Glossary of Terms for the non-Muslim and the new Muslim

This is an effort to bring the English meanings of some of the commonly used terms in the books of Islaam. We ask Allah to reward tremendously and to keep firm upon the straight path the sister, who after reading her comment on this page motivated me to start this initiative. It is hoped that this can become a reference for non-Muslims all around the world and for the new Muslims, those who have just reverted to Islaam, when it comes to basic Islaamic terminology.

Sources Used: “The Evil of Craving For Wealth and Status” by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee. Pgs. 56-58

“Beneficial Answers to Questions on Innovated Methodologies” by Shaykh Saleh al-Fawzaan

“Explanation of the Creed” by Imaam al-Barbahaaree

Ayah (pl. Ayaat): A sign of Allah; a verse of the Qur’aan.

Aboo (Abee, Abaa): Father of; used as a means of identification

‘Alayhi salaam: “May Allah protect and preserve him” It is said after the name of the Prophet of Allah or after the name of an angel.

Allahul Musta’an: Allah’s help is sought

Allahu Akbar: Allah is the Greatest

Ahaadeeth: See Hadeeth

‘An’anah: a narrator’s reporting by saying ‘from so and so’ not describing exactly in what form it was transmitted to him. This will only affect the authenticity of the narration if the one doing it is a mudallis.

Ansaar: “Helpers”; the Muslims of Madeenah who supported the Muslims who migrated from Makkah.

Bid’ah: Innovation; anything introduced into the Religion, in order to seek Allaah’s pleasure, not having a specific proof or basis in the Religion.

Companions (Arabic – Sahaabah): the Muslims who saw the Prophet (may Allah protect and preserve him) and died upon Islaam.

Da’eef: weak; unauthentic (narration)

Da’wah: Literally call. This refers to the concept and practical implementation of inviting and calling a person or persons to abide by and accept Islaam in its pure and unadulterated form.

Deen: way of life prescribed by Allah i.e. Islaam

Eemaan: faith; to affirm all that was revealed to the Messenger (may Allah protect and preserve him), affirming with the heart, testifying with the tongue and acting with the limbs. The actions of the limbs are from the completeness of Eemaan. Faith increases with obedience to Allah and decreases with disobedience.

Fataawa: see Fatwa.

Fatwa (pl. Fataawa): religious verdict.

Fiqh: the understanding and application of the Sharee’ah from its sources.

Fitnah: (pl. fitan): This linguistically refers to calamities, trials, tribulations and mischief.

Hadeeth (pl. Ahaadeeth): narration concerning the utterances of the Prophet (may Allah protect and preserve him), his action or an attribute of his.

Hajj: Pilgrimage to Makkah

Halaal: permitted under the Sharee’ah

Haraam: prohibited under the Sharee’ah

Hasan: fine; term used for an authentic hadeeth, which does not reach the higher category

Ibn: son of; used as a means of identification.

Imaam: leader; leader in Salaah, knowledge or fiqh; leader of a state.

Isnaad: the chain of narrators linking the collector of the saying to the person quoted.

Jinn: A creation of Allah created by smokeless fire.

Kaafir: A disbeliever.

Khaleefah (pl. Khulafaa’): the head of the Islamic government (the khilaafah) to whom the oath of allegaince is given.

Khulafaa’: see khaleefah.

Kufr: Disbelief.

Kuffaar: Disbelievers.

La Ilaha Illa Allah: There is none worthy of worship except Allah

Mudallis: most commonly a narrator who reports things from his Shaikh which he did not directly hear from him but from an intermidediate whom he does not name but instead says ‘from the Shaikh’. This intermediate may be weak. The scholars of hadeeth will only accept the narrations of a mudallis when he clearly states that he heard them from the Shaikh, i.e. ‘The Shaikh narrated to us…’ e.t.c.

Muhaajir: One who migrates from the lands of the disbelievers to the land of the Muslims for the sake of Allaah.

Munqati’: (lit. disjoined) An isnaad in which two continuous links are missing in one or more than one place or an unknown narrator is found to join the links.

Mursal: loose; a narration in which a Successor narrated firectly from the Prophet sallalahu ‘alayhe wasallam, i.e. omitting the Companion from who he heard it.

Mushaf : The Qur’aan between two covers.

Matrook: (lit. discarded) Where narrators are accused of falsehood in matters other than the narration of the tradition.

Radiyallaahu ‘anhu/’anhaa/’anhum/’anhumaa: may Allaah be pleased with him/her/them/both of them.

Rahimahullaah/Rahimahumullaah: may Allaah bestow His mercy upon him/them.

Saheeh: correct; an authentic narration.

