Material Culture of Religion: Glossary of (selected) Religious Terms, Concepts, People, Etc. A ad

esma Muslim: A clause in a marriage contract giving a woman the right to divorce. est


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Muslim: A clause in a marriage contract giving a woman the right to divorce.

est (=Erhard Seminars Training)

Est Repair Rundown
Scientologist: An auditing action designed to repair the damage done to a person mentally and spiritually by the practice of est.

New Age: The second Root Race leading to human beings.

Eucharist (see also communion)
Christian: The chief sacrament and central act of Christian worship; esp. as used in liturgical traditions.

eudaimonia (Greek)

  1. Living a flourishing life capable of realizing the full range of possibilities for rational beings.

  2. Aristotilian: Happiness (as a human goal).

evangelical (Greek: "Gospel")

  1. Christian: "Proclaiming the Gospel".

  2. Christian (contemporary): A word used to describe groups of Protestants who concentrate on sharing the Gospel, especially those emphasizing such teachings as the infallibility of the Bible, justification by faith, and personal conversion.

  3. Christian: In German-speaking lands, the term is an alternative name for Lutheranism.

Christian: That portion of Protestant Christianity which emphasizes the (literal) message of the Gospel as opposed to secondary theological reflection.


  1. Christian: Proselytizing.

  2. Christian: The spreading of the Gospel.

The first woman.

"The only intrinsic evil is lack of love."

ex cathedra (Latin: "from the chair")

Christian (Roman Catholic): A statement by the Pope on matters of faith or moral conduct promulgated as a final decision on the issue and believed to be free from any possibility of misinterpretation or error.

ex nihilo (Latin: “out of nothing”)
Jewish/Christian: The doctrine that the process of creation began with nothing but God.

Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross
Christian (Eastern Orthodox) (holiday): Celebration of the finding by St. Helena of the Cross upon which Christ was crucified.

Muslim: The opening sura of the Qur'an.

experimenta fructifera (Latin: “fruitful experients”)
Term coined by Francis Bacon to describe experients designed to weigh competing accounts of facts.

experimenta lucifera (Latin: “light-shedding experiments”)
Term coined by Francis Bacon to describe a wide ranging scientific inquiry with no subjects barred from scrutiny.

Scientologist: The state of the thetan being outside his body with or without full perception, but still able to control and handle the body.

extreme unction
See unction.


Christian (Anglican): A form of permission from an ecclesiastical governing body.

Trust, holistic commitment, or doctrinal belief, usually as determined by God or ultimate reality.

fajr (Arabic: "dawn")
Muslim: The first of the five obligatory daily prayers.

Muslim: Philosophy, including natural and moral sciences.

fana (Arabic)
Muslim: A state of religious ecstacy in which the devotee becomes absorbed in the divine.

faqid al-shay'la ya'tihi (Arabic: "he who does not possess something cannot give it to others")

faqih (pl. fuqaha'; Arabic: "jurist", "theologian")
  1. Muslim (common usage): Legal expert; one who is considered learned in fiqh.

  2. Muslim: A specialist in shari'a, particularly its derivative details.

faraid (Arabic)
Muslim: Shares of inheritance prescribed by the Qur'an.

fard (Arabic)
Muslim: Obligatory.

fard ayn
Muslim: Personal religious obligation.

fard khilafayah
Muslim: Corporate religious obligation.

farida (Arabic)
Muslim: Obligation.

farilla (Hausa)
Muslim (Hausa): That which is obligatory in Islamic law.

Zoroastrian: The seasonal calendar.

Fast in Honor of the Holy Mother of Lord Jesus
Christian (Orthodox): A 14-day fasting period in preparation for the celebration of the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

Fast of the 17th of Tammuz
(see Tammuz)

Common usage: A religious ritual that usually includes abstaining from food and/or drink for a specific period of time. Other prohibitions also may apply, such as no sexual relations. Examples include Ramadan.

Father Divine
See Devine, Major J..

fatiha (=fatihah, =al-fatiha, Arabic)
Muslim: The short opening sura of the Qur'an, which is held in special reverence and much used liturgically. It is an indispensible part of salat, being recited at the beginning of each prostration, and is further used as a prayer for the sick, the dead, etc., as an exorcism fomula, and as a component in the wording of amulets and talismans.

fatwa (=fetva, Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Legal opinion or decision, issued by a recognized Islamic authority.
  2. Muslim: A formal legal opinion issued by a mufti in response to a query on a point of religious law from a Muslim, whether a governor or a member of the public. The opinion is advisory only and does not bind a judge's final decision.

fayda (Arabic: "overflowing")
Muslim: The nature of God's gifts to mankind.

Feast of ...

