Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
In the Name of Allah,
The Compassionate Source of All Mercy.
Islamic Foundation of North America
Guide to Islam For New Muslims
'alaykum, peace be with you.
We would like to
welcome you to the world of Islam. After receiving so many requests from new
and potential Muslims for Islamic information, we have decided to compile this
resource guide to further your search for knowledge and to put the resources of
the entire Muslim Ummah (community) within reach.
guide covers four main areas:
o The first section is a
summary of basic Islamic teachings and practices.
o The second section concerns
advice for Muslims on the path to truth.
o The third section is a
listing of the best books for a Muslim to read.
o And finally, a listing of
basic Islamic terms that you, as a new Muslim, ought to learn is provided.
path to knowledge be fruitful and may your road to truth lead you to the right
way. Ameen (Let it be so).
To become a Muslim you only have to sincerely believe in
and say the following phrase:
"Ash hadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ash hadu anna
Muhammadar Rasul Allah."
"I declare there is no god but Allah and I declare that
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
Basic Islamic Teachings
Islam has seven main beliefs. They
are contained in the formula known as the Iman ul Mufassal. It goes as follows,
"Amantu bil lahi wa mala-ikatihi wa kutubihi wa rasulihi wal yowm ul
akhiri wal qadri, khayrihi wa sharihi min Allahi ta'ala wal ba'ith ba'ed al
In English it means, "I
believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day,
Measurement, both the good and the bad are from Allah the exalted, and in life
A. Allah. This is the name
for "God" in Arabic. Allah is not a human, not a male and not a
female. We only say the term "He" when referring to Him because there
is no "It" in Arabic. All nouns are automatically masculine or
feminine. Allah created everything and was never created. He is never born, He
never has children and the human mind cannot encompass His magnitude and
greatness. He is loving but just, merciful but stern. Only by surrendering to
His will can we come into accordance with His universal will.
B. Angels: They are not
human, nor male or female. They are the servants of Allah and never rebel
against him. We believe in a devil-creature called Shaytan (Satan) but he is
not a fallen angel. He is a creature called a Jinn who rebelled against Allah.
Angels record our good deeds and bad and are behind the events of nature and
enforce Allah's will in the universe, although He doesn't need their help.
C. Books: Allah has sent
revelation to thousands of humans throughout history. Some of those revelations
were organized bodies of teachings meant to be recorded as "books"
whether written or oral to be handed on to future generations. We know the
names of five of these books. They are: the scrolls of Ibrahim, (Abraham), the
Taurah of Musa, (Moses), the Zabur (Psalms) of Dawud, (David), the Injeel of 'Esa
(Gospel of Jesus) and the Qur'an of Muhammad. Only the last book has survived
until the present day. All others have been lost or altered so much so that
they are all but worthless.
D. Messengers: These are
Allah's Prophets and Message-bringers to whom Allah gave revelation. Every
nation and race on earth received at least one in the past. They all taught the
same message: to surrender to Allah and do right. Thus we say they all taught
Islam. The first was Adam and the last was Muhammad. The Qur'an mentions the name
of 25 Prophets and Messengers.
E. The Last Day: Human
history will end one day. Allah will end the earth at some future date and all
human beings that ever lived will be raised up for Judgment Day. After each
person's good and bad deeds as well as their beliefs are examined, they will be
sent to either Paradise (Jannah) or Hell (Jahannam).
F. Measurement: Allah has
measured the length of our life in this world, our economic status, where we
will die, etc... The word "Qadr" is sometimes translated as destiny
or pre-destination or even fate. But the word actually means "to
G. Life After Death: Eternal
life in either Heaven or Hell for our souls based on what we believed and did
while we lived in the world. Some people will be taken out of hell and
admitted to heaven when the term of their punishment is over.
Islam has seven main practices in
the life of a Muslim. Five of those practices are grouped together and are
known as the Arkan al Islami, or Pillars of Islam. The following Hadith lists
them as follows: "Buniyal Islamu 'ala khamsin: Shahadati an la ilaha ill
Allah wa anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah. Wa ooqimus Salati wa i-ta azakati wa
hajjil bayti wa saumi Ramadan."
In English it means: "Islam is
built on five things: Declaring that there is no god but Allah and that
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Establishing Prayer, paying the Charity,
making a pilgrimage to the House and fasting in Ramadan."
A. Shahadah. Declaration of
Faith. Saying, "Ash hadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar
Rasul Allah." "I declare there is no god but Allah
and I declare that Muhammad is the
Messenger of Allah."
B. Salah. Prayer. This is
the ritual prayer that Muslims perform at five set times each day. To neglect
any one of them counts as a sin. The names and times of each prayer are as
1. Fajr. Before sunrise.
2. Zuhr. About a half an hour after
3. 'Asr. About two to three hours
4. Maghrib. Immediately after
5. 'Isha. After the last light of
the departing sun is gone from the sky.
C. Zakah. Purifying Charity.
It is the annual payment of 2.5% of our yearly economic accumulations, after
expenses, for the benefit of the poor, orphans, the needy, etc...
D. Saum. Fasting. During the
month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from all food, drink, anger, sex, smoking and
bad deeds from just before fist light until sunset. This is a training time for
us to learn to control our gluttony, anger and bodily needs. We learn our mind
is stronger than our urges, weaknesses and desires.
E. Hajj. Pilgrimage. A once
in a life-time trip to Mecca to purify your soul and reconnect with our
ultimate purpose in life. The month of Hajj is when millions of Muslims all
over the world arrive to serve Allah wearing only simple, white clothes and no
status or titles. We remember the real poverty of this world and the severity
of the Day of Judgment.
The other two practices are known
as Da'wah and Jihad. Da'wah means calling others to Islam and Jihad means to
struggle in Allah's cause. That struggling can be physical, spiritual or
mental. The word Jihad does not mean "Holy War."
There are only two official
holidays in Islam. One comes at the end of Ramadan and is called the 'Eid ul
Fitr. (Festival of the Fast Breaking). The other comes at the end of the Hajj
and is called the 'Eid ul Adha. (Festival of the Sacrifice.)
Some Muslims celebrate such things
as the birthday of the Prophet, (Mawlud un Nabi), or the 'Eid ul Ghadir (which is
a much later holiday centered on 'Ali, the Prophet's cousin, whom a group of
Muslims called "Shi'a" revere), but standard Islam (Qur'an +
Prophet's sayings and example) doesn't seem to give any overt or tacit support
to these holidays. The Blessed Prophet said in authentic sayings that
there were only two holidays in Islam, 'Eid ul Fitr and 'Eid ul
Adha. The commemoration of the Prophet's birthday is debated among
IV. Halal and Haram.
Halal items are allowed by Allah.
