The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity
Appendix B: Glossary
Ahmadi or Ahmadiyya
A religious movement that emerged in late 19th-century India around Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), whose followers believe he was a mujaddid (reformer) who showed the way to revive and restore Islam.
Alawite or Alawi
A sect of Shia Islam centered in Syria that highly venerates Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and incorporates elements of Gnostic teachings. Historically, the community has placed less emphasis than other sects on the role of daily prayer, fasting during Ramadan and performing the hajj.
Alevite or Alevi
A sect combining elements from Shia Islam and Sufi traditions. Alevis comprise the second-largest religious community in Turkey.
A faith tradition that incorporates elements of animism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam and is sometimes described by adherents as a meditation-based spiritual path. It is found predominantly in parts of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam that dates to the early 20th century. It was founded in Algeria and has spread throughout much of North Africa, Europe and the Levant.
A Sufi order in the Shia tradition. It is found predominantly in Turkey and the Balkan countries. In Albania, it is recognized as an official religious order.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam dating from the 10th century. It was founded in Afghanistan and is most prominent in South Asia and Africa today.
A religious sect that emerged from the Ismaili branch of Shia Islam. The movement was started in 11th-century Egypt by Muhammad bin Ismail al-Darazi, who taught that the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah was divine and did not die but went into occultation. Today its followers are found mainly in Lebanon and Syria.
The belief that certain people can cast curses or spells that cause harm. Certain hadith record that the Prophet Muhammad said the evil eye is real, but others indicate that Muhammad rejected this practice. Many Muslims believe that the evil eye can be averted by repeating Quranic verses or by using amulets such as the hand of Fatima, a traditional palm-shaped design.
Sayings or deeds ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad, and a key source of Islamic authority and jurisprudence. In the first centuries after Muhammad’s death, Islamic scholars established a ranking system for the reliability of each reported hadith. However there continues to be disagreement over the validity of various hadith. For Sunnis, hadith contained in the volumes Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are the most widely referenced, although other compilations exist. Shia Muslims favor hadith with a chain of transmission through the family of Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad.
The annual pilgrimage to Mecca and its associated rituals that take place on the eighth through 12th days of the last month in the Muslim lunar calendar. It is one of the five main practices or pillars of Islam, holding that all Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the pilgrimage have a religious duty to do so at least once in their lifetime.
A recent movement in Indonesia that describes itself as an effort to counter militant and radical Islam by promulgating a discourse on the faith that prioritizes religio-ethics over textual literalism.
One of the major sects of Shia Islam (Ithnashari, or Twelver, Islam is another). Ismailis believe that Ismail ibn Jafar was the spiritual successor (Imam) to Jafar al-Sadiq, whose lineage can be traced back to Ali, a contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam that is an offshoot of the Halvatiyya order. It was founded in the 17th century and is most prominent in Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East-North Africa.
Jesus in Islam
Jesus (Isa) is mentioned more than 20 times in the Quran and is considered a holy prophet in Islam, but not the son of God. According to Islamic teaching, Jesus will return prior to Judgment Day to establish a reign of peace and justice on earth.
Jinn (the singular is jinni) are supernatural spiritual beings, created by God, that are described in the Quran. Jinn can be good, evil or morally neutral.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam centered in Central Asia. It is a branch of the Naqshbandiyya tradition.
A Sufi order in Shia Islam that dates to the 13th century. The movement is centered in Central Asia and is a branch of the Naqshbandiyya order.
The redeemer or “Guided One” who many Muslims believe will rule on earth shortly before the day of resurrection or judgment to rid the world of error, corruption and injustice.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam commonly known as the “whirling dervishes” due to their devotional dancing. The group dates to the 13th century and is centered in Turkey.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam dating to the late 19th century and founded by Abadu Bamba M’Backe. It is especially prominent in Senegal and the Gambia.
One of the largest Sufi orders in Sunni Islam, Naqshbandis are found throughout the world. It encompasses many distinct branches and played a significant religious and political role in historical times on the Indian subcontinent and in the Ottoman Empire.
A branch of the Naqshbandiyya order.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam with origins in 12th-century Iran. The tradition now extends throughout Asia, Africa and Southern Europe.
Qadiriyya wa Naqshbandiyya
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam that combines the teachings of the Qadiriyya and Naqshbandiyya orders. It is found mainly in Southeast Asia.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam dating from the 12th century. It arose in modern-day Spain and is now most prevalent in South and Central Asia.
The Muslim holy book.
The ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, marked by daytime fasting (sawm) to commemorate the revelation of the Quran.
Salat or salah
Salat are formal prayers that adult Muslims are prescribed to perform five times a day.
Shadhiliyya or Shaziliyya
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam dating to the 13th century. Today, it is found in the Middle East-North Africa, South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Turkey.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam dating to the 15th century. It was founded in Iran but is most prevalent in South Asia today.
One of the two main branches of Islam. The name is a shortened form of the historical term Shia-t-Ali, or “party of Ali,” and refers to one of the factions that emerged from a dispute over leadership succession soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. Over time, the political divide between Shia and Sunni Muslims broadened to include theological distinctions and differences in religious practice.
A mystical movement in Islam that encompasses a set of rituals, such as euphoric worship, as well as certain beliefs, such as the existence of saints and the possibility of gaining direct knowledge of God. Today, Sufism is organized into orders, or tariqas, each grouped around a spiritual leader or shaykh.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam dating to the 12th century. It was founded in Iraq but is most prominent in South Asia today.
One of the two main branches of Islam. Sunni Muslims make up a majority of the world’s Muslim population. The name comes from Ahl al-Sunna Jammah, or “people of the Sunna and the community.” Sunni Islam is associated with norms of Muslim conduct based on the sayings and actions of Muhammad, particularly as enshrined in the four major schools of jurisprudence – Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam that emerged from the Qadiriyya order in the late 18th century. It was founded in North Africa but has spread widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It is considered a reformist movement that sought to simplify the practice of Islam based on the words and practices of the Prophet Muhammad.
The worldwide Muslim community of believers.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam that is an offshoot of the Qadiriyya order. It was founded in the Caucasus region in the mid-20th century.
A Sufi order in Sunni Islam that dates to the 11th century. The movement is centered in Central Asia.
Zakat or zakah
The religious duty of Muslims to give a portion of their wealth to charity. It is one of the five main practices, or pillars, of Islam.
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