  1. Christian / Feast of the Holy Apostles: Recognizes the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.

  2. Christian (Eastern Orthodox) / Feast of St Basil: Commemorates St. Basil the Great, who wrote the Eucharist liturgy which bears his name.

  3. Christian (esp. Mexican Roman Catholic) / Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe: Honors the appearance of Mary near Mexico City in 1531.

  4. Zoroastrian / Feast of Mithra: Festival focusing on Mithra as the angel of light.

  5. Jewish / Feast of Tabernacles

  6. Christian (Eastern Orthodox) / Feast of the Theophany: Celebrates the revelation of the Holy Trinity in the baptism of Jesus.

  7. Christian / Feast of the Visitation: Remembrance of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth to whom the news of Jesus' coming was given.

Federation of Mary Immaculate
[See Poor Clare Nuns]

feng shui (Chinese: "wind" and "water")

  1. Chinese: Earth divination or geomancy.

  2. Traditionally, the Chinese practice of determining auspicious sites for buildings and graves, in accordance with the natural forces and currents of the landscape.

  3. Taoist: One of the sacred sciences.

  4. The ancient science of living in harmony with the earth through an understanding of the subtle influences of every aspect of surroundings, including landscape and buildings.

  5. In contemporary usage: The art of placement (of objects in an environment); creating balance, harmony and prosperity in one's environment.

  6. In contemporary usage: The three basic principles are:

    • Everything is alive (endowed with living energy known as ch'i)

    • Everything is connected (in a web of life).

    • Everything is changing (growth and movement produce constant change).

Ferrante de Gonzaga (=Ferdinand de Gonzague)

  1. Spanish Nobleman: Count of Guastalla; b. 1507, d. 1557 or 1575.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

Festival of Tabernacles
Jewish: Another term for Sukkot.

Festival of the Harvest
Jewish: Another term for Sukkot. In Israel, Sukkot is a festival that falls right at the Autumn Harvest and celebrates God’s goodness in giving us the fruit of the Earth.

Festivals of Pilgrimage
Jewish: Festivals during which Jews in ancient times would travel to Jerusalem. They are Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot.

fetishism Common usage: Ritual use of magic charms and/or idols.

fida'a (Arabic, =fida'i, "one who sacrifices himself"; pl. fida'in, =fida'iyan, =fedayeen, =fidaiyin)

  1. Muslim: A fighter who is prepared to risk his life with abandon.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Term used to describe devotees of various causes in Iran, but primarily for members of groups engaged in violent or terrorist activities.

Fida'iyan-i khalq ("devotees of the people"
Muslim (Shi'ite): A left wing terrorist group in Iran which originated in 1963 as an offshoot of the Tudah party.

Fida'iyan-i Islam ("devotees of Islam")
Muslim (Shi'ite): A politico-religious terrorist group in Iran active from 1943-1955 and again after 1970; known for its political assassinations.

fikr' (Arabic: "thought", "reflection")

Final Judgment
  1. Christian/Jewish/Muslim: God’s decision-making at the end of time, dividing the good from the wicked.

  2. Christian (Assemblies of God USA): Number 15 in the Statement of Fundamental Truths: “There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Final Vows
Christian: The vows necessary to become a member of a religious organization. The last step in Formation.

fiqh (Arabic: "jurisprudence", "theology")

  1. Muslim: Islamic law, jurisprudence.

  2. Muslim: The science of shari'a.

  3. Muslim: The usual course of study by ulema.


  1. Taoist: One of the Five Elements forming the basis of physical and spiritual reality. Associated with heart, small intestine, summer, bitter, red, Mars and (the direction) south.

  2. Zoroastrian: Preeminent symbol of the Good Religion; sacred fires burn in temples.

  3. [more to come]

First Nations Day
Common usage (Canada): The First Nations (Indian, Metis and Inuit) most sacred day occurs on the summer solstice.

First Order
Christian (Roman Catholic): Franciscans, an order of monks founded by St. Francis of Assisi.

First Studies
Christian (Roman Catholic): A three-year period when a Jesuit works on a master's degree in philosophy.


Christian: A symbol of Christianity; a simple two-curve outline of a fish denotes a Christian (often a member of a Fundamentalist Protestant denomination with the implication of belief in biblical creationism), used for example, on a car trunk or in a display advertisement in the Yellow Pages telephone directory. [In a take-off on this symbol, apparently denoting belief in the Darwinian explanation of evolution, some display on their cars the same simple fish outline with the addition of feet and/or the word DARWIN inside the body]

fitna (=fitnah; Arabic)
Muslim: Rebellion or civil strife (often religious) which breaks up the unity of a community. The term often refers to any of several civl wars in early Islam.

fitra (=fitrah; Arabic)
Muslim: The original positive and good nature of all creation.

