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

hukam (Punjabi: "command") Sikh: The verses of the Guru Granth Sahib

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hukam (Punjabi: "command")
Sikh: The verses of the Guru Granth Sahib read during worship and selected by opening the book at random.

hukm (Arabic: "rule," "govern")

hulul (Arabic)
Muslim: The descent of the spirit of God into man.

huquq-ul-'ibad (Arabic)
Muslim: Man's duty toward man ("rights of people")

huququllah (Arabic)
Muslim: Religious duties of man ("rights of God").

hurmat (Arabic)
Muslim: Prohibition.

Husayn (=Hussein)

  1. Muslim: Common male first name.

  2. Common usage: Saddam Hussein, former president of Iraq.

  3. Muslim (Shi'ite): d. 61 (680 CE), martyred at Karbala. Younger son of Ali and Fatimah, killed in an anti-Umayyad revolt at Karbala in 680; a Shi'ia martyr.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Center for religious education and propagation of the faith.

hypostasis (pl: hypostases; Greek)

  1. A particular or individual being.

  2. Christian:. In the Trinity, there are three beings, but only one essence; Christ is one hypostasis with two essences (human and divine). (see Hypostatic Union)

Hypostatic Union
Christian: The doctrine that in Christ, divine nature and human nature are united in one person.


I Am
New Age: Sect founded in 1934 by Guy Ballard; see I Am.

Scientologist: International Association of Scientologists.

ibada (=ibadah; pl., ibadat; Arabic: "worship")
  1. Muslim (common usage): Religious practices.

  2. Muslim: Service to God through practice of the Five Pillars.

  3. Muslim: Regulations in Islamic law governing religious observance.

  4. Note: In Islamic law, injunctions are divided into those dealing with worship and those dealing with human relations and transactions, called mu'amala.

'Ibadi (Arabic)
Muslim: A minor school of religious law that is neither Sunni nor Shi'a.

ibn (=bin; Arabic: "son of")
Muslim: Follows a man's given name and precedes his father's name; in common usage, it becomes equivalent to a surname.

Ibn Al-'Arabi, Muhyi Al-Din
Muslim (Sufi mystic): b. 7 Aug. 1165 in Murcia, Spain. Scholar and teacher of Qur'anic exegisis; author of The Bezels of Wisdom. d. November 1240 in Damascus, Syria.

ichiko (Japanese)
Shinto: A female medium or shaman. (See also miko.)

Christian: Referring to an icon or sacramental representation of a divine reality, such that the representation itself deserves veneration.

The destruction of sacred images, especially icons, and thus metaphorically an attack on cherished beliefs or symbols.

The detailed description and analysis of religious images.

Id al-Fitr (=Eid al-Fitr, Arabic; also called Id al-Saghir and Küçük Bayram)
Muslim (holiday): The breaking of the fast, celebrated on the first of Shawwal. It is a time of festive rejoicing, visits and exchange of presents. Zakat, the obligatory payment of alms, is due at this time.

Id al-Kabir (Arabic: "major festival")

See Id al-Adha.

Id al-Saghir (Arabic: "minor festival")
See Id al-Fitr

idhan (Arabic)
See adhan.

idol (Greek: eidOlon; related to eidolon)
Common usage: A representation or symbol of an object of worship.

Worship of idols.

Scientologist: International Hubbard Ecclesiastical League of Pastors.

ihram (Arabic)
Muslim: The state of ritual purity and dedication entered into by the pilgrim on hajj to Mecca.

Christian: An abbreviation of the name of Jesus as written in Greek, consisting of the first three letters written in capitals. Note: in western Christianity, the second letter has been widely misinterpreted as the letter "h" rather than the long "e" which it represents in Greek.

i'jaz (Arabic)
Muslim: The doctrine that the Qur'an cannot be imitated.

ijaza (pl. ijazat; Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Certificate given on completion of a critical (religious) text reading, which conveys to its recipent the authority to expound on the text to others.

