Commonly Used Words and Phrases
As-salaam Alaikum- May God’s Peace be Upon You. The universal greeting of Muslims. Also commonly used among Arabs of all faiths. When Muslim meets another Muslim (also can be used to greet people of other faiths) they will say As-salaam Alaikum. The reply is Walaikum As-salaam (And May God’s Peace be upon you too). The practice of greeting each other with Peace is derived from the Quranic teachings. “When a greeting is offered you, answer it with an even better greeting, or (at least) with its like. God keeps count of all things.”
[Holy Quran 4: 86]
InshaAllah- God Willing. Used when talking about a intending to do something in the future. (E.g. I will be here next week, InshaAllah). The use of InshaAllah is derived from the Quranic teachings. “Nor say of anything, “I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow.” Without adding, “If God wills it so (inshaAllah).” And call your Lord to mind when you forget, and say, “I hope that my Lord will guide me ever closer to the right path.” [Holy Quran 18:24-24]
Jazak-Allah Khair - May God grant you your good wishes. Often used instead of “Thank you.” If you were to bring a Muslim a cup of coffee, instead saying Thank You, he or she will could say, “Jazak-Allah Khair.”
Astaghfir Allah - I seek forgiveness from God. A commonly used phrase used when talking about something that goes against normative Islam.
Ma-Shaa Allah - Praise be to God for what He willed. Expresses appreciation, joy, praise or thankfulness for an event or person that was just mentioned. Person A: Friend of ours had a baby. Person B: Masha’Allah!
Allahu Akbar - God is Most Great. Prayers begin with saying Allahu Akbar – praising God and acknowledging that no one is greater than Him. Sometimes in rallies, crowds may chant Allahu Akbar, as way of giving glory to God.
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim - In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. When beginning any action such as eating or driving) Muslims may say, Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim. This phrase is at the begining of 113 out of the 114 chapters in the Quran.
Fatwa - Islamic juristic opinion. Fatwas are non-binding opinions given by Islamic jurists (muftis) on questions posed to them. The questions can range from the ordinary day-to-day family issues to matters involving statecraft.
Sawm - Fasting. Any kind of fasting is described in Arabic as Siyam or Sawm. Thre are several References to fasting in the Quran:
2:183 O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,-
2:184 (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.
2:185 Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.
Salaat - Salaat is the Arabic word for the Islamic prayer. The Quran makes several references to Prayer:
Be ever mindful of prayers, and of praying in the most excellent way; and stand before God in devout obedience. Qur’an 2:238
Truly, to a happy state shall attain the believers: those who humble themselves in their prayer, and who turn away from all that is frivolous, and who are intent on inner purity. Qur’an 23:1-4
Extol, then, God’s limitless glory when you enter upon the evening hours, and when you rise at morn; and seeing that unto Him is due all praise in the heavens and earth, glorify Him in the afternoon as well, and when you enter upon the hour of noon. Qur’an 30:17-18
And before God prostrate themselves, willingly or unwillingly, all things and beings that are in the heavens and the earth, as do their shadows in the mornings and the evenings. Qur’an 13:15
Zakat - The word Zakat means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Zakat is the amount of money that every adult, mentally stable, free, and financially able Muslim, male and female, has to pay to support specific categories people:
“The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of God, and (for) the wayfarers (travelers); a duty imposed by God. God is knower, Wise.” (The Holy Qur’an 9:60).
“O you who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in Falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of God. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of God. Announce unto them a most grievous penalty – On the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, their flanks, and their backs.- “This is the (treasure) which you buried for yourselves: taste then, the (treasures) you buried!” (The Holy Qur’an 9:34-35).