'adat: customs, customary practice; a legal principle in the Maliki school.
adhan: the call to prayer.
ahad (khabar): an isolated hadith; a report which is transmitted through a single isnad or from a single source.
ahl al-hall wa'l'Ôaqd: "the people of loosing and binding," i.e. the 'ulama' (people of knowledge), leaders and army commanders who make binding decisions for the community.
'amm: generally applicable, in reference to a Qur'anic ruling.
Ansar: the "Helpers", the people of Madina who welcomed and aided the Prophet.
awsaq: plural of wasq; a measure of volume equal to sixty sa's.
ayat: a verse of the Qur'an.
balagha: pl. balaghat, a hadith in which the isnad is not mentioned, but in which the reporter quotes the Prophet directly.
basmala: the expression "In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate".
bayan: clarification, elucidation, either the substance of a meaning in the Qur'an or the clarifying the meaning of that substance.
deen: the life-transaction, lit. the debt between two parties, in this usage between the Creator and created.
dhahir: apparent; a dhahir text can have two or more meanings.
dhawahir: plural of dhahir.
Dhuhr: the midday prayer.
faqih: pl. fuqaha', a man learned in knowledge of fiqh who by virtue of his knowledge can give a legal judgement.
fatwa: an authoritative statement on a point of law.
fiqh: the science of the application of the Shari'a. A practitioner or expert in fiqh is called a faqih.
Follower: a Tabi'i, one of the generation after the Companions.
fuqaha': plural of faqih.
gharib: a hadith which has a single reporter at some stage of the isnad.
hadith: reported speech of the Prophet.
hajj: the annual pilgrimage to Makka which is one of the five Pillars of Islam.
hadd: plural hudud. Allah's boundary limits for the lawful and unlawful. The hadd punishments are specific fixed penalties laid down by Allah for specified crimes.
halal: permitted by the Shari'a.
haram: forbidden by the Shari'a.
hijra: emigration in the way of Allah, especially designating the emigration of the Prophet from Makka to Madina.
hudud: plural of hadd.
'idda: a period after divorce or the death of her husband for which a woman must wait before re-marrying.
'Id al-Fitr: the festival at the end of the fast of Ramadan.
ihram: the conditions of clothing and behaviour adopted by someone performing hajj or 'umra.
ijtihad: to exercise personal judgement in legal matters.
iqama: the call which announces that the obligatory prayer is about to begin.
isnad: a tradition's chain of transmission from individual to individual.
istisfad: considering a hadith to be mashhur.
istishab: Presumption of continuity, or presuming continuation of the status quo ante.
istihsan: to deem something good, juristic preference; to decide in favour of something which is considered good by the jurist, over against the conclusion that may have been reached by analogy.
Jahiliyya: the Time of Ignorance before the coming of Islam.
Jumu'a: the day of gathering, Friday, and particularly the Jumu'a prayer which is performed instead of Dhuhr by those who attend it.
kharaj: taxes imposed on revenue from land.
khass: specifically applicable, particular.
li'an: mutual cursing, a form of divorce which involves oath staken by the wife and husband when he accuses her of committing adultery.
madhhab: a school of law founded on the opinion of a faqih.
madrasa: a traditional place of study and learning.
al-masalih al-mursala: Considerations of public interest, human welfare, or utility not explicitly supported by a text.
mashhur: a hadith which is reported by more than two reporters.
miqat: one of the designated places for entering into ihram for hajj or 'umra.
mudd: a measure of volume, approximately a double-handed scoop.
mufti: someone qualified to give a legal opinion or fatwa.
muhaddith: a scholar who transmits and/or studies hadith.
Muhajirun: the Companions of the Messenger of Allah who accepted Islam in Makka and made hijra to Madina.
mujmal: an undefined text which requires details and explanation.
mujtahid: a scholar who is qualified to carry out ijtihad.
munqati': broken or incontiguous, a hadith with a missing link in the isnad before the Follower.
mursal: a hadith whose where a man in the generation after the Companions quotes directly from the Prophet without mentioning the Companion from whom he got it.
mutakallimun: those who study the science of kalam, the science of investigating religious belief or theological doctrine.
mutawatir: a hadith which is reported by a large number of reporters at all stages of the isnad.
muttasil: a hadith which an uninterrupted isnad.
nass: unequivocal or definitive text
nusus: plural of nass.
qadi: a judge, qualified to judge all matters in accordance with the Shari'a and to dispense and enforce legal punishments.
qawa'id: general legal precepts which clarify the method of using ijtihad in a school, and the links which connect minor questions.
qibla: the direction faced in the prayer which is towards the Ka'ba in Makka.
qiyas: logical deduction by analogy.
rak'at: a unit of the prayer consisting of a series of standings, bowing, prostrations and sittings.
ra'y: opinion, a legal decision based on the use of common sense and personal opinion, used where there is no explicit guidance in the Qur'an and Sunna and where it is not possible to use analogy.
riba al-fadl: profit obtained by the superior value of a thing received over that of a thing given.
Ridda: the defection of various Arab tribes after the death of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
riwaya: a reading or transmission of a text.
sa': a measure of volume equal to four mudds.
sadaqa: charitable giving in the Cause of Allah.
sadd adh-dhara'i': the legal principle of blocking the means even if the method involved is otherwise legal. Thus is something is unlawful, the means to it is also unlawful.
sajda: the act of prostration.
Salaf: the early generations of the Muslims, particularly the Companions.
Shari'a: The legal modality of a people based on the revelation of their Prophet. The final Shari'a is that of Islam.
shirk: the unforgiveable wrong action of worshipping something or someone other than Allah or associating something or someone as a partner with Him.
sunan: plural of sunna.
Sunna: the customary practice of a person or group of people. It has come to refer almost exclusively to the practice of the Messenger of Allah.
tafsir: commentary or explanation of the meanings of the Qur'an.
tawatur: the quality of being mutawatir.
'urf: customary or known practices.
usul: plural of asl, the basic principles of any source
waqf: also habous, an unalienable endowment for a charitable purpose.
wudu': ritual washing, performed to be pure for the prayer.
zakat: a wealth tax, one of the five Pillars of Islam.
Return to Index