Notes: The Arabic definite article al-is not part of the alphabetization of names; names are alphabetized according to the first letter after the definite article.
All dates are Common Era (CE).
established a dynasty after they overthrew the Umayyads in 750. The Abbasid dynasty was centered in Baghdad, Iraq; it inaugurated a “golden age” of learning, high culture, and prosperity; ruled until 1258 when the Mongols sacked Baghdad.
Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanani (d. 827)
compiler of an early hadith work titled al-Musannaf.
Abduh, Muhammad (d. 1905)
prominent nineteenth-century Egyptian scholar and reformer; co-author, with his student Rashid Rida (d. 1935), of an influential Quran commentary in a modernist vein.
Abu Hanifa (d. 767)
a Successor (second-generation Muslim) from Kufa, Iraq, who became a famous jurist. The Hanafi school of law is named after him.
“people who follow the practices and customs of the Prophet”; Sunnis for short, who constitute about 85 percent of the world’s roughly 1.8 billion Muslims.
Aisha bint Abi Bakr (d. 614)
youngest wife of Muhammad and daughter of Abu Bakr, the first caliph; was a prolific transmitter of hadith and revered in general for her piety and learning.
refers to Spain under Muslim rule between 711 and 1492.
established in roughly 975 in Cairo, Egypt, as a mosque-university by the Fatimids, a Shii dynasty. After the Sunni Seljuqs gained control of Egypt in 1171, al-Azhar became the premier institution of Sunni religious education.
Arabic name for the one deity worshipped by Muslims; the name existed in the pre-Islamic period as well. Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allah.
al-Banna, Jamal (d. 2013)
reformer and prolific author, younger brother of Hasan al-Banna who founded the Muslim Brotherhood. Unlike his brother, Jamal al-Banna was known for his socially liberal views and critique of certain classical legal positions.
Battle of Badr
first battle fought by Muslims in 624 against the pagan Meccans who had persecuted and attacked them. Quran 22:39 is understood by exegetes to refer to this incident as a justified act of self-defense against Meccan aggression. The battle of Badr is mentioned by name in Quran 3:123.
Battle of Hunayn
took place in 630 after the fall of Mecca against two Bedouin tribes who had gathered troops in order to attack Muslims. The battle took place in the valley of Hunayn between Mecca and the city of Taif where these Bedouin tribes launched a surprise ambush upon the Muslim army sent to intercept them. The tribes were eventually defeated. The battle is mentioned in Quran 9:25.
Battle of Khandaq
although referred to as a battle, no fighting took place. The event takes its name from the Persian word for “trench” (khandaq) that was dug around the city of Medina to protect it from Meccan attack in 627. The Meccan army vainly tried to cross the trench for two weeks, but finally admitted defeat and retreated to Mecca.
Battle of Khaybar
conducted in 628 against the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir in the oasis of Khaybar in the Arabian Peninsula. The Banu Nadir had allied themselves with the pagan Meccans against the Muslims during the Battle of Khandaq; consequently they were exiled to Khaybar by Muhammad. Eager for revenge, the Banu Nadir continued to foment hostilities against the Prophet and goaded neighboring Arab tribes to rise up against him. Finally, the Muslim army laid siege to their fortresses that led to their eventual surrender, after which the Banu Nadir were allowed to continue to live in Khaybar in return for a tribute.
refers to the military expedition led by Muhammad to the Syrian border in 630 when he heard that the Byzantines had amassed their forces there in preparation for an attack on Muslims. Although referred to as a battle, no fighting occurred since the Byzantine forces failed to materialize.
Battle of Uhud
took place in 625 against the pagan Meccans who returned in this year to avenge their defeat at Badr.
Norwegian Christian militant who carried out terror attacks in 2011 in Oslo as a response to the increasing Muslim presence in Europe.
al-Bukhari (d. 870)
compiler of the most famous hadith collection among Sunnis titled al-Sahih.
al-Buti, Ramadan (d. 2013)
prominent Syrian scholar and author of Jihad in Islam.
close associates of the Prophet Muhammad, male and female; all hadiths have to go back to a Companion to be authoritative.