Five Classics
Confucian: The canon includes the Four Books and these Five Classics:

  • Shu Ching (Classics of History)

  • Shih Ching (Classic of Odes)

  • I Ching (Classic of Changes)

  • Ch'un Ch'iu (Spring and Autumn Annals)

  • Li Ching (Classic of Rites)

Five Elements
Taoist: Dynamic forces whose interplay form the basis of physical and spiritual reality. They are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

The Creation Cycle
Wood creates Fire.
Fire creates Earth.
Earth creates Metal.
Metal holds Water.
Water creates Wood.

The Control/Destruction Cycle
Wood penetrates Earth.
Earth absorbs Water.
Water puts out Fire.
Fire melts Metal.
Metal chops Wood.

five "k's"

Sikh: Members of the Khalsa wear the following symbols of their adherence: kesh (long, uncut hair on one's head and chin), kangha (comb), kaccha (short pants), kara (steel bracelet), and kirpan (dagger).

Five Pillars
Muslim: The main components of Islam (creed, daily prayer, fasting during Ramadan, almsgiving and pilgrimage to Mecca.

  • Shahadah (creed): The statement of faith, accepting that there is no God but God and Muhammad is Prophet.

  • Salat (prayer): all adult Muslims are obliged to offer five daily prayers.
  • Sawm (fasting) During the ninth (lunar) month, Ramadan, Muslims abstain from all food, drink and sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset each day. [The month ends with the sighting of the new moon and the fast is broken with a communal feast called Id Al Fitr.]

  • Zakat (alms): Sharing wealth; giving a percentage of annual income to help the poor as a religious obligation.

  • Hajj (pilgrimage): traveling to Mecca during the first ten days of the last (lunar) month of the Muslim calendar, Dhu-al Hijjah, at least once in one's lifetime. [Pilgrimage at other times is called umrah.]

Five Prayers
Muslim: The five obligatory daily prayers in Islam are fajr, dhuhr, asr, maghreb and isha.

Flamel, Nicolas
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; b. 1330, France; d. after 1413.

Fludd, Robert

  1. Esoteric writer and theorist, b. 1574, England; d. 1640. Associate of Dee, John. Member, London College of Physicians. Among scholars who produced King James version of the Bible.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

Folk Shinto
Shinto: One of the three major types of Shinto, it is a Japanese folk belief system which includes small roadside images, agricultural rites of individual families and so forth. It has neither firmly organized religious bodies nor doctrinal formulas.

Roman: Feast celebrated 13 October to honor the nymphs who dwelled in fountains and wells with flowers.

Christian: The organizational training through which a layperson becomes a member of a religious community.

Common usage: A witness to a divine revelation that establishes a new religious tradition.

Founding of the Church

Mormon: Commemoration of the appearance of the angel Moroni in 1830 to Joseph Smith.

4 (=four)
Common usage (Asian): Unlucky number (a homonym for "death" in Chinese, Japanese and Korean).

Four Books
Confucian: The canon includes the Five Classics and these Four Books:

  • Lun Yu (Analects) of Confucius

  • Chung Yung (Doctrine of the Mean)

  • Ta Hsueh (Great Learning)

  • Meng Tzu (Mencius)

Four Chaplains Day
Jewish/Christian (United States): Commemoration of an event in World War II when four Chaplains of Jewish and Christian traditions gave their life jackets to others as a troop ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean.

Four Elements

  • Earth

  • Air or wind

  • Fire

  • Water

  1. Prehistoric: The four arms of the cross.

  2. Ancient Greece: Pythagorean cycles of life.

  3. (Unknown): The four quadrants of the Zodiac; the four cardinal directions,

  4. Masonic (Absolute Initiation): Four mystic grades.

Four Last Things (=Den Vier Letzen Dingen, =Quatuor Novissima)
Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): Death, judgment, heaven, hell.

Four Noble Truths
Buddhist: A summary of the key concepts of Buddhism, attributed to the founder, Siddhartha Gautama:

  • The universality of suffering (or, All life involves suffering).

  • The cause of suffering (or, Suffering results from desire or greed, especially for pleasure, prosperity, and the continued existence of a false sense of self).

  • The overcoming of suffering (or, Suffering ends when greed ends).
  • The ways in which suffering can be overcome (or, The cure for suffering and the way to enlightenment lie in understanding these truths and in following the Eightfold Path).

Four P Movement
New Age: In existence approx. 1967-72, an offshoot of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.

14 (=fourteen)
Common usage (Asian): Unlucky number (homonym for "must die" in Chinese, Japanese and Korean).

Christian: The ritual "breaking of the bread" in the eucharistic liturgy of various Christian churches, modeled on Christ's own action at the Last Supper, and recalling the recognition of the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread when he met with disciples on the road to Emmaus (Gospel According to Luke).

