Learn and familiarize yourself with the most widely used Islamic terms and phrases from the Arabic language. One of the first steps in trying to learn a new subject is to get used to the lingo or words used frequently.
We cover the most popular Islamic words from A-Z in hopes this helps you expand your vocabulary. This resource is intended to cover the meanings of the most popular phrases, abbreviations, and words used by Muslims in Islam.
Islamic Terms With – A –
A.H.Refers to after Hijrah which was the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions from Mecca to Medina. The Islamic calendar starts from this event.
A.S.Is an abbreviation meaning Alayhis Salaam, which means peace be upon him. It’s an example of Islamic honorifics, to show respect and make prayers specifically for the previous prophets, their mothers, and members of Ahl al-Bayt (12 imams and Fatimah). Alayhas salaam is used if it follows a woman’s name, for plural we use Alayhimas-salaam.
AdabAdab refers to prescribed Islamic etiquette: good manners, morals, good character, decency and humaneness. Islam has laid out a clear an ethical code for Muslim to adhere to. Adab in the context of behavior means courtesy, respect, being appropriate and would include covering acts for washroom, cleansing and posture
AdhanIs call to congregational prayer (salat / namaz). It is used to signify the beginning of the five obligatory daily prayers. It’s often spelled azan, adhan, or athan.
AhadThe literal translation is the “one”. It refers to being “unique” or “matchless” and used by Muslims when referring to Allah. Similar to the concept of Tawhid.
Ahlul-Bayt (Ahl al-Bayt)Is a phrase meaning “People of the House”, “People of the Household” or “Family of the House”. It refers to the household of the Prophet (saws).
AhzabAhzab means parties, clans, or combined forces. In Islamic history, Ahzab is used to refer to the large alliance of pagan tribes that attacked Muslims in Medina for 30 days in January and February of the year 627 CE. The 33rd chapter of the Quran is titled Surah Ahzab which gives more background to this battle.
AkhlaqIt’s the practice of virtue, morals and manners.
Allahu AkbarMeans God is the Greatest. These words are repeated by Muslims many times throughout the day to show remembrance of Allah. You will often hear Allahu akbar recited when expressing a happy feeling or in an approving tone towards witnessing something grand.
AmanahAmanah means fulfilling or upholding trusts. It is the concept of trusting someone with something of value and expecting that person to carry out what was entrusted to them.
Ayah / AyatAn ayah is a verse of the Quran. The Quran is divided into chapters called surahs. Each surah consists of sentences, each sentence would be referred to as an ayah. The plural of ayah would be ayat.
A’lamMeaning “world” or “universe”. In Arabic literature, like in Surah Fatiha, Alam is used in phrases like “Rabbil-Alam-een which would come to mean “the Lord of all Worlds/Universes”. This refers to Allah’s as Absolute and Highest Divinity.
AminIs an Arabic name given to males which means someone who is loyal or faithful.
ArafahIs an Islamic holiday which falls on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah of the lunar calendar.
AsabiyyahMeans tribal loyalty, nationalism, or the concept of social solidarity. It focuses on unity and togetherness.
AsrThe late afternoon obligatory salat, prayer.
AwrahRefers to the intimate or private parts of the body.
Islamic Terms With – b –
Baab Al Salaam
The literal translation of this Arabic phrase means “Gate of Peace” and is the name of one of the gates at the Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
is one who is an adult. It’s a legal term and refers to a person who has reached maturity and has full responsibilities under law.
is the first Islamic cemetery in Medina. The cemetery contains the graves of many of the Prophet’s closest companions.
Means blessing or divine grace.
is an Arabic word meaning void or falsehood. It’s used to describe an invalid act according to Islamic law.
The meaning of this Islamic term means inner, inward or hidden. What this refers to is the hidden message or meaning for example of a passage of the Quran. A person who devotes himself to studying such hidden meanings is a batini
is Islamic Innovation in religion. Inventing new methods of worship that has no authenticity. It is considered a serious sin by Muslim as you’re trying to alter and perpetuate the teachings of the religion.
