Islam.
Same as Hebrew ben in ben Gurion: "son of." "Daughter of" in Arabic would be bint, as in "Fatima bint Muhammad," the daughter of Mohammad. (Osama bin Laden's father is actually "Mohammad bin Awad bin Laden.") Arabic and Hebrew are very closely related Semitic (Afroasiatic) languages. In the West, children generally take their last name from their fathers but originally there were no last names, so when last names became necessary, many were taken from first names, e.g. Irish O'Grady indicated "son of Grady" and Scottish MacDonald, "son of Donald." In Russian, children still inherit their father's first and last name: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin tells us that the Russian president's father was Vladimir Putin, too. -Ov is a possessive suffix ("belongs to") and -ich is a diminutive suffix ("small one").
See bin and Osama bin Laden.
An African-American religious movement with political overtones in the United States, split since 1976 into the American Muslim Mission (AMM) and the Nation of Islam (NI). The original Black Muslim movement was formed in Detroit in 1930 by Wali Farad, whom his followers believed to be Allah in person. He disappeared mysteriously in 1934 and Elijah Mohammad replaced him. The movement became nationalist and separatist during his tenure, especially with the preaching of Malcolm X in the 50's and 60's. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 and Elijah Mohammad died in 1975. Mohammad's son then took control and moved the organization toward Sunni Islam, opening the group to all races and renaming it the American Muslim Mission (AMM). In 1977, a more conservative group under Louis Farrakhan split off from the AMM, naming themselves the Nation of Islam.burqa A dull, monocolored dress that covers the entire body, including the face. It has a tight mesh over the face allowing air and restricted vision outwards. Women of Afghanistan are currently required to wear a burqa.
The word "caliph" is the English form of the Arabic word "khalifa" or khalifatu rasulil-lah "successor to the messenger of God." The title was first used for Abu Bakr, who was elected head of the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet. The Four Rightly Guided Caliphs (Al Khulafa ur Rashidun) were close companions of Mohammad: Abu Bakr (632-634—whose daughter, Aisha, was one of Mohammad's wives), 'Umar (634-644), 'Uthman (644-656), and 'Ali (656-661), Mohammad's first cousin who had grown up in the Prophet's house and married his favorite daughter, Fatima.
(Persian chaadar) A large cloth worn as a combination head covering, veil, and shawl usually by Muslim women, especially in Iran.
Central Intelligence Agency. The US foreign intelligence and counterintelligence service, located in Langley, Virginia. It has a history of interfering in the governance of foreign nations, even in toppling governments, though since the Vietnam War, it has been more tightly controlled by Congress.
"The Household of Submission." The territories governed by Muslims under the shari'a; the term's opposite is Dar al-Harb "The Household of War," meaning those lands that lack the security and guidance of God's law.
A dialect of Farsi
"Summons." The invitation of non-Muslims to Islam; Islamic proselytizing.
"Religion, divine judgment." A term for religion in general, but usually reserved for the true religion of Islam or for religion practice in particular.du'a' Individual, private prayer.
Celebraton of the end of Ramadan on the first day of the 10th month of the Muslim lunar calendar. Everyone rises early for the prayer ceremony at their masjid (mosque), wearing their newest clothes. There is a special 'Eid prayer that is performed in unison. The prayer consists of two rak'at, followed by a khutba "sermon." Afterwards, families visit each other and exchange good wishes. Children sometimes receive gifts, candy, or money. Some Muslims send 'Eid ul-Fitr cards to friends and relatives.
(Arabic amir "commander") A leader, commander or ruler in an Islamic nation.
A branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of mankind; a belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of mankind; belief about the Last Judgment.
An organization of 15 European nations founded to promote mutual security and political, economic and social cooperation. It includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland.faqir "Poor person." A religious person who owns no personal property; a mendicant. Sometimes spelled "fakir" in English.
Eastern or Afghani Farsi is also known as Dari. "Farsi" is the term used by many linguists to distinguish between modern and ancient Persian, an Indo-European language like English but belonging to the Indo-Iranian sub-family. The formal variant spoken in Afghanistan is very close to Western or Tehrani Farsi while the informal style more resembles Tajiki, spoken in Tajikistan. It uses Arabic script, is taught in schools, and is used on radio by Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Fatimah (Al-Zahra ca. 606-632), the fifth and favorite child of Mohammad. She married Mohammad's cousin 'Ali and played a substantial role in his rise to power. Mohammad had 6 children of his 11 wives, 5 of which survived. He had five children by his first wife Khadija; one son, Al qasim died in childhood. The four daughters, Zaynab, Ruqayah, Fatimah, and Om Kolthoom, all survived. His fifth surviving child was a boy named Ibrahim, born 628 A.D. of Maria, an Egyptian maidservant in Mohammad's house whom the Prophet married in 627.
