Download Appendix of Arabic Terms File

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Allah: The one, referring to the one God of Islam.
al-Aqsa: The third holiest site in Sunni Islam, located in the old city of Jerusalem containing the
al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Apostasy: Formal denunciation of religious faith by and individual.
Assabiya: Term popularised by the 14th century Tunisian sociologist Ibn Khaldun. It refers to
social solidarity and group consciousness with a sense of shared purpose that defines the tribal
Arab communities.
Ayas: The smallest units of the Quran, usually referred to as verses in English.
al-Azhar: Both a Mosque and a university it was founded in the 10th Century in Cairo Egypt. It
is considered the foremost institution for Islamic Sunni scholarship.
Ba’ath: (also Ba’athist, Ba’athism) Meaning rebirth or renewal it refers to the Ba’ath nationalist
party most prominently located in Syria and Iraq that promotes Arab nationalism and socialism.
Bilad al-Sham: Greater Syria. Historically it referred to a province established during the early
Islamic empires encompassing the modern states of Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine.
Politically, it was reborn in the 20th century as a focal point of Hafez al-Assad’s territorial
Caliph: Leader of the caliphate
Dar al-Ahd: Non Islamic lands with which Muslims have a temporary peace.
Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam: Most prominently this has been used to define a dichotomy
between Muslim and non-Muslim territory. Dar al-Harb, literally the realm of war, is territory
controlled by non-Muslims and Dar al-Islam, the realm of Islam, is territory under Muslim
Darwa: Government.
Din: Religion.
Fatwa: A legal ruling issued by someone with religious authority such as an Imam.
Fiqh: Islamic jurisprudence.
Hadith: The recorded words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad which are to serve as an
example to the Muslim people. The most widely accepted collections of Hadiths were published
by al-Bukhari and al-Hajjaj.
Hajj: One of the five pillars of Islam, the Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that should be
undertaken once in every Muslim’s lifetime.
Hanafi: The Hanafi is one of the four primary schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. Named
after the 8th Century Iraqi scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man, it is the oldest of the Sunni
Hijra: In the summer of 622 of the Common Era around seventy of Muhammad’s followers left
Mecca for the city of Yathrib, 275 miles to the north. This was a necessary exodus to escape the
hostile conditions the newly formed Muslim community faced from the tribes of Mecca.
Hijri: The Islamic calendar named after the Hijra of 622.
Ijma: The consensus of the Islamic community on a point of the law.
Imam: A religious scholar.
Infidel: Nonbeliever.
Ijtihad: The idea of legitimate religious endeavour in employing personal judgement to deal
with matters not specifically detailed in the Quran and Sunnah, while using these sources as
guidance. In the 11th century the so called ‘gates of ijtihad’ were closed by the Ulema,
supposedly ending the practice. However, it was revived first by ibn Taymiyya in the 14th
century and later by the Salafist reformers.
Jihad: Translated as struggle it is a highly contested term both within and outside of Islam. It
may refer to the lesser jihad (jihad al-asghar), generally understood as martial conflict for the
physical defence of the community. It is also understood as the greater jihad (jihad al-akhbar)
which is described as the jihad against the self, the struggle to become a better Muslim through
self improvement.
Jahiliya: Ignorance of God’s will. Historically this described the condition of the Arab peoples
before Muhammad’s revelation. This notion of the jahili society was revived by Ibn Taymiyya
and later Sayid Qutb.
Khalifaa: (also caliphate) Refers to the Islamic empires from the time of Muhammad to the end
of the Ottoman Empire. The Caliph who leads the caliphate is both a religious and political
leader in an attempt to embody in one individual earthly and divine power.
Kufar: Nonbeliever, someone who denies belief in God.
Maghreb: The predominantly Arab inhabited North Africa.
Mujahedeen: Holy warriors. Term popularised to describe those who participated in the
expulsion of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now, it is a more generalised term
describing the participants in the Global Jihad.
Qiyas: A method of analogical reasoning to deal with matters not specifically detailed by the
Quran and Sunnah.
Quran: Translated as the recitation. It is the word of Allah as communicated through the Angel
Gabriel to Muhammad. It serves as the premier religious text for Muslims.
Quraysh: The dominant tribe of Mecca in the 7th century.
Ramadan: The ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which Muslim are to fast during the
daylight hours as one of the five pillars of Islam.
Rashidun: The Rightly Guided Caliphs. The four Muslim leaders who succeeded Muhammad
that ruled until 750; Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Kittab, Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib.
Ridda: Translated as apostasy. The death of Muhammad resulted in a revolt. The revolt
prompted Abu Bakr to launch a series of military campaigns to suppress the revolt known as the
Ridda Wars or the Wars of Apostasy.
Salaf: (also Salafism, Salafist, Salafi) Salaf is translated as righteous predecessor, referring to
those who lived during the Rashidun. In the 19th century those who called themselves Salafists
developed a methodology of looking to this time period as an example of how to deal with the
contemporary issues of the Islamic world.
Shahada: One of the five pillars of Islam, it is the oral testimony of faith, “there is no God but
Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.”
Sharia: Islamic law. The implementation of sharia varies tremendously throughout time and
place. However, sharia is based upon the Quran and Sunnah.
Shaykh: An honorific term referring to an elder leader.
Shi’ite: Shi’ite Ali, the Party of Ali. Representing around 15% of Muslims it is a sect of Islam
that disputes the succession of leadership after the Rashidun. Additionally, Shi’ites hold other
distinct theological differences with the dominant Sunni sect.
Siyasa: Policy
al-Siyasi al Islami: Islamic political order. A government based on Islamic principles.
Sunnah: The words and deeds of the Prophet that are to serve as an example to Muslims. The
Sunnah is recorded in the Hadiths.
Sunni: The dominant sect of Islam representing more than 80% of Muslims.
Sura: Chapters of the Quran.
Takfir: The practice of one Muslim accusing another of wilful apostasy.
Tawhid: The concept of monotheism in Islam that speaks to the oneness and uniqueness of God.
Ulema: A group of Islamic scholars who serve as the arbiters of Islamic law and theology that
became increasingly formalised under the various caliphs.
Umma: Community of believers, the concept of a single Islamic community. This notion has
been interpreted as a literal territorial bound group with a singular leadership or a spiritual
community bound by similar customs and beliefs.
Uqud: Obligations for maintaining membership in the community.
Wahabbi: A conservative branch of Sunni Islam rooted in Salafist thinking. It emerged in Saudi
Arabia during the 18th century founded by Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahab.
Wasatiya: The middle way. Reflective of the neo-Islamists it represents the medium between the
traditionalist Islamic position and those who wish to engage with modernity and the non-Islamic
Yathrib: Medina