Glossary of Islamic terms

In the name of Allah, Ar-Rahman (the Most Merciful), Ar-Raheem (The bestower of Mercy).

Below is a list of important Islamic terms to aid translation, teaching and study.

Each term contains:

  1. The Arabic
  2. Transliterated English
  3. A direct translation if available.
  4. A precise definition within an Islamic context.
  5. Alternative definitions if available.

The post is organized alphabetically, according to the Arabic word.

This post will be developed with more terms being added over time inshaAllah. It is hoped the readers will help develop the glossary by suggesting new terms or alternative definitions of existing terms. Please use the comments section to do this, and the glossary will be updated.

الإسلام | Islām

Direct translation: Islām.

Islamic definition: The one true religion which every Prophet called to, or the legislation given the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ.


الإيمان | Imān

Direct translation: Belief; faith.

Islamic definition: Imān is the whole religion, it is Islām, consisting of beliefs, statements and actions. It increases with obedience to Allāh and decreases due to disobedience to Allāh. It has over 70 branches.


عقيدة | ‘Aqῑdah

Direct translation: Creed; belief.

Islamic definition: The belief of a Muslim. This is typically centered around the 6 pillars of Imān and other associated matters. The study of the belief of a Muslim is also called ‘Aqῑdah.


توحيد | Tawḥῑd

Direct translation: Monotheism.

Islamic definition: To single out Allāh in worship. More technically it is to single out Allāh in every matter which is unique and exclusive to Him. A person who accepts Tawḥῑd is called a Muwaḥḥid.


الشرك | Shirk

Direct translation: Polytheism; paganism.

Islamic definition: This is the opposite of Tawḥῑd. It is polytheism, i.e. the belief in multiple deities of worship, or it is to direct an act of worship to other than Allāh. A person upon Shirk is called a Mushrik.

Alternative: Invoking other than Allāh.

النفاق | Nifāq

Translated as hypocrisy, more accurately it is hiding Kufr and outwardly displaying Islām. It can be partial or absolute. A person upon absolute Nifāq is called a Munāfiq.


كفر | Kufr

This is an action that entails complete or partial disbelief, or it is the rejection of Islām, or the choosing of another religion. A person who is not a Muslim is called a Kāfir i.e. not a Muslim.


بدعة | Bid’ah

An act of worship introduced and innovated into Islām, for which there is no proof that it was performed by the Prophet ﷺ or his companions.


الفقه | Fiqh

A study of the practical aspects of Islām, the different actions of ‘Ibādah and associated rulings.


أصول | Uṣūl

The principles, foundations or core aspects of a matter. Literally the roots. Its singular is ‘Asl, which can also mean the default ruling.


الفروع  | Furū’

Lit. branches, it is often used to refer to subsidiary issues of a matter.


العبادة | Ibādah

A statement or action legislated as worship. It has a wider meaning, which is every matter Allāh has ordered, praised or is pleased with.


الصوم | Ṣawm

Fasting i.e. abstaining.


الصلاة | Ṣalāh

The legislated prayers of Islām, consisting of actions and statements, which begin with saying “Allahu Akbar” and end with saying “assalāmu ‘alaykum”.


الزكاة | Zakāh

The alms or charity obligated upon every Muslim.


التكبير | Takbῑr

To mention the greatness of Allāh by saying “Allāhu akbar”.


تسبيح | Tasbῑḥ

To glorify Allāh above every deficiency by saying “subḥānaAllāh”.


تحميد | Taḥmῑd

To praise Allāh by saying “alhmadulillah”.


نص | نصوص | Nuṣūṣ

Textual evidence or proofs from the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth.


سنة | Sunnah

The general guidance and daily practices of the Prophet ﷺ. Its meaning can differ depending on the context.


حديث | Ḥadīth

The sayings, actions and approvals attributed to the Prophet ﷺ. Sometimes a Ḥadīth may be a narration of a companion, describing the Prophet ﷺ. Its plural is Aḥādīth.


صحيح | Ṣaḥīḥ

A Ḥadīth graded as authentic and acceptable.


ضعيف | Da’īf

A Ḥadīth graded “weak” or unauthentic.


حسن | Ḥasan

Literally: good; the term relates to a Ḥadīth graded as good and acceptable, but its authenticity is less than Ṣaḥīḥ.


الدنيا | Dunyā

The temporary abode of the worldly life.


البرزخ | Barzakh

The temporary abode of the grave, but much longer than the Dunyā.


الآخرة | Ākhirah

The eternal abode of the Hereafter.


جنة | Jannah

Translated as heaven or paradise, it is the abode of eternal pleasure and delight prepared for the people of Tawḥīd in the Hereafter.


جهنم | Jahannam

Translated as Hell, or sometimes referred to as the Fire, it is the abode of eternal pain and punishment for the people of Kufr and Shirk in the Hereafter.


واجب | Wājib

An obligatory act of worship, for the abandonment of which a person deserves sin and punishment. Sometimes referred to as Fard.


مستحب | Mustaḥabb

An encouraged act of worship, for the fulfilment of which there is reward but no sin for its abandonment. Sometimes referred to as Sunnah or Nafl.