An Islamic decree issued by a mufti or a religious lawyer on a specific issue. A fatwa has no weight unless accepted by the community of scholars; their consensus is recognized as legal opinion to be followed. Islam has no central authority, which allows diversity of opinion, though major scholars agree on core issues.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigatory arm of the U. S. Department of Justice with jurisdiction over violations of federal criminal law and domestic foreign intelligence and terrorist activities.
"Understanding" in matters of religious law (shari'a).
"Trial, testing." A term referring to antagonism toward individual Muslims at Islam's beginning. Now it is used to refer to threats to the health of the state.
The original healthy constitution of the nature of humans as created by God.
Conservative religious authoritarianism in all faiths. It is marked by a literal interpretation of scriptures and favors a strict adherence to traditional doctrines and practices.
An angel closely associated with the revelation of the Qur'an.
Religious thought and practice distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis—esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth held to be essential to salvation.
In the Qur'an, "gospel" is the main term for Christian scripture.
hadith "Report, account." A tradition about Mohammad, what he said or did. The hadiths were collected and came to be a record of the Prophet's Sunna, second only to the Qur'an in authority for Muslims.
Woman’s head scarf.
Pilgrimage to Mecca in the sacred month (12th). One of the five pillars (requirements) of Islam (din). One who performs hajj is called a muhajir from mu- "one who" (see Mu-slim, mu-jahid) + hajir; the plural is "muhajirun."
A pre-Islamic (Arabian) monotheist whose beliefs are thought to have descended from the time of the hanif Abraham, independently of Judaism, Christianity or Qur'anic Islam.
"Hashish-smokers." The plural of hashshash "hashish smoker." Originally an order founded in Persia and Syria during the 11th century by Hassan ben Sabbah, a militant group of the Nizari branch of Ismaeli Muslims. Members received this name from their use of hashish to create celestial visions. They later became associated with the assassination of political leaders, particularly those of the invading Christian crusaders. Today, they are known as Khojas or Mawlas, and live mostly in the Bombay area of India, but some also live in Syria and Iran. The word is the origin of the English word "assassin."
In Islamic history, a son of Ali and brother of Husayn who abdicated his claims to be a caliph in favor of the first Umayyad ruler Muawiyah; usually numbered as second Imam by the Shiites.
"Transfer, trust." Hawala is an ancient system of money transfer that existed in South Asia before Western banking arrived. Customers entrust money to hawala bankers or operators (hawaladars), who facilitate money movement worldwide through personal connections, sometimes using legitimate bank accounts, but leaving a minimal paper trail. The few records kept are encoded. Dubai, India and Pakistan form a "hawala triangle," responsible for the heaviest traffic in worldwide financial transfers.
A chanter/singer of liturgical materials.
The mountainous area along the west-central coast of the Arabian peninsula which gave rise to early Islam.
(Arabic for "breaking-off") The emigration of Mohammad and the Muslims from Mecca to Medina in 622; the Muslim lunar calendar, the Hijra, dates from that year.
Fear of the west.
Spelling varian ot 'Hizballah'.
"Wisdom." The highest level of human understanding, especially the wisdom illuminating the mystic.
The Islamic calendar, which is based purely on lunar cycles, was first introduced in 638 by the close companion of the Prophet and the second Caliph, 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab. The Hijra begins with the migration (Hegira ) of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622. The Hijra begins at July 16, 622.
In Islamic tradition, the mountain and cave or grotto where Mohammad began to receive the Qur'an.
HusaynA son of Ali and brother of Hassan who was martyred in 680 at Karbala and became a hero for Shiites.
"Service" to God through worship by means of the five pillars of Islam (din)
The meal of dates that breaks the fast of Ramadan at the end of each day of the fast.
The state of ritual purity and dedication entered into by the pilgrim on hajj to Mecca; also the special clothing worn for the hajj.
"Consensus" of legal scholars representing all Muslims. One of the 4 sources of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence.
"Effort." The intellectual effort of Muslim jurists to reach independent religio-legal decisions, a key feature of modern Islamic reform; one who exercises ijtihad is a mujtahid.
