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

Mozarab Christian: Christians living under Islamic rule and the name given to churches and other religious edifices built by them. mu'adhdhin


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Christian: Christians living under Islamic rule and the name given to churches and other religious edifices built by them.

mu'adhdhin (=muezzin) (Arabic)

  1. Muslim: The person who calls the faithful to prayer from the mosque. (See also masjid and minaret.)

  2. Muslim: Person who issues the five daily calls to prayer (see also adhan).

mu'amala (=mu'amalah, =muamala; pl. mu'amalat, =muamalat; Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Human relationships.

  2. Muslim: Day to day dealings as distinguished from prayers and worship.

  3. Muslim: Islamic laws governing social relations (that is, civil, criminal, family).

Muslim (661-680): Umayyad caliph.

mudang (Korean)
A shaman, usually female.

mudaraba (Arabic: profit-sharing in economic transactions)

Muslim/Christian: Muslims working for Christians.

mudir (Arabic: "director", "administrator")

Hindu/Buddhist: A symbolic hand posture or gesture often employed during religious prayer and meditation.

muezzin (Arabic)
Muslim: (see mu'adhdhin)

Muslim: Interpreters of the Qu'ran.


  1. Muslim: A specialist in Islamic law competent to deliver a fatwa.

  2. Muslim: A person trained in the shari'a who gives a non-binding legal opinion in response to questions submitted to him.

muhaddithun (Arabic)
Muslim: Transmitters of hadith; traditionalists.

muhajirin (=muhajirun; Arabic)

Muslim: Emigrants who moved from Mecca to Medina; that is, Muhammad's earliest supporters.

Muhammad (=Prophet Muhammad, =Muhammad the Messenger, =Muhammad ibn Abdullah)
(570-632 CE)
The last and greatest prophet, through whom God revealed Islam in its complete form.
Muslim: The founder of Islam lived on the Arabian peninsula c. 570-632 CE. He received the Qur'an from Allah via the angel Gabriel. In Islam, he is considered the last prophet, hence his title Seal of the Prophets. (NOTE: use this spelling, rather than the older version, Mohammad; never call Muslims “Muhammadans” or “Mohammedans”, because they do not consider themselves followers of the Prophet and consider the implication blasphemy.)

O Prophet, We have sent thee as a witness, and good tidings to bear and warning, calling unto God by His leave, and as a light-giving lamp. Give good tidings to the believers that there awaits them with God great bounty. (Sura 33: 44-5)

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab

Muslim (d. 1787): Founder of the Wahhabi movement.

Muhammad al-Muntazar
Muslim (Shi'ite: Twelvers) (d. ca 878): Last of the 12 legitimate imans, who is expected to return by the Twelvers.

Muslim (Indonesian): A 20th Century Islamic reform movement emphasizing purity of faith and practices and service to other Muslims, especially through education.

Muharram (Arabic: "the sacred month")

  1. Common usage (Muslim): First month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): The tenth day of Muharram is the anniversary of the battle of Karbala.

mujaddid (Arabic)
  1. Muslim: One who brings about taqlid.

  2. Muslim (African): The "renewer" sent by god to prepare the way for the mahdi.

mujahid (pl. mujahidin, =mujahadeen; Arabic: "fighter for religion")
Muslim: One who fights under the banner of Islam to achieve religious goals.

mujtahid (Arabic: “one who strives”; pl. mujtahidun)

  1. Muslim: One who exercises ijtihad to ascertain a rule of shari'a.

  2. Muslim (Shi’ite): An authority who makes original decisions of religious law.

  3. Muslim: A clergy who has learned jurisprudence and exercises interpretic judgment.

  4. Muslim: A designated theologian

mukat (Punjabi)
Sikh: A crown-shaped hat traditionally worn by gurus in formal portraits.

Mulaththamun (=al-Mulaththamun; Arabic)
Muslim (African): Those who wear the litham.

mullah (=mulla, =mollah)
Muslim: A lesser member of the religious establishment.

mumin (pl: mu'menin, =mumenin; Arabic: "believer")

muqaddam (pl