  2. Muslim: Permission or authorization by a scholar or an Islamic institution to teach Islam or give religious opinions.

ijma' (=ijma; Arabic: "consensus")

  1. Muslim: Consensus of a community of believers.

  2. Muslim: Consensus of a scholarly community of believers on a specific religious regulation.

  3. Note: One of the main sources of shari'a.

ijtihad (Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Independent analysis or reasoning.

  2. Muslim: Use of individual reasoning to determine a specific Islamic rule. Note: this term has shifted meaning over time, varying from very general to extremely restricted applications of personal reasoning.

  3. Muslim: One who exercises ijtihad is a mujtahid.

ikwan (Arabic: "brotherhood", "brethren")

Ikwan al-Muslimin (=al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, Arabic: "Muslim brotherhood") Muslim: A political and religious movement founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1926 in Egypt.

ilham (Arabic: "inspiration")

The Mongol dynasty ruling in Iran from the mid-13th to the mid-14th Century CE.

'illah (Arabic: "defect")

Secret Society: Formed in Medieval Europe and persisting in some form into the present; anti-clerical, esp. anti-Roman Catholic.

ilm (='ilm; Arabic: "knowledge")
Muslim: Used particularly as religious or scientific knowledge.

imam (Arabic: "exemplar", "model", "leader")

  1. Muslim: Community leader (male).

  2. Muslim: A male person with a spiritual quality marked by faith and trust in Allah.

  3. Muslim: Leader of salat in a mosque.

  4. Muslim: The leader of Muslim worship in a mosque. He may be any adult male Muslim of good character and standing in the community, and is not in any sense an ordained priest or minister, though larger mosques may imploy a salaried imam.

  5. Muslim: The title given to learned and respected men such as the founders of schools of law and certain theologians.

  6. Muslim: The head of the Muslim community, virtually equivalent to Caliph.

  7. Muslim: The head of a local Muslim community.

  8. Muslim (Shi'ite): One of the divinely guided descendants of Muhammad; the sinless and infallible members of the family of Ali whom God has designated the legitimate spiritual and temporal successors of Muhammad.
  9. Muslim (Shi'ite/Isma'ili): For Isma'ili and Ithna Ashari Shi'i, the Imam is the necessary, divinely guided, infallible, sinless, political/religious leader.

Imamate of the Twelve Shi'i Imams
Muslim (Shi'ite): 11-260 AH (632-873 CE).

Muslim (Shi'ite): Esoteric Shi'a leadership.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Term denoting the largest group of Shi'ites, the Ithna 'Ashariyya.

Muslim: Son or other (male) descendant of an imam.

iman (Arabic: "faith")
Muslim: One who has faith is a mu'min ("believer").

Imbolg (=Candlemas, =Imbolc)
New Age: One of the Celtic quarterly feasts, held on 1 or 2 February; often adopted as a holiday by Neopagans. Decorations are snowdrops.

Immaculate Conception
Christian (Roman Catholic)(holiday): Celebrates the belief that Mary was preserved from sin.

Immaculate Heart of Mary
Christian (Roman Catholic): Refers to the belief that Mary was preserved from sin.

impassability (from Latin passio: "suffering" or "emotion")
Christian: Doctrine of God’s freedom from suffering and emotion.

incarnation (from Latin for "flesh")
Christian: The doctrine that the Son of God took on flesh, was embodied as the man Jesus.


  1. Hindu: God of rain.

  2. Hindu: The chief deity of Brahminism.

Independent Order Of Odd Fellows
Secret Society/Fraternal Order: Founded as a secret society for “captive Israelites in Babylon,” now a declining fraternal organization.

infitah (Arabic: "cleft", "opening")
Muslim: The policy of economic liberalization introduced in Egypt in the 1970s.

inqilab (Arabic: "revolution")

insan al khamil (=al-insan al-khamil; Arabic: "the perfect man")

  1. Muslim: Muhammad.

  2. Muslim: "The universal or perfect man who contains within himself all the possibilities of universal existence and who finds his embodiment in the prophets and saints." (Seyyid Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam Boston: Beacon Press, 1973: 180.)

insha'allah (Arabic: "God willing")
Muslim: A common interjection after a comment about an event scheduled in the future.

Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research
Secret Society/New Age: Founded by Dr. Henry Clifford Kinely in 1931. See Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research.

Instauration Magna (Latin: "new beginning")
Philosophy: The scheme for the unification of knowledge developed by Francis Bacon ca. 1600 based on observational science rather than classical texts.

int (=interiorization)

  • Scientologist: The action of going into something too fixedly and becoming part of it too fixedly.

  • Scientologist: The auditing procedure which handles the adverse mental and spiritual effects of interiorization.

intellectual virtues
Aristotelian: They are: episteme, nous, phronesis, sophia, techne.

Intercalary Days
Baha'i: Insertion of days into the liturgical calendar in order to coordinate it with the solar calendar.

International Jungmann Society for Jesuits and Liturgy
Christian (Roman Catholic: Jesuit): A Jesuit liturgical association founded in June 2004 to promote liturgical renewal within the Jesuits and to assist that renewal within the wider church.

intifada (Arabic: "destroy", "annihilate")

Muslim: Name given to the Palestinian protest movement, begun in 1987, against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Iolande de Bar
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; b. 1428, France.

ird (Arabic: "honor")
Muslim: That which a family must guard, particularly regarding the virtue of a family's female members.

irfan (=gnosis; Arabic)
Muslim: Mystically attained knowledge of the divine.

Isaac Newton
See Newton, Isaac.

isha (Arabic: "evening")
Muslim: The closing prayer of the day, about 1-1/2 hours after sunset; the last of the five daily prayers.

Ancient Middle East: Babylonian mother goddess. Considered equivalent to Astarte and Belial.

islah (Arabic: "reform")

Islam (Arabic: "submission", "peace")
For a Muslim ("one who submits"), Islam is peace through submission to the will of God.

Common usage: The degree or extent to which something (object, concept, person) exhibits the effect of Islam.

Common usage: The redering of something (concept, thing) through an Islamic worldview.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Final legitimate imam for Isma'ilis.

Isma'ili (=Isma'ilyah, =Isma'ilis, =Ismailites, =Seveners)
Muslim (Shi'ite): A sectarian offshoot of Shi'a Islam. Members recognize Ismail's (d. 740) son Muhammad as the impending Mahdi. They split into many offshoots such as Fatimids, Quaramitah, Druze, Nizaris and Agha Khanis, continuing to present times.
Muslim (Shi'ite): Member of a Shi'a sect who believes an infallible imamate passed from Ali to his descendants through a seventh Imam and to his descendants.

Isma'ili (Arabic)

Muslim (Shi'a): One of the schools of religious law.

isnad (Arabic: "documents")
Muslim: Denotes those who passed on the hadiths (the "chain of transmitters") until they were collected. Used to verify validity of a hadith. The chain of witnesses authenticating an hadith.

Muslim: Muhammad's night journey to Jerusalem.

Budddhist (Zen): Hand position for zazen.

istihsan (Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Act of reaching a personal opinion on a legal question without the strict use of analogy.

  2. Muslim: Juristic preference.

  3. Muslim: Equity as a criterion in development of Islamic law.

istihslah (=istislah; Arabic: "public interest")
Muslim: General welfare of the community as a criterion in development of Islamic law.

istikharah (Arabic: "seeking the good alternative", "decision-making")
Muslim: When a Muslim is confronted with a choice between alternatives, he/she is encouraged to offer a prayer called istikharah. Then, whichever way his/her mind is inclined wil be considered as the divine indication of the preference.

istislah (Arabic)
Muslim: Act of reaching a legal decision by taking the public welfare into account; mode of reasoning which emphasizes the principle of expediency or concern for human welfare.

