Islamic terms 2

New Testament

Collection of religious texts, that are central to Christianity. There are 27 texts, or books as they are called. The texts of the New Testament were written in Greek. Their content starts with the life and resurrection of Jesus, and continues into the period of transition from secterianism inside Judaism, into the moulding of a new religion. The New Testament ends with a prophecy on the coming end of the world.

The central themes of the New Testament is underlining Jesus as Messiah; that redemption from sin only could be obtained through the belief in Jesus; transmission of the message to all peoples, not only Jews as was the situation with temporary Judaism; Christian conduct; governing of the Church.

The process of collecting the books which were to make up the New Testament, started in the 2nd century, when 10 letters of Saint Paul were held up as an authority for the young Church. Towards the end of 2nd century Saint Irenaeus argued for the authority of the Gospels. The final decision on the canon can not be dated exactly, but the 27 books of today's New Testament were put together in the second half of the 4th century by Saint Jerome, when he was appointed by Pope Damasus to render the Bible into Latin in the early 380's.


  • Gospels
    • 1. Matthew
    • 2. Mark
    • 3. Luke
    • 4. John
  • Historical work
    • 5. The Acts
  • Letters
    • 6. Romans
    • 7.1. Corinthians
    • 8.2. Corinthians
    • 9. Galatians
    • 10. Ephesians
    • 11. Philippians
    • 12. Colossians
    • 13.1. Thessalonians
    • 14.2. Thessalonians
    • 15.1. Timothy
    • 16.2. Timothy
    • 17. Titus
    • 18. Philemon
    • 19. Hebrews
    • 20. James
    • 21.1. Peter
    • 22.2. Peter
    • 23.1. John
    • 24.2. John
    • 25.3. John
    • 26. Jude
  • Prophetic work
    • 27. Revelation

Old Testament

Collection of religious texts, called books, in Judaism (here only referred to as "Bible") and Christianity, but the expression "Old Testament" is is only used for the Christian versions of the collection. These texts, of which there are 39, were mostly written down in Hebrew, Ezra and Daniel had elements in Aramaic. The oldest texts have oral traditions running back in time as far as 1000 BC. the youngest book, Daniel, was written down 165 BC.

The selection of texts was decided upon at the synod in Jamnia in 90 AD, but this was more the final stage of a process that had been going on for a couple of centuries among Jewish scholars. There are many ideas and theories imbedded in the Old Testament. It is central to the texts of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible, that narratives are widely used, both to sustain arguments and to explain the origins of regulations and traditions.

Themes of the Old Testament are uniqueness and glory of God, the Law, God's influence on world history and nature, corporate and individual sin and the remedy, and how to worship God. The Old Testament also tells that the Jews were God's chosen people, the main reason for the special protection, and the special punishment, the Jews experienced. It has been, with some success, argued that the Old Testament is not Christianity, since Christianity involves a new relationship between man and God. The Old Testament is however, understood as the foundations on which the New Testament rests.

The God of the Old Testament is a god of justice, but no sin is accepted. He is the god of warfare, as seen in Book of Joshua. The Canonical Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, is made up of 24 books, but a number of prophetical books are added to the collection. The organizing of the books are slightly different from the Hebrew Bible to the Christian Old Testament.


  • Pentateuch (In Judaism this is often referred to as the Torah)
    • 1. Genesis
    • 2. Exodus
    • 3. Leviticus
    • 4. Numbers
    • 5. Deuteronomy
  • Historical Books
    • 6. Joshua
    • 7. Judges
    • 8. Ruth
    • 9.1. Samuel
    • 10.2. Samuel
    • 11.1. Kings
    • 12.2. Kings
    • 13.1. Chronicles
    • 14.2. Chronicles
    • 15. Ezra
    • 16. Nehemiah
    • * Tobit
    • * Judith
    • 17.Esther
    • * 1. Maccabees
    • * 2. Maccabees
  • Poetical / Wisdom Books
  • 18. Jobs
  • 19. Psalms
  • 20. Proverbs
  • 21. Eccliastes
  • 22. Song of Solomon
  • * Wisdom
  • * Sirach
  • Prophetical Books
  • 23. Isaiah
  • 24. Jeremiah
  • 25. Lamentations
  • * Baruch
  • 26. Ezekiel
  • 27. Daniel
  • 28. Hosea
  • 29. Joel
  • 30. Amos
  • 31. Obadiah
  • 32. Jonah
  • 33. Micah
  • 34. Nahum
  • 35. Habakkuk
  • 36. Zephaniah
  • 37. Haggai
  • 38. Zachariah
  • 39. Malachi

* Books that sometimes are included, in Roman Catholic Bible as deuterocanonical, in the Protestant Bible in appendixes.

