DICTIONARY OF TERMS
Ahruf - meaning ‘form’ or ‘word’; used specifically in reference to the belief that the Qur’an was revealed in ‘7 Forms’ (‘7 Ahruf’).
Asbab-ul-nuzul - circumstances for the revelation; the circumstances in which it is believed ayas (verses) of the Qur’an were revealed; these can vary from source to source over the same aya.
Aya - a miracle; a reference to each verse of the Qur’an.
Batil - void; a reference to the unacceptability of a Hadith on the grounds of unacceptable transmission.
Caliphs - the rulers of Islam chosen by various means after Muhammad died.
Companion - one of those who saw Muhammad, and preferably knew him for a time; generally a reference to a select number who are well-known.
Da’if - weak; the categorisation of a Hadith on the grounds of poor transmission.
Damma - the small vocalisation mark used to indicate a short ‘u’.
Din - originally a word which was used interchangeably with the terms ‘Islam’ and ‘religion’ encompassing at that time all that was believed to be ‘Islam’; today it has a very restricted meaning.
Fatha - the small vocalisation mark used to indicate a short a.
Graphic Form - that portion of the Arabic text which made up the early written form, something which contained only the consonantal symbols. It does not include the diacritical dots which denotes which consonant each symbol is meant to represent, nor the fatha (short ‘a’), kasra (short ‘i’), or damma (short ‘u’), nor the shadda indicating the need to double the consonant.
Hafiz (huffaz) - a reference to one who memorises well; today it is used of those who can recite the Qur’an off by heart.
Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca; something believed obligatory at least once in a lifetime for each individual who can afford it.
Halal - something declared to be clean or encouraged to be done.
Haram - something declared to be forbidden.
Hizb-ut-tahrir - one group which today is at the forefront of pushing those in Islam to seek the ‘vice-regency’.
‘Ijm - consensus; there are admittedly several varieties of consensus; generally the reference is to the majority of the scholars having accepted something.
‘Ijtihad - ‘personal opinion’ - generally that of a Mujtahid scholar in his scholarly assessing of the Qur’an and Sunnah to derive an interpretation of the religion; today what is embodied in the 4 Madhabs alone is accepted since ‘the gate of ‘Ijtihad was closed in the early centuries.
Injil (Injeel) - the Message of the Gospel; perceived by Islam to be a pre-existing revelation ‘sent down’ to Jesus and referred to as a ‘Book’.
Isnad - chain of transmitters; the list of names which represent the persons through whom a particular piece of information is believed to have been transmitted. This is one means by which the orally transmitted information is verified as ‘true’; thus it is ‘the way to mat’n (content)’ i.e. the way to establish the reliability of the content.
Kasra - the small mark by which a short ‘i’ is denoted in vocalisation.
Kithman - a form of ‘outwitting’ (see ‘outwitting’) attributed to the Shi’ah.
La-Madhabis (i.e. ‘no Madhab’) - those who reject adherence to the 4 Orthodox schools of Fiqh (Madhabs).
Madhab - a school of fiqh; today accepted by orthodox (Sunni) Islam as being 4 in number, namely Hanbali, Maliki, Hanafi, and Shafi’i; formerly they numbered in the hundreds. The Shi’ah school denoted as coming from Jafar Sadiq is accepted by some within the Sunni ranks as another Madhab.
Matn - the content of the Hadith or piece of information which is thought to be confirmed or denied by checking the reliability of the isnad.
Mushaf - manuscript or copy of the Qur’an, as in ‘Mushaf Al-Madinah’.
Mutawatir - universally accepted; a term generally referring to the wide circulation of a Hadith.
Nass - the text of the Qur’an or Hadith.
‘Outwitting’ - a term used to define a category of activity in which a person ‘outwits’ another by word or deed; generally perceived to be used in battle and so termed ‘battle is an outwitting’ in one Hadith. It can encompass the use of tauriyya, taqayyah or kithman.
Qarra - one who carries the correct recitation of the Qur’an; some believe a qarra was sent to each Islamic centre to ensure the ‘true’ recitation of the Qur’an was known when ‘Uthman’s copies were sent out.
