You may have noted that we spell the name of the primary Islamic book of scripture “Koran” and that many other people do not use this spelling. In fact, we have seen a number of variations of the spelling of the name of this book, even in Islamic documents posted on the internet. We have simply chosen the spelling that we are most familiar with and which we have used for most of our lives. We certainly do not mean to insult, irritate or anger anyone by our choice of spelling.
We believe part of the reason that there are so many variations in the English translations of Arabic words stem from the fact that the “sound” of the two languages is so very different. The writing systems of the two languages are also dramatically different. Obviously, then, translators find themselves compelled to choose the English letter that they think will come closest to reflecting the Arabic pronunciation. To the best of our knowledge, there is no official and all-encompassing list of the correct English spelling of Arabic words.
Elsewhere in this website we provide a list of important Islamic words and terms that may be helpful in verifying the things we have reported in this book.
Ahmadiyya Muslims: are a relatively small sect of Muslims who split off from Sunni Islam in India in the 17th century. This sect believes in non-violent propagation of Islam and condemns military conquest and terrorism to spread Islam.
Aisha bint Abu Bakr: The daughter of one of Mohammad’s earliest and most loyal supporters who became a child bride of Mohammad and was considered to be his favorite wife.
Al-Asharaf: (Ka'b ibn Al-Ashraf) was a Jewish man in Medina who wrote poems insulting Mohammad. He was murdered at the request of Mohammad in 625 AD.
Al-Aqsa – a mosque in Jerusalem which didn’t exist at the time of Mohammad but which is claimed by many Muslims as the site where Mohammad ascended to heaven in his claimed “Night Journey” to Heaven.
Asma bint Marwen - Mother of five murdered in her bed at Mohammad's request.
Bin / ibn: "Son of" Depending on the position in the name, these words are used to construct Arabic names. The actual personal name is usually the first name written (for example Osama bin Laden means Osama, the son of Laden) but to much of the world the last name is seen as the more prominent. Therefore, people would be looking for "Laden", or more likely "bin Laden" when searching for this name. We will normally use the last names (without the bin / ibn) in this listing.
Bint - the feminine form of ibn or bin. i.e. "daughter of".
Caliphate – See Khalifa
Dar al-harb – In classical Islamic law, the “territory of war”. One of the three divisions of the world referring to territories that have not yet submitted to Islam.
Dar al-Islam – ( or Dar as-Salam) In classical Islamic law, the “territory of Islam” or “territory of Pease”. One of the three divisions of the world referring to territories that have submitted to Islam.
Dar al-Sulh – In classical Islamic law, the “territory of treaty”. One of the three divisions of the world where the government of the territory has entered a treaty of ceasefire with its Muslim neighbors.
Firdaws - the highest level of the Islamic heaven. Where the prophets, martyrs and most pious will dwell through eternity
Fitna – in Islam, disbelief in Allah; worshiping anything other than Allah; polytheism
Fitra – There is no clear equivalent English word to translate this term. It refers to the natural and basic way of a thing.
Halal - Any object or action that is permissible under Islam
Hiyal - a concept in Islam allowing legalistic deception or trickery.
Hunain – A battle in 620 AD in which the numerically superior Muslim forces were initially routed by the opposing forces but later rallied and went on to defeat their enemies and obtain large amounts of booty.
Jannah - In Islam: garden - roughly equivalent to the Christian concept of ""Heaven".
Ka'b ibn Al-Asharaf - See Al-Asharaf.
Kabah: - A building in Mecca where the many Arabian gods were worshipped before Mohammad conquered Mecca. It became the center of Islamic worship of Allah. The word means “cube” which is a good description of the shape of the building
Khadija bint Khuwaylid: Mohammad’s first wife and the first convert to Islam. She was a wealthy widow whose business was very profitable and a distant relative. Mohammad married her when he was 25 and she was 40 and had no other wives while she was alive.
Khalifah – The world-wide Islamic state which is the stated goal of Islamic scripture.
Kitman - a subfield of Ḥiyal, consisting of the art of making ambiguous statements and/or paying lip-service to authority while reserving personal opposition, in a kind of political camouflage.
Koran: (Also spelled "Qu'ran", "Coran" etc.) A book supposedly dictated to Mohammad in a series of "revelations" by the angel Gabriel which is claimed, by Mohammad, to be the words of Allah. The shortest of three bodies of documentation that guide and define the beliefs of Islam.
Maslamah: (Muhammad ibn Maslamah) was the man who murdered Ka'b ibn Al-Ashraf at the request of Mohammad.
Misyar / Mut’a: These Islamic doctrine allow Muslims to “marry” women temporarily for pleasure – these doctrines are sometimes called legalized prostitution and are not necessarily sanctioned by all Islamic sects. Muruna: The Islamic Brotherhood doctrine of “balance” or “flexibility” that allows Muslims to ignore or contravene the requirements of Islamic law when it is helpful or “necessary” to promote the cause of Islam.
Nadir: A tribe of Jews originally living in Medina when Mohammad moved there. They were expelled in 625 AD and their possessions were stolen by the Muslims.
Nakhla (caravan raid) - The seventh attempt that the Muslims made to capture a caravan of the Quraysh was the first successful caravan raid after their move to Medina. This raid was conducted in a month when, by Arab tradition, no warfare was permitted.
Naskh - the Arabic word for abrogation which is the doctrine that explains inconsistencies in the Koran by stating that later verses supersede and are better than earlier ones.
Quanunqa: A tribe of Jews originally living in Medina when Mohammad moved there. They were expelled in 624 AD and their possessions were stolen by the Muslims.
Quraysh: The tribe that held prominence in Mecca. Although Mohammad was born a member of this tribe, it was the primary enemy of Islam during its formative years.
Qurayza: The last of the three tribes of Jews that had been living in Medina when Mohammad moved there. In 627 AD all the men of this tribe were all beheaded, the women and children enslaved and their possessions were stolen by the Muslims.
Safwan bin al Mu’attal – Young Muslim soldier accused of indiscretion with Aisha, Mohammad’s wife.
Shahadah – The Muslim profession of faith (“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”). The first of the Pillars of Islam.
Sharia (law) - A body of Islamic law derived from the Koran and Sunnah.
Shirk - according to Islam, the most serious sin - that of practicing polytheism or idolatry.
Sira - any one of many biographies of Mohammad. These, together with the Hadith, form the Sunnah.
Sunnah - The verbally-transmitted record of the teachings, deeds and decisions of Mohammad. These were compiled and documented, sometimes centuries later, by various Muslim scholars. The Sunnah form the majority of the Islamic scriptures
Surah - a chapter in the Koran.
Taharrush gamea – refers to mass sexual assault on women by groups of islamists. This is a relatively recent development in Islam that began in Egypt but has increasingly been reported in Europe
Tajwid - is the preferred method of pronunciation while reciting the Koran.
Takkiya - is the Islamic concept that allows Muslims to lie and deceive nonbelievers in order to advance the cause of Islam.
Taghut – the Islamic term for idolatry
Tawhid – The Islamic concept of the strict and undivided unity of Allah.
Um Kurfa - an extremely old leading woman of the Fazara tribe who was captured and put to death by being tied between two camels that were faced in opposite directions and whipped so that they tore her apart. This person and her fate is mentioned in several hadith but not all of them fully describe the manner of her death.
Wudu – ritual washing before prayer
Yahya or Yahaya – Arabic name for John the Baptist
Zabur – the Arabic term for the Psalms.
Zakat - is the Islamic a religious tax and obligation in Islam.
- Arabic Names / Words / Definitions / Explanations