Qibla - Kible

The direction in which the believer orients himself or herself for salat, the prayer of Islam. The qibla is always directed towards the Ka'ba of the city of Mecca, but for 3 years in the early Islam, the qibla was Jerusalem (from 622 to 624). Other religions had their qiblas at the time of early Islam, and even before Muhammad.

The change of qibla is recorded in the Koran, as a reprimand to people complaining:

2,136...Unwise people will say: What made them change the qibla they had? Answer them: God is of the east and of the west, he guides the ones he pleases on the right path...

What qibla did Muhammad and the first Muslims have before they started to turn towards Jerusalem? On this point, three versions exist in the Sunna: Jerusalem was the qibla; Ka'ba was the qibla; and the qibla was on a line, the one running from Jerusalem to Ka'ba.

Qibla is in a mosque indicated by a mihrab, a niche in the wall. Salat performed outdoors, use a sutra, which can be almost any object, to indicate the qibla. For some older mosques, the indication of the qibla, is with errors, due to limited knowledge on how to find the correct direction.

The qibla has importance to more than just the salat, and plays an important part in everyday ceremonies. The head of an animal that is slaughtered, is aligned with qibla. People are buried in cemetaries with their face in direction of the qibla. Lovemaking is best done with the heads facing qibla. The qibla is important, and it is believed that directing things towards the qibla, will decide whether the act done is good or useless.

Seyh - Sheik

Shaykh or chief. Often used as an honorific for the master of a tarikat.

Surah - Sure

Chapter of the Holy Koran. The suras' content, and organisation, as well as their order in the Koran, are firmly set down. However, scientists are haunted by how little we know of the actual process of structuring the elements. The suras are not collected in chronological entities, based on the moment of revelation. From the Koran itself we learn that ayas from time periods far in between are organised side by side in the same sura. In the Koran, suras have indications of the dominating time period of the content; revealed during the time in Madina, or during the time in Mecca.

Suras have very much the same chronological structure:

  1. The name of the sura (with the number in paragraphs)
  2. The date of the sura
  3. Indication of the number of ayas
  4. The Bismillah
  5. The mystical letters (most suras do not have these)
  6. The text itself


Sufi and dervish order or lodge, usually headed by a teacher or master known as mürsit (q.v.) or seyh. Some orders possessed considerable wealth in the form of lands and buildings.


Residential monastery attached to a tarikat.

Ulama - Ulema

Term in Islam; meaning the community of learned men, direct translation 'the ones possessing knowledge'. Ulama is a plural term, and the singular can be both calîm and câlim, where both can be translated with 'learned, knowing man'. câlim is the most frequently used of the two.

Ulama is a term which content can be interpreted in somewhat differing ways. Normally ulama is used for the group of men with religious education and religiously related professions. Ulama is the group of men expressing the true content of Islam towards both the people and the rulers. Men belonging to ulama have education in the Koran, the Sunna and Sharia. Ulama has considerable power in many Muslim countries (not in Turkey), but their influence on the society depends primarily on the structures of the government.

In most cases the ulama co-operates with the rulers, and plays often the role of defending, or silently accepting, the governments politics. The ulama has great influence on most Muslims, but this influence is easily destroyed when the ulama loses its credibility. The credibility of the ulama depends very much on their level of independence; if there is too much co-operation with the rulers, people will turn away from the ulama to find their religious guidance somewhere else, resulting in an ulama without power. An ulama which do not co-operate at all with the governments will face suppression and economical difficulties. There are cases where the ulama has overthrown the governments, as it happened in the year of revolution , 1979, in Iran. That is why Atatürk made his reforms way before that and made Turkey a secular country.

The growth of modern state structures in the Muslim world, have resulted in a weakened ulama. While the ulama under weak rulers practised many activities normally connected to a state, for example the judicial ones, the modern state have limited the range of activities of the ulama. Because of this, the modern ulama are more spiritual leaders, while they earlier had considerable political power.

Umra - Umre

Secondary pilgrimage to Mecca. Holds less rituals than the hajj, is not compulsory as a part of the five pillars of Islam, only recommended, and can be performed any time of the year.

Zakat - Zekat

Obligatory alms given by Muslim to the needing inside their own society. Practices vary enormously throughout the Muslim world. In most cases zakat should be 1/40 of the income, and distributed privately towards the end of sawm.