Glossary of Islamic Terms used most frequently during Ramadan

Glossary of Islamic Terms used most frequently during Ramadan

Glossary of Islamic Terms used most frequently during Ramadan


Ramadan or Ramazan is the ninth month as per the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word 'Al Ramad', which means intense heat and the dryness that follows, as the first Ramadan fell during the summer.

Ramadan or Ramazan is the ninth month as per the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word 'Al Ramad', which means intense heat and the dryness that follows, as the first Ramadan fell during the summer. Thus, the term reflects the anguish felt by people who fast and also the burning of sins. The way the sun scorches the earth during the summer; this month is considered a period to scorch away evil, making the name more symbolic.

There are several terms associated with Ramadan that you might hear every day. But do you know what exactly they mean? Here you will find the meanings of these terms.


Sawm (fasting) is one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting is mandatory for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. The fast needs Muslims to abstain from food, drink, sexual intimacy and any negative behaviour from dawn until dusk, devoting all their time in remembrance of Allah (Almighty).

Imsak refers to the beginning of a fast and starts when the first light of dawn becomes visible, shortly before the Fajr prayer azan (dawn call to prayer).

Qada means fulfilling. During Ramadan, it refers to making up missed fasts due to travelling, sickness etc. One can do this on any day of the year except Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha days.

Fidya is the compensation for missing Roza or fast. If one is unable to fast or commit certain mistakes while fasting, they need to offer Fidya. One can donate money, foodstuff, or sacrifice an animal. This is not similar to Kaffara.

Kaffara is a penalty offered when one deliberately breaks his or her Roza/fast. A Muslim need to fast for sixty continuous days to o complete Kaffara. If unable to do this, one should feed sixty needy people or donate an amount equal to feeding sixty people to charity. If one opts to fast sixty days and is interrupted for any reason, except menstruation, they have to start the sixty-day cycle again.


Suhoor (Sahri) is the first meal (pre-dawn meal) eaten before sunrise, and the fast begins; for the rest of the day, one cannot drink or eat anything.

Iftar (Iftari) is the sunset meal to conclude the day's fast after the sunset, which consists of traditional treats.

Dates: It is custom to break the fast with this sweet fruit that follows the practice (Sunnah) of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Dates release a burst of energy which are rich in vitamins and minerals.


Zakat or alms-giving is also one of the five pillars of Islam, like fasting. It is an integral part of the Muslim faith which means giving alms to the poor and needy. Zakat is mandatory for those who are financially capable.

There are two types of Zakat:

1. Zakat ul-Mal needs to give away 2.5% of wealth to the poor and needy. Zakat is different from Sadaqah, which is a voluntary charity. Therefore, Almighty reminds us to be generous and do more charity during this month known as Zakat. It helps us to get rid of greed, excess desire and learn honesty.

2. Zakat-ul-Fitr is also for the poor and needy, but the amount is smaller, which must be given before the commencement of Eid ul-Fitr (Festival of Breaking Fast)


Salah or prayer is another mandatory pillar of Islam.

Muslims must perform salah every day, five times a day. The first salah Fajr is at dawn, followed by Zuhr salah at noon, then Asr is mid-afternoon salah, Maghrib is sunset salah, and Isha performed at night.

Rakat, each salah, consists of a set of prescribed recitations, actions, and supplications which is known as Rakat. Each prayer consists of different rakats, usually up to 12 or 17 in set twos or fours.


Tarawih: During Ramadan, special congregational prayers called Tarawih is performed every evening. This salah consists of eight to 20 rakats, which depends on which Islamic school of thought you follow. People are encouraged to offer Tarawih in masjids.

Lailatul Qadr - the Night of Power. It is the night when the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). It is believed to fall on any of the odd nights (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th) in Ramadan last 10 days; the exact date is unknown. Special late-night prayers called Qiyam-ul-Lail are held in masjids as Muslims 'seek' this glorious night. As per the Quran, praying on this night is equal to praying for a thousand months.

Itikaaf is the spiritual retreat or isolation that some Muslims follow during the last 10 days of Ramadan. We can do it in a masjid or at home. It needs a person to dedicate their time in salah, reflection and recitation of the Quran.

Eid Salah: The end of Ramadan month is marked with a celebration of Eid Al Fitr. On Eid morning, Muslims flock to masjid or Eidgah (special open areas for salah). During Eid, salah Takbir is recited in the congregation.

Takbir refers to 'Allah-u-Akbar', which means 'God is Great'. It expresses faith and repeated in every Rakat of salah.


The Quran, the holy book of Islam, the word of Allah for the Muslims. The Quran is divided into 30 volumes and consists of 114 chapters of varying length. The Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in Ramadan. Therefore, Muslims ensure complete reciting the Quran during Ramadan.

Sunnah is the practices of the Prophet Mohammed. His life and customs are a model for all Muslims in prayer and habits. Therefore, Muslims are encouraged to follow the life of the Prophet Mohammed.

Hadith are the collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Mohammed. Muslims can draw best practices explanations of Muslim life Hadith and Sunnah.

Dhikr is another form of worship other than Salah, which is loudly or silently repeating the name of Allah or supplications from the Quran or Hadiths. Dhikr is done using Tasbeehor Misbaha, a string of beads.

Taqwa is piety or achieving Almighty-consciousness. It is a state where a Muslim strives for spiritual satisfaction and attain balance in life. The level of Taqwa is strong during the pious month of Ramadan.


Eid ul-Fitr is the three-day celebration that marks the end of Ramadan month. It marks the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month in the Islamic calendar. Eid is filled with prayers, visits from friends and family, delicious treats, desserts and gifts (Eidi). Muslims seek forgiveness from Allah and start afresh following a month of fasting.

Hilal is the crescent or new moon that confirms the beginning of a new Islamic month. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar months; each month consists of 29 or 30 days. In most Muslim countries, Special sighting committees are set up to catch a glimpse of the Hilal.

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