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Glossary of Islamic Terms

by Suhel Farooq Khan

‘Abd is an  Arabic word that means Slave or Servant. It was a common prefix for the names of Arab males. Before Islam, Arabs often used to name their sons as slaves of their favorite deities i.e. ‘Abd ‘Uzza, ‘Abd Manaf etc. Abu Bakr R was a famous Sahabi (Companion) of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and the first adult male to accept Islam. His given name was ‘Abd al Ka’bah meaning servant of the Ka’bah. It implied that the person with that name is a worshipper of the Ka’bah. After the advent of Islam, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S banned the practice of using such names because they conflict with the basic Islamic belief that Muslims worship only Allah (God). Muhammad S suggested to change Abu Bakr R‘s name ‘Abd al Ka’bah to ‘Abd Allah. Such names with a prefix of ‘Abd are still commonly used by Muslims, the world over. ‘Abd is also used as a prefix to the many beautiful names of Allah (God), such as ar Rahman, al Malik, al al ‘Aziz, al Ghaffar, al Ghafur, as Samad and al Qadir etc. Names such as ‘Abd al Rahman, ‘Abd al Malik, ‘Abd al Aziz, ‘Abd al Ghaffar, ‘Abd al Ghafur, Abd as Samad and ‘Abd al Qadir etc. are still very popular.

‘Abdul Muttalib

‘Abdul Muttalib was the nickname of the grandfather of Muhammad S.
Hashim bin 'Abd Manaf, the great-grandfather of Muhammad S was the chief of Makkah and also a caretaker of the Ka’bah. Through his trading caravans, he had brought prosperity to Makkah. He had made Makkah the trading capital of Arabia. During one of his business trips, caravan of Hashim bin 'Abd Manaf stopped at Yathrib (Madinah). There, he married Salma bint ‘Amr of the local Najjar tribe. A few days after his marriage, Hashim bin 'Abd Manaf continued on his business trip. During that journey, he fell sick and died of his illness. His fellow travelers buried him in Ghaza. A few months after the death of Hashim bin 'Abd Manaf, his widow Salma gave birth to his son. That boy was named ‘Amr bin Hashim, but everyone called him Shaybah (Old man) because he had a bunch of white hair at birth. Back in Makkah, Al Muttalib bin 'Abd Manaf, a younger brother of Hashim bin 'Abd Manaf assumed the responsibilities of the offices of the Ka'bah after him. By chance, Al Muttalib bin 'Abd Manaf found out that his nephew, son of his elder brother Hashim bin 'Abd Manaf, was growing up in Yathrib (Madinah) with his mother and maternal uncles. Al Muttalib bin 'Abd Manaf decided to return the wealth of Hashim bin 'Abd Manaf to his son Shaybah.
Muttalib bin 'Abd Manaf traveled to Yathrib  (Madinah) to bring his nephew back to Makkah. After initial hesitation Salma agreed to send her son to Makkah with his uncle Al Muttalib bin 'Abd Manaf. On their way to Makkah, Shaybah was riding ahead of Al Muttalib bin 'Abd Manaf. In those days, usually servants rode ahead of their masters. When people of Makkah saw Shaybah riding ahead of Al Muttalib, they mistook him as a servant of Al Muttalib. That is why they called him 'Abdul Muttalib, which means the servant of Al Muttalib. This nickname became so popular that his real name ‘Amr bin Hashim or his nickname Shaybah, was completely forgotten. With time 'Abdul Muttalib became the chief of Makkah and the caretaker of the Ka’bah. He inherited the responsibility to provide drinking water to the pilgrims of the Ka’bah. Fetching water all day long from distant wells made him very tired. By chance he discovered the long-lost Zamzam well. Muhammad S was the son of 'Abdul Muttalib’s youngest son ‘Abdullah. Muhammad S was born a few months after the death of his father. 'Abdul Muttalib loved his grandson Muhammad S very much. 'Abdul Muttalib died when Muhammad S was only eight year old. 