Qiyas - analogical deduction; a term referring to legal rulings deduced from an example which seems to run parallel to the situation for which a ruling is sought.
Rak’ats - units; a reference to the divisions of the Qur’anic text into sections.
Reading - the way of vocalising the Arabic text; generally in reference to the ‘7 Readings’, but also to the ‘Ten’, ‘Fourteen’, and even more, none of
which always agrees with the graphic form but which require amending of it; some also belong to graphic forms which agree with the records concerning the content of the Companion codices which ‘Uthman burnt. These are admittedly not the same as the ‘7 Ahruf’ in which the Qur’an is believed to have been ‘revealed’.
Rightly guided Caliphs - a reference to the first 4 Caliphs, being Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali, who are seen by Orthodox Islam in the light of a Hadith which declares that the first four generations will be trustworthy.
Riwaya - a different version of an existing reading; a reference to the varying versions of readings which are accepted although they are declared to have been transmitted from one individual.
Ruku - the body position in which the follower of Islam is bent forward 90 degrees at the waist and the hands are placed upon the knees.
Sahaba - the generation which saw Muhammad; declared to be the first of the four righteous generations.
Sahih - ‘sound’, ‘authentic’; a term used to denote the best accepted collections of Ahadith declared today as being 6 (sittah) collections, those of Bukhari, Muslim, al-Nisa’i, Abu Da’ud, at-Tirmidhi and ibn Maja.
Sajdah - prostration; a reference to bowing with hands, forehead and nose to the ground.
Salafiyyah - a group termed a ‘sect’ by the Madhabs of Orthodox Islam because it is amongst the La-Madhabis.
Shadh - exceptional; a reference to the rating of a reading as being out of the ordinary because of its isolated acceptance and transmission.
Shari’ah - Law; the term used today to describe the all-encompassing array of legal ruling set up over centuries; admittedly not a Qur’anic term and not used in such a way by early Islam, which only used the term ‘Din’; yet today Islam refers to ‘the Shari’ah which Muhammad brought’.
Sirah - biographies concerning Muhammad; the oldest is recognised as that of ibn Ishaq (d. 151 AH), the next oldest is simply a revision by ibn Hisham of ibn Ishaq’s Sirah.
Suhuf - sheet; generally used in reference to early written matter being on individual sheets.
Surah - a chapter of the Qur’an.
Tabi’i (pl. Tabi’un) - one who followed a Companion; in Islam a Companion of Muhammad.
Tafsir - a commentary.
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Taqayya - a form of ‘outwitting’; ‘not manifesting the Faith openly’; said to be mainly a Shi’ah action.
Tashdid (shaddah) - the small crown-like symbol which is placed above a consonant to denote the need for the reader to double it.
Taurat - Torah; generally a reference to the first 5 books of the Old Testament.
Taqleed - ‘necklacing’; the requirement that the average follower of Islam must follow one of several sets of teachings (generally the 4 Madhabs) derived from the Qur’an and Sunnah by a knowledgeable scholar (Mujtahid), but differing in their perspective on how these materials should be interpreted.
Tarikh - a text recording history.
Tauriya - a form of ‘outwitting’ in which one uses a word in conversation but a completely opposite meaning is intended from the obvious one.
Tawatur - through many transmissions; a reference to a Hadith being reported with varying isnads; this is considered to indicate reliability.
Thikr (Dhikr) - ‘the revelation’ believed to be contained in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
‘Ukkaz - the fair believed to have been held at Mecca at which the poets competed.
Ulema - theologians.
Ummah - Islam uses this as a connotation of any people who it perceives are under a prophet. Its followers thus refer to themselves as ‘the Ummah of Muhammad’.
Vocal Form - It is obvious that the orally transmitted Arabic text of the Qur’an contains all the consonants and vowels which are required to identify the letters and so the words. However, there are admittedly certain consonants in the orally transmitted text which are not in the manuscripts, i.e. the early written graphic form. When such a consonant is properly identified, it is said to be part of the vocal form, meaning it was not part of the original written text. The so-called dagger alif is such a case.
Vocalisation - the markings of fatha, kasra, damma, shaddah which have been added to the graphic form to show the reader what the words of the text are.
Zikr - recital; a reference to the recital of the Qur’an.