"Leader." The one who leads the salat prayer service in the mosque. In Shiite Islam, imam also refers to one of the revered early leaders of the community (a designated descendent of 'Ali) who both ruled in the political sense and also interpreted doctrine with infallible, God-given wisdom.
"Faith." Pious adherence, a highly regarded religious ideal in the Qur'an. One who has iman (faith) is mu'min, "believer."
"Open door." Refers to Anwar Sadat's policy after the October 1973 War of relaxing government controls on the economy so as to encourage the private sector and stimulate the inflow of foreign funds.
"Shaking, uprising, insurrection." This word usually refers to the Arabic resistance to Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the Jordan, especially intense 1987-1990.
"Surrender, submitting." Islam is the name of the true religion, according to the Qur'an. One who submits to God is a Muslim. The same root (*slm) as salam "peace." There are five or six central Islamic beliefs: monotheism, revelatory scriptures, angels, prophets, eschatology and (not always) predestination.
One of the more influential Shiite groups, emphasizing secrecy and certain gnostical ideas. Split off from the main Shiite stream at the 7th generation of recognized successive leaders, in 765 A.D.
"Support." In Islam, the isnad of a tradition is the chain or linkage of human reporters that authenticate the material as deriving from the time of Mohammad and his companions. Very roughly comparable to the Christian concept of apostolic succession and the Jewish validation of oral law.
The pre-Islamic Arabian age of ignorance, marked by barbarism and unbelief. Islam came to end this evil age, according to its view. The period is subdivided in some Islamic traditions—the period of Abraham, the period of Jesus.
The main city in ancient Palestine for Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Temple of David was located there, Jesus was crucified and resurrected there, and Mohammad ascended to heaven (his miraj) there. For all three religions, hence, Jerusalem is a "holy city."
The word jihad actually means "struggle, strive." The Arabic root of the word is jahada "to strive for." (The Arabic word for war is "harb.") Of the two types of jihad, the lesser type is the struggle is against religious or political oppression, the second and greater is the soul's struggle with evil. Moderates think that while "jihad" might refer to an active war against an oppressive regime, such a war may be waged only against that regime, not innocent people. Radical Islamic fundamentalists assume that a jihad is a war without constraints.
The sacred cubical shrine in Mecca, toward which Muslims face in prayer and around which they march at the end of their pilgrimage (hajj). According to Islamic tradition, the Ka'ba was built by Prophets Abraham and Ishmael.
Infidel or pagan.
"Speech." Refers especially to speculative theology.
The formal content of the shahada witness.
'The place in Iraq where Husayn, grandson of Mohammad and son of 'Ali and Fatima was ambushed and killed on his way to assume leadership over the Shiites in Iraq, a tragic event commemorated each year on the tenth (Ashura') of the Muslim month of Muharram.
Khadijah became an eminent businesswoman who employed agents to organized caravans. Mohammad became one of her agents and later her third husband. She about 40 and he was 25. They had six children, five of whom survived. She was a great support of him after his first vision in 610. Although Mohammad had 11 more wives, he remained faithful to her during her lifetime. She was the mother of Fatima, who married 'Ali, who went on to found Shi'a Islam.
(From Turkish khan and Mongolian qa'an "ruler.") A ruler of a Mongol or Turkic people. The Mongols and Turkic peoples (from which modern day Turks are descendent) are distantly related. The Turks began migrating from Central Asia toward the Middle East after accepting the Sunni faith in the 7th century.
"Those who split off or depart." The name of a reactionary Islamic group that emerged during the fighting between 'Ali and Umayyad founder and tried to establish its own purified caliphate to enforce justice and a more orthodox Islam. They rejected "compromising" caliphs. Never became a major force in Islamic history under the death of 'Ali, who was murdered by a Kharijite.
A Shiite sect that takes Aga Khan as their religious head. The Khojas are a Gujarati speaking community in India, mainly engaged in business.
Ancient Bedouin tribe that controlled Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammad. They opposed Mohammad, one of their own, until he returned from his flight to capture the city for Islam.
Islamic school for teaching Islamic religion and law. From darasa "to study."
"Guided one." A messianic figure expected in Sunni Islam.
(Arabic "place of prostration") The Muslim house of worship corresponding to a synagogue or church. The English term is "mosque."
The city in the west-central Hejaz area of the Arabian peninsula from which Mohammad came, and to which he returned in triumph in the hegira from Medina. The location of the sacred Ka'ba, central to Islamic worship.