Ithna Ashari (=Itha Ash'ariyyah, =Twelvers, =Imamis =Jafari; Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'ite): Twelver Shi'ism.
Muslim (Shi'ite): Member of a sect who belives there were 12 successive imams descended fromAli, the last of whom () disappeared but will one day return.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Followers of this sect of Shi'a Islam believe in 12 imams, and hold that a son, Muhammad al-Muntaazar, was born to the 11th imam, Hassan al-Askari (d. 874 CE) but went into concealment until he will reappear at the proper time to set the whole world in order. They subscribe to the legal school Ja'fariyyah and have been established in Iran since the Safvid period (1501) and constitute the largest branch of Shi'a.

ittisal asanad (Arabic: "chain of transmitters")

ius civile (Greek)
Law as an expression of local values and interests that differe from place to place and people to people (from Cicero’s De Legibus).

ius gentium (Greek)
Laws as the universally adoped precepts of those who live under any rule of law (from Cicero’s De Legibus).

Jewish: Hebrew month of Iyar.

Izanagi and Izanami (or, Isanagi and Isanami) (Japanese)
Shinto: The mythological male and female who participated in the creation of the Japanese islands, and also are the parents of Ameratsu, the sun goddess, and the deities who became ancestors of various clans.

Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto consulted together, saying, 'We now have produced the Great-eight-island country, with the mountains, rivers, herbs and trees. Why should be not produce someone who shall be lord of the universe?'They then produced the Sun Goddess. The resplendent lustre of this child shone throughout all the six quarters. Therefore the two Deities rejoiced, saying, 'We have had many children, but none of them have been equal to this wondrous infant. She out not to be kept long in this land, but we ought of our own accrd to send her at once to Heaven, and entrust her to the affairs of Heaven.' (Nihongi)


Christian: An untrained preacher.

Jewish and Christian: Son of Isaac, ancestor of the Jews.

Christian: Denotes a Syrian Monophysite Christian.

Hindu: Krishna, worshipped as "Lord of the World".

jahannam (Arabic: "inferno")

jahili (Arabic: "ignorance")

jahiliya (=jahiliyya, =jahiliyyah; Arabic: "days of ignorance")

  1. Muslim: Denotes the period of Arab history before the advent of Islam.

  2. Muslim: Can also refer to those who "ignore" Islam.

Founded by Mahavira (c. 599-527 B.C.E.), this offshoot of Hinduism arose in northern India where an estimated 2 million followers still reside. Jains are best known for their radical reverence for life.

jama (Punjabi)
Common usage (Indian subcontinent): A saffron robe, traditionally worn by one who has chosen a spiritual path.

jama'a (Arabic)
Muslim: A particular community of believers.

jama'at (Arabic)
Muslim: Organization of people who travel for purposes of da'wa (Muslim missionaries).

Jamal, Battle of
Muslim (Shi'ite): First civil war, in 35 AH (656 CE).

jammah (=jammat; Arabic?: "(political) party")

Hindu: A Goddess who rides a tortoise.

Hindu (festival): xxxxx.

janaazah (Arabic)
Muslim: Rituals surrounding the preparation of a corpse for burial and subsequent internment.

Hindu (holiday: The two-day celebration of the birthday of Krishna.

jannah (Arabic: "paradise")
Muslim: Heaven; the positive afterlife.

Jashan-e Sadeh (=Sadeh)
Zoroastrian (holiday: The mid winter celebration in which a bonfire is often used to express defiance of the cold of winter.

Hindu/Buddhist: Festival.

Jaya Varahi
Hindu: Vishnu's shakti in his incarnation as a boar.

Jean de Gisors

Priory of Sion: First independent Grand Master; b. 1133, France; d. 1220.

Jean de Saint-Clair
Priory of Sion: Sixth Grand Master; b. 1329, France (?).

