Appendix A: Glossary
Note: All terms defined as they relate to Muslims and Islam.
Allah – Arabic word for God.
Eid – The most holy days in Islam. For example, Eid al-Fitr is the festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. (Also see Ramadan.)
Five Pillars of Islam – The basic tenets of Islam.
- Profession of faith, or shahada.
- Praying, or salah.
- Giving of alms, or zakat.
- Fasting, or sawm, during the holy month of Ramadan.
- Pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj.
Halal – Sanctioned by Islamic law. In this survey, the word halal refers primarily to foods, and especially to religiously required methods for slaughtering animals.
Hijab – A head scarf worn by many Muslim women. Other common types of coverings include burqa (which covers the entire face and body), niqab (which covers the whole face except for the eyes) and chador (which wraps around the head and upper body but leaves the face exposed).
Jumah – Friday congregational prayer usually held in a mosque. (Also see mosque.)
Mosque – A place of worship for Muslims.
Nation of Islam – One of the groups that some Muslim respondents named when they were asked, “Are you Shia, Sunni or another tradition?” The Nation of Islam is a small religious group primarily composed of African American Muslims in the United States. Many Muslims consider the Nation of Islam’s beliefs heretical, in large part because the movement teaches that its founder was the embodiment of God, and that 20th-century leader Elijah Muhammad was a prophet, in contrast with the Sunni and Shia belief that Muhammad (who died in 632) was the last prophet. (Also see Sunni and Shia.)
Prophet Muhammad – Prophet of Islam believed by Muslims to have received the divine revelation of the Quran in the early 600s.
Quran – The central religious text of Islam. Also commonly spelled “Koran.”
Ramadan – Throughout the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, physically fit Muslim adults traditionally abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual activity from dawn to dusk.
Salah – Ritual prayers that constitute one of the Five Pillars of Islam and traditionally are performed five times each day.
Shia – One of the two major branches of Islam, the other of which is Sunni. The schism began with a dispute over the rightful succession of leadership after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. Followers of Shia Islam are called Shias or Shiites. (Also see Prophet Muhammad.)
Sunnah – Arabic for “habits” or “practices.” In this report, the Sunnah refers to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. In addition to following the Quran, many Muslims try to follow these practices.
Sunni – One of the two major branches of Islam, the other of which is Shia. Following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, a dispute over the succession of leadership led to the schism that persists to this day. Followers of Sunni Islam are called Sunnis. (Also see Prophet Muhammad.)
Ummah – The worldwide Muslim community.