O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice.
Welcome to the family of over a billion Muslims worldwide. Since you are now part of the family, you need to understand the lingo. Overwhelming majority of Muslims do not speak Arabic but there are common terms which are understand by majority of Muslims regardless of colour, ethnicity and local language. In fact, these terms will come in handy not only when you are visiting your local Mosque and meeting local Muslims but also when in native Muslim countries. Local pronunciations may vary but some derivatives of these terms are used by all Muslims and well understood.
All terms will be listed in a specific order and sequence.
The term Shariah literally means a “pathway to an oasis”. Imagine, driving on a road at night and the lights on the side guiding you to ensure that you stay on the road. For Muslims, Shariah is a manual of dos and don’ts to perform their acts of worship. The term is specifically used in the Qur’aan as follows:
[5:48] And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.
Shariah has 3 primary sources in the following order:
1 Qurān: The final and last testament of Allāh.
2 Sunnah: The sayings, actions and approval of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). Approvals means that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) witnessed his companions perform an action and (silently) approved it or kept silent as his silence is taken as approval. This authority of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) is comes from the Qurān.
[59:7] ...And whatever the Messenger has given you - take; and what he has forbidden you - refrain from....
3Al-ījmá (Consensus): In this context, if the first 3 generations of Muslims i.e. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and his comanions then the generations afterwards and then the generation afterwards agreed on an issue then it is binding for Muslims to follow. It is imporant to note that "consensus" in this context is limited to only the first three generations. It is also sometimes known as the "way of the believers":
[4:115] And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers - We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.
4Qīyās (Deductaive Reasoning): This isn't a primary source but a tool to reach a judgement. If an issue isn't available in the first 3 primary sources then Muslims are encouraged to deduce the ruling keeping the (previous) legal judgements and predecences in mind. Muadh Ibn Jabal (RA) was a companion of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) who was deputed to Yemen and this incident occured towards the end of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him)'s life, the following exchange took place at the time of his departure to Yemen:
[59:7] ...Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said: How will you judge? Mu’adh (RA) said, “I will judge according to what is in the Book of Allah.” The Prophet (Peace be upon Him)said: What if it is not in the Book of Allah? Mu’adh (RA) said, “Then with the tradition (sunnah) of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him).” The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said: What if it is not in the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him)? Mu’adh (RA) said, “Then I will strive to form an opinion (ijtihad).” The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said: All praise is due to Allah who has made suitable the messenger of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him)...[Tirmidhi]
Categorisation of Islamic Actions
1 Fardh (Obligation): It is a command upon Muslims which is proven by devinitve evidence and it is compulsory.
2 Wājīb (Obligation): It is a command upon Muslims which is proven by devinitve evidence and it is compulsory. It is an Academic distinction but practically it is the same as Fardh.
3 Sunnah (Prophetic Ways): This is (primarily) the actions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) which all Muslims are encouraged to follow. It is the pathway to achieve closeness to Allāh and to gain highter status in the afterlife. It is a very a commonly used word by Muslims and widely spoken.
4 Bidʻah (Reprehensible Innovation which is newly invented): A newly invented way [beliefs or action] in the religion, which resembles the Shariah (prescribed Law), seeking nearness to Allaah through that act, increasing in the worshipping of Allah. If these actions do not resemble actions of Shariah, they will not be Bidʻah. It is a also very a commonly used word by Muslims and widely spoken. However, it is misunderstood even by Muslims. Actions pertaining to life in this world are not Bidʻah even if they are new inventions e.g. an driving an electric car etc. It is advised to consult a qualified Islāmic scholar on the issue.
5 Mubʻah (Permissable): An action which is permissable. It is a neutral action which carries no virture for doing and no penalty for abandoing. Colloquially, Muslims use this term to mean something which is allowed.
6 Halāl (Permissable): An object which is permissable for Muslims to cosume and it is most commonly spoken in terms of food eg. Chicken is Halāl.
7 Harām (Forbidden): An object which is impermissable for Muslims to cosume and it is most commonly spoken in terms of food eg. Pork is Harām.
8 Makʻrūh (Disliked): These are actions (or food items) which literally fall in between being permissable or impermissable. Makʻrūh Tahreemi (strongly disliked) is closer to Harām. Generally, it is something to avoid.
9 Qa'dā : In the context of acts of worship they are all done at a specific time. If the specific time is missed then the act of worship becomes Qa'dā e.g. a person forgot to wake up for the morning prayers and missed the paryers then it can be said that his morning prayers have become Qa'dā. The person would simply peform the prayers as soon as possible.
And lastly the important...
10 Niyyāh (Intention) : It is an obligation to make an intention for every action in Islam e.g. before starting the morning prayers an intention needs to be made. It is not necessary to verbally say, "I intend to perform my morning prayers for the sake of Allāh" or at the time of ablution (washing before prayers) it is not necessary to verbally say, "I intend to perform my ablution (washing) for the sake of Allāh, just thinking it is sufficent. However, to get into a habit or to concentrate a person can say it if they want to. It is literally an action of the heart and not the tongue.