A phrase often recited before doing an activity. The reason is to remember God before starting whatever it is you were about to do. The meaning of this phrase is “In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful.”
Is the shortened version of the above; meaning “In the Name of Allah” often recited when beginning a chore or task, signifying I begin with the Name of Allah.
Refers to reaching adulthood, puberty or maturity.
Is a garment worn by women to cover both the body and face. Not to be confused with Hijab which is just a head scarf.
Islamic Terms With – c –
The successors or spiritual leader(s) after the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ after his death. The first Caliph was Abu Bakr (The father in law of Prophet Muhammad).
Is abbreviation meaning the Common Era. In Islamic texts C.E. is preferred over the term A.D. to refer to time before Hijrah, the start of the Muslim calendar.
Islamic Terms With – d –
A term referring to Islamic world, literal translation is “house”, “abode”, “structure”, “place”, “land”, or “country”.
invocation which Muslims make by saying specific phrases to compliment the Prophet Muhammad. An example would be reciting sallallahu alaihi wasallam after the Prophet’s name.
is issuing summons or making invitation to Islam. Teaching others about Islamic practices, beliefs, virtues would be an example of Dawah.
When referring to a Muslim’s deen you’re describing three of his/her senses: judgement, custom and religion. The word refers to the way of life for a Muslim, his compliance with the divine law, his beliefs, character and deeds.
Is a devotional act or prayer whereby a short phrase is repeated. The significance of dhikr is for remembrance of Allah and for repentance.
A non-Muslim citizen in an Islamic state. Dhimmis are exempt from military service and zakat (charitable contribution) but instead pay a tax called jizyah. Their life and property are protected by the Islamic state.
Is a supplication (invocation); a calling to Allah.
Refers to this life, life on planet earth.
Dhuhr (sometimes spelt Zuhr)
Is the second compulsory prayer that is four ruk’ah in length. The timing is around afternoon; but the exact time varies for each geographic location.
Is the twelfth and last month of the Islamic calendar.
Is the 11th month of the Islamic calendar.
Islamic Terms With – e –
Is a Muslim festivity, a celebration, a get together of families and communities. There are different types of Eid.
falls on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah, it’s also called the “Festival of the Sacrifice”. It honours the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah’s command.
falls on the 1st day of Shawwal, Eid al-Fitr also called the “Festival of Breaking the Fast” which celebrate the end of Ramadan. It lasts three days.
Islamic Terms With – f –
Is the first obligatory prayer of the day that occurs at dawn.
A faqih is an Islamic jurist, an expert in fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic Law.
The body of Islamic jurisprudence (the theory or philosophy of law, legal system). In Islam it also means understanding, comprehension and knowledge. The faqih who is an expert in legal matters, passes verdicts within the rules of the Islamic Law.
Meaning obligatory. A religious obligation or duty, Islamic ruling. Praying 5 times a day is fard, neglecting fard is a sin.
Civil strife, riots, war or any trial or tribulation.
is the opening chapter of the Quran. It is called Umm Al-Kitab translated to ‘Mother of the Quran’ according to scholars.
Fatima or Fatema (A.S.)
Fatima The Prophet’s daughter, who married of Ali b. Abi Talib (A.S.), the mother of Hasan and Hussein (A.S.)
A decisive Islamic law which gives a ruling on various matters. The necessity for these rulings is usually based on modern issues which come about after the time of the Prophet. These rulings are not random, they are based on evidences in Quran and Sunnah.
“Fitra” or “fitrah” refers to “original disposition” a child is born with. It’s believed they are a clean slate, pure and innocent.
