Words we must speak daily – if we dare

Here is a list of 40 words (along with their definitions) that every free-speech lover ought to say out loud, at least once, while we still can:

Akhirat:  The Islamic concept of the ‘afterlife’.

Al Qran:  Literally ‘the recitation’, it is the central book of Islamic teachings.  Muslims believe that these ‘revelations’ were made to their prophet Mohammed by the arch-angel Gabriel regarding the will of the Islamic god named Allah and are the literal word of God.  These ‘recitations’ were not written down during the lifetime of Mohammed but only collected when it became apparent that Mohammed’s closest companions were dying out and so it became important for Muslims to preserve his teachings in a written form.  It was compiled by the Caliph Abu Bakr, who ordered the Muslims who remembered Mohammad’s recitations to have them written down and sent to him.  These he then organized into chapters which make up the Koran/Qu’ran/AlQran by the length of the chapters.  This means that the sequence in which these chapters were dictated has not been preserved, which creates the problem regarding the Islamic principle of ‘abrogation’ which states that if two verses of the Koran/Qu’ran/AlQran are in conflict, the one that was revealed to Mohammad later is the valid one, as it abrogates the earlier revelation.

Allah: ‘The God’ in Arabic.  At one point, Mohammed taught that Allah had three divine daughters, but later altered that teaching, making Islam monotheistic.

As Sunnah:  Literally translates as ‘common practice’, in the Islamic context, it means the ‘righteous path’ of following proper Islamic customs.

Auliya:  friend, helper, protector, patron or patron saint.

Azan/Adhan:  Islamic call to prayer

Baitullah:  Literally ‘house of god’ and may refer either to any mosque or to the main mosque in Mecca which houses the Kaaba, the box which houses a black meteorite, which the Muslims worship, and to which they are supposed to make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime (haj).  Prior to Islam, Mohammed’s grandfather made his living from people making a pilgrimage to the Kaaba.

Dakwah/Dawah/Da’wah:  Literally means ‘issuing a summons’ or ‘inviting’, in Islamic context, it means proselytizing Islam.  It is unlawful for a Muslim to kill a non-Muslim without having first invited them to join Islam.  Some Islamic leaders have criticized Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks because he had failed to issue a Dawah to all the American citizens 1 year before the terrorist attack.  Numerous Islamic scholars have since corrected this oversight and issued a Dawah to all Westerners.  If we fail to heed this call to convert to Islam, killing us is not considered to be ‘murder’ under Islamic law (Sharia).

Fatwa:  a legal judgment pronounced by an Islamic scholar.  These legal judgments make up Islamic jurisprudence and ought to be followed by pious Muslims.  There have been some interesting fatwas issued over the time.  For example, the Penang Mufti Hassan Ahmad had issued a fatwa that prohibits non-Muslims from ever using (speech, writing, publishing or in electronic form) the very 40 words being defined in this humble post.  This is legally binding in Malaysia.  However, if someone reading these words in Malaysia realizes they were published by a non-Muslim, they may make a legal complaint, a warrant may be issued and Interpol will act upon it to deliver the culprits to the land where the warrant  was issued.  So, enjoy while you still may!  Another recently issued fatwa prohibits women from sitting in chairs, because if they moved just the wrong way, they may become sexually aroused.

Firman Allah:  As I could not find this exact phrase translated into English, the closes I can make it out to be is ‘that which Allah has made permitted’.  Granted, I did just a quick Google search, as I’m trying to define quite a few terms here, but this seems to fit in with Islamic sayings rather well and captures the spirit of the phrase.  Corrections would be appreciated.

Hadith:  literally ‘tradition’, this refers to the habits and sayings of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

Haji:  Someone who had completed the haj and traveled to Mecca to see the Kaaba.  As non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca, only a Muslim may be a Haji/Hajji/Hadji.  A Muslim who has completed the haj may add this honorific to his name.

Hajjah:  Not sure of this one, but I suspect it means a female Hajji.

Ibadah:  Literally ‘obedience with submission’, the term is derived from practice of slavery.  In the Islamic context, it means worship of Allah.

Illahi:  I suspect this is an alternate spelling of ‘Elahi‘, meaning ‘my god’ or ‘my awesome one’.

Imam:  An Islamic leadership position, usually denoting an Islamic cleric.