Most foods in the world are Halal. Haram means forbidden by Allah. Haram foods
are alcohol and other intoxicants, pork, carrion, most carnivorous animals,
meat dedicated to idols. For the meat of an animal, other than seafood,
to be Halal for a Muslim, it must be slaughtered in a specific manner.
The process is called Dhabiha. Basically it is a similar procedure to the
Jewish method of kosher preparation. Kosher meat is also allowed for
Muslims, as per the Qur'an. Some Muslims believe that "supermarket"
meat and fast food meat is also halal, but Allah said in the Qur'an that the
meat prepared by the Jews and Christians is allowed, whereas almost no one in
America practices Christianity anymore, as it was practiced in ancient
times. Modern slaughtering techniques, with their attendant cruelty and
unsanitary nature, do not pass the halal test for us. It is a bit of a
hardship but we believe in the prevention of cruelty to animals and modern
slaughterhouses are places of tremendous cruelty. There are detailed
books on the subject.
There are also Halal and Haram ways
to make money. Any business or activity that involves Interest-money is Haram
as is any business involving gambling, alcohol, Haram foods or deceit.
V. Male/Female Relations.
Islam provides a code of manners
for male/female interaction outside the home. It is impossible not to
interact with the opposite sex in daily life such as in the workplace, school
or shopping centers. Some very conservative Muslims have this silly and
misguided notion that men and women are forbidden to have any interaction
unless they're married. Reading the Qur'an and Hadith, however, we get a
different picture. The early Muslims, until recent times, had a
relatively egalitarian attitude towards male/female relations. Muslims
have only freaked out in the last two hundred years with isolationism and
ultra-conservatism becoming rampant. Today's arch conservatives would
have you believe that a woman's place is in the kitchen and nothing more, but
this is not what you will find when you read about Muslim society in former
times. Men and women can interact in legitimate settings such as in a business,
market, school or social gathering provided they follow certain points of
A. Women and men must be wearing
clothes that fulfill Islamic requirements of decency. Men must be covered from
the knees to the navel, and normal daily wear consists of some type of robe, or
pant/shirt combo. A turban or some other form of a headgear is strongly
recommended. Muslim men are required to have some sort of a beard (if
they can grow one). Many secular minded Muslims do not wear a beard due to the
influence of certain dominant cultures in the world which look down upon
Women must be covered from their
ankles to their necks and down to their wrists in loose fitting clothes. In
addition, a head covering must be wrapped over the hair. This is called the
Hijab, or scarf. (Khimar is a related term.) Face veils, gloves
and socks are not required, even though some very conservative Muslims hold
that it makes a woman more purified and sincere. (It is more a cultural
trend than an authentic religiously sanctioned position.)
B. An unmarried man and woman
should never be alone together in a room. No person should ever be alone with
someone of the opposite sex unless they are married to that person.
C. Men and women are not to talk to
each other in a soft or intimate-sounding voice unless they are married to each
other. Women are to address men in a firm and even tone so that the men don't
get any false ideas.
D. When meeting and greeting: Men
shake hands and hug only other men. Women shake hands and hug only other women.
(Unless they are married to each other, of course.)
E. Men and women who are not
married to each other never touch.
F. If two people are interested in
getting married, the woman should arrange for a male relative to act on her
behalf as her representative. That way she doesn't have to feel pressured or
undignified. If a woman doesn't have any reliable male relatives to represent
her interests, she may choose another Muslim male, usually an Imam or other
trusted person to act on her behalf.
Islam does not require a person to
change his or her name. The only case where a person should think about
changing their name is if the meaning of their name is offensive. (Once a man
came to the Prophet and introduced himself. The man's name meant "Downcast
and somber." The Prophet suggested he change his name to a better once
such as Abdur Rahman: "Servant of the Merciful.")
Many Muslims like to take on
Islamic or Arabic-style names as an expression of their affiliation, but this
is not required. An Arab name is not always an Islamic name. Names identified
with Islam exclusively usually have some relationship to being a servant of Allah
or to the Prophet and the most famous Muslims around him.
There are many books which give
lists of names associated with both Islam and Muslim culture. Some examples of
currently available books are:
1. A Dictionary of Muslim Names.
2. The Book of Muslim Names.
3. A Digest of Muslim Names. Amana
4. Names for Muslim Children.
VII. Islamic Phrases.
Islam has its own key phrases to
use in daily life. Some of these are listed below along with the times to use
1. When starting to do something:
"Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem."
(In the Name of Allah, the
Compassionate, the Merciful.)
2. When mentioning something that
will be done in the future. "Insha'llah." (If Allah wills.)
3. When praising something say,
"Subhanullah." (Glory to Allah.)
4. When in pain or distress.
"Ya Allah." (O Allah.)
5. When appreciating something say,
"Masha-Allah." (As Allah willed.)
6. When thanking someone.
"Jazakullah." (Allah reward you.)
7. When you see something bad.
"Nowthzubillah." (Allah protect us.)
8. When saying you're sorry to
Allah for a sin. "Astaghfirullah." (Allah forgive.)
9. After sneezing or when you're
happy about something. "Alhumdulillah." (Praise Allah.)
10. When meeting someone.
"Assalamu 'alaykum." (Peace be upon you.)
11. Replying to the above greeting.
"Wa 'alaykum assalam." (And upon you be peace.)
12. When hearing about a death or
tragedy. "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun."
(To Allah we belong and to Him we
13. When giving in charity.
"Fee eemanullah." (In Allah's faith.)
14. When taking an oath.
"Wallah." (I Swear to Allah.)
15. If someone sneezes and they
say, "alhumdulillah," you reply with, "Yarhamakullah."
(Allah have mercy upon you.) The sneezer will reply back,
"Yehdikumullah" which means, "Allah guide you."
Advice for Muslims
Books for Learning
After reviewing hundreds of books,
we have selected the following materials as the best in quality, writing style,
accuracy and content for Islamic education.
The Best Qur'an Translations
1. The Meaning of the Holy
Qur'an. Translated by 'Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Amana Publications.
Strengths: It is very easy to get, the deluxe edition
contains the Arabic text and has very nice commentary. It is a standard
translation used all over the world. You can also find this translation with a
Weaknesses: The English translation is in old style
English, some translated passages are not clear. Cost: Between $10 and $20
depending on the size and style of printing.
2. The Noble Qur'an. Translated
by Muhsin Khan and T. Al Hilali. Dar ul Ihya.
Strengths: The English is sort of easy to read except
for the annoying and endless parenthetical notes. It has the Arabic text
printed very sharply. It's accuracy is good.