Islamic Terms With – g –
Is the name of the place near Mecca. The event of Ghadeer refers to a sermon delivered by the Prophet at the Pond of Khumm. According to Shi’ite traditions, shortly before his death in 632 CE, in the sermon Muhammad announced Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor, after which the final verse of the Quran was revealed, proclaiming the perfection of the religion of Islam. The day’s anniversary in the Islamic calendar (18 Dhu al-Hijjah) is celebrated by Shi’ite Muslims as Eid al-Ghadir.
Is the Arabic word for heedlessness or negligence. In Islam it often refers to forgetfulness of God or becoming indifferent.
Usurped, taken or used without ownership or proper permission of the owner.
Translates roughly to “raider”, a holy warrior; a mujahid
A military expedition.
Is a short dua meaning “[I ask You for] Your Forgiveness” recited when exiting the toilet.
Is a spiritual or ritual purification of the body that is required after sexual intercourse, menstruation, or seminal discharge.
Islamic Terms With – h –
Is an Arabic word that translates to “permissible” into English.
Is short form of saying Alhamdulillah which is an Arabic phrase meaning “praise be to God”. sometimes translated as “thank God.”)
Haram are things that are not permitted in Islam. For example, eating pork, gambling and drinking alcohol are all considered to be haram.
Is the Pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a mandatory act for all Muslims to complete at least once in their lifetime if the individual is financially and physically capable.
Literally means “veil” and is a headscarf used by women to cover their hair.
Hikmah is the concept in Islamic philosophy and law. It refers to self awareness of oneself and others, to know the essence of beings as they really are.
A Hafiz is a Muslim who has memorized the Quran or knows it by heart. The literal translation is “memorizer” or Protector.
Refers to the act of shaving the entire head and involves trimming the hair on the head by at least an inch. Performing Halq or Taqsir is the Wajib (obligatory) act that must be performed in order to leave the state of Ihram.
Vain or egotistical desire; individual passion; impulsiveness.
Islamic Terms With – i –
Refers to breaking of the fast, typically in the month of Ramadan.
A sacred state in which every pilgrim in Hajj or Umrah has to enter. There are certain restrictions, like where modest clothes.
Perfection in worship, such that Muslims try to worship God as if they see Him, and although they cannot see Him, they undoubtedly believe He is constantly watching over them.
Miracle, the character of the Qur’an in both form and content.
Is an Arabic term meaning perfection or excellence. It is a Muslim’s individual responsibility to take one’s inner faith and show it through their deeds and action. It’s the responsibility to try and pursue perfection knowing it will never be reached. To try and seek perfection in worshipping Allah as if they see him, although they cannot see him. Allah loves when one of you is given a task, that he or she does it in the most excellent manner.
Is a qualified religious leader or the head of a local community or mosque. He also leads in community political affairs.
Is full, deep belief or faith in Allah. It is a part of the deen.
Is the Gospel of Isa (Jesus) the new testament, it is one of the four holy books in Islam along with the Qur’an.
The phrase innallaha ma sabireen means “Surely, Allah is with those who are As‑Saabiroon (the patient).”
Is a short prayer said upon hearing news for deceased, it means “Allah we belong and to Him is our return”.
Inshallah means with the will of Allah or god willing.
Is the second call to prayer, the adhan being the first. It’s said just before starting prayer the formal congregational prayer. It is typically recited quickly and in a monotone nature compared to the adhan.
Is the Arabic name of Jesus, the son of Mariam (Mary). He is a Prophet of Allah.
Isha the last daily obligatory salat (prayer) which occurs after sunset later in the evening.
Islam the word Islam means submission or to submit oneself to God.
Is the act of seeking forgiveness. Saying Astaghfirullah wa atubu ilaih is an example of istighfar.
Islamic Terms With – j –
Refer to a time of ignorance and idolatry, before the revelation to Mohammed.
Is Paradise; what many refer to in English as Heaven.
There are different layers of heaven, “Firdaus” is the designatation for the highest layer.
