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>>Glossary of Islamic Terms
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© Suhel Farooq Khan
Surah (Chapter) al-Ahqaf (The Curved Sand Dunes)

Surah (Chapter) al-Ahqaf (The Curved Sand Dunes) is the 46th Surah (Chapter) of the Holy Qur-an. It contains 35 Ayat (Verses). It is a Makki Surah meaning that it was revealed before Muhammad S migrated to Madinah. The word Ahqaf describes the long winding tracts of sand dunes that were there in the country of Bani (Family of) Ad near Yaman (Yemen). Bani (Family of) Ad were the people of Hud A. They had fertile lands but Allah (God) destroyed them for their sins.Allah (God) in this Surah (Chapter) tells that all Creation has a purpose. He reminds people that Truth will prevail. Those who challenge or question it will be destroyed. The rghteous will wait with patience and perseverance.

 

Surah (Chapter) al-Ahzab (The Allies)

Surah al-Ahzab is the thirty-third chapter of the Holy Qur-an. It contains 73 Ayat (Verses). Surah means Chapter. Al-Ahzab means Allies. This chapter of the Holy Qur-an is named after the Quraysh and their allies who had assembled a large army and attacked Muslims in Madinah. Surah al-Ahzab is also known as Surah Khandaq, which means trench. Muslims had dug up a huge trench to protect themselves from the advancing armies of the allies. Surah al-Ahzab is a Madani Surah. It means that this Surah was revealed after Muhammad S had migrated to Madinah. It must have been revealed after the battle of Trench that was fought in the year 5H (Hijrah) (626 AD). This Surah (Chapter) describes the truth and the violent attempts to destroy it. It defines the beautiful and respectful human relationships in Islam.  The story of the battle of the allies is mentioned. It details the partnership between the Quraysh, Jews and their alliances against the Muslims and how a handful of them defended, with the help of Allah (God) against a seemingly invincible enemy. The position of the holy wives of Muhammad S as the mothers of Muslims is established. Divorce of Zaynab bint Jahsh R and her subsequent marriage with Muhammad S is also detailed. (Qur-an 33:6)


Akhirah (The Day of Judgment)

A Muslim must believe in the Day of Judgment as well as an eternal Life after Death. It is one of the fundamental beliefs of Islamic faith. On the Day of Judgment, entire creation of Allah (God) will cease to exist, then He will raise everyone from death and judge them for their deeds. Those who had lived their lives on the path of Allah (God) would be rewarded amply for their good deeds. Allah (God) would punish those who had strayed away from the path of Allah (God).


Surah (Chapter) al-‘Alaq (The Clot)

Surah (Chapter) al-‘Alaq (The Clot) is the 96th chapter of the Holy Qur-an. The first fives Ayat (Verses) of Surah (Chapter) al-‘Alaq (The Clot) are the very first Ayat (Verses) of the Holy Qur-an that were revealed to Muhammad S. These five Ayat (Verses) constituted the first Wahi (Message of Allah) sent to Muhammad S when he was meditating in a cave of the Hira mountain near Makkah. After this Wahi (Message of Allah) there was a gap of a few months or more than a year during which Muhammad S did not receive any Wahi (Message of Allah). That gap is known

 

Alhamdulillah

Alhamdulillah means “Praise is due to only Allah (God)”. Muslims use this phrase quite frequently in their everyday conversation. Alhamdulillah is the typical answer by a Muslim to the normal pleasantry ‘How are you?’ By saying so, Muslims imply that they are fine because of the Mercy of Allah (God), and we praise Him all the time. Muslims also use this phrase instead of “Excuse me”, after they sneeze. 

 

‘Ali bin Abu Talib R

‘Ali bin Abu Talib R was a cousin of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S. Abu Talib bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, father of ‘Ali bin Abu Talib R, was one of the most respectable leader of the Quraysh tribe and a prominent chief of Makkah. After the death of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S’s mother, his grandfather took care of him. Muhammad S’s grandfather died when he was only eight. Since then, his uncle Abu Talib bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, the father of ‘Ali bin Abu Talib S, took care of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S. Abu Talib bin ‘Abdul Muttalib had a large family and many mouths to feed, still he took very good care of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and loved him more than his own children. Abu Talib bin ‘Abdul Muttalib always kept him close to him. Abu Talib bin ‘Abdul Muttalib was not a rich person. He had hard times managing his large family. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, after his marriage with Khadijah bint Khuwaylid R, took ‘Ali bin Abu Talib R under his care, to help his uncle. ‘Ali bin Abu Talib R was raised and brought up by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and Khadijah bint Khuwaylid R. He was the first youth to accept Islam. Later the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S married his youngest daughter Fatimah R to him. ‘Ali bin Abu Talib R became the fourth Khalifah (Caliph) of Muslims. ‘Ali bin Abu Talib R was the most skilled commander of Muslim armed forces.

 

Alim (Religious Scholar)

Alim is a person who has ‘Ilm (Knowledge). In Islamic context, Alim is a scholar in Islamic studies. Now a days, ‘Ulama (Religious Scholars –Plural of Alim) usually get their formal Islamic education in an Islamic Madaris (Seminaries-Plural of Madrsah). Some of the early ‘Ulama (Religious Scholars) devoted their lives in developing a complete understanding of Islam and communicating it for the later generations of Muslims. Four major schools of thoughts emerged in Islam because of the work of four great ‘Ulama(Religious Scholars). The schools of thoughts are known as Hambali, Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafa’i. These four schools of Islamic thought represent the Sunni stream of thought. There are minor differences of opinion among these ‘Ulama (Religious Scholars)’s work, in the interpretations of various rituals of Islam. Most Muslims align themselves to one of these four ‘Ulama (Religious Scholars) and seek answers to their religious queries from that stream only. Allah (God) as well as His last Rasul (Messenger) Muhammad S, has made incumbent upon all Muslims, to seek knowledge. Instead of limiting themselves with just one point of view, all Muslims must develop a clear understanding of Islam by thorough study of the Holy Qur-an and Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S) and drawing from the great resources provided by all earlier and contemporary ‘Ulama (Religious Scholars).