Weaknesses: The translators have put some of their own
opinions in the footnotes and parenthetical notes in the translated text
that are not necessarily true. For example, they give the impression that
women are not allowed to pray in the Masjid (Mosque) and that face-veils
and gloves are required for Muslim women to wear. Both of these things
can be proven wrong by the sayings of the Blessed Prophet. But besides a
few seemingly anti-women oriented opinions, the translation reads
smoothly. Cost: The book comes in many sizes from tiny to large. Prices
vary from $10 to $30.
3. The Glorious Qur'an.
Translated by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall.
Strengths: It is available everywhere, oftentimes for
Weaknesses: The English is so hard to understand that
it's almost impossible to read. Cost: Free up to $20.
4. The Noble Reading.
Translated by T.B. Irving.
Strengths: It is in fairly modern English. It is
Weaknesses: The English is often awkward and there are
many unusual words used, e.g. sprites, etc... Cost: $10-$30.
5. The Holy Qur'an as Explained
by Allamah Nooruddin. Translated By A. and A. Omar.
Strengths: The book is nicely printed with a leather
cover. It "feels" holy because of its meticulously designed
presentation. The translation is very, very clear. Much clearer than any
Weaknesses: Some of the translated verses are not
entirely accurate to the meaning or understanding of the majority of Muslims.
The translators belong to a sectarian group outside of traditional Islam.
6. The Message of the Qur'an.
Translated by Muhammad Asad. Dar ul Andalus.
Strengths: This is the most comprehensive, single
volume translation and tafseer you will ever find in one volume in English. It
is excellent, to put it mildly, if your interest is to understand the context
of revelation and the fine details behind Qur'anic teachings.
Weaknesses: It is a hard to find book. Some of
the tafseer glosses over more difficult concepts making it harder to understand
what is actually being said. It is Hardcover only and is 8.5 X 11 inches
in size. Cost: About $50.00 on average.
7. Towards Understanding the
Qur'an. Multiple Volumes. Translated by A.A. Maududi and Zafar I. Ansari.
Strengths: Very clear English. Very detailed
commentary. Very accurate and reliable.
Weaknesses: It comes in multiple volumes. The cost is
high and not all volumes are available yet, but it is worth the money as far as
detailed learning is concerned. A one volume translation is now
8. El Coran. Spanish Translation
by Abdel Ghani Melara Navio. This is one of the only Spanish
translations done by a Muslim. The other Spanish translation with the same name
is done by a Christian named Julio Cortes. Only the Muslim translation should
be used because Julio Cortes declared that he wanted to distort the Qur'an in
Spanish. (Read his preface and Intro in Spanish.) A new translation by
Amana is now available. We will review it shortly.
9. The Qur'an.
Translated by Muhammad Farooq Malik. (of Texas) This translation has
been chosen as the easiest to read by various groups of Muslim teenagers I have
presented it to. Although there is no index and the introductory notes
are not as detailed as other translations, it is probably the best translation
to give to native speakers of English and to Muslim teenagers.
Clear, easy to read style. Teenagers prefer its language to any other.
No index, odd notes placed within the text, odd style of numbering verses and
over-wordy Surah introductions. The organization is sometimes unclear and
the size of the book is too large and unwieldy.
10. The Qur'an.
Translated by M.A.S. Abdul Haleem. Published by Oxford University Press.
This is a fairly clear translation in English.
It reads a bit dryly at times, and the grammar choices are sometimes
awkward. There isn't really any peripheral material such as a good index,
11. The Holy Qur'an in
Today's English. Translated by Yahiya Emerick.
This work, which is due to be published in 2008, is in the easiest to read
English yet (without being simplistic or demeaning to the reader.) It has
a huge amount of commentary that gives reasons for revelation in detail, as
well as historical information on the development of doctrines, ancient peoples
referenced in the Qur'an and more.
It is not published yet, though the manuscript is finished and is under review
by Islamic scholars arranged by ICNA.
There are other
Qur'an translations available, but they either suffer from choppy English and
bad grammar or are difficult to get. Examples include those by Shakir, Ahmed
Ali, Ameer Ali, Daryabadi, etc.. Beware of non-Muslim translations. They
distort the meanings of Qur'anic verses on purpose and even admit to doing it
in their introductions just so they can insult Islam. Some non-Muslim
translations are by N.J. Dawood, Rodwell, Sales, Arberry and others.
The Best Books For Learning Islamic Beliefs
1. What Islam is All About.
By Yahiya Emerick.
Covers everything. Need we say
2. Islam: Beliefs and Teachings.
By Ghulam Sarwar.
Good basic overview. PB
3. Revolution by the Book.
Imam Jamil Al Amin.
Good basic overview. PB
4. Fate and Predestination.
Sheikh Muhammad al Sharawi.
Best book on this difficult
5. Ihya Uloom ud Din. Imam
An excellent classical work on
Islamic beliefs and how the thinking person lives them.
6. The Remembrance of Death and
the After-Life. Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al Ghazali.
Pretty much the best book for
issues on life after death.
7. Let Us Be Muslims. Abul
Explains the need for sincerity and
also goes over the significance of our practices.
8. Islam in Focus. Hamuddah
Although the writing is a little
dry, it is a good general reference.
9. The Complete Idiot's
Guide to Understanding Islam. By Yahiya Emerick.
A complete overview of Islam from
start to finish.
10. The Complete Idiot's
Guide to the Koran. Sheikh Sarwar.
A good overview of the Qur'an's
major themes in modern terminology.
The Best Books For Learning the Prophet's Life
and the Lives of His Sahaba. (Companions)
1. The Life of Muhammad. M.
Extremely detailed and fun to read.
2. Muhammad. By Martin
Reads like an old-style novel. Not
always entirely accurate.
3. The Life of Muhammad.
Very good book.
4. Al Raheeq al Makhtum. The
Very good, but HB only.
5. Companions of the Prophet.
2 Vols. Abdul Wahid Hamid.
The best books on the subject in
6. God-Oriented Life.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.
This book will change your life for
the better. A must read.
10. Muhammad. By
A bio that reads like a novel.
The Best Books For Learning Arabic
1. Easy Steps in Arabic.
Abdul Wahid Hamid. MELS. Beginner level. Booklets, cassettes.
2. Access to Qur'anic Arabic.
Abdul Wahid Hamid. MELS. Advanced Level. Books and cassettes.
3. Arabic Grammar Made Easy.
Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips. Intermediate Level. One book.
4. Arabic Writing Made Easy.
Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips. Intermediate Level. One book.
5. Mastering Arabic. J.
Wightwick and M. Ghaafar. Intermediate to Advanced Level. Focuses on spoken
Arabic more than Qur'anic Arabic, though. One Book and two cassettes.