Jazakallah khair or Jazak allahu khayran meaning of this phrase is “May Allah reward you for the good (goodness).” It’s often recited as way to express thanks or gratitude towards another as a sign of appreciation. Allah gives the best rewards, so saying this phrase is like a short prayer made on behalf on the person you are thanking.
Is the unseen spiritual beings who are also required to follow order of Allah. But like humans they too can be either good or evil spirited and will be accountable for their deeds.
Is the special Friday prayer, also referred to as salatul Jumu’ah
Jihad meaning “Struggle” in Arabic but also commonly translated as to strive in the way of Allah. This can be either spiritual or personal effort. Jihad is also fighting the enemies of those who oppose or try to oppress Islam. A fight in defense of it’s ideals and advancement.
Is a tax paid by non-Muslims living in a Muslim State. Since the non-Muslims are exempt from military service and taxes imposed on Muslims, they must pay this tax. The Islamic state guarantees its non-Muslim citizens security and protection in return for jizyah.
One of thirty parts of the Qur’an. Every night during of the month of Ramadan, one Juz is completed in Tarawih. After 30 days, the entire Quran would have been read.
Islamic Terms With – k –
Literally translation is “cube” and refers to the holy building in Mecca originally built by the Prophet Ibrahim. Muslims all across the world when they pray face the Ka’ba, during pilgrimage they circulate the building.
Is the Disbeliever. It refers to people who completely disbelieve in Allah.
Is an intoxicant such alcohol.
Is a lecture; given during Salat al-Jumu’ah
Is Arabic word for book. The Quran is regarded as “Al-Kitab” meaning The Book.
Kun is an Arabic word for the act of “manifesting”, “existing” or “being”. Allah’s command to the universe, “kun fa-yakoon” which is translated to ‘Be! And it is’. This is from Surah Yaseen Verse 82.
Islamic Terms With – l –
The meaning of this expression is: “There is no power and no strength save in Allah.”
La ilaha illallah muhammadur rasulullah
Is the Shahada, the translation for the first part is “There is no lord worthy of worship except Allah.” This encompasses concept of Tawhid or oneness of God, the most important belief in Islam. The second part of this declaration is “Muhammadun Rasul Allah,” which means “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
God, I obey you (said during pilgrimage in hajj).
Is referred to as the Night of Power, Night of decree, or the Night of Value. It a day close towards the end of Ramadan and signifies the night when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
Islamic Terms With – m –
This is the fourth compulsory prayer of the day to be given after sunset; Three ruk’ah in length. Its exact time varies for each geographic location, so it’s necessary to obtain a for your local area.
Like a guardian; A woman’s mahram is a male and can be her father, brother, uncle, son, etc.
are actions are disliked acts. They wouldn’t be haram or subject to punishment but are generally discouraged acts and Muslims would be rewarded for avoiding. An example would be using excessive water when making wudu.
The meaning of “Masha’ Allah” is “Whatever Allah wants” or “Whatever Allah wants to give, He gives.” Muslims say this whenever they see something they like, wish to express their happiness, when giving a compliment to a Muslim. It is proper etiquette to say “mashallah” with a compliment and Muslims believe that it can avert envy.
Masjid / Mosque
A place of worship for Muslims. Place of prayer; a mosque.
An honorific Islamic title often, but not exclusively, given to Muslim religious scholars or Ulma preceding their names. Maulvi generally means any religious cleric or teacher.
Miraj or the night journey is Ascension of Prophet Muhammad to the Seven Heavens. Some Muslims celebrate this event by offering optional prayers during this night
Mu’awwidhatayn is known as the verses of refuge. It is referring to Surah Al-Falaq and an-Nas. These two surahs should be said to relieve suffering (also protect from Black Magic and Jinns)
Is a Muslim who observes the commandments of the Qur’an.
Commendable, favoured or virtuous actions. These are encouraged. These would be things are recommended but not necessary. If one does it, he will be rewarded on the day of judgement but if neglected there are no sins associated. Reciting the long version of salam would be mustahabb.