"The city." The city of Yathrib, about 200 miles north of Mecca along the Hejaz (western mountain belt) of the Arabian peninsula, in which Mohammad achieved political success and from which the hegira to Mecca was launched.
The niche in the wall of the mosque that marks the direction (qibla) to Mecca, and into which the imam prays.
"Religion." A general term used for one of the varieties of religion (as opposed to din, the true religion of Islam).
Tower-like architectural feature of many mosques, from which the muadhdhin/muezzin recites the call (adhan) for prayer (salat).
In Islam, the only miracle associated with Mohammad is the reception and transmission of the Qur'an.
(Persian mughul "Mongol") Indian Muslim descendent of leaders in the armies of Babar Shah (Zahir ud-Din Mohammad), a Mongol who captured Kabul in 1519 and India (Delhi) in 1526. The Moghuls ruled India and much of contemporary Afghanistan until 1857.
Spelling variant of "Mohammad".
Abu al-QAsim Muhammad ibn `Abd AllAh ibn `Abd al-Muttalib ibn HAshim Arab (ca. 572-632) prophet and founder of Islam. Mohammad was born of the Koreish people in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Each year he would climb Mt. Hira for meditation. One year he returned from the mountain, declaring himself a prophet, or messenger, of God. Returning to Mecca, he preached his message for nine years, attracting many disciples, much to the dismay of those practicing established beliefs (much like the experience of Jesus). In 612 A.D. he was forced to flee from enemies. This year marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar: 1A.H. (= After Hejrat, i.e. "after the flight"). His flight allowed him to gather his followers and in 630 A.D. he returned to wrest Mecca from the hands of the Koreish. He was then acknowledged the last prophet of Allah by all Arabia. Etymology: Muhammad "praised, extolled" passive participle of intensive hammada "to extoll" from hamida "to praise." Akin to Ahmad, Hamid, Hamdi, and Mahmud (see also 'Arabic language').
English corruption of the Arabic masjid "place of prostration." The Muslim house of worship corresponding to a synagogue or church.
Arabic prefix meaning "one who . . . ."
Blessed (one)" in Arabic. Hosny Mubarak is the current president of Egypt.
A Muslim legal scholar who can deliver a fatwa.
Mu- "one who" + jahid (=jihad) "holy campaign;" a Muslim holy warrior.
Mujahid + -een (or -in), plural marker. Holy warriors.
A Muslim scholar and teacher.
Mu- "one who" + Islam; a follower of Islam.
A companion of Mohammad who recorded Mohammad's Revelation. He became governor of Syria who opposed 'Ali in the Fitnah (civil war). Eventually 'Ali was murdered and his son Hasan declared caliph. Ultimately, however, Mu'awiya gained control and reunited the Ummah in 40/661, the Year of the Jamaa' (community).
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a mutual defense military organization established to face the Soviet Threat following World War II. Members include Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.
National Security Agency. The U. S. cryptologic and intelligence interpretation organization. It focuses on protecting U. S. information systems and providing foreign intelligence information.
Operation Enduring Freedom
The name of the war President Bush declared on terrorism in Afghanistan.
Conforming to established doctrine, especially in religion; conventional. Those religious branches which interpret doctrinal law as authoritative and apply its principles and regulations to contemporary living.
Osama bin Laden
Wealthy Saudi who is the leader of the largest terrorist network in the world, Al Qaeda, with headquarters somewhere in Afghanistan.
A powerful Muslim clan that settled in what is now Turkey and established a Muslim dynasty that ruled from about the 13th century A.D. until 1924. It was the major preserver of "official" Islamic continuity in the Mediterranean and adjacent areas during most of that period.
An Indo-European language related to English but belonging to the eastern Indo-Iranian group. It is spoken today by 35-50% of the Afghani population. There is a high degree of bilingualism with Farsi. It is one of the two official languages taught in schools and used in radio programs. It is spoken mainly by Hanafi Sunni Muslims according to Ethnologue.
Pillars of Islam
The 5 basic devotional-ritual duties of Islam: shahada, "testifying that 'There is no god but God and Mohammad is the Messenger of God';" salat, "five daily prayer services;" zakat, "almsgiving;" sawm, "fasting during daylight in the month of Ramadan," hajj, "pilgrimage to Mecca."qadar Divine determination of human actions and events; predestination by decree of God.
A religious judge.
"Measurement, analogy." Applying shari'a law to similar situations by analogy. Extending precedent to new situations by analogy.