6. Elementary Modern Standard
Arabic. U. of Michigan. Available from Kazi Publications. It is an
organized course but a teacher is required to get the full benefit of its broad
The Best Books of Hadith (Prophet's Sayings)
Many Muslims like to get an entire
set of the main hadith collections such as Bukhari or Muslim, but there is a
more cost-effective way to get a lot of authentic ahadith. There are many
collections put together by different scholars that take Hadiths from all the
six main collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, An Nisa'i and Abu
Dawud. They are listed as follows:
1. Riyadh us Saliheen.
Compiled By Imam An Nawawi.
2. Mishkat ul Masabih. A
3. Summarized Bukhari.
(Hadith collection in one volume) by Al Hilali and Khan.
4. A Study of Hadith. By
Khalid M. Shaikh. (For understanding Hadith terms, etc...)
5. Hadith Literature: Its
Origin, Development and Special Features. Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqui.
(The best book for those seeking an
in-depth book into how the Hadith were recorded and the sciences around it.)
The Best Books For Spiritual Reading
1. Inner Dimensions of Islamic
Worship. Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al Ghazali.
2. Thinking About God.
Ruqaiyah Waris Maqsood..
3. American Islam. Richard
4. On Disciplining the Soul and
Breaking the Chains of the Two Desires. Imam al Ghazali.
5. Struggling to Surrender.
6. Even Angels Ask. Jeffrey
7. Jewels of Remembrance.
Camille and Kabir Helminski.
8. Living and Dying With Grace.
Trans. by Thomas Cleary.
9. The Alchemy of Happiness.
Imam al Ghazali.
10. The Road to Mecca. By
11. Remembrance and Prayer.
Muhammad al Ghazali.
12. Forty Hadith Qudsi. Imam
13. Daughters of Another Path.
The Best Books For Special Topics
1. How To Tell Others About
Islam. By Yahiya Emerick. (Da'wah, or Islamic Outreach)
2. The Bible, Qur'an and
Science. By Maurice Bucaille. (Science and Islam)
3. The Islamic Nation. Ali
Nawaz Memon. (Politics)
4. Islam, Black Nationalism and
Slavery. Adib Rashad. (History)
5. Imam Bukhari's Book on morals
and Manners. Imam Bukhari. (HB) (Hadith)
6. The Proper Conduct of
Marriage. Imam al Ghazali. (Marriage advice for men)
7. The Muslim Marriage Guide.
Ruqayyah Waris Maqsood. (Marriage advice for women and to a lesser extent, men)
8. The Muslim Woman's Handbook.
Huda al Khattab. (Everyday women's Issues)
9. The Evolution of Fiqh. Abu
Ameenah Bilal Phillips. (History of Fiqh)
10. The Child in Islam.
Norma Tarazi. (Children/Family)
11. Bent Rib. Huda al
Khattab. (Women's Issues)
12. Reliance of the Traveler.
Trans. by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. (Fiqh)
13. The Lawful and Prohibited in
Islam. Yusuf al Qaradawi. (Fiqh)
14. Hans/Wehr Arabic-English
Dictionary. (Its the most useful Arabic/English Dictionary)
15. The Choice. 2 Vols.
Ahmad Deedat. (Comparative Religion)
16. Covering Islam. By
Edward Said. (Media and Islam)
17. Jesus a Prophet of Islam.
By M. Ata ur Rahim. (Comparative Religion)
18. The Myth of the Cross.
A.D. Ajijola. (Comparative Religion)
19. Subverting Islam. Ahmad
Ghorab. (Islam vs Misinformation in college)
20. Al Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah.
Abul Hasan al Mawardi. (Islamic Government at Work)
21. Fiqh us Sunnah. 5 Vols.
Sayyid Sabiq. (Excellent Fiqh reference books)
22. In Search of Islamic
Feminism. Elizabeth Fernea. (Women's Issues)
Videos for Learning
1. Living Islam. 6 Volumes.
Akbar Ahmad. Astrolabe.
2. Women in Islam. 2
3. The Message. Astrolabe.
4. The Book of Signs. Sound
5. The Qur'an and Space
6. The Guests of God.
7. Muhammad the Last Messenger.
8. Salat. Astrolabe.
9. Hamza Yusuf: On Islam and Muslims.
10. Jesus and Muhammad: A
Comparative Study. Ahmad Deedat.
11. Is the Bible the Word of
God? Hamza Abdel Malik. Astrolabe.
12. Islam: A Closer Look.
13. Pathways to Islam. Astrolabe.
14. Christ in Islam. Ahmad
15. The Making of the Last
Prophet. Yusuf Islam. Astrolabe.
16. Americans Becoming Muslims. Aminah
Audios for Learning/Enjoyment
1. We are Muslims.
(Children's' Songs) Astrolabe
2. The Most Beautiful Names.
(Very nice Islamic Chanting) Astrolabe
3. The Easy Way to Learn the
Last 14 Surahs. Astrolabe
4. Adhan and How to Make Wudu
and Salat. Astrolabe
5. Choosing Islam: Sahaba and
Sahabiyat as Our Role models. Hamza Yusuf/Yusuf Islam.
6. The Life of the Last Prophet.
Yusuf Islam. Sound Vision.
7. The Fundamentals of Islam.
Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips. (Lecture) Astrolabe.
8. What Every American Should
Know About Islam and Muslims. Jeffrey Lang. Astrolabe
9. Islam in America: Past,
Present and Future. Imam Abdullah Hakim Quick. (Lecture) Astrolabe.
10. Introduction to Islam and
Muslims in North America. Imam Abdullah Hakim Quick. (Lecture) Astrolabe.
11. Deeper Roots: Muslims in the
Americas Before Columbus. Imam Abdullah Hakim Quick. (Lecture) Astrolabe.
12. Muslim Character. Abu
Ameenah Bilal Phillips. (Lecture) Astrolabe.
13. Anything from Ahmad Deedat
if your interest is comparative religion.Anything from Ahmad Deedat if your
interest is comparative religion. Anything from Ahmad Deedat if your
interest is comparative religion. Anything from Ahmad Deedat if
your interest is comparative religion. Available everywhere.
Where to Find Learning Materials
2. Sound Vision
US & Canada: Orderline: 1-800-432-4262; Phone: 312-226-0205; Fax:
312-226-7537; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mail: P. O. Box 4563, Chicago, IL. 60680, USA
201 Davis Dr. Sterling,
National Islamic Organizations
1. ISNA (Oriented towards organization
of Muslims in North America)
PO Box 38, Plainfield, IN 46168
2. ICNA (Oriented towards Indian
166-26 89th Ave, Jamaica NY 11432
Free Islamic Question/Answer
service at 1-800-662-ISLAM www.icna.com
3. ISC (Sufi oriented)
607A W. Dana St, Mountain View, CA
94041 1-888-ASUNNAH www.sunnah.org
4. American Muslim
5. Islamic Assembly
of North America (Very
conservative, Salafi oriented).