Constitution of Medina
a document drawn up by Muhammad immediately after the Emigration to Medina in 622 that described the Meccan Emigrants, Medinan Helpers, and Jews of Medina as constituting one community (umma) with equal rights and obligations.
a legal term coined by early jurists that referred to the “House/Abode of War,” designating territories under non-Muslim control and regarded as a source of threat to the security of Muslim realms.
a legal term referring to the “House/Abode of Islam,” designating territories under Muslim rule in which Muslim and non-Muslim residents feel secure.
a legal term referring to the “Abode of Reconciliation” or “Abode of Treaty” into which non-Muslim polities entered by signing peace treaties with Muslim authorities. The conception of these abodes do not derive either from the Quran or the hadith.
Meccan Muslims who emigrated to Medina, called Muhajirun in Arabic.
literally “virtues,” “excellences.” The term refers to a genre of literature that praises people, places, and certain actions or attributes, like patience and valor.
Faraj, Muhammad Abd al-Salam (d. 1982)
Egyptian radical who assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1982. Author of a book called The Neglected Duty (in English translation) in which he asserted that Muslims should violently overthrow their corrupt p. 188↵rulers in the name of jihad. Numerous refutations were composed by mainstream scholars in response.
refers to the Shii dynasty established in Cairo, Egypt, in 909; fell to the Sunni Seljuks in 1171.
Fi sabil allah
meaning “in the way of God,” “for the sake of God.”
Islamic jurisprudence or the study of law, the sources of which are the Quran, sunna, consensus, and analogical reasoning.
al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid (d. 1111)
famous scholar and theologian of the eleventh century who embraced the mystical Sufi path to knowledge. Author of the renowned work Revival of the Religious Sciences.
al-Ghunaimi, Mohammad Talaat
modern Egyptian jurist and author of several works comparing Islamic and Western international law.
refers to the sayings of Muhammad. It is the second source of law and ethics after the Quran.
annual pilgrimage to the Kaba during the twelfth month of Dhu al-hijja in the Islamic calendar. The pilgrimage season ends with the Feast of Sacrifice (Id al-Adha) that commemorates Abraham’s sacrifice of a ram in lieu of his son Ishmael in Mecca.
usual Arabic word for war; not connected to jihad in the Quran.
Medinan Muslims, called Ansar in Arabic, who provided financial and other forms of assistance to the Meccan Emigrants.
the emigration to Medina in 622 that corresponds to the first year of the Islamic calendar.
refers to brigandage, highway robbery, piracy, or sedition; often translated today as “terrorism.” Those who carry out hiraba are called muharibun (in today’s parlance, “terrorists”).
Ibn Abbas (d. ca. 688)
a cousin of the Prophet and a prominent Companion, highly regarded for his deep learning, especially his knowledge of the Quran.
Ibn Abi al-Dunya (d. 894)
well-known pious scholar from Baghdad who wrote a popular work on religious piety (zuhd) and another on patient forbearance (sabr).
Ibn Hajar (d. 1449)
well-known scholar of hadith and biographical works from the Mamluk period.
Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad (d. 855)
famous hadith scholar and jurist from ninth-century Baghdad, after whom the Hanbali school of law is named.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1350)
popular Hanbali jurist from Damascus, Syria, who studied with Ibn Taymiyya (see his entry).
Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328)
famous and controversial Hanbali scholar from the Mamluk period, author of several legal and theological works, often cited by conservative Muslim groups in the modern period.
refers to the consensus of the Muslim community on critical issues; in reality refers to the consensus of Muslim jurists. It is one of the sources of law in addition to the Quran, sunna, and analogical reasoning.
independent reasoning of the jurists in matters regarding which there is no revealed text.
contemporary Egyptian jurist who is the author of a detailed refutation of militant positions.
refers to an individual’s conscious submission and commitment to God’s will. The root consonants—slm—of the word Islam also generate meanings of peace, peacemaking, and reconciliation. Islam is, furthermore, the name given in the Quran to the original monotheistic religion practiced by Abraham and his descendants and by all the prophets sent by God to humankind.
term for the pre-Islamic period. Usually translated as “Age of Ignorance”; also understood to refer to an era characterized by recklessness and lack of self-restraint.
