A Learner’s Guide to Islam – Basic Words and Terms

The discussion in the west on Islam is subject to deliberate misrepresentation, to manipulate people’s ignorance. This learner’s guide of basic concepts is provided to keep our readership informed.

The Kaaba in Mecca (Photo - Wikipedia)

Throughout history, words have been and continue to be the most powerful weapons in the human intellectual arsenal. Individuals are able to energize peoples, incite revolutions, lead nations and change the course of history with just the power of the spoken word, much more than the written.

Interestingly enough, according to the Bible, the whole of creation (animate or inanimate – except humankind) came into being with the words of God.

To truly fathom and understand Muhammad’s Quran, one must do more than just accept the preaching of the so called ‘scholars’ of Islam whose prime agenda is to mislead, deceive and misrepresent the facts about the Quran.

Therefore, this article will address the most relevant words, terms and/or expressions used in Islamic scripture by revealing their original and true meaning as a foundation upon which readers can resort to when reading our future series of articles addressing every facet of Islamic beliefs.

These words will be later linked to fully detailed archives revealing their full facts with the relevant chapters and verses from the Islamic sources.

Muhammad: Muhammad bin abd Allah (570 – 632AD) is the so called prophet of Muslims who allegedly received revelations from Allah (the god of Muslims) through the angel Gabriel that were later compiled into a book called Quran.

Quran: Its root verb in Arabic is Qaraa meaning ‘He Read’. It is the holy book of the followers of Muhammad and considered to be perfect, eternal and uncreated.

Islam: Contrary to what Muslims and clueless leaders tell us, Islam does NOT mean “Peace”. Its root verb is Aslama meaning “Submission”. In Islamic terminology it means submission to the will of their god called Allah.

Allah: Originally, the name of the supreme rock god of Pagan Arabia centuries before Muhammad metamorphosed him into the God of the Bible. Allah had three intercessory divine daughters called: al Lat, al Uzza, al Manat.

The Five Pillars of Islam: acts that are mandated and obligatory upon every Muslim. These include:

Shahada/ Declaration of Faith:  In Arabic “La Ilah Illa Allah wa Muhammad Rassool Allah” meaning “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. This is what converts to Islam must recite in front of Muslim witnesses to become Muslims.

Salah/Prayer: Consists of five prayers a day conducted anywhere on Earth not necessarily in a mosque.

Zakat/ Charity: Alms giving and charity. In Islam everything on Earth belongs to Allah hence it is incumbent upon every Muslim to help others who are less fortunate.

Sawm/Fasting: Three types of fasting are recognized in the Quran the most important of which is the whole month of Ramadan. Fasting is supposed to bring Muslims nearer to Allah

Hajj/ Pilgrimage: Every able bodied Muslim, male or female must make Hajj at least once in one’s lifetime to Mecca as an expression of devotion to Allah. Interesting to note that the pilgrimage was practiced by the Pagan Arabs centuries before Muhammad Islamized it.

There are those who consider a Sixth pillar –

Jihad: Holy struggle or fight against Infidels (Kuffar)/ Non Muslims, “for the sake of Allah”/ Fi Sabil Allah there is much debate among Muslims on whether this constitutes a Pillar of the faith, some define it as the unspoken sixth pillar of Islam since the Quran commands it, and Hadiths refer to it :

Al Baqara 2.216: “Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.”

The debate over this issue will be the topic of a future segment.

Hadiths: These are the written traditions (based on the Sunna) about Muhammad denoting his words, actions, thoughts, deeds, advice, practices and silent approvals, compiled by several of his followers (from Oral traditions) centuries after his death. In fact, without Hadiths, Muslims could not practice their faith based only on the Quran.

Sunna: These are the Oral traditions about Muhammad denoting his words, actions, thoughts, deeds, advice, practices and silent approvals, compiled by several of his followers (from Oral traditions) centuries after his death.

Sharia: Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of Muhammad’s Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (Hadith and Sunna). Sharia regulates in full the lives of the followers of Muhammad politically, theologically, morally, economically, socially and judicially. Not a single item of the above can be separated from the whole.

Kuffar: Any and all non Muslims are called Kuffar/ Infidels whose destiny under Sharia is three pronged a) Convert to Islam b) Submit in humiliation and degradation to Muslims c) failing a and b, Extermination.

Ayah: Means sign or miracle as well as verse.

Surah: Means Scripture as well as Chapter.

Jizya: In Arabic it is an onerous financial penalty (Muslims call it tax) paid by non Muslims for refusing to convert to Islam and is invariably paid under humiliating conditions on purpose to force non Muslims to convert to Islam.

Mecca: At the time of Muhammad, it was the commercial and spiritual centre of Pagan Arabia centuries before Muhammad incorporated it and its pagan traditions into Islam. It harbored the Kaaba.

Kaaba: The center of Islam’s most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid Al-Ḥaram (The Sacred Mosque), in Mecca, Hejaz, Saudi Arabia. The modern building has absolutely no resemblance to the original extremely primitive structure which had no roof.  It is the holiest site in Islam. It is considered by Muslims to be the Beit Allah (House of Allah)

Black Stone: Arabic (Al-Ḥajaru al-Aswad) is a meteorite set into the eastern corner of the Kaaba’s Grand Mosque in Mecca. It was revered by the Pagan Arabians because it fell down from heaven. Muhammad incorporated it into Islamic traditions.

Tawaf: Pagan Arabians pilgrims used to circle the Kaaba as a part of the ritual during the hajj and many try to stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that Islamic tradition records that it received from Muhammad.

Mosque: The place of worship for the followers of Muhammad (Muslims). In Arabic ‘Masjid’ meaning place of prostration in prayer. The first mosque was in Mecca.

Farthest Mosque: (Al-Masjid ul-Aqsa) According to Islamic mythology, Muhammad was transported physically from Mecca to the Furthest Mosque in a Night Journey. Though attributed to Jerusalem, Jerusalem is never mentioned in the earliest Islamic scriptures. The mosque in Jerusalem was built many years after the death of Muhammad.

Medina: Medina is about 200 miles north of Mecca. At the time of Muhammad it harboured five tribes: three Jewish and two pagan. Muhammad escaped from Mecca to reside in Medina 632 AD. The pagans called it Yathrib while the Jews called it Medina.

Hijra: The Hegira (also called Hijrah) is the migration or journey of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina on 19th April 622 and this date became the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

Tawhid: The Muslim belief in the indivisible oneness of Allah. It is the belief’s central and single-most important concept, upon which a Muslim’s entire faith rests.

Allahu Akbar: It actually means “Allah is Bigger”. Not Greater or Greatest as some tell the world because Greater in Arabic is Aatham. It is actually the “Terror Verse” and most recited term in Islam uttered by every Muslim when glorifying Allah before mass murdering Infidels/Kuffa/ non Muslims (every would be Jihadi), slaughtering animals or in war.


IQ al Rassooli is an authority on the subjects of Islam, Arab – Islamic history and the Arab – Israeli conflict. You can follow him on his blog  www.Inthenameofallah.org

[Find this article interesting? You can find more in depth articles on Israel and the Middle East @en.mida.org.il]


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