‘Abdullah / ‘Abd Allah

After the advent of Islam, ‘Abd Allah became one of the most popular names. It means slave of Allah. Rules of Arabic language grammar allow the two words to be combined together. After joining together, words ‘Abd and Allah can be written as ‘Abdullah or ‘Abdallah. Arabs worshiped Allah in the days of ignorance also, but they took many partners with Him. They mistakenly considered Allah as the biggest of their many gods. The name ‘Abd Allah was in use among Arabs before Islam also. Father of Muhammad S was also named ‘Abdullah. He had died a few months before Muhammad S was born.‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib was the name of the father of Muhammad S. He was the youngest son of ‘Abdul Muttalib. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib died a few months after his marriage with Aminah bint Wahb. Muhammad S was born a few months after the death of his father ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib.

‘Abdullah bin Zayd bin ‘Abd Rabbihi R

‘Abdullah bin Zayd bin ‘Abd Rabbihi R was a Sahabi (Companion of Muhammad S). Soon after Muhammad S arrived in Madinah, Muslims constructed Masjid Nabi (Mosque of the Messenger S) there. Regular Group Prayers were instituted in Madinah when the Masjid Nabi (Mosque of the Messenger S) was completed. It was a big change for the Muslims, who used to offer Salah (Prayers) secretly in Makkah.People some times could not reach Masjid Nabi (Mosque of the Messenger S) at proper times of the Salah (Prayers). Many people missed Salah (Prayers) at different times. Muhammad S and his Sahabah (Companions) discussed the problem. They tried to search for a suitable mechanism to inform Muslims about the group prayers. They discussed the possibilities of lighting up a fire to send smoke signals, blowing a horn, striking a flat-bell, ringing a bell blowing into a shell and even sending some to the neighborhoods announcing the prayers. Muhammad S was not very happy with any of those approaches. Still, Muhammad S settled the issue in favor of a bell. One day, he ordered to get a bell made for informing Muslims of Madinah about the Salah (Prayers). The same night, ‘Abdullah bin Zayd bin ‘Abd Rabbihi R saw an unusual dream. In his dream, he saw a man walking with a large shell. He asked the man in his dream to sell that shell to him. The man in his dream asked him the purpose to buy that shell. ‘Abdullah bin Zayd bin ‘Abd Rabbihi R told the man in his dream, that he would blow the shell to inform people about the group prayers. The man in his dream responded that instead of selling that shell, he could suggest a better way of calling Muslims for prayers. He taught the words and method of Adhan (Call for Prayers) when ‘Abdullah bin Zayd bin ‘Abd Rabbihi R showed his willingness about it. The man in his dream also taught him the words and method of Iqamah (Second call for Prayers). Next morning ‘Abdullah bin Zayd bin ‘Abd Rabbihi R told Muhammad S about his dream. Muhammad S liked it and told him that it is a vision from Allah (God). Muhammad S also asked him to teach the words to Bilal R because he had a stronger voice. After hearing the first Adhan (Call for Prayers) by Bilal R, ‘Umar bin Khattab R rushed to the Masjid Nabi (Mosque of the Messenger S). ‘Umar bin Khattab R swore by Allah (God) that he had also seen exactly the same dream. Muhammad S said Alhamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah) in reply.  Since the day when ‘Abdullah bin Zayd bin ‘Abd Rabbihi R saw a dream, more than fourteen centuries ago, Muslims use exactly the same Adhan (Call for Prayers) to call for prayers.

Abrahah al Ashram

Abrahah al Ashram was the Governor of Yaman. He represented the Christian King of Habash (Ethiopia). He did not like the popularity of the Ka’bah as a pilgrimage destination among the Arabs. He constructed a grand church in Yaman to lure away pilgrims from the Ka’bah. When his plans to replace the Ka’bah with his own church did not succeed, he decided to destroy the Ka’bah. Allah (God) wiped out his entire army before they could reach Makkah, where the Ka’bah is located. This event is also recorded in the 105th Surah (Chapter) of the Qur-an, named Surah (Chapter) al-il (The Elephant). Name of this Surah (Chapter) of Qur-an, is due to the fact that Abrahah al Ashram had an elephant at the head of his army. Arabs living in and around Makkah had never seen an elephant before.
Muhammad S was born a few weeks after this event.