Jeanne de Bar
Priory of Sion: Fifth Grand Master; b. 1295, England (?); d. 1361.


  1. Ancient Hebrew: God; derived from Jah ("the masculine" and Havah ("the feminine").

  2. New Age: One of the four co-equal deities of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.

Confucian: Good-heartedness, the adoption of a bright outlook on human nature. One of the tenets of Confucianism.

Christian (Roman Catholic: Basque): Non-Christians with magical powers who roam the woods and remote rural areas.


  1. Christian: The second person of the Trinity; Christ.

  2. Muslim: One of the prophets.

Jézuska (Hungarian)
Christian (Hungary): Jesus, especially as an infant. Children are told that Baby Jesus brings them gifts on Christmas eve.

Shaman or sorcerer.

Traditional animism, incorporating occult practices.

jihad (Arabic: "struggle")

  1. Common usage: Any conflict waged by Muslims against non-Muslims.

  2. Muslim: The struggle against evil or unbelief.

  3. Muslim: The effort to work for good and against evil, in oneself, one's community and in human society.

  4. Muslim: Striving in Allah's path; a duty of all Muslims, although the scope, form and definition are contested.
  5. Muslim: Holy War against unbelievers, the goal of which is either the expansion or defense of Islam.

  • Lesser jihad is against external obstacles to the establishment of divine order

  • Greater jihad is against the inward forces which prevent man from realizing God within the center of his being.

jihad al-qawl (Arabic: "struggle with preaching")
Muslim: A period of preaching preceeding a greater jihad.

jihad al-sayf (Arabic: "struggle with sword")
Muslim: An armed jihad.

jinn (Arabic)

  1. Common usage: Demonic creatures.

  2. Muslim: Sprites or genies, evidence of another dimension to the creation on earth.

  3. Muslim: invisible creatures capable of doing either good or harm.

Jain: The soul.

jizya (Arabic?)
Muslim: Head tax levied on dhimmi.

jnanamarga (=jnana marga; Sanskrit: "path of knowledge")
Hindu: One of the three traditional "paths" of Hinduism, the other two being karmamarga and bhaktimarga.

joaldunak (Basque)
Christian: Character in pre-Lenten celebrations portrayed by grim-faced men in sheepskin and wearing high cone-shaped hats who ring copper bells strapped to their backs.

Jodo Shinshu (=Jodo Shinshu Nishi Hongwanji; Japanese: "true land, pure religion")
Buddhist (sect): Founded in Japan in 1224 CE by Shinran Shonin with the completion of the first draft of his most important work "Teaching, Practice, Faith and Attainment" (Kyo Gyo Shin Sho). (See website.

Hindu/Buddhist: Mystical Goddess.

Johann Valentin Andrea
See: Andrea, Johann Valentin

John Berchmans Society (=Saint John Berchmans Acolyte Society)
Christian (Roman Catholic): Organization for altar boys.

John Dee
See Dee, John.

Jones, Absalom
Christian: Founder (approx 1800) of African Protestant Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Pa.

Jones, C.P.
Christian: Founder of the Church of Christ, Holiness, USA, approx. 1894.

Jewish: Jewish quarter (of a predominantly Muslim) city.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Mourning procession.

Jumada-al-Akhir (Arabic)
Common usage (Muslim): The sixth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Jumada-al-Oola (=Jumanda-al-Ula; Arabic: "The first month of dryness")
Common usage (Muslim): The fifth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

jum'ah (=jumah, =jum'a, =juma'ah; Arabic: "Day of Assembly")

  1. Common usage: Friday

  2. Muslim: The day (Friday) when it is obligatory for male Muslims to assemble for congregational prayer at midday, usually in a mosque.

  3. Muslim: The congregational prayers on Fridays.

Jummatul Wida (=Juma'a-t-ul Wida)
Muslim: Last Friday of Ramadan.

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