Islamic Terms With – n –
Jahannam or hell is also referred as an-Nar meaning “the fire”.
Nabi is literally means prophets. In the Islamic context, a Nabi is a man sent by God to give guidance to man, but not given scripture. Prophet Ibrahim is an example of a Nabi. Contrasted with Rasul, a Messenger.
Is the matrimonial contract between a bride and bridegroom within Islamic marriage.
Niqab garment of clothing that covers the entire face besides the eyes.
Is an Islamic concept that refers to the intention of a person’s heart to do an act. Prayer in front of other people for the sake of being seen as a religious person, this person prayer would be rejected as his niyyah is not right. One should make prayer for the sake of Allah and himself.
Islamic Terms With – o –
There doesn’t seem to be many Islamic words that begin with O. Feel free to comment below with an O word and we’ll add it.
Islamic Terms With – p –
Not many islamic terms or phrases that begin with P. If you do know some, comment below and we’ll add it. Jazakallah.
Islamic Terms With – q –
Is the direction that Muslims face when they make prayer or salat. This would be towards the Kaaba.
Islam’s holy book. Muslims believe this book is the words of Allah the Almighty. It was revealed over 23 years in stages to the last and final messenger of God, Muhammad SAW. It is preserved its pristine state just as it was when it was revealed. Early followers of Islam committed the revelations to memory, which were later recorded in the form of a book.
Is the name of a tribe in Arabia which the Prophet Muhammad belonged to.
Is a concept in Islam to accept one’s fate. It’s god’s plan, our fate, predestination. We must accept our life the way it is, it can not be any other way.
Is the day of Resurrection.
Islamic Terms With – r –
Radi allahu anhu
May Allah be pleased with him.
May Allah’s mercy/blessing be upon him. Usually used after mentioning the companions of Muhammad.
One unit or one cycle of an Islamic prayer. It consists of standing, bowing and prostrating in prayer.
Is the Month of fasting in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
Rasool / Rasul
Is the messenger; one who receives revelation from Allah and delivers the message to his people. There are twenty-five Prophets mentioned throughout the Quran. Five among them are major messengers: Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad, peace be upon them all.
Refer to usury or interest (as in loans) interest. The charging and paying of interest in Islam are forbidden by the Qur’an.
Ruh refer to the spirit.
Islamic Terms With – s –
Is a concept in Islam referring to patience, endurance, and self-restraint.
Charity beyond that which is obligatory (zakat).
The meaning of Sadaqallahul Azim is “Allah has spoken the truth”.
Is charity that continues even after you have passed. Having children and teaching them the deen, building a school, passing knowledge is sadaqah jariyah. The rewards are continuous.
The sahabi are the companions of Prophet Muhammad (pl. sahabah)
Salah / Salat
is the second of the Five Pillars in the Islamic faith, and an obligatory religious duty for every Muslim. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual act of worship that is observed five times every day at prescribed times.
salam is a greeting used by Muslims when meeting or leaving, it means peace.
Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam or S.A.W means peace and blessings of Allah be on him (referring to the Prophet Muhammad saws).
is the act of fasting, usually referring to fasting during Ramadan. Sawm includes abstinence from food, liquids, and sexual relationships from dawn to sunset, for a complete one lunar month.
Mean to bear witness, testimony, or declaration of faith. It’s one of the five pillars of Islam. The Shahadah is short phrase, the Arabic transliteration is la ilaha illallah muhammadur rasulullah.
Is the devil, the source of evil in the world. Shaitan (satan) always tries to misguide and mislead people. Another name for shaitan is Iblis.
Is a title, or a name given to elderly, the wise or a person who is knowledgeable of Islam.
Is a major sin in Islam, it is associating partners with Allah. Tawhid is believing in the oneness and uniqueness of Allah, to put another deity on the same pedestal as Allah is blasphemy.
Shukran is an Arabic word meaning thank you.