6. World Ministry of
(Oriented mostly towards African-American concerns. Holds a major
7. Muslim American
1. Islamic Horizons (National
issues of concern to Muslims.)
PO Box 38, Plainfield, IN 46168
2. The Message
(Da'wah-oriented with some emphasis on politics and social issues.)
166-26 89th Ave, Jamaica NY 11432
3. Al Jumu'ah (Conservative approach,
focuses on beliefs and Fiqh.)
PO Box 5387 Madison, WI 53705
4. Crescent International (Politics.)
300 Steelcase Rd West #8, Markham,
Ontario, Canada L3R 2W2 905-474-9292
5. The Muslim Magazine
(Cultural and Spiritual side of Islam (Sufism) with a nice variety of content.)
607A W. Dana St, Mountain View, CA
One free sample copy upon request.
6. Azeezah Magazine.
Basic Islamic Terms
Every way of life has its own
vocabulary. This enables people to communicate about detailed topics using only
a few key words. It is important that Muslims learn the vocabulary of Islam so
that we all know what we're talking about. This unites us as Muslims and brings
us closer to a sense of belonging to the same community.
Abdul: This means "Servant of." Many
Muslims like to change their names from non-Muslim names to Muslim names. A
favorite choice is Abdul. But who is the person a servant of? You must always
have something after "Abdul." The place to look is in the 99 Names of
Allah. Allah has many names, such as Wadud (the Loving), Malik (the King),
Rahman (The Merciful), Hakim (the Wise.) Just add one of those after Abdul and
you become "The Servant of _______". (For example: Abdul Khaliq: The
Servant of the Creator.) etc...
Adhan: (Athzan) The call to prayer.
Ahl al Kitab: This means the "People of the
Book." Allah uses this term in the Qur'an to refer to the Jews, Christians
and any other people who received revelation from an authentic Prophet in the
past. Because the Ahl al Kitab lost their revelations and twisted the teachings
they had, Allah sent one last Messenger to the world, the Prophet Muhammad. He
brought the Qur'an from Allah. The Ahl al Kitab are called to believe in
Allah's last message. To repeat: their own message has been lost or changed so
much that there is very little of Allah's truth left in it. The Bible is not
the word of Allah. It is a book made up of people's writings that was put
together by Europeans in the year 325 at Nicea. That's 300 years after the time
of Prophet Jesus ('Esa).
Ahmadiyya: A sectarian movement that began in India
over one hundred years ago. They believe that one man named Ahmed Ghulam
is a new prophet from God. Their worldwide headquarters are in
Qadian, India, and they have missions worldwide.
Akhee: My brother.
Akhirah: The next life.
Akhlaq: Your character and behavior.
Alhumdu lillah: All Praise is for Allah.
'Alim: A scholar. The plural is 'Ulema.
Allah: The name for God in the Arabic language.
(Literally: THE GOD). Muslims prefer to say "Allah" no matter what
language they speak because in Arabic it is a stand-alone word. In other words,
you can't make it masculine or feminine, plural or whatever. In English you can
change "God" to Gods, Goddesses, Demi-God, etc... There is no way to
do that in Arabic to the name, Allah.
Islam teaches that Allah is not a
male or a female, nor is He black or white. He is not even a human like us. We
only use the term "He" when we refer to Him because their is no
"it" in Arabic and it seems disrespectful to call Allah an
"it" in English. Allah sometimes refers to Himself as "We"
or "Us" but don't be mislead. In many languages, (including English)
a single being can call himself a "We" if he wants to so that it
emphasizes his power. Allah is everywhere and nowhere. He is never tired and He
never needs a "rest." He is Loving and the upholder of justice and He
is the Source of Creation.
Allahu Akbar: "Allah is the Greatest." This is
the universal catch-all phrase of Muslims. When a Muslim shouts,
"Takbeer" (Who's the Greatest!) everyone replies with "Allah
Amir: This means a leader. The Prophet said
every group of Muslims must make a leader among them, even if they were only
three in number. An Amir is not a dictator and can't just order people around,
however. He must also be elected by the consent of the majority. Because Allah
said believers consult each other in their affairs (shura), the Amir must
listen to the opinions of the Muslim group and take them seriously. If an Amir
begins to clearly go against Islamic teachings, then the Muslims must elect a
Angels: In Arabic they are called the Mala-ika.
They are created from light energy. Their only purpose is to serve Allah. They
are behind the forces of nature. Some Angels are given the job of watching
humans and noting their deeds for judgment day. Angels can take on physical
form, sort of like a hologram, and can appear as humans or whatever. They are
all good and never disobey Allah. They are not male or female. Christianity
teaches that some angels went bad and that's where Satan and the devils came
from. Islam teaches that this is not true. Angels are also not people running
around in white robes with halos over their head.
Ansar: The helpers. The basic reference is to the
new Muslims of Medina who helped the Prophet and the Meccan Muslims after they
Arabic: A language which originated in the Middle
East, specifically in the Arabian peninsula. It is the language Allah chose to
reveal His last revelation to the world in.
Arkan al Islami: This means the Pillars of Islam. There are
five main practices or "pillars" in the life of a Muslim.
Assalamu 'alaykum: "Peace be upon you." This is the
universal Muslim greeting. The Prophet said that Muslims must use this greeting
when they meet. There are also verses in the Qur'an about it. If a person
approaches a group, the person should say it first. A younger person should greet
an older person first. The reply is "Wa alaykum assalam." "And
upon you be peace."
Ayah: A verse of the Qur'an. The word literally
means a "sign." The plural is Ayat.
Bahais: A sectarian movement that grew out
of Shi'a Islam, but then it broke away to form its own path. Bahaiism is
basically a hybrid of Islamic philosophy wedded to a universalist
outlook. Their headquarters are in Haifa, Israel.
Barzakh: The time in between our death and the day
we are raised up for judgment. Our souls will be in "storage" or
Barzakh. The word literally means, "Partition" or "Dividing
Bid'a: This means "Innovation" or
"Unauthorized Changes." The Prophet forbade people from making any
changes to the teachings or practices of Islam. He said such things and people
would go to the Hell fire.
Da'wah: This means calling people (to Islam). If
you're talking to someone about Islam you're doing Da'wah. A Da'i is the person
who does Da'wah.
Deen: Way of Life. Islam is not a religion, it's
a way of life.
Dhikr (Thzikr): This means to remember Allah. When
you repeat words or sentences over and over so you can meditate on Allah and
cleanse your mind, you are doing or making dhikr. Common dhikr phrases are:
"La ilaha illa Allah" (There is no god but Allah.) "Subahanullah
wa Bihumdeehee" (Glory to Allah and His is the Praise.) Saying that last
one 100 times gets all your sins forgiven according to the Blessed Prophet.