Abu Bakr R

Abu Bakr R was a friend of Muhammad S and a prominent Sahabi (Companion of Muhammad S). Abu Bakr R was the first adult male to accept Islam.
Muhammad S married one of his daughters, A’ishah R in the year 3 Hijrah.
Abu Bakr R became the first Khalifah (Caliph) of Muslims after the demise of Muhammad S.
performed their first Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka’bah) according to Islamic rites in the year 9 Hijrah under the leadership of Abu Bakr R. Muhammad S had stayed back in Madinah.
Some times later, after the Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka’bah) had left for Makkah, Muhammad S received the first 40 Ayah (Verses) of Surah at-Taubah (Also known as Surah Bara’t) from Allah (God). Muhammad S sent ‘Ali bin Abu Talib R to deliver these verses to Abu Bakr R, so that he could further pass them on to all Muslims who had assembled for Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka’bah).

Abu Hurayrah R
Abu Hurayrah R was a Sahabi (Companion of Muhammad S) of Muhammad S. He lived on a raised platform inside the Masjid Nabi (Mosque of the Messenger S) in Madinah during the lifetime of Muhammad S. Many poor Muslims lived on this platform. They are known as Ashab Suffah (Companions from the platform). They used to spend most of their time in learning Islam and praying. The nickname Abu Hurayrah R was coined by Muhammad S. It means father of a kitten. Abu Hurayrah R used to take care of a kitten.Abu Hurayrah R did not spend much time in the company of Muhammad S. During his relatively short stay at the Masjid Nabi (Mosque of the Messenger S), he always shadowed Muhammad S, whenever he was outside his living quarters. Abu Hurayrah R spent a lot of time in memorizing each and every word that he heard from Muhammad S. A large number of Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S) were compiled and narrated by Abu Hurayrah R.
Abwa was a township between Makkah and Yathrib (Madinah). A few days after his marriage, ’Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib went with a trading caravan to Sham. He fell sick on his way back to Makkah. Caravan continued to Makkah after leaving him in Yathrib (Madinah) for treatment. He died of his sickness in Yathrib (Madinah) and was buried there.Aminah bint Wahb, mother of Muhammad S took him to the grave of his father ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib in Yathrib (Madinah). Muhammad S was six year old at that time. On their way back from Yathrib (Madinah), Aminah bint Wahb fell sick at Abwa. She died and was buried at Abwa. Muhammad S was brought back to his grandfather ‘Abdul Muttalib in Makkah, by Umm Ayman, a maidservant of his father.
‘Abyar ‘Ali
Dhul Hulayfah is the Miqat for pilgrims coming from Madinah or north either by air or land. It is now called ‘Abyar ‘Ali.
Mawaqit (Plural of Miqat) are places setup by Muhammad S where pilgrims change into Ihram (Special Dress for Hajj).