Three Habits to pickup
Here, we will digress and list 3 habits which you must adopt after accepting Islam.
1 Niyyāh (Intention): Before performing any action, reflect upon it before starting and make an intention whatever the action may be eating, drinking, sleeping, having sex or eating. Learn to make an intention, "I am doing this (whatever it is) for the pleasure of Allāh.
2 Basmallah: Muslims start everything after taking the name of Allāh for blessings and protection. It can be done before each and every action i.e. eating, drinking, driving etc, the full phrase is as follows:
bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
3 Right hand (Eating & Drinking): Muslims generally use the left hand in the toilet to clean the private parts and right hand for everything else. If you are left handed, use the right hand to eat and drink and practise as it is considered extremely offensive by Muslims to eat or drink with the left hand. It is not necessary to practise to do everything with the right hand, just eating and driking is sufficent with the right hand.
Names of common acts of worship & Events
1 Istinjā (After Toilet Cleaning): This is the act to clean oneself after using the Toilet. When using the toilet splashes of urine should be avoided and the private parts should be throroughly cleaned to ensure that nothing from urine or feces remains. Typically, Muslims use water after using the toilet see demonstration and details here.
2 Ghusl (Bath): An obliagatory bath after having a sexual intercourse or a wet dram or once the mentrual cycle is over. In the beginning, remember to wash the whole body, gargle 3 times and rinse your nose 3 times while in the shower. It is a good time to do these 3 things whenever a shower is taken, see demonstration and details here.
3 Wudhu (Ablution): Ritual washing before praying or touching the (orginal Arabic) alphabets of the Qurān. Sleeping or passing gas breaks your Wudhu otherwise it carries on. It is a good idea to remain in a state of Wudhu at all times, see demonstration and details here.
4 Salāh (Prayers): Five times daily prayers. Over 1/3rd of Muslims are from South Asia and Muslims from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh/Sri Lanka (along with Turks, Iranians, Afghans, Russians and others) use the term "Namāz" in their native language. The name of the prayers are as follows:
5Fajr: Morning prayers and it is done between dawn and sunrise. It consits of 4 units but 2 of the units are Fardh (obligatory) and 2 are Sunnah, remember the number 2.
6Ḍuhr: Afternoon prayers and it starts when the sun is at its highest point and ends at Mid-afternoon. It consits of 12 units but 4 of the units are Fardh (obligatory) and 2 are Sunnah, remember the number 4.
7ʿAṣr: Mid-afternoon prayers and it starts from mid-afternoon and can be prayed before sunset but it preferred to pray as soon as possible and not delay it until sunset. It consits of 4 units so remember the number 4.
8Maghrib: Sunset prayers and should be done as quickly as possible after sunset. It consits of 5 units but 3 are Fardh so remember the number 3.
9Ishāʾ: Night prayers and it starts when the stars become visible (about 90 minutes after sunset) and lasts until sunrise but it preferred to pray it before midnight. It consits of 9 units but 4 of the units are Fardh (obligatory), 3 are Wājīb (Obligation) and 2 are Sunnah, remember the number 4 number 3 .
In America, we remeber the obligatory prayer units by using the Phone number 24434/Extension 3
10Ādhān (Call to Prayer): It is the person who leads others in congregational prayers. After the Ādhān there is usually a 15-20 delay before the prayers actually begin
11Iqāmah (Call to start Prayer): Muslims line up start in prayer rows (called Saff) and then Iqāmah is called which is the actual sign that prayer is about to begin. It is also pronounced Iqāmat and sometimes also called Takbeer, although Takbeer is technically the first Allahu-Akbar of your prayer.
12Imām (Prayer Leader): It is the person who leads others in congregational prayers.
13Jūmūāhʾ (Friday Prayers): On Fridays, it is an obligation on Muslim men to congregate at the Mosque and pray Jūmūāhʾ instead of Ḍuhr. The Imām gives a sermon and then 2 units of Fardh (obligatory) are done. The Muslim (man or women) who performs the Jūmūāhʾ prayers does not pray the 4 units of Ḍuhr as they would ordinaryily peform on any other day.
14 Sāūm (Fasting): It is permissbale and encouraged to fast on other days but the obligation is to fast during the entire month of Ramaḍān which is 9th month of the Islāmic Calendar. Fasting is done from True dawn (before sunrise) to sunset or from the morning prayer to the sunset prayer.