Salaf: predecessors; the early Muslims; the Muslimsof the first three generations: The Companions, the Successors and their successors.

Salafus-Saaliheen: pious predecessors; the Muslims of the first three generations: the Companions, the Successors and their successors.

Shaikh: scholar

Shaitaan: Satan

Sharee’ah: the Divine code of Law.

Shirk: Associating partners with Allaah.

Sunnah: in its broadest sense, the entire Deen which the Prophet sallalahu ‘alayhe wasallam came with and taught, i.e. all matters of belief, rulings, manners and actions whjich were conveyed by the Companions. It also includes those matters which the Prophet sallalahu ‘alayhe wasallam established by his sayings, actions and tacit approval – as opposed to bid’ah (innovation).

sunnah: an action of the Prophet sallalahu ‘alayhe wasallam.

SubhanAllah: Glory be to Allah; How perfect is Allah of Saheeh.

Soorah: a chapter of the Qur’aan.

Taabi’ee (pl. Taabi’een): a Muslim (other than another Companion) who met a Companion.

Taqwa: “taqwa is acting in obedience to Allaah, hoping for His mercy upon light from Him and Taqwa is leaving acts of disobedience, out of fear of Him, upon light from Him.”

Tawheed: Literally Oneness – The belief and realization of singling Allaah out alone in His Lordship, the Worship that is performed for Him and His names and Attributes, apart from all other false deities. This entails the belief that Allaah is the only true Creator, Sustainer, and Administrator of the Universe. It entails that one is mandated to perform and sincerely direct all of his worship to Allaah alone and no one else. And lastly, it entails believing in all of Allaah’s perfect Names and Attributes, and that they apply to Him alone and no one else.

‘Ulamaa: Scholars of the Deen of Islaam.

Umm: Mother of. Ex: Umm ‘Abdillah – Mother of ‘Abdillah

Zaahid: One who practices zuhd.

Zuhd: Abstaining from the world and its luxuries.

  1. Joy
    August 8, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    bismillah, alhamdu lillah for the addition of a glossary page. I am ever grateful to Allah for His Mercy and abundant benevolence. May we all use our talents, gifts, and skills, in humility and obedience, to serve and worship Allah.

    In shaAllah, may Allah keep you in His care so that your efforts please Him.

    For the sake of those new Muslims who may be nervous or uncomfortable asking a lot of questions, and want/need to know some of the frequently used terms below, if appropriate, will you please define/add the following terms to the glossary and/or explain what they mean.

    These words are often used in conversation, in internet audio lessons/classes about Islam, and are often seen written in/on books and articles:

    5-Kufr vs. Kafr vs. kufaar??? spelling
    8-for new sisters-Umm
    10-ma shaa allah
    11-da wah

    alhamdu lillah for Allah’s Mercy, alhamdu lillah for our Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, alhamdu lillah for forgiveness of sin, alhamdu lillah for Allah’s gift of Islam to mankind. I seek refuge and forgiveness in Allah for anything i may have typed/shared in error.

    wasalamu alaykum

  2. August 12, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Wa ‘alaykum salaam wa rahmatullah

    I apologize for not responding earlier.

    I have updated the glossary list to include some of the terms that you mentioned.

  3. September 10, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    May I use this list for my site, insha’Allah with a reference to this blog?

  4. September 12, 2007 at 6:36 am

    Yes, please do so inshaAllah ta’ala.

  5. Dawud
    December 30, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    As salamu alaykum,

    Bismillahir rahmanir raheem,

    May Allah grant you sucess and send down blessings upon you for this website. The term Allah Musta’n is used quite frequently. Inshaa Allah that can be added to the glossary. Jazakallah.

  6. December 31, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Wa ‘alaykum salaam Br. Dawud

    Ameen to your dua. And we ask Allah that He blesses you also wherever you go and that He always keeps your firm upon His religion.

    InshaAllah, that term will be added per your advice. JazakAllahu khair.

  7. Ahlaam
    January 2, 2009 at 9:06 am

    As-salaamu ‘alaykum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuh,

    The glossary is very useful Mashaa’Allaah! May Allaah reward you for your efforts, Aameen.

  8. quraysha
    April 7, 2010 at 11:15 am

    I have a paper on Global Jihad which i need to challenge and need your assistence- can i please have an email so that i can forward it you to read as the “salaf” ideology is particulary singled out here.

    Political Science Honours student
    University of Pretoria
    South Africa

  9. April 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Please email me at talhas3 @ gmail dot com. I will help you out in any way possible insha’Allah

  10. August 9, 2010 at 7:54 am


  1. August 7, 2008 at 6:02 pm
  2. August 9, 2010 at 7:48 am
  3. June 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

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