There are many more. Many Muslims like to get those prayer beads to help them
keep count but the Prophet said you get more reward if you do it on your
Du'a: This means to call on Allah. Whenever you
ask Allah for something, whether out loud or inside, you are calling on Him.
You can make du'a in any words, in any language and Allah has promised to
respond, although in a way we might not expect. Many Muslims like to learn some
of the du'as that the Prophet said, but you can use your own words to talk to
Dunya: This world. "Hayatud Dunya":
"The life of this world."
'Eid: (Or: 'Id.) The Muslim holiday. There are
two Eid's. One at the end of fasting in Ramadan is called Eid ul Fitr. The
other after the Hajj is over is called Eid ul Adh ha.
Fard: Something you must do in Islam. Something
that is required by Allah for us to do.
Fatwa: A scholar's opinion or judgment on an
issue related to Islam. It is not binding on a Muslim if there is doubt about
it or it can be shown to be faulty. Only a recognized scholar, or 'Alim can
issue Fatwas and other scholars must investigate the veracity of their basis.
Fiqh: The science of understanding the Shari'ah.
In the past small groups of people with similar opinions about the Shari'ah
joined together and formed intellectual clubs called a Math-hab. Today there
are five big groupings of these Madh-habs. Shaf', Hanbali, Maliki, Jafari and
Hanafi. Not all Muslims accept the Jafari school as valid due to technical
reasons. A Muslim can follow the ideas of any one of them or none of them at
all. After all, we have the Qur'an, the sayings of the Prophet, the sayings of
his companions and our brains. Don't be afraid to use them.
Ghusl: A full shower. A Ghusl is required after
any sexual discharge or activity before prayers can be offered again. A Ghusl
is highly recommended on Fridays before going to Jum'ah prayers.
Hadith: A saying or report by or about the Blessed
Prophet. The most reliable collections of Hadith are named after the scholars
who collected them in the early days of Islam and checked on them for accuracy.
They are: Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, An Nisa'i, Ibn Majah. There are
some good books that take Hadiths from the main six and group them by topic.
Those good resource books are as follows: "Riyadh as Saliheen"
"Mishkat ul Masabih" and "Al Muwatta."
Hafiz: (Hafithz) A memorizer or guardian of the
Hajj: The pilgrimage to Mecca.
Halal: Allowed for a Muslim.
Haram: Forbidden for a Muslim.
Hijab: The scarf a woman wears over her head.
Some Muslims who like to compromise their beliefs say it's not required in Islam.
It is, however, required and all women must wear it. The face-veil (niqab) is
not required, but some women like to wear it. Islam does not require a woman to
wear gloves or socks but some very conservative Muslims try to teach this. This
is Bid'a. They didn't even have gloves, for example, in the Prophet's time in
Hijra: To migrate. This term refers firstly to
the great migration of the Muslims in the year 622 from the hostile city of
Mecca, which was controlled by idol-worshippers, to the safer city of Madinah
(then called Yathrib) where Islam could exist freely. The Islamic calendar
begins with the Hijra as the first year.
'Ibadah: This term is often translated as
"worship" but it is not a correct translation. The word worship in
English just means praying and bowing, like worshipping in a church. But the
term 'Ibadah literally means "service" and it comes from the root
word, "to serve." When we say that Islam considers all life to be
'Ibadah, we mean that our whole life should be lived in the service of Allah.
We are here to serve Allah. In Islam, any good deed, action or thought, even
just holding a steady job or smiling at someone is considered doing 'Ibadah for
Iftar: The meal you eat after sunset in Ramadan.
Suhoor is the light breakfast before first light in the morning during Ramadan.
Imam: Literally: leader. Although most Muslims
take this term in the sense of a leader of the prayers, it does apply to the
group leader outside of prayer as well. An Imam must be elected by the Muslims
or at least accepted by them if he is appointed from outside. If the community
rejects him, then he cannot be the Imam.
Eman: (Eemaan) Belief or faith. The root word of
Eman is Amuna. It implies three meanings: 1) to believe, 2) to confirm that
belief in your heart, and 3) to feel safe. Eman is what makes a person a
Muslim. Often spelled "Iman".
Ihsaan: Usually translated as
"goodness". The Prophet (p) defined it as knowing that Allah is
watching you even though you don't see Him.
Injeel: The Gospel of Prophet 'Esa (Jesus). The
New Testament of the Bible is not the Gospel of Jesus. The New Testament
was written by a lot of different authors and contains stories about Prophet
'Esa, but it is not 'Esa's message. The present New Testament was assembled
three hundred years after the time of Prophet 'Esa by a group of white men on a
Greek Island who voted on what their "holy" book should
contain. Most of the votes were hotly debated! The Roman emperor who ordered
them to do it then told all Christians to accept this new compilation of
writings. All other Christian writings were ordered to be destroyed. The New
Testament contains four books called Gospels: (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
Hundreds more "Gospels" from other authors were burned. A few such as
the Gospel of Barnabas and Thomas have survived. The Gospel of Jesus was never
written down and is lost.
Insha'llah: If Allah wills.
Iqamah: The second call to prayer just before the
actual prayer begins.
Islam: To surrender to Allah and find peace.
Jam'a: Together, in a group.
Jannah: Paradise, Heaven. It literally means
Jibra'il: The angel that brought Allah's revelation
to the Prophet. Allah is so powerful and majestic that it is beneath him to
reveal Himself to humans. We are like an ant next to a star in comparison to
Allah. He sends the angels to do these small jobs, though He doesn't need them.
In English his name is Gabriel.
Jinn: These are another type of creature Allah
created. They are invisible to us but they can see us. They were made from fire
elements and thus are pure energy. They are not like ghosts or weird monsters.
They can influence your thoughts, encourage you to do wrong, and whisper fears
into your mind. They can be good or bad. The good jinn leave us alone. The bad
ones, who are also called Shayateen, or Devils, want to destroy you.
Astrologers and fortune tellers get their "predictions" and
"readings" from them. Jinn spy on the Angels and learn secrets about
the future, then they whisper it into the minds of the fortune tellers. Jinn
live, die and have families like us but they exist on another plane altogether.
The Prophets could control the Jinn but none of us ordinary people can.
Although we believe Jinn can possess a human body, Islam teaches that it's not
very common. Don't believe every "Jinn story" Muslim immigrants will
tell you about their aunt or second cousin's brother. Most of it will be
superstitious stories that are culturally based.
Jumu'ah: The Friday Prayer in which all Muslims
gather to hear a sermon called a Khutba. It's time is in place of the Zuhr
Salah, usually somewhere between 12 pm and 2 pm. It is mandatory on all men to
attend. It is optional for women. The Prophet said if you miss three Jumu'ahs
in a row then hypocrisy will start to enter your heart.