15 Hijrī (Calendar): It is commonly known as the Hijrī or the Islāmic Calendar and consists of 12 months. On the 29th of each Islāmic month, Muslims try to sight the new (Crescent or the Moon) after sunset which is called in Hīlāl Arabic.If the Moon is sighted then the new Islāmic month begins immediately otherwise an extra day is added and the new Islāmic month begins at the next sunset. Thus the Islāmic month can only be 29 days or 30 days and never 28 or 31! Just like the Christian and Jewish calendar, new day in Islām begins immediately after sunset and not at midnight.
16 Eīd al-Fītr (Festival of Breaking the Fast): This festival is celebrated after completing the month of fasting i.e. Ramaḍān. On the 29th day of Ramaḍān Muslims attempt to sight the new (Moon) and it if is sighted then the festivities begin and if the Moon is not sighted then Ramaḍān completes 30 days and an extra fast is kept. Although technically, the festival begins at sunset but Muslims make special prayers the next day and then celebrate. The collective prayers are a hallmark of the Muslim calendar and Muslims travel with families to the Mosque in large numbers.
17 Eīd al-Adhā (Festival of the sacrifice): This festival is celebrated on the 10th day of the 12 month. On this month Pilgrimage is performed in Makkah (Saudi Arabia) but Muslims around the world make a special prayer and then offer an animal in sacrifice to commmorrate the example of Prophet Abarham (AS) and his son Ishamel (AS). The collective prayers are a hallmark of the Muslim calendar and Muslims travel with families to the Mosque in large numbers.
18 Udhiyā (Sacrifice): The name for the (animal) sacrifice which is offered at Eīd al-Adhā. However, commonly majority of the Muslims call it "Qurbāni" or sometimes it is shortened to Qurbān by African Muslims.
19 Zākah (Obligatory Charity): It is stronly encouraged in Islām for Muslims to donate and provide assistance to those around them. However, if a Muslim has wealth (over a certain threshold) for 12 Islāmic months then it is Fardh to donate 2.5% to the poor and it is called Zākah. It is also pronounced Zākat.
20 Hajj (Obligatory Pilgrimage): If a Muslim has the health and (financial) means then it is Fardh upon him/her to visit Makkah once in a lifetime and peform Hajj which is done in the 12th month of the Islāmic Calendar.
21 Umrah (Optional Pilgrimage): A Muslim who has the health and (financial) can visit Makkah and peform the optional pilgrimage called Umran on dany days apart from the designated days of Hajj and it is called Umrah, it is a highly virtous and encouraged act.
22 Masjid (Mosque): A proper purpose built Mosque for offering prayers, Islāmic classes and other activities.
23 Mūsallāh (Prayer Hall/Room): Generally rented or temporary accomodation which is used for prayers, many of the prayer facilities in the west are Mūsallāh and not Masjid. Strictly speaking the area of the Mosque where the actual prayers are done is called Mūsallāh but in the West it is used for temporary prayer facilities or accomodation which is not a permnanent Masjid.
1 As-salāmu ʿalaykum (Peace be upon You): It is for the one who initiates the greeting, it is recommended to use the full phrase but generally the full phrase is not used but it is a great ice-breaker to use the full phrase
As-salāmu ʿalaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh = Peace be upon You and Mercy of Allāh and His Blessings
2 Wa alaykumu As-salām (Peace be upon You, Too): It is for the one who returns the greeting, it is recommended to use the full phrase but generally the full phrase is not used but it is a great ice-breaker to use the full phrase
Wa alaykumu As-salām wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh = Peace be upon You and Mercy of Allāh and His Blessings
3 Al-Ḥamdu lillāh (All Praise be Allāh): General phrase said when everything is ok and it is used almost all the times, e.g:
Al-Ḥamdu lillāh, I am ok
Al-Ḥamdu lillāh, the food is good
Al-Ḥamdu lillāh, Good to see after such a long time
Al-Ḥamdu lillāh, I am feeling great
4 Subhan Allāh (Glory be to Allāh): Used to convey surprise, astonishment or embarrasment or shock, e.g:
Subhan Allāh, were have you been not seen you in a long time?
Subhan Allāh, I totally forgot to call you!
Subhan Allāh, I didn't know otherwise I would have called you. I just found out.
Subhan Allāh, I didn't know you were in the Hospital...
5 Insha Allāh (If Allāh wills): Used when discussing something in the future e.g. Insha Allāh I will call you tonight
6 Jazāk Allāh (May Allāh reward you): This shortened version is used instead of "Thank You", the full and correct phrase is
Jazāk Allāhu Khayran = May Allāh reward you with good
7 Ma Sha Allāh (Allāh has willed it): Used when discussing good news or congradulating someone, e.g:
Ma Sha Allāh, Nice car or Nice House...
Ma Sha Allāh, looking good...
8 Inna lillāh: Used when a bad news is heard, common phrase when you hear someone has died in the community and to respond to someone with a loss (of any kind) so you would say this and then add, "I am Sorry for your loss etc..."
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un = Indeed, to Allāh we belong and to Allāh we shall return