Important Islamic Terms

Allah:  Arabic name for God; means “the God”

Allahu Akbar: “God is greater

Fatwah:  a legal opinion given by a religious leader based on Quranic law (see “Quran” below) and thus carrying the utmost authority

Hajj:  pilgrimage to Mecca; required of every Muslim who is able

Imam:  leader of congregational prayer in the mosque.  Among Sunnis, the imam is considered an authority in Islamic law and theology.  Among Shiites, he would be like a Muslim pope, although no one holds this role at the present time

Injil:  an Arabic term that refers to the revelation transmitted by Jesus.

Isa:  Arabic name for Jesus; “Isa al Masih” means “Jesus the Messiah”

Islam:  literally means “submission” (to God)

Jihad:  the concept of extraordinary effort in belief and practice of Islam; often understood and applied as a militancy in defending or extending the interests of Islam.  Such could include literal wars against unbelievers or symbolic struggles against sin and temptation.

Kaaba:  means “Cube.” It is a cubical stone building covered by a black curtain called the “house of God” and it is located in the court of the mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  Allegedly built by Abraham and Ishmael, it houses a mystical black stone kissed by Muslims during their pilgrimage.

Mecca Muhammad’s birthplace, located in Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims and the destination for the required pilgrimage

Medina:  Muhammad’s burial place, located in Saudi Arabia about 250 miles north of Mecca

Muslim:  literally “one who submits” (to God)

Ramadan:  month of fasting; it is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar

Sura:  a chapter of the Quran; there are a total of 114 suras in the Quran

Quran (or Qur’an): is the central religious text of Islam. Also transliterated as Qur’ān, Koran, Alcoran or Al-Qur’ān