A hafiz is a person who has memorized the entire Qur’an in Arabic. Learning the proper recitation of the Qur’an from memory is one of the primary goals of Islamic education for children, and the attainment of the status of a hafiz is a high honor.


The minaret is a tower often built to adorn a mosque, from which the call to prayer may be sounded.

Tablighi Jama’at

Tablighi Jama’at means literally, “the group that invites.” It is an apolitical missionary movement of Muslims, based in India, with a worldwide membership of millions. The movement sends small groups of Muslim men to visit inactive Muslims or inquirers to persuade them to conform their lives to Qur’an and Sunnah and to perform the prayers and other religious duties.


Fiqh means “understanding” the Shariah, the law of God, as it is laid out in the Qur’an and Hadith and interpreted by community consensus and human reason. Four schools of legal interpretation (fiqh) are accepted in Sunni Islam: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali schools. The Shi’i tradition has developed its own schools of fiqh, the most prominent of which is the Ja’fari school.


Masjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit; outside of the prayer hall is a place for ablutions. Many masajid are also adorned with a towering minaret, from which the call to prayer may be sounded.


Sufism is often called “the heart of Islam,” as its emphasis on the inner life enlivens and supplements the outward practices of ritual and legal obligation. It is not a sect of Islam, but rather a stream of interpretation stressing the interior path, or tariqah, of mystical devotion to God. Sufi “orders,” groups of disciples, developed around the great masters, each with particular teachings and practices.

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.


Shahadah means “witness” and refers to the Muslim declaration of faith: “I bear witness that there is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” The shahadah is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.


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.”