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Islamic History: the First 150 Years

Glossary of Key Terms and Names

This glossary is a very brief attempt to familiarise you with some of the most important names and terms we will encounter in our exploration of early Islamic history. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but merely to introduce some of the most significant concepts and people. For those interested in pursuing this a little further, I would suggest Ian R. Nettons A Popular Dictionary of Islam. There are numerous copies available in the library. bbasids bu %a&r bu +ufyan bu -baydah al$.arrah l hl !nd ruling dynasty in Islam" descendents of the #rophets uncle al$ bbas 'lose companion of (uhammad and his first successor ) Khalifa* n important opponent of (uhammad and later convert to Islam" father of (u,awiya and thus an important member of the -mayyad clan close companion of (uhammad, and one said to be capable of being khalifa /Family. It is particularly used in this period )and later* to describe the family of (uhammad )in other words, the Al Muhammad* (eaning /family or /people, this term is used in a wide number of ways to refer to particular families or peoples. Thus, Ahl Muhammad )family or people of (uhammad* or hl al$0ind )the people of India* 1iterally, /the #eople2Family of the 0ouse" refers to (uhammads family and his descendants. lthough this literally means /#eople of al$+ham )+yria2#alestine* in certain contexts, such as this one, it refers to the army of +yria. 'ousin and son$in$law of (uhammad and his fourth successor. The +hia )literally Shiat Ali or /#arty of li* believe that he should have been (uhammads successor" murdered by a 3hari4i in 556'7 /'ommander of the Faithful" a title used to describe the 'aliph /The 0elpers8 a name given to the tribes of 9athrib )(edina* who supported and 4oined (uhammads cause. The nsar are made of two main tribes8 Aws and the Khazraj shraf %ani %asra %ayah <inar <irham <iwan 1eading members of leading rab tribes" the tribal nobility 1iterally means /+ons of:, used in the names of tribes )i.e. %ani 0anifah* 'ity in southern Ira;, founded by -mars orders as a base camp for (uslim expeditions during the con;uest period" later became a ma4or city #ledge of allegiance" given to a 'aliph, his heir or a contender for power )also the term used to describe the pledge one gives to a +ufi master* The gold coin" the word comes from the name for the Roman coinage, Denarius The silver coinage In the sense used here, this term denotes the /state register of people entitled to government grants, particularly with regards to soldiers )the muqatila*" it can also mean a government department )later on, it also came to mean a collection of poetry* n estate in northern rabia, came into (uhammads personal possession" claimed by his daughter Fatima as her personal inheritance, which was

hl al$%ait hl al$+ham li

mir al$(umineen nsar the


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Islamic History: the First 150 Years

denied to her by bu %a&r" later became a point of contention for later +hi,a groups Fils Fitna The copper coinage This is a very important word and denotes conflict, fighting and strife. <uring this period, it was used to refer to the conflict between li and (u,awiya and later that between bd al$(ali&, bdullah ibn al$>ubayr and al$(u&htar al$Tha;afi /1eader8 used in a variety of ways during this early period, but is used by the +hia for li and his descendents poll tax levied on non$(uslim sub4ects, entailed exemption from military service 1iterally means /army" used to describe provincial commands and hence means something li&e /province /<eputy or +uccessor8 the title adopted by bu %a&r )and most others subse;uently* as their title of office land tax #erson following the Khawarij )which literally means /those who secede*" emerged during the conflict between li and (uawiya as a centre of radical dissent 'ity in southern Ira;, founded by -mars orders as a base camp for (uslim expeditions during the con;uest period" later became a city and a ma4or centre of +hia discontent /The 7migrants8 members of the (uslim community from (ecca who emigrated with (uhammad to (edina. This group contains some of the most senior 'ompanions of (uhammad 1iterally, /a magian" in other words, a >oroastrian" used more widely to refer to followers of faiths other than .udaism and 'hristianity )particularly in Iran* /'lient or /freedman2woman" originally ex$slaves were tied to their former masters, as clients of their tribe" this continues during our period and is extended" comes to mean non$ rab (uslims <erogative term to refer to a claimant to prophethood during (uhammads later years n rab tribal grouping8 supposedly from the north of rabia" becomes particularly important during the later -mmayad era" enemy of the @udaa grouping n rab tribal grouping8 supposedly from 9emen, becomes particularly important during the later -mmayad era" enemy of the @ays grouping In full, Shiat Ali or the /#arty of li" believed that li should have been the Imam after (uhammads death. <uring the -mayyad period, responsible for a number of revolts against the 'aliphate small body of soldiers attached to the person of the governor" in essence, a &ind of police force +econd successor to and close companion of (uhammad. 3nown for his

Imam .i?ya .und 3halifa )'aliph* 3hara4 3hara4ite



(a4us (awla

(usaylimah @ays

@udaa +hia

+hurta -mar

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Islamic History: the First 150 Years

fierce nature and strong sense of 4ustice. The (uslim con;uest of the (iddle 7ast )and beyond* began in earnest under his direction. (urdered by a disgruntled slave in !A 0 -mayyad <escendents of -mmaya )an ancestor of the @uraysh*" later, the name for the ruling dynasty founded by (u,awiya and continued through his successors. Third successor to (uhammad, also his son$in$law twice. For the +hia, -thman is a controversial figure. (urdered during a revolt in 5B5'7


Richard 'awley !==5