مباح | Mubāḥ

A matter which is permitted to fulfil or abandon, without reward or punishment. Sometimes referred to as Ḥalāl i.e. allowed or permitted.


مكروه | Makrūh

A disliked matter for the abandonment of which there is reward but no sin for doing it.


حرام  | Ḥarām

A prohibited matter, which for doing it a person is deserving of sin. Also referred to as Muḥarram.


حكم | Ḥukm

A legal ruling of Islām, mostly revolving around the above 5 terms. Its plural is Aḥkām.


سيرة | Sῑrah

This is the life or biography of the Prophet ﷺ, his qualities, physical features, lifestyle, expeditions and struggles.


ذكر | Dhikr

The remembrance of Allāh, either through seeking knowledge, reciting the Qur’ān or repeating the Adhkār.


تجويد | Tajwīd

The study of the recitation of the Qur’ān, along with its rules and points of pronunciation.


نبي | Nabi

A Prophet i.e. a man directly ordered by Allāh to convey His message.


رسول | Rasūl

A Messenger i.e. a man given revelation by Allāh and a new legislation, and order to convey it.


الصحابة | Ṣaḥābah

Translated as Companions i.e. those who met and believed in the Prophet ﷺ, and died upon that belief. The female companions are known as Ṣaḥābiyyāt.


المهاجرون | Muhājirūn

The Muslims of Mecca who migrated with the Prophet ﷺ to Madῑnah. The word is derived from Hijrah i.e. migration for the sake of Allāh.


الانصار | Anṣār

The people of Madῑnah who welcomed and supported the Prophet ﷺ and the Muhājirūn.


خليفة | خلفاء | Khalīfa | Khulafā

Translated as Caliphs i.e. the leaders of the Islamic empire after the Prophet ﷺ. The first four Caliphs are known as Khulafā ar-Rashidīn (the Rightly Guided Caliphs).


التابعون ـ التابعين | Tābi’īn

They are the 2nd generation of  Muslims comprised of the followers or students of the Ṣaḥābah Muslims.


أتباع التابعين | Atbā’ at-Tābi’īn

They are the 3rd generation of  Muslims, literally translated as followers of the Tabi’īn.


السلف | Salaf

The early pious Muslims, more specifically the first three generations of Muslims.


سلفي | Salafi

One who limits their understanding and implementation of the Islamic texts to the understanding and implementation of the Salaf.


منهج | Manhaj

Literally a methodology. It is often used to refer to the study of Sunnah and Bid’ah, and deviant sects.


أهل الحديث | Ahl al-Ḥadīth

Literally the people of Ḥadīth. It is used to refer to a movement in Da’wah which strictly adheres to authentic narrations.


مذهب | Madhhab

A school of thought in Fiqh, typically centred around a particular Imām: Ḥanafi, Māliki, Shāfi’i and Ḥanbali.


جماعة | Jamā’ah

A congregation or group; it is used to refer to the body of Muslims within a community.


أدب | Adab

Manners and etiquettes. Akhlāq is a similar word but it refers to a person’s character.


تزكية | Tazkiyah

Purification and refinement of one’s self.


نفس | Nafs

One’s own self or desires.


علم | ‘ilm



يقين | Yaqīn

Certainty. Its opposite is “shakk” i.e doubt.


إخلاص | Ikhlāṣ

Sincerity of intention.


عامي | ‘Āmi

A common Muslim i.e. one who is not a scholar.


جاهل | Jāhil

A person ignorant of a particular matter. Derived from the word Jahl – ignorance.


طالب العلم | Tālib al-‘ilm

A student of knowledge, of Islamic sciences


علماء | ‘Ulamā

Scholars i.e. those proficient in knowledge and recognized for it. Sometimes referred to as: Ahl al-‘ilm (people of knowledge). The singular is ‘Ālim.


المفتي | Mufti

A scholar of authority and standing, qualified to issue Islamic edicts (Fatwa pl. Fatawā)


القاضي | Qādi

A Muslim judge who presides over cases of dispute in a official capacity such as a court or council.


أستاذ | Ustādh

A term of respect used for a teacher, widespread in the west.


شيخ | Shaykh

Lit. a person of age, authority or knowledge.


علامة | ‘Allāmah

A term of respect and recognition for a scholar of great knowledge.


إمام | Imām

A ruler or leader, the Imām of a Masjid, or a scholar whose authority in knowledge has been accepted by the Ummah such as Imām al-Bukhārī or Imām Abu Ḥanīfah.


الحافظ | Ḥāfidh

One who has proficiently memorised the Qur’an and/or Ḥadīth.


الشريعة | Sharī’ah

The legislation within Islām including its laws, rulings and punishments.


الدين | Dīn

The religion of Islām as a complete way of life.


الإجماع | Ijmā

The unanimous agreement of the scholars on a particular issue.


القياس | Qiyās

A ruling based upon analogy.


الأمة | Ummah

The nation of Muslims, or the global community.

He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee'ah in 2010. He currently resides in Nelson, Lancashire and is the Imam of Masijd Sunnah.

Leave a Reply