Adam A (Adam)
Adam A (Adam) was the first Nabi (Messenger) of Allah. Adam A (Adam) was also the first human Allah (God) had created. Allah (God) gave Adam A (Adam) knowledge and capacity to think. Allah (God) had created Adam A (Adam) to represent good. He asked Mala”ikah (Angels) to do Sajdah (Prostration) to Adam A (Adam). They obeyed Allah (God). Iblis (Satan) refused to respect Adam A (Adam) because he thought that he was superior to him. Allah (God) had created Iblis (Satan) to represent evil. Iblis (Satan) told Allah (God) that he can lure Adam A (Adam) and his children away from the path, Allah (God) had taught him. Allah (God) also created a partner for Adam A (Adam) and sent them to live in Jannah (Paradise). Allah (God) told Adam A (Adam) and his wife Hawwa (Eve) to stay away from a particular tree, but Iblis (Satan) succeeded in luring him to eat from that tree. Immediately, Adam A (Adam) realized his mistake and asked Allah (God) for forgiveness.  Allah (God) forgave them and sent them to live on earth. All humans are descendents of Adam A (Adam) and his wife Hawwa (Eve). Besides Adam A (Adam), Allah (God) directly spoke to only Musa A (Moses).
Adhan (Call for Prayers)
The literal meaning of the word Adhan is announcement.Adhan is the call for Salah (Prayers). Adhan (Call for Prayers) is called for the Jama’ah Salah (Group Prayers) offered by Muslims in the Masajid (Mosques). Adhan (Call for Prayers) is usually called by a Mu’adhdhin (Caller of Adhan), from the minaret or a relatively higher point of a Masjid (Mosque). Tradition of Adhan (Call for Prayers) began in the first year of Hijrah (Migration) after Muhammad S and other Muslims from Makkah had migrated to Madinah. Words of Adhan (Call for Prayers) came to some Sahabah (Companions of Muhammad S) in their dreams.Words of Adhan (Call for Prayers) are common allover the world.Allah O Akbar, Allah O Akbar
God is Great, God is Great
Allah O Akbar, Allah O Akbar
God is Great, God is Great
Ashshado an la ilaha illallahI bear witness there is no deity but Allah
Ashshado an la ilaha illallah
I bear witness there is no deity but Allah Ashshado anna Muhammadun rasul AllahI bear witness that Muhammad S is the Messenger of AllahAshshado anna Muhammadun rasul AllahI bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
Haiyyah alas salahHurry to the prayer
Haiyyah alas salahHurry to the prayer
Haiyyah alal falahHurry to the success
Haiyyah alal falahHurry to the success
Allah o Akbar Allah o Akbar
God is Great God is Great
La ilaha illallah There is no deity but AllahAdhan (Call for Prayers) for the Fajr Salah (Morning Prayers) has an additional phrase As-salatu Khayrum minan naum meaning Prayer is better than sleep. This phrase is repeated twice after Haiyyah alal falah Hurry to the success.

Adultery (Zina)
Establishing sexual relationship outside marriage is called Zina. Islamic laws are designed to establish an ideal social system based on social equality and justice to all. Islam completely prohibits sexual relationship outside marriage. There is a severe punishment for it in this world as well as in the life after death.

And come not near the unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is a great sin beyond limits and evil way.
(Chapter) al-Isra (The Night Journey) Qur-an 17:32

Islam also prohibits situations that may lead to Zina (Sexual Relations outside Marriage) such as indecent clothes, mixed parties, obscenity, and meeting members of the opposite sex in privacy etc.

Pilgrims of Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka’bah) who live outside the Miqat are called Afaqi. Mawaqit (Plural of Miqat) are the places designated by Muhammad S, where Hajj pilgrims change into Ihram (Special Dress for Hajj).
Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S)

The word Ahadith is plural of the word Hadith. In the Islamic context, Ahadith are the sayings of Muhammad S. After the Holy Qur-an, Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S) provide the most valuable source of Islamic knowledge. Following the Holy Qur-an and Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S) is an essential part of Islamic faith. In broader context, whatever Muhammad S said, did or approved of something by remaining silent after witnessing anything related to the religion done by someone; is classified as a Hadith (Saying of Muhammad S).Many scholars of Islam spent their lifetimes in scientifically scrutinizing and compiling the Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S). Scores of authenticated Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S) are available in several compilations. It is a duty of Muslims to learn Islam from the Holy Qur-an and Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S).

Ahl-Kitab (People of the Book)

Ahl Kitab means People of the Book. The term Kitab means a divinely revealed Book or a Book revealed by Allah (God). The term is generally used for followers of the religions sent by Allah (God), who were also given Divine Book, before Islam. The Holy Qur-an is also referred to as the Book.Two main Ahl Kitab (People of the Book) are the Jews who were given Torat (Torah) and the Christians who were given Injil (Bible).

Ahmad is another name of Muhammad S. This name has been mentioned in the Qur-an at one place (The Holy Qur-an 61:6).

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