List of Islamic terms in Arabic
It is sometimes difficult to separate concepts in Islam from concepts specific to Arab culture, from the language itself. The Qur'an is expressed in Arabic and traditionally Muslims deemed it untranslatable, though this view has changed somewhat in recent decades. Concepts that derive from both Islam and Arab tradition, which are expressed as words in the Arabic language, and are sufficiently specific to these to require their own articles here, are:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
- barakah - spiritual wisdom and blessing transmitted from master to pupil
- caliph - literally successor; refers to the successor of the prophet Muhammad, the ruler of the Islamic world
- dajjal - the Islamic counterpart to the Antichrist
- dervish - a Sufi ascetic
- dhimmi -Jews and Christians (and sometimes others), whose right to practice their religion is tolerated within an Islamic society, but with lower legal status.
- fana - sufi term meaning extinction - to die to this life while alive. Having no existence outside of god. A unity with Allah
- fard - obligatory, you have to do it. praying 5 times a day is fard
- fatwa (فتاوى) - legal opinion of an (alim) binding on him and on those who follow his taqlid.
- fiqh - jurisprudence built around the shariah by custom (al-urf)
- hadith - recorded saying or tradition of the prophet Muhammad validated by isnah; with sira these comprise the sunnah and reveal shariah
- halal - lawful, permitted, good, beneficial, praiseworthy, honourable
- hafiz - someone who knows the Quran by heart. Literal translation = the living book.
- haj or hajj - pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) - the fifth Pillar of Islam
- hanif - the 5 monotheist prophets Adam, Abraham/Ibrahim, Moses/Musa, Jesus/Isa, Mohammed.
- haram - forbidden. Antonym fard; Also describes inviolate natural zones around towns.
- hijab - veiling for the sake of modesty
- hijra - literally migration, Muhammad's and his followers' emigration from Makkah (Mecca) to Medina
- hima - wilderness reserve, protected forest, grazing commons, important to khalifa
- hudud - Literally, limits or boundaries. Usually refers to limits placed by God on man; penalties of the Islamic law which are described in the Quran
- ibadah - worship, but not limited to ritual: all expressions of servitude to Allah from pursuit of knowledge living a pious life, helping, charity, humility
- ihram - state of consecration for haj. Includes dress and or prayer.
- ijma - the consensus of either the ummah (or just the ulema) - one of four bases of Islamic Law. More generally, political consensus itself.
- ijtihad - during the early times of Islam the possibility to find a new solution to a juridical problem. In consevative Islam not allowed anymore since the middle ages
- ilm - all varieties of knowledge, usually a synonym for science
- imam - literally leader; the man who leads the prayer; in shia the leader of the shia community, who carrys the initiatic tradition of the Prophetic light.
- Islam - submission to God, natural inclination of humans and nature
- isnad - chain of transmitters of any given hadith
- isnah - process of validing the hadith; citation methodology
- istislah - public interest - a source of Islamic Law.
- istish-haad - heroic martyrdom.
- jahiliya - the time of ignorance before Islam was realized. Describes polytheistic religions.
- jamia - litterary gathering, place for gathering, friday mosque
- jihad - struggle. Any earnest striving in the way of Allah, involving personal, physical, intellectual or military effort, for righteousness and against wrong-doing;
- "Lesser Jihad" means war to conquer new territories for Islam or to free Muslims from oppression
- "Greater Jihad" internal struggle with the self for soul (nafs)
- jinn - An invisible being of fire
- kafir - anybody who is not a monotheist, not tolerated by Islam
- kalam - Islamic theology
- khalifa - Man's trusteeship and stewardship of Earth; Most basic theory of the Caliphate; Flora and fauna as sacred trust; Accountability to God for harms to nature, failure to actively care and maintain.
- kufr - atheism, the sin of ingratitude to Allah
- madhab - school of thought
- madrasa - school, university
- mahdi - someone kind of savior or Messiah
- mujahid - a fighter for islam
- murshid - a Sufi teacher
- nafs - soul, one self
- nahw - Arabic grammar
- salah - daily obligatory prayer - the second Pillar of Islam
- salat - five time a day prayer
- shahadah - The expression of faith: La ilaha illa Allah ("There is no god but God") - the first Pillar of Islam
- shaikh - a spiritual master
- sharia or shariah, literally means the path to a watering hole; the eternal ethical code and moral code based on Quran and sunnah; basis of fiqh
- sawm - fasting during Ramadan - the fourth Pillar of Islam
- shia - the second largest branch of Islam, followers of Ali and his successor as Imam
- shirk - idolatry, the sin of believing in any divinity except Allah
- shura - traditionally non-elected council, the ruler may listen to it or not
- sira - life or biography of the Prophet Muhammad; his moral example - with hadith this comprises the sunnah
- sufi - a Muslim mystic; Sufism (tasawwuf) is to most an integral part of Islam, but does not derive directly or only from Muhammad himself
- sunnah - literally path or example; sunnah annabi is what the Prophet has done or said or agreed to; He is considered as the best human moral example by Muslims, the best man to follow;
- sunni - the largest branch of Islam, having no single central authority
- sura - chapter; the Quran is comprised of 114 suras
- tafsir - exegesis, particularly such commentary on the Quran
- tajwid - special manner of reading the Quran. When you do it, you get more rewards for your reading.
- taqlid - blind imitation of precedent, normally of a classical jurist of fiqh, contrast to ijtihad and ijma which imply status for the community and lay public.
- taqiyya - the mostly shia principle to be allowed to hide the true belief
- tasawwuf or sufism
- tartil - slow and measured (meditative) recitation of the Koran
- tawheed - monotheism; affirmation of oneness of God; its opposite is shirk
- ulema or ulama - the leaders of Islamic society, including teachers, Imams and judges
- umma or ummah - the global community of all Muslim believers; international personhood of Islam
- wahdat al-wujud - "unity of being". Philosophical term used by some Suffis. Related to fana
- warraqeen - traditional scribe, publisher, printer, notary and book copier
NOTE: Wikipedia is not a general Arabic-to-English dictionary. The list above includes only those concepts sufficiently specific to Islam or Muslim culture to merit their own full articles. The prime purposes of this list are to disambiguate multiple spellings, make note of spellings no longer in use for these concepts, define the concept in one line to make it easy to pin down the one you're looking for, and provide a guide to unique concepts of Islam all in one place.
There is an English/Arabic dictionary on wiktionary.
The English word algorithm is derived from the name of the inventor of algebra - an Arabic word like alchemy, alcohol, azimuth, nadir, zenith and oasis, which mean the same as in English.
Arabic numerals are what we use in English ("0", "1", "2",...). The modern Arabs in Arabia generally use the Hindi numerals.
Some English words or phrases would translate very poorly into Arabic for cultural reasons, for instance the English word "crusade" would most likely be interpreted as meaning "genocide", and "infinite justice" would most likely be interpreted as meaning "divine judgement" - adl in Arabic implying Allah's justice. Probably it is best to avoid such terms for anything one intends to translate into Arabic, or knows will be translated.
Some Islamic concepts are usually referred to in Persian or Turkic. Those are typically of later origin that the concepts listed here - for completeness it may be best to list Persian terms and those unique to Shia on their own page, likewise Turkic terms and those unique to the Ottoman period on their own page, as these are culturally very distinct.
- Suzanne Haneef, What Everyone Should Know about Islam and Muslims, (Kazi Publications, Chicago), popular introduction
- Ziauddin Sardar, Muhammad for Beginners, Icon Books, 1994, some sloppiness, from very modern Sufi point of view.