Kafir: This means a person who covers up the
truth. Usually we say the easier English word "unbeliever." The
plural is Kuffar. (Unbelievers.) The noun (unbelief) is Kufr.
Khalifah: This word means Steward, Manager or
Care-taker. Allah made humans to be the Khalifah of the earth. In other words,
we were given the earth as a trust to take care of. We shouldn't ruin it or
pollute it. The head of the Muslim Ummah is also called a Khalifah because he
is to take care of the Muslim community. Muslims are supposed to elect a
Khalifah, but there hasn't been a world-wide Khalifah for a long time.
Khatib: The person who gives the Khutbah, or
Friday sermon. The preacher during Friday services.
Kitabullah: The Book of Allah. (The Qur'an.) The word
Kitab means book.
Mahr: The money (or whatever else) that the man
has to give to a woman in order to marry her. It is called the marriage-gift
and a woman can ask for whatever she wants. If it is money, it can be deferred
and paid gradually over time. The husband can never take it away for any
Malik ul Mawt: The Angel of Death.
Masjid: Literally means, "the place of
bowing." This is the name for a Muslim prayer hall.
Madh-hab: This means, "School of Thought." In
Islam we have the Qur'an, the example of the Prophet and the sayings and
guidance of the Prophet's companions. Through the centuries, various Muslim
scholars have tried to make those teachings easier for Muslims to live by
through organizing them, talking about them and trying to use those tools to
find answers to questions where those first three sources are quiet.
Of course different opinions
developed between different scholars and some people chose to follow one
scholar or the other. Those differences in ideas about how to follow Islamic
rules are called "Schools of Thought." There are five main schools
today. Some people say you have to "follow" one of those schools to
be a Muslim, but this is not true. You have to follow Islamic teachings but you
don't have to put some label on yourself. Each of the five schools is named
after the scholar who founded or inspired it. The five are: Maliki, Hanafi,
Hanbali, Shaf'i and Jafaari. Most "Shi'a" Muslims follow the Jaafari
school. The books and writings of the schools are a good source of information
about the particulars of Islam, but our real label is, "I am a Muslim, and
only a Muslim." The Shaf'i school is considered the easiest school and the
Hanbali is considered the hardest in terms of social and personal rules.
Mecca: (Also spelled Makkah). A city in Arabia
founded thousands of years ago by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). At that time it
was called "Becca." Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was born
there in the year 570.
Medina: (Also spelled Madinah). A city about 200
miles north of Mecca. The Prophet established the Islamic community there. He
passed away there and is buried there.
Mu'adhan: The person who does the call the prayer.
Mujahid: A person who does Jihad.
Mu'min: A person with Iman. A true believer.
Mus-haf: The Arabic text of the Qur'an.
"Brother, hand me a Mus-haf." (Qur'an with the Arabic in it).
Mushrik: A person who commits Shirk (making
partners with Allah). Usually an idol-worshipper. A Hindu would be considered a
Mushrik because they bow down to statues.
Muslim: A person who surrendered to Allah and is
working at finding peace.
Nabi: This term means Prophet.
Nafs: This is often translated as
"soul" but it really means "the self," i.e. "You and
Naar: The fire (of Hell).
Nikkah: The wedding ceremony.
Qadr: This term is often translated as
"Destiny" or "Pre-destination." This is not entirely
accurate. It means literally "to measure." The religious idea behind
it is that Allah measured everything in the universe. The length of your life
is "measured," as is your fortune and your life's circumstances.
Because of the knowledge of Allah, He knows if you will be a believer or a
kafir but He doesn't make you be either one of those.
Qadiani: Another name for the sectarian Ahmadiyya
Qiblah: The direction of Prayer. All Muslims make
their prayers, or salat, facing Mecca. Allah commanded us to do this in
the Qur'an as a show of unity and to remember Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who built
the first shrine there in that place so many thousands of years ago.
Prophet Adam is said to have built an even older shrine many thousands of years
before that in that very place.
Qur'an: This is the name of the Book Allah
revealed to the Prophet Muhammad from the years 610-632. Allah revealed it in
stages, one section at a time, as the Muslims were ready to follow it. It has
114 chapters called surahs. It was revealed in the Arabic language and
has never been lost, changed or edited, like the Bible or Buddhist books have.
We have lots of translations of the
Qur'an into English, but a translation can never be as good as the original
words and their full meaning. All Muslims try to learn Arabic so they can read
the Qur'an. Be advised, there are two different types of Arabic. The first is
the language of the Qur'an, in other words, whatever vocabulary words are used
in the Qur'an. The second type of Arabic is everyday Arabic, in other words,
things that would help you talk about a sports game, a vacation or a day at the
office. Many Muslims get bogged down by studying the second type of Arabic. You
should work towards the first type if your main goal is to understand the
Ramadan: The ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
Muslims are required to fast from before sunrise to sunset every day of this
month. There are many details concerning this so consult the section on beliefs
Rasul: This term means Messenger.
Ruh: Your spirit or soul. Allah gave it to you
on loan and thus you had better not sin and dirty it up.
Sahaba: A companion of the Prophet.
Sahabiyat: The female companions of the Prophet.
Sajda: Bowing on the floor in prayer;
Salafi: This is the name of a group of Muslims who
try as hard as they can to imitate the Blessed Prophet in every aspect of life.
Their name comes from Salaf, (ancestors) which is a reference to the Sahaba and
the generation immediately after them. The Salafis take them as models as well.
Sometimes it may seem that the Salafis emphasize the laws and punishments of
Islam so much that they make you feel there is no Islamic love and mercy. This
is because they are sometimes very zealous in their views. Other Salafis know
that the Prophet emphasized the heart and soul more than outward rules. After
all, if you don't have love of Allah deep in your heart, you won't follow any
rules, no matter how harsh the punishments. The great advantage to listening to
the Salafis is that they can always be relied upon to be concerned about what is
correct and incorrect. They tend to be conservative on women's issues.
Not all Muslims accept many of their more extreme positions.
Salat: (or Salah) This means prayer, the prayer in
which you stand, bow and prostrate. The literal meaning of the word is: to make a connection with.
Shahadah: The Declaration of Faith. By believing in
and declaring the following phrase, a person becomes a Muslim: "Ash hadu
an la ilaha illallah, wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar rasulullah." "I declare
that there is no god but Allah, and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of
Allah." There are other ways to say this formula but this is the most
common one. When a person accepts Islam, all his or her past sins are forgiven
and his or her record is wiped clean and they start again from that moment as
if they were just born.
Shaykh: Literally: Chief or Boss. It is the title
that Muslims sometimes give to their scholars. It is not required in Islam but
many people like to use this term.
