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Glossary of Islamic Terms for the Month of Ramadhan

Compiled by I.M. Zahid

"O who believe, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you;
perchance you will guard yourselves....

The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was sent down, a guidance for the people, and clear verses of guidance and criterion." [Quran: Chapter 2, 183]

Bab Al-Raiyan

The name of one of the gates of Heavens (Jannah) through which the people who often observe fasting will enter on the Day of Judgement.

Eid Al-Fitr

Three-day festival marking the end of Ramadan. It begins on the 1st of Shawal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.


Compensation for missing or wrongly practicing necessary acts of worship. Fidya usually takes the form of donating money, foodstuffs, or sacrificing an animal. Contrast with Kaffara (making amends).

Iftar or Futoor

Breaking of the fast immediately after sunset. Iftar takes place at Maghrib as soon as the Call to Prayer (Adhaan) is given.


Start of the fasting time. Imsak begins when the first light of dawn becomes visible, and ends at Fajr when the Adhaan is called. Literally means "holding back."


I'tikaf refers to the religious practice of spending the last ten days of Ramadan (either wholly or partly) in a mosque so as to devote oneself exclusively to worship. In this state one may go out of the mosque only for the absolutely necessary requirements of life, but one must stay away from gratifying one's sexual desire. The minimum period for i'tikaf is twenty-four hours. I'tikaf is not valid if one is not keeping the fast or if it is done outside the month of Ramadan.


Kaffarah means atonement, expiation. In Ramadhan this would refer to the expiation for breaking the fast.


'The Night of Power,' concealed in one of the odd nights in the last ten days of Ramadan; the night on which the Qur'an was first revealed by Jibraeel to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and which the Qur'an itself describes as "better than a thousand months." [Al-Qadr (97:3)]

Ramadhan or Ramadhan

The ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar. The month in which Muslims fast.

Sawm or Siyam

The Arabic word for fast. Plural: Siyam. Literally in the Arabic language it means "to abstain."



"A CONCISE DICTIONARY OF ISLAMIC TERMS" by M.A. Qazi, Kazi Publications, 121 Zulqarnain Chambers, Ganpat Road, Lahore, Pakistan.

"A GLOSSARY OF ISLAMIC TERMINOLOGY" by Bassam Sulaiman Abughosh & Waffa Zaki Shaqra, Ta-Ha Publshers Ltd. 1, Wynne Road, London SW9 0BB, England.


"TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING THE QURAN", Vol. I-III, edited by Zafar Ishaq Ansari, an English rendering of Tafhimul Quran (Urdu) by A.A. Maududi.

Al-Hamdulillah, praise and peace be upon His Prophet Muhammad and on his Family, Companions and his Followers, inwardly and outwardly.

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