Iman:  Iman is a really, really hot model.  However, I doubt that is whom the good Mufti meant in his fatwa.  Rather, I suspect he was referring to the Muslim believer’s faith in the metaphysical aspects of Islamic teachings.

Kaabah:  literally ‘the cube’, in Islamic context, it is a black cube that Muslims have been praying to since a little over 200 years past Mohammed’s death.  All modern mosques face the Kaabah, which is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  (For the first few centuries following the death of Mohammed, all mosques faced the ancient city of Petra, as archaeological findings have demonstrated.)

Karamah:  a divine miracle (and not a conjuring trick type magic, that the other religions have)

Khutbah:  public preaching, refers to the sermons delivered during formal prayers.

Masjid:  a mosque, defined by Mohammed as a place of worship as well as a community centre, barracks for soldiers and materiel storage depot.

Mubaligh: a missionary (just follow the link and click on English for translation), one who is practicing dawah.

Mufti: an Islamic scholar from the Sunni branch of Islam

Musolla/Mushola:  Islamic prayer room

Nabi:  Prophets of Islam.  Most, but not all, Muslims believe that Mohammed was the last prophet.

Qadhi:  I suspect this term denotes Sharia courts.

Qiblat:  The direction in which Muslims should pray.  According to tradition, Mohammed is first ordered Muslims to pray in the direction of Jerusalem and to have later changed this to be towards Mecca and the Kaaba.  However, the earliest mosques (from the first 200+ years following the death of Muhammad) are pointing to Petra, not Mecca, indicting that the Kibla may have changed more than once.

Rasul:  prophet or apostle

Sheikh:  an honorific that means ‘elder’ and denotes the front man of a tribe.

Soleh:  This word is not Arabic in origin, but Indonesian and means ‘religious’.  Thus, according to this fatwa, if you are not a Muslim you may not call yourself ‘religious’.

Surau:  another word for ‘mosque’

Syahadah/Shahada:  a ritual Islamic prayer which is also used as an affirmation that one is a Muslim.  It translates into English roughly as:  ‘There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.’

Syariah:  Malaysia is one of the countries with a secular legal system for non-Muslims and Sharia law for Muslims living in the country.  Syariah is Malaysia’s Sharia adherent legal system which applies to its Muslim residents.

Tabligh:  ‘propagation’ of Islam by ‘spreading awareness’ of the teachings of Mohammed.

Taqwa:  While this definition varies somewhat between sects, the meaning ranges from ‘god-consciousness’ to piousness, love/fear of Allah, self restraint and so on.

Ulama/Ulema/Uluma:  In the stricter sense of the word, it refers to the upper echelon of Islamic scholars trained in the whole field of Islamic law, but it is often applied to any senior Muslim cleric.  Especially in rural areas, the cleric’s scholarship is not a significant issue.

Wahyu:  This word is of Indonesian origin.  From English-language version of this link:  ‘In religion and theologyrevelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.’

Wali:  Guardian – with all that it implies:  being responsible for someone, managing their material wealth as well as having the right to enter into legal agreements on their behalf.  This is an important concept in Islam.  A father is the wali to all his minor male children and all his female children until the daughters are married, at which point the guardianship of the woman in question is transferred to her father.  If there is no father, then the closest male blood relative takes on the role of a wali for any minor males and any females.  As the wali manages their wards property and is the only one permitted to enter into legal contracts on their behalf, it means that an Islamic marriage contract is between the groom and the bride’s wali, with the bride having no legal standing in the matter.  Thus, a petition for divorce in a Sharia court may need to be filed by the wife’s male relatives, as she has no legal standing in the marriage contract.  It also means that under Sharia, the highest legal status a woman can achieve is that of a minor.

Zakat Fitrah:  At the end of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, there is a celebratory feast.  While ‘zakat’ means taxes (a portion of which must go towards jihad), zakat fitrah is the specific obligatory gift of food to the poor so that they may participate with other Muslims in the end-of-Ramadan feast.


Now that I have tried to define these words for your convenience, please, do speak them as often and as publicly as you can, before you loose the freedom to do so!  There is already a fatwa that forbids us to speak these words, if we are non-Muslims. It is up to us, freedom-loving people, to make sure that this and/or any other fatwa never becomes applied as a law onto us.

Rights are like muscles and cognitive abilities: if you don’t exercise them, you loose them!!!

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