 

Allah (God)

Allah is the Arabic term for God. There is only one God who had created everything in all worlds. Allah (God) is the Sole Creator of every thing in this Universe and no one created Him. He had created all living and non-living things. He created humans as the best of his creations by giving them the faculty of logic. He was there when nothing was there and He would be there when no one else would be there. There is no one else like Him. He does not have any parents or children. He is everywhere at the same time. He knows about everything. He listens to every thing, even the unspoken words. Nothing is a secret for Him. He controls everything. Nothing controls Him. He makes everything happen. He would bring this entire universe to an end. Then He would bring the dead back to life again and reward or punish them according to their deeds. He alone has absolute control over everything. He causes everything to happen. He is the only Provider and Sustainer. He does not need nor has any partners. He does not need rest or sleep. He does not have any relatives. There is no one like Allah. He is truly Unique. Allah had created good and evil from the very beginning. He sent Messengers to all parts of the world to teach the way of life to all humans that He likes. His first Nabi (Messenger) to this world was Adam R (Adam) and His last Rasul (Messenger) was Muhammad S. These Messengers told and demonstrated to people what was right and what was wrong. Muhammad S, the Messenger of Allah, had brought us the last and final Message of Allah (God) and showed us how we should live our lives. Obeying Allah (God) is our duty. He is recording all deeds of everyone. He will reward those who followed good and punish the evil doers on the Day of Judgment. He is Most Kind and Most Merciful. He alone can forgive anyone whom He pleases. God is called Allah in the Arabic language. The Arabic speaking Christians also use the term Allah for God.

 

Allah O Akbar

The phrase Allah O Akbar means God is Great. Whenever Muslims see or hear about things that reflect the Greatness of the Creator, they say Allah O Akbar. Every movement in the prayers is accompanied by recitation of Allah O Akbar. This phrase is also said in ‘Id al-Fitr  (Festival of Breaking Fast) and ‘Id al-Ad-ha (Festival of Sacrifice). Adhan (Call for Prayers) also begin with the phrase Allah O Akbar.

 

Allahumma laka sumtu wa-‘ala rizqika aftartu

It is a Du’a (Supplication) that Muslims recite at the time of breaking their fast.

 

Amanah (Trust)

Usually a thing of value given to someone for safekeeping. People of Makkah also called the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S by a nickname, al-Amin.  Al-Amin means the trustworthy. This nickname was given to Muhammad S, the Messenger of Allah, in the pre-Islamic days and is a result of his flawless character. People did not think twice before safekeeping their valuables with the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S.

 

Amin

The meanings of the word Amin is “Be it so”. It is usually said after a Du’a (Supplication) to Allah (God). Typically Amin is said after recitation of Surah (Chapter) al-Fatihah (The Opening) during each Rak’ah (Unit) of every Salah (Prayer). Surah (Chapter) al-Fatihah (The Opening) is a Du’a (Supplication) that Allah (God) has taught us seeking His guidance for the right path. Some ’Ulama (Religious Scholars) recommend saying it loudly and some recommend saying it silently.

 

Al-Amin (The Trustworthy)

People of Makkah also called the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S by a nickname, al-Amin.  Al-Amin means the trustworthy. This nickname was given to Muhammad S, the Messenger of Allah, in the pre-Islamic days and is a result of his flawless character. People did not think twice before safekeeping their valuables with the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S was concerned about returning the Amanah (Trusts) of all the people that were in safe custody with him, even when his life was in great danger. He was about to leave his home and home-town for ever, but he made sure that all valuables are properly returned to their rightful owners.  He instructed ‘Ali bin Abu Talib R, his cousin, to return everything to their owners on the night when he was to migrate to Yathrib (Madinah) and assassins from the Quraysh tribe were waiting to kill him.

 

Aminah bint Wahb

Aminah bint Wahb was the mother of Muhammad S, the Messenger of Allah. She was the daughter of Wahb bin ‘Abd Manaf bin Zuhrah. Aminah bint Wahb was married to ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, the youngest son of ‘Abdul Muttalib. Her husband Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib died during one of his trading trips and was buried in Yathrib (Madinah), where he had stopped for treatment with the maternal uncles of his father. He was buried there. Muhammad S, the Messenger of Allah, was born a few months after the death of his father. When the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S was six year old, his mother Aminah bint Wahb took him to the grave of his father ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib in Yathrib (Madinah)Aminah bint Wahb fell sick at Abwa, when they were returning from Yathrib (Madinah). She died and was buried at Abwa, a township between Makkah and Yathrib (Madinah). The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S was brought back to his grandfather ‘Abdul Muttalib in Makkah, by Umm Ayman, a maidservant of his father.

 

Amir (Leader)

Literal meanings of Amir are a leader of the community, an elder of the community or one who commands. Amir (Leader) was also appointed for specific trips or occasions. The term Amirul Mu”minin (Leader of the Believers) was used for the Khulafa (Caliphs) in the early Islamic times.

 

Amwal / Mal

Amwal is plural for Mal. In Islamic context, Mal means the possessions on which Zakah (Poor Due Charity) is calculated. The minimum amount of Mal on which Zakah (Poor Due Charity) becomes due is called Nisab.

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