Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Definitions of common terms used in Islam

Allah - Islamic idea of God.  The supreme being with sovereignty over all other forms of beliefs, teachings.
Caliph – considered a successor to Muhammad.  The head of state for Islamic governments
Caliphate – system of government run by the “caliph” based on religious principles
Din – complete obedience to Allah.  Submission to prophet’s teaching.
Fatwa – ruling by a religious scholar based on Islamic law
Fiqh – Islamic jurisprudence
Hadith – reports, accounts, beliefs, records of Muhammad’s actions or teachings.  Also includes accounts of those who knew Muhammad.
Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca.  One of the five pillars of Islam
Ijithad – applying principles of legal theory in order to discover God’s law.  Preached by Rationalists and deemed necessary to issue judgments on cases
Imam – leader of mosques/legal scholars/community leaders/highest rank of cleric
Jihad – armed struggle against enemies of Islam.  Issuing jihad means a declaration of war in order to enforce the laws of Islam
Maddahb – a school of thought
Madrassa – university/school that preaches specific school of thought
Mahdi – said to be the lost 12th Imam.  Believed to eventually return someday.  Many charismatic leaders claim to be the Mahdi in order to gain support.
Mujtahid – religious scholar that practices ijithad
Mullah – local Islamic clergy members/legal scholars
Qur’an – explicit word of Allah.  Muslim equivalent of the Bible.  The highest and truest source   of knowledge.
Ramaddan – month of fasting based on Islamic belief
Shaykh – spiritual leader of a Muslim clergy
Takfir – declaring another Muslim to be an infidel/enemy/or unbeliever in true Islam
Taqlid – following the orders of religious authorities without any personal exploration or discovery.  Complete submission to higher scholars of Islam
Taqwa – fear of God
Ulama - legal scholars that issue rulings based on Islamic law.  Collective community of high ranking clerics
Ummah - Muslim community

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