Eid al-Fitr

The Islamic calendar includes two annual feasts (Eids): Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Fast-breaking; and Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice. Muslims gather to perform the prayers and eat sweets on Eid al-Fitr at the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan. Eid al-Adha is a four-day observance, beginning on the tenth day of Dhu-l-Hijja (“Pilgrimage Month”). Muslims throughout the world, with pilgrims in Makkah, pray and sacrifice an animal in memory of God’s sparing of Ismail (Ishmael), Abraham’s son. Both festivals include sermons, the giving of presents, and special dinners with friends... Read more about Eid al-Fitr

Khan, Hazrat Inayat

Hazrat Inayat Khan was the founder of the Sufi Order in the West in 1910. His philosophy aims at “the awakening of the soul of humanity to the consciousness of the divinity of man.” The Sufi meditation and practice to enable this awakening is today carried on by his son Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, who continues to teach in the United States and around the world.


The word “caliph,” from the Arabic Khalifah, means “successor” to the Prophet Muhammad. It was used as the title for the highest politico-religious leader of the Sunni Muslim community from 632 to 1258 CE.

Jama’ati Islami

Jama’at-i Islami means “The Islamic Group” or “The Islamic Congregation,” a reform movement founded in India by Mawlana Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi (1903-1979) in 1941, dedicated to training small groups of devout Muslims who could form the core of a new Islamic order consistent with the Qur’an and Sunnah. After the founding of Pakistan, the movement has played a major role in debates about the state’s Islamic character, and its ideology has inspired Muslim activists around the globe.

Qur’anic recitation

(also: Tajwid) Qur’an means “recitation.” It is a sacred text meant to be recited and heard. Before the written form of the Qur’an, reciters preserved the verses in memory. Today, young Muslim children learn to recite the Qur’an from memory, and professional reciters perform for special occasions, such as festivals and funerals. The science of tajwid, “making beautiful,” defines strict rules of pronunciation and intonation and separates Qur’anic recitation from musical art in form and intent.

al-Razi, Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr al-Razi (865-926 CE) was a Persian doctor, philosopher, chemist, and humanitarian who, despite his agnosticism and belief that all religions were created by man, was well known and beloved in the early Muslim world.

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)

The Islamic Circle of North America was formed in 1968 by a group within the Muslim Student Association with roots in the Jama’at-i Islami movement of Pakistan but has since tried to diversify its membership. The organization publishes the magazine The Message and sponsors national conferences and youth camps, provides financial services, multimedia production and educational materials.

new Muslims

New Muslims are those who have recently embraced Islam. Some Muslims do not speak of “converts” to Islam, since the language of “conversion” carries negative and coercive connotations and because of the belief that all people are ‘born Muslim’. Thus, those who as adolescents or adults recognize the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad are often called “new Muslims.”

Wahhaj, Siraj

Imam of Masjid al-Taqwa in Brooklyn, New York, Siraj Wahhaj is one of the most dynamic African-American leaders of Sunni Islam in the United States. On June 15, 1991, Imam Siraj Wahhaj was the first Muslim to offer the opening prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Adam is Hebrew for “human, man.” It is the name given to the first person created by God and as such has an important symbolic role in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.


Iftar is “breaking the fast” at the end of each day of the month of Ramadan. After sundown during Ramadan, most Muslims ceremonially break their fast by eating dried dates and soup before the maghreb prayer. Later they may eat a larger meal with relatives and friends.

Muhammad, Elijah

Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole, 1897; d.1975) became leader of the Nation of Islam after the founder, Wallace Fard, disappeared in 1934. Poole and others adopted African and Islamic names as a sign of their emancipation from the domination of whites and Christianity. Elijah Muhammad’s message—a combination of black nationalist separatism and teachings from the Bible and Qur’an—focused on abstinence from alcohol and drugs, strict conformity to Islamic codes of dress and conduct, and self-sufficient economic and political development by African Americans.


Tarawih is an added devotional practice during Ramadan in which Muslims gather to perform extra ritual prayers after the final prayer of the day, sometimes staying up most of the night reciting the Qur’an and engaging in other rigorous or supererogatory forms of worship.


Halal means “permissible” or “pure.. For Muslims, halal is a legal term referring to good actions and to foods that are ritually slaughtered. Halal is the opposite of Haram.

Sunni Muslim

Sunni Muslims emphasize the authoritative role of the consensus of religious scholars (‘ulama) in interpreting the Qur’an and the Sunnah (custom) of the Prophet. The community could thus choose any good Muslim as a successor (khalifah) to Muhammad, though the leader would have no special spiritual guidance as Shi’i Muslims believe. Sunni Muslims comprise approximately 85 percent of Muslims today.