literally: struggle, effort, striving. The longer Arabic term al-jihad fi sabil allah means “striving in the path of God” in different spheres of life to promote what is good and just and prevent what is wrong and oppressive.
spiritual struggle, also called in Arabic al-Jihad al-akbar (the greater struggle); name given in later literature to the Quranic concept of sabr.
literally “struggle of the sword” or armed combat; also called in Arabic al-jihad al-asghar (the lesser struggle); name given in later literature to the Quranic concept of qital.
a kind of poll tax levied on Christian and Jewish men who were able to pay it in lieu of military service. Women, children, and the poor among them did not pay this tax. Men from these communities who served in the military were exempt from paying the jizya. In comparison, both Muslim men and women of means paid the wealth tax (zakat) to the state treasury. Zakat and jizya funds were used to financially support the poor from among both Muslims and non-Muslims in the early period.
the cube-shaped shrine in Mecca to which adult Muslims, if they are financially and physically capable, should undertake a pilgrimage at least once in their lives. According to Islamic tradition, the Kaba was established by Abraham and his son Ishmael and dedicated to the worship of the one God.
Khan, Wahiduddin (d. 2021)
prominent contemporary Indian Muslim peace activist and prolific author.
an extremist violent faction that emerged in the late seventh century during the time of the fourth caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was assassinated by one of them in 661. The Kharijites accused other Muslims, who did not subscribe to their extremist views, of having lapsed from Islam. In their view, such “lapsed” Muslims could be fought and killed. Today’s Islamist militant groups are frequently compared to the Kharijites.
refers to the ingratitude of those who deny the bounties of God and deny his existence. Such an ungrateful person is a kafir (pl. kuffar) and, therefore, an unbeliever.
Malik ibn Anas
jurist and author of al-Muwatta (The Well-Trodden Path), an important early collection of legal hadith; the Maliki school of law is named after him.
established by Turkic slave-warriors in 1250, with their center in Cairo, Egypt; lasted until the rise of the Ottomans in 1517.
al-Mawardi, Abu al-Hasan (d. 1058)
prominent Shafii jurist from Baghdad, known for his close ties to the Abbasid rulers. Author of a well-known treatise on governance and statecraft.
city in present-day Saudi Arabia in which Muhammad was born and where he preached for roughly twelve years.
610–622; refers to the period when the Prophet began receiving revelations in Mecca until his emigration to Medina.
city in present-day Saudi Arabia to which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to escape the persecution of the pagan Arabs there. Called Yathrib before the emigration to Medina.
622–632; period from after the hijra till the death of the Prophet.
Muhammad ibn Abd Allah
prophet of Islam, referred to as the Messenger of God (Rasul Allah in Arabic). Born in Mecca circa 570, he died in Medina in 632 when he was about sixty-three years old.
one who knowingly and sincerely submits to the one God. The Quran uses this term to refer to specifically the followers of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as all monotheistic worshippers through time.
Muslim ibn Hajjaj (d. 875)
commonly referred to in short as Muslim; compiler of “sound” or reliable hadiths in a collection known as al-Sahih; ranked second to al-Bukhari’s work with the same title.
controversial concept of “abrogation,” according to which certain early verses in the Quran are considered by some scholars to be cancelled or superseded by later verses.
a name given in this volume to Quran 8:61 that exhorts Muslims to make peace with an adversary that seeks peace. This commandment is understood to be valid and binding for Muslims for all time and places by major scholars; a few, however, considered it to be abrogated by Quran 9:5.
People of the Book
used in the Quran to refer to Jews, Christians, and Sabians (an early monotheistic group) who enjoy protection of life, property, and religion in Islamic realms, usually upon payment of the jizya.
the Arabic term is ahl al-dhimma; singular dhimmi. This designation overlaps to some degree with the concept of the People of the Book. In addition to Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, this protected status was later extended to Hindus, Buddhists, and others as well.
fighting, armed combat, a conditional aspect of jihad; called the “lesser jihad” or “struggle by the sword” in extra-Quranic literature.
the central scripture of Islam; according to Islamic doctrine, it is a faithful transcript of God’s revelations in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century.