(Arabic "direction") The direction of Mecca, into which the imam always prays.
"Recite." Name given to the collection of Islamic scriptures, consisting of 114 suras (sections), believed to have been revealed verbatim orally to Mohammad over a period of time through the angel Gabriel.
Rabb"Lord." A frequent title for Allah.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar (the Hijra). It is a holy month of fasting, celebrating the time at which the Qur'an was first revealed. The month of Ramadhan begins after the sighting of the lunar crescent on the previous evening, so it may begin on different days in different parts of the world. During the Fast of Ramadan Muslims do not eat or drink during the daylight hours. No smoking or marital relations are allowed. The fast may be broken after sunset with prayer and a meal of dates called the "iftar." The fast is resumed the next morning after a pre-dawn breakfast known as a "suhur." Muslims universally greet each other with 'Eid mubarak "a blessed 'Eid" on 'Eid ul-Fitr. For more information about Ramadan, click here. The word "Ramadan" comes from the Arabic root *rmd as in "ramida" or "ar-ramad" denoting intense scorching, heat, and dryness. Words from the same root include ramdaa "sunbaked sand" and the famous idiom: kal mustajeer minar ramadaa binnar "to jump out of the frying pan into the fire."
"Messenger." In the Muslim shahada, rasul has specific references to Mohammad as the special prophet (nabi) of God entrusted with a divine message: "There is no god but God and Mohammad is God's messenger." Rasul is a type of nabi/prophet, or apostle.
In Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), ra'y indicates personal opinion in adapting law (shari'a).
Iranian dynasty that ruled Persia (Iran) from 1501-1736. The founder of the dynasty, Ismail Safavi, crowned himself shah of Azerbaijan in 1501. In the next ten years he subjugated Iran and Iraq. Although the territory he ruled was predominantly Sunni, he proclaimed Shi'ism the state religion. This roiled the Sunni Ottoman sultans who defeated Ismail in 1514 and took Baghdad. The Safavids moved their capital to Isfahan, which they beautified extensively over the following years.
Divine tranquility believed to descend when the Qur'an is recited.
The obligatory Muslim contact prayers held five times daily, one of the five pillars of Islam (din).
sawm or saum
Fasting. There are several kids of sawm. A "wajib sawm" is a required fast such as that celebrating Ramadan. This sawm is taken during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan; one of the five pillars of Islam. A "nathr sawm" is a fast a muslim may promise Allah in exchange for Allah's granting a wish. If the wish is granted, the nathr sawm becomes a wajib sawm.
A title borne by descendents of the Prophet Mohammad.
The Farsi (Persian)word for "king" is used in Iran.
"Witnessing." Islamic declaration of belief, the formal content of which is the kalima: "There is no God but God, and Mohammad is the messenger of God." The kalima serves as a kind of minimal creed for Muslims and is one of the five pillars of Islam (din). The Arabic form is "La ila ha illa Allah, Mohammad rasul Allah."
"Way to the water." The "way" of Islam in accord with the Qur'an and Sunna, ijma' and qiyas. Sharia is the law of Islam. It is based on the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunna, though there are many sources outside these two, such as Arab Bedouin law, commercial law from Mecca, and the law of some conquered nations such as Roman and Jewish law. The Sharia extends beyond what Westerners consider law. It covers the totality of religious, political, social, including private life and makes no distinction between sin and law.
Word meaning an old man with gray hairs. Came to mean a respected leader and in Islam a religious teacher or person learned in religion or respected for piety.
"Party" of 'Ali. The Shiites believe that Mohammad designated his son-in-law, 'Ali, to succeed him as leader of the umma of Islam. Members of Shiite communities (which often vary from each other on important issues) number about 10-15% of the total Muslim community today. 'Ali b Abi Talib formed Shiat 'Ali (Party of 'Ali) believing that Mohammad had appointed 'Ali as his successor. Others did not believe this.
In Islam, "association" of God's qualities with someone or something else, thus "idolatry," the one unforgivable sin according to the Qur'an.
The life story of Mohammad in Islam.
The suffix -stan is formed from the old Iranian root *sta- "to stand, stay" (related to English "stand" and "stay") and means "place where one stays," i.e. homeland or country. Names such as Afghani-stan, Tajiki-stan, Turkmeni-stan, Uzbeki-stan are formed by adding this suffix to the usually pluralized names of the people living in that country, as the Afghani (one Afghan) live in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan was formed from the initial letters of "Punjab," "Afghanistan," and "Kashmir" and the questionably extended suffix -istan. So, now there is an extended suffix floating around that may be added to new countries, the name of whose people is not pluralized by the suffix -i.