Means glorified is Allah; Allah is pure. Muslims say subhan Allah when they appreciate something. It is a short dhikr (prayer) that is often repeated.
Sujood / Sujud
Is the prostration to Allah in the daily prayer. During sujud, Muslims make sure that the forehead, nose, hands, knees, and toes, are all touching the floor. This is the humblest position in the prayer, in this moment a person is closest to Allah which is why it’s recommended to supplicate.
Sunnah refers to sayings, actions and behavior of the Prophet Muhammad. These are recorded in the hadith books by the companions of the Prophet.
Surah is a chapter of the Quran. In total the Quran consists of a total of 114 chapters.
Islamic Terms With – t –
Is used similarly to reciting Mashallah, the meaning is Blessed is Allah. It’s said by Muslims when they see something that amazes them. It could be recited when you see something beautiful or when something has you in awe. It’s to show appreciation or gratitude towards Allah for the beauty of his creation. Literal meaning is “blessed is He [Allah]”.
A term used for a commentary of any book, specifically the Holy Qur’an.
Takbeer / Takbirah
Is the name for the Arabic phrase ‘Allahu-akbar’ which means “God is [the] greatest”.
A form of divorce whereby a Muslim man could legally divorce his wife by pronouncing talaq (the Arabic word for divorce) three times.
Tasbih is the recitation of short prayers (dhikr). For example, saying “Subhanallah” repeatedly. To keep track of counting Muslims, count on their fingers of the right hand or use misbaha (prayer beads).
The concluding portion recited at the end of prayer, the Arabic transliteration is As-salamu alaikum wa-rahmatu-llah meaning “Peace and blessings of God be unto you”.
Tawaf is part of the pilgrimage which involves circling around the Kabah.
Is the belief or acceptance of total reliance on Allah. Nothing can happen without his will.
The Islamic concept of repenting to God to ask forgiveness for any sins and misdeeds committed.
Refers to the unification or oneness of God. It’s encompasses the monotheistic nature of Islam.
Spiritual cleansing which is a substitute for wudu and ghusl. In situations where wudu is difficult to make or not possible, like in a desert or a place where there’s no water, a person may preform tayammum as a substitute for wudu / ghusl.
Islamic Terms With – u –
Refer to the entire Muslim community.
The minor or little pilgrimage.
Islamic Terms With – v –
Not many islamic terms or phrases that begin with P. If you do know of one please comment below and we’ll add it. Jazakallah.
Islamic Terms With – w –
Wa alaikum assalam is the common response to the one who says “assalmualkium” which means “and unto you peace”.
Wajib is obligatory an act which must be performed. A religious duty.
A friend, protector, guardian, supporter, or a helper.
The meaning in English is “I swear to God.”
A voluntary, optional night prayer offered after isha but before fajr.
the act of purifying (ablution) before daily ritual prayers or before reading the Quran.
Common response to someone who said Jazakallah khair, wa iyyakum means ‘and to you too’.
Islamic Terms With – x –
Not many islamic terms or phrases that begin with X. If you do know of one and would like to see it added leave a comment below and we’ll add it. Jazakallah.
Islamic Terms With – y –
is similar to saying ya allah meaning, oh god. It’s a call to Allah.
meaning “May God have mercy on you”, said when someone sneezes.
Yarhamuhu / Allah Yarhamuhu
“May God have mercy of his/her soul”. It is said when someone has passed away.
Islamic Terms With – z –
Religious obligatory tax that every Muslim must pay. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and a form of alms-giving or chartiy. The amount donated is based off a percentage of your income so it varies per individual. The money is to be used to provide for the less fortunate.
Zina refer to sexual activity outside of marriage, fornication. It is haram.
is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. The water which comes from this well is called Zum Zum water. It is noted in Hadith that Hajar, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), was searching for water to quench her and Ismail’s thirst. An angel aided her in finding the spot of the well. It is still in use today.