Quran commentators (select famous ones mentioned in this work)
Mujahid ibn Jabr (d. 722); Muqatil ibn Sulayman (d. 767); al-Tabari (d. 923); al-Zamakhshari (d. 1144); Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210); al-Qurtubi (d. 1273); Ibn Kathir (d. 1373).
prominent Meccan tribe into which Muhammad was born, many of whose powerful members opposed and fought the Muslims until Mecca surrendered peacefully in 630.
Qutb, Sayyid (d. 1966)
modern Egyptian revolutionary thinker executed by Egyptian president Gamal Abd al-Nasser. His works are still consulted by contemporary militant groups.
refers to the first four leaders of the Muslim community: Abu Bakr (d. 634); Umar (d. 644); Uthman (d. 656); and Ali (d. 661). Called Rightly Guided because they governed according to Islamic ideals, particularly in having practiced shura or consultation with the people they ruled over.
can be translated as patient forbearance, fortitude, endurance, perseverance. It is the constant feature of jihad; later called the greater jihad or “spiritual struggle” in extra-Quranic literature.
refers to a hadith considered “sound”—that is, free of defects in primarily the chain of transmission that contains the names of the transmitters. It is also the title of the famous hadith collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim.
prominent contemporary Syrian peace activist and prolific author.
al-Sarakhsi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad (d. ca. 1090)
major Hanafi jurist from Transoxiana (Central Asia), author of the well-known Hanafi legal manual titled Kitab al-Mabsut (The Comprehensive Book).
Schools of law (Sunni)
Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali.
al-Shafii, Muhammad ibn Idris (d. 820)
influential jurist from Baghdad who later moved to Cairo; the Shafii school of law is named after him.
Shaheen, Jack (d. 2017)
author of the acclaimed book Reel Bad Arabs, which details violent and demeaning stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims prevalent in the American film industry.
an eye or legal witness in the Quran; in later non-Quranic usage, a martyr in the nonmilitary and military sense.
literally meaning “the path to a watering-hole”; refers to revealed ethical, moral, and legal principles known from the Quran and sunna of the Prophet. Human interpretations of the Sharia generate legal rulings that are part of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), although Sharia itself is often translated into English as “Islamic Law.”
al-Shaybani, Muhammad (d. 805)
early influential Hanafi jurist from Iraq who studied with Abu Hanifa. He is considered the founder of Islamic international law in the eighth century.
short for Shiat Ali, the supporters of Ali who constitute about 10–15 percent of the world’s approximately 1.8 billion Muslims today.
refers to polytheism or the worship of many deities. One who is a polytheist is a mushrik. The pre-Islamic Arabs are described in the Quran as polytheists who worshipped multiple idols.
refers to Islamic law of nations or Islamic international law, which regulates relations between Muslim and non-Muslim polities.
refers to the second generation of Muslims, many of whom transmitted hadiths from the Companions.
a name given in the later period to Quran 9:5 that commanded Muslims in the seventh century to fight and kill the hostile pagan Meccans who had attacked and persecuted them. Some scholars hold the highly controversial position that this verse had abrogated the numerous peaceful verses in the Quran, a position vigorously contested by others.
refers to Quran commentary or exegesis, a very rich genre of Islamic literature.
refers to belief in one God; monotheism.
Treaty of al-Hudaybiyya
signed in 628 between Muhammad and his Meccan adversaries which established a truce for ten years; two years later (630), the Meccans violated the terms of the treaty.
the largest Shii group who follow twelve religious leaders (Imams) after the Prophet; known in Arabic as the Ithna Ashariyya or Imamiyya.
established the first dynasty in Islam after the end of the Rightly Guided caliphate, with their capital in Damascus, Syria; ruled between 661 and 750; widely regarded as illegitimate for instituting dynastic rule.
Umm Salama (d. ca. 680)
wife of Muhammad, known for her piety and charity; transmitted many hadiths.
Umm Umara (death date unknown)
also known as Nusayba bint Kab. She was one of the earliest converts to Islam in Mecca; became famous for her uncommon valor on the battlefield, particularly during the battle of Uhud in 625. She transmitted hadiths from Muhammad.
a shortened form of the annual pilgrimage (hajj) that can be performed at any time of the year.