Shari'ah: It is usually translated as Islamic Law.
It means the path of Islam.
Shi'a: This is the name of a sect or division in
the Muslim community. Shi'aism (Partisanship) began originally as a political
protest against the first Khalifah, Abu Bakr but it eventually grew into
a separate sect of Muslims with its own version of Islamic teachings. About
10-15% of the world's Muslims are Shi'as. While they are still Muslims and
believe in almost everything that Sunnis do, there are some serious differences
in their understanding and practice of Islam vis-à-vis the majority Sunni
The biggest group of Shi'as are
known as the Twelvers, (they believe in a line of 12 leaders) then there are
the Seveners, Isma'ilis, Alawiya and others. The Baha'is came out of the Shi'a
community in Iran. (Baha'ism is a religion created in the 1800's in Iran.)
The Druze of Syria and Lebanon also came from Shi'aism. All Shi'a
groups share a belief that the Prophet's cousin, 'Ali, should have been the
first Khalifah, not the fourth, and that only blood relatives of the Prophet
Muhammad can be Khalifahs.
Shirk: This is the greatest and most terrible
sin. It is the one sin that can keep your soul out of Paradise and doom you to
Hellfire. It means making partners with Allah. If a person says that there are
many gods, or says that Allah is divided up into different people (such as the
Trinity teaching of Christianity) then they are committing Shirk. Allah said it
is the one sin He won't forgive if you die while doing it. The Blessed Prophet
Muhammad once mentioned also that a person who likes to feel greatness in their
heart was also committing a kind of Shirk. This is because all greatness is for
Allah and we should always try to be humble. The Prophet also said, "La
Yad khulu al Jannah min kana fee qal beehee mith qalu habbatin min kibr."
"They won't enter Paradise, the one who has even a little bit of the love
of greatness in their heart."
Shaytan: (or Shaytan) It means Satan. (The literal
meaning is to separate from.) Islam teaches that a Jinn named Iblis didn't want
to bow when Allah commanded a bunch of angels to bow down to Adam in respect of
his knowledge. Iblis thought he was better than both humans and angels. Allah
banished him to earth and let him have extended life until the Day of Judgment.
That is because Iblis challenged Allah and said if he had time he would corrupt
all human beings. Iblis's name literally means "Frustrated." He is
also known as the Shaytan, or Satan.
Siyam (or Saum) Fasting.
Subhanullah: "Glory to Allah." This phrase is
said whenever we're happy or when we see something wonderful.
Sufi: This is the name for a group of Muslims
who want to be super-spiritually oriented. Sufis tend to try and be as close to
the Sunnah as possible and they like to do group dhikr and chanting. While most
Sufis are okay Islamically, there are a few groups that go way out and are
close to being outside of Islam. Such far off groups sing, dance, twirl around,
drink wine, deny Salat, etc... Most Sufis you will encounter are of the okay
kind. They are distinguished by their traditional Islamic dress and turbans.
The word Sufi comes from the term for wool cloth, which was a material early
Sufis liked to wear to emphasize how they didn't want to be captured by the
love of fineries in this world.
Sufis organize themselves into
"orders" or groups, called Tariqas. These groups are headed by a
leader called a Shaykh who is considered the most spiritual man with the most
Taqwa among them. Some famous Sufi Tariqas that operate all over the world are
the Naqshabandis and Qadiriyya. The most famous Sufi Muslim scholars that ever
lived are Jalaluddin Rumi, Muhammad al Ghazali and Abdul Qadir Jilani.
Suhoof: "Scrolls." This is the name of
the revelation given to Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) about 4,000 years ago. It was
Sunnah: The example or "way" of the
Prophet. How he lived his life and what his practices were.
Sunni: This is the name of the largest sect or
group of Muslims. This group amounts to about 85-90% of all Muslims world-wide.
Sunni's believe in the mission of the Prophet as he taught it and try very hard
to adhere to the Prophet's example with no changes. This doesn't mean that
Sunni's are somehow the only 'true' Muslims, however, because the Prophet never
taught that we should even label ourselves Sunni's or Shi'as.
Sunni Islam is just closer to real
Islam. The best thing for a Muslim to do is to drop all the labels and just
say, "I'm a Muslim." But there are many Muslims in the world who get
emotional about wanting to call themselves some kind of label besides the
basic, "I'm a Muslim." Have patience with them and do what is
right. The term Sunni comes from the title, "Ahl as-Sunnah wal
Jam'a" which means, "People of the Example (of the Prophet) and the
Main Group (of First Muslims)."
Surah: It is a chapter of the Qur'an. The word
literally means "a step up in progression" or a "fence."
Tafseer: Commentary or explanation of the Qur'an.
Many Qur'an translations will have footnotes on the bottom of the page to help
you understand the meaning of an ayah. That would be called Tafseer.
Taqwa: This term means many things at once. The
first meaning is that you are always aware that Allah is watching you. This
brings you to the second meaning and that is that you will try to be good
always. Do you see how the two things wrapped together can be so beautiful?
When a Muslim has Taqwa, we say they are "Aware of Allah" Conscious
of Allah" and striving to be righteous.
Tauhid: Sometimes it's spelled Tawhid. It means
the Oneness of Allah. Allah has no partners, He is not divided up into parts
and He is not in need of anyone to help Him in anything whatsoever.
Taurah: The revelation given to Prophet Musa
(Moses). The first five books of the old testament in the Bible are said to be
the "Torah" of Moses, but no serious Bible scholar, whether Jewish or
Christian believes that anymore. Musa's message was lost long ago. Just take a
look, everything about Prophet Moses in the Bible is written in third person:
"And Moses said this," and "Moses went there," Someone else
wrote those things, certainly not Moses!
Ukhtee: My sister.
Wahy: This word means revelation or inspiration.
When Allah was revealing His messages to the Prophet, we would say the Prophet
was receiving "Wahy." The Blessed Prophet once said that after him,
all Wahy from Allah was finished except for one thing: dreams that can come
Wudu: Washing for prayer.
Yowm ul Qiyamah: The Day of Judgment. (Literally: Day of
Zabur: The revelation given to Prophet Dawud
(David). The Psalms in the Bible are not the pure Zabur. Christian scholars
admit that at least half of the verses in Psalms were written by temple
priests, government workers, etc, in ancient Israel. And no one knows which
half are from Prophet Dawud and how many have been lost or altered.
Zakah: This is often translated as "Charity" or
"Poor-due" but the literal meaning of the word is actually,
"Purifying." Zakah is the third pillar of Islam. It involves giving
2.5% of your yearly wealth, after expenses, for the benefit of the poor and the
needy. The "purifying" part comes in by learning not to be greedy. If
you give some of your money for the sake of Allah to the poor, you make your
heart less prone to greed.