ا (’alif)

Arabic term signifying “Praise to God”, and is commonly used to say “Thank God”.
It means “God” in Arabic. According to Islam, there are 99 names for God, or Allah. Ex: the Loving, the Compassionate and the Merciful. Allah is a gender neutral term.
As-Salam Alaikum:
Means “Peace be upon you” in Arabic. The response is “Wa Alaikum as-Salam”, meaning “And upon you be peace”.

ب (bāʾ)

Mainly worn in Afghanistan. The burqa is an outer garment that covers the entire body from head to toe.

ف (fāʾ)

Islamic religious ruling issued by a recognized religious authority in Islam based on the Quran and the tradition of the prophet and the jurisprudence to respond to situations or new problems that believers may face.

ح (ḥāʾ)

Collection of sayings by the Prophet Muhammad that refer to daily life practices. There are many different interpretations of the hadith by various Islamic scholars throughout the ages. Muslims use the Quran, the hadiths and sunna as references for establishing their religious practice and life choices.
The fifth pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage, or Hajj. Every able Muslim must perform Hajj once in a lifetime to the Kabah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims dress in white clothes to symbolize the equality of humankind. Each year, at least two million Muslims perform Hajj in the final month of the Islamic calendar. The end of Hajj is marked by the second of two major Muslim celebrations, Eid al-Adha.
Arabic term meaning “lawful” or “permitted”. It designates what is permissible by Islamic law to use or engage in by Muslims and refers to all aspects of life. Commonly used to indicate meat, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and other food products which Muslims can consume, prepared in a specific ways according to Islamic law.
Arabic term meaning “forbidden”. According to Islamic law, pork and its by-products, alcohol and other intoxicants, animals which are dead before slaughter or improperly slaughtered, and carnivorous animals and birds or preys are all haram, or forbidden. Usury and games of chance are also considered haram.
Means “veil”, “barrier” or “covering” in Arabic. Used to refer to Muslim women’s headdress that covers the hair. In Islam, modesty is emphasized for men and women.

إ (hamza)

Is the one who leads the Islamic prayers. Imam is also in an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. For Shiite Muslims, the title Imam is given to the descendants of the prophet. They believe that they have legitimacy to lead the Islamic nation.
Arabic term meaning “God-willing”.
Arabic word meaning “submission to the will of God”.

ج (ǧīm)

An Arabic word, meaning “struggle”. There are two types of jihad according to the Islamic belief: the greater jihad and the lesser jihad. The greater jihad refers to the ongoing personal struggle of each Muslim to live their faith. The lesser jihad refers to fighting the oppressor in the battlefield. Jihad also signifies “the struggle against injustice”. Jihad does not refer to forcing Islam unto others.

ك (kāf)

The most sacred site in the Muslim world. A cube-shaped stone structure believed by Muslims to be the first house of worship dedicated to the worship of one god. Kabah is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the destination for pilgrims on the Hajj. Muslims pray in the direction of Kabah, no matter where they are in the world.

م (mīm)

Literally means “school” in Arabic and it refers to the Quranic schools present in Muslim countries that teach the recitation of the Quran to children. Among Western countries post-9/11, the Madrasas are often perceived as a place of radical revivalism with a negative connotation of anti-Americanism and radical extremism.
Refers to a Muslim engaged in what he considers to be a jihad and struggle in the path of god. Each member of an Islamic armed group is considered as a mujahid by his mates. This title holds a certain prestige because it brings back to the first warriors in the first years of Islam. Plural: Mujahideen.
Generally used to refer to a Muslim man, educated in Islamic theology and sacred law. The term is most often applied to Shiite clerics. Unlike Shiite Islam, the concept of “cleric” in Sunni Islam is of limited usefulness, as authority in the religious system is relatively decentralized.
A follower of Islam. An Arabic word meaning “someone who submits themselves to the will of God.”
Muslim Brotherhood:
This group was founded in Egypt in 1928 and has spread its influence throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It advocates the application of sharia law. The Muslim Brotherhood is also the world’s oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. Its founder, Hassan Al-Banna, was killed in 1949 by the Egyptian State agents. Currently, the Muslim Brotherhood holds many seats in the Egyptian Parliament.

ن (nūn)

A cloth garment that covers a woman’s whole face except for the eyes.

ق (qāf)

The Muslim scripture. The root of the Arabic word signifies “recitation”. Muslims believe that the Angel Gabriel revealed the Quran, or the word of Allah, to Muhammad over a period of 23 years during the lunar calendar month of Ramadan. Muslims also believe that Muhammad, being illiterate, never authored or edited the Quran. The Quran has been intact for over 1400 years.

ش (šīn)

Refers to the declaration of the Islamic faith, it’s also the first pillar of Islam. To convert to Islam, a person must recite the shahada with intention: “I bear witness that there is no God, but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
This term means “martyr”, and refers to a person who sacrifices his or her life to defend their religion, country or protect their family. In Islam, martyrdom is the highest rank attributed to a believer.
Arab term that means “path”, or “path of God”. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics, as well as personal and social matters such as marriage, inheritance, commerce, hygiene, diet, prayer, fasting, etc.
Shia Islam:
Shia is an Arabic word that literally means “follower”. It refers to the followers of Ali, the Prophet Muhammad, cousin and son-in-law who is regarded as the Prophet’s legitimate successor. Shiism is one of the two major branches of Islam and Shiites represent approximately 15% of the world Muslim population. Shiites are mainly found in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and in the Arabic peninsula.

س (sīn)

It’s a term given to a rigorist movement. Salafi stems from the word salaf which means predecessor and refers to the first companions of the prophet. This movement preaches the return to the Islamic sources. Many islamist groups identify themselves as salafists.
Sunni Islam:
Largest branch of Islam. The word Sunni comes from the term Sunnah, which refers to the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad that are recorded in hadiths (collections of narrations regarding Muhammad). Those who follow the path of Prophet Muhammad are called Sunnis. Unlike Shiites, Sunnis do not contest the authority of the first four successors of Prophet Muhammad.

ص (ṣād)

Salat means “prayer”. The performing of the five daily prayers, at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sundown, and nightfall is the second pillar of Islam. Muslims have to be in a state of purity when praying and have to do a ritual wash called ablution (wudu). The prayers are always recited in Arabic.
Means “fasting”, which takes place in Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. For 30 days, Muslims must abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn to sunset, emphasizing self-discipline and humility. This is the fourth pillar of Islam. Muslims believe that the angel Gabriel revealed the Quran to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan. The fasting ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

ط (ṭāʾ)

Derives from the word talib which literally means “student”. The Taliban movement was born in Afghanistan in 1994. The movement ruled the country from 1997 to 2001. The Taliban regime was associated with Osama Bin Laden, who allowed the presence of Al-Qaida training camps on its territory. After the 9-11 attacks, the American–British coalition overthrew the regime in October 2001.

أ (hamza)

Refers to the collective Muslim communities. Each Muslim belongs to the Ummah regardless of his nationality, his race, his language or his social status.

و (wāw)

It is a religious movement of Islam developed in Saudi Arabia by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a 18th century Muslim theologian. He advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. It has developed considerable influence in the Muslim world in part through Saudi funding of mosques, schools and social programs.

ز (zāy)

Charity is the third pillar of Islam. It is obligatory for every Muslim to contribute a certain percentage of his or her wealth each year to benefit the poor and needy.