Francis Bacon
See Bacon, Francis


  1. Christian (Roman Catholic): Refers to any of several monastic orders based on the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi.

  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): Monks and priests who wear cowled cloaks in either black or brown with a corded belt including three knots.

  3. Christian (Roman Catholic): The male orders include four recognized by the Vatican -- 1. Capuchins, Order of Friars Minor (brown), 2. xxxx (brown), 3. xxxx (black), 4. xxxx (black).

Franciscan Sisters of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Christian (Roman Catholic): Cloistered order of women religious.

Free African Society
Christian: Forerunner of African Methodist Episcopal Church, a predominantly black denomination and the first to be independent of any white denomination.

free will
Common usage: Religious doctrine that God has created human beings capable of choosing their own actions (opposite of predestination).


Secret society/fraternal order: [xxxx] With roots in King Solomon’s Temple and the trappings of chivalric orders of medieval times, now distinctly Protestant…..

Fria (=Freya)
Norse: Goddess of love; Supreme Goddess.


  1. Roman: Traditional day of execution, including the crucifixion of Jesus.

  2. Common usage (archaic): Traditional day of execution for criminals in the United States until 20th century.

Fruit of Islam
Nation of Islam: The secret protective arm of the Nation of Islam, they are young men trained in the martial arts. Typically, they are fastidiously groomed, wearing dark suits, white shirts, and bow ties.

Scientologist: = Flag Service Organization.

Scientologist: = Flag Ship Service Organization.

Fulani (=Fulbe)
Muslim: A tribe in West Africa.


Gabriel (=Jibril)

  1. Christian: Archangel [incomplete].

  2. Muslim: Angel who transmitted the Qu'ran to Muhammad.

Ganesha Chaturthi (=Ganesa Chaturthi)
Hindu: A festival honoring Ganesh.

Ganga Dussehra (=Ganges Dussehra)

Hindu (holiday): Honors the sacred river Ganges.


Shinto: The festival celebrating the new year.

gassho (Korean, Hapchang)

Buddhist (Zen): A hand position for spiritual practice in which palms are placed together vertically in front of the body.

Gedaliah Ben-Ahikam

Jewish: The governor of Judea during the time of the Babylonian conquest whose assassination is commemorated by a Jewish holiday, Tsom Gedaliah.

genetic entity

Scientologist: That part of a human being which takes care of the automatic mechanisms of the body, such as heartbeat, respiration, etc.


  1. Jewish: Term for non-Jews.

  2. Christian (Mormon): Term for non-Mormons.

George King
See King, George.

ghaflah (Arabic: "negligence", "forgetfulness")

(implied for Muslims: human forgetfulness of God)

  1. Muslim: The root of most sins.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite/Sufi): A major impediment to spiritual realization.

Muslim (Shi'ite): The final portion of a majlis in which the zakir invokes the battle of Karbala and induces tears of grief in the congregation.

Ghambar Maidyozarem

Zoroastrian (holiday): The celebration of the creation of the sky and the harvest of winter crops.

ghawth al-zaman (Arabic: "succor of the age")

Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A title given to a Sufi.

ghaybah (=ghayba; Arabic: "occultation", "concealment")

Muslim (Shi'ite): Refers to the removal from (human) view of the last of the Shi'ite imams.

ghaybat-i-kubra (Arabic: "greater occulation")

Muslim (Shi'ite): The period marked by the absence of human intermediaries between the imam and the faithful, starting with the death of the last vakil in 940 and still continuing.

ghazi (Arabic)

Muslim: A title of honor for one who takes part in raids against non-Muslims.

ghulat (=ghullat)(Arabic: "exaggerators")

ghuluww (=ghulluw) (Arabic: "exaggeration")
Muslim (Shi'ite): Believing extreme things about Ali such as ascribing divinity to him.

ghusl (Arabic)

Muslim ritual: Washing the body before burial.

Gion Matsuri

Shinto: Honoring the sun god with parades, music and story telling.

Gita Jayanti

Hindu (holiday): The celebration of the birthday of Srimad Bhagavad Gita and the revelation of the gospel of Dharma.

Gmar Khatimah Tovah (Hebrew: "May the end be a good signature")

Jewish: Traditional greeting between Jews during High Holidays that refers to the image of God signing judgements on humans. Hence, the literal meaning: "May the end be a good signature," or "May God inscribe you for a good fate."

gnosis (Greek: "knowledge")

Mystically attained knowledge.

Gnosticism (from Greek gnosis)

Christian (heretical): Any of a variety of early Christian movements that sought to escape from the material wolrd (regarded as evil) and return to live among heavenly beings via special or secret knowledge.

goat (=billy goat)

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