A general term for a Muslim mystic and/or ascetic. Sufism refers to the mystical path of Islam in general.
A pre-dawn breakfast before the daylight fast during Ramadan.
The "custom" of Mohammad, that is, his words, habits, acts and gestures as remembered by Muslims and preserved in the literary form of the hadith reports. The Sunna is second in authority only to the Qur'an.
The majority of Muslims, who are viewed as connected to the authoritative Sunna(h) and believe that any good Muslim can be leader; they prefer to reach agreements by means of consensus and do not recognize special sacred wisdom in their leaders as Shiites do. Orthodox Sunni Islam basically believes that the Qur'an is the final authority and there is no further revelation. Shi'a Islam believes that Mohammad appointed his son-in-law, 'Ali, to take his place, and therefore, the rightful imam has both the divine inspiration and authority of Allah to add to the message of the Qur'an. Thus Shi'a Islam is seen as the more radical of the two main branches, and throughout the centuries many have claimed to be the next imam, attempting to rally Muslims to their particular cause which has unfortunately often been expressed as a Jihad.
One of the 114 sections into which the Qur'an is divided. Suras are subdivided into ayat, "verses." Muslims believe that these suras were given to the last of Allah’s prophets, Mohammad. Mohammad is said to have built on and perfected the teachings of Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
"Explanation, commentary." Tafsir refers to interpretation (especially of the Qur'an), of which there are various types (grammatical, historical, allegorical, traditional).
A proclamation of the greatness of Allah, such as Allahu akbar "Allah is Greater than could be described."
A Sunni Islamic student group organized in 1994 by an Islamic mullah, Mohammad Omar, that has ruled Afghanistan since September 27, 1996.
In Muslim jurisprudence, taqlid denotes uncritical adoption and imitation of traditional legal decisions. Criticized by reform-minded legal thinkers as blind imitation—the opposite of ijtihad.
The Islamic Sufi special "way" of discipline and mystical insight in contrast to the shari'a, the ordinary religious law; tariqa can also refer to a specific Sufi organization or method of meditation.
Asserting and maintaining the divine unity, Islam's central doctrine.
Ritual recitation of the Qur'an.
The word "Turk" was first used by the Chinese in the 6th century to refer to Altaic nomads in Central Asia. When the Arabs conquered Central Asia, the Turks became Sunni Muslims and began migrating toward the Middle East unti they reached modern day Turkey. Along the way, they established Muslim nations in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Crimea, and in many other areas along the southern border of Russia. The people in these regions speak Turkic languages very closely related to modern Turkish. (Some linguists think Japanese is an Altaic language.)
he collective name for the top class of religious officials in Islam—scholars learned in Islamic law.
The Muslim "community" or ideal state worldwide.
The first major Muslim dynasty, established in Damascus by Mu'awiya after a fierce rivalry with 'Ali, the last of the four "rightly guided caliphs." The events leading to the Umayyad takeover were influential in the establishment of Shiite Islam.
A lesser pilgrimage or religious visit to Mecca at a time other than the appointed month for the Hajj.
United Nations Organization
The UN was established in 1945 by 51 countries to maintain peace through international cooperation and collective security. Most nations belong to it today (189 countries). Its headquarters today are in the UN building in New York but it has offices around the world.
The third successor (caliph) to Mohammad, under whom an authorized collection of Qur'an materials was established.
Adherents of the puritanical reform movement that arose in Arabia in the eighteenth century under Mohammad ibn 'Abd-al-Wahhab (1703-1787).
Refers to "revelation" of the Qur'an to Mohammad by a kind of verbal/mental process of inspiration and communication.
"Friend," "client," "kinsman," "patron;" in English wali most often means a Muslim saint or holy person.
While strict orthodox Islam frowns on any use of music in religious rituals, Sufi orders have developed a wide variety of ritual observances involving singing, drums and other musical instruments. These rituals often include some form of dance, the best known in the West being that of the Turkish Mevlevi order, often called the "whirling dervishes".
"Day of judgment." A key eschatological idea in Islam, paralleling the same concept in Judaism and Christianity.
Charity (voluntary alms); going beyond the obligatory zakat tax; righteous acts.
Legal almsgiving required as one of the five pillars of Islam (din).
The most basic Qur'anic term for sin (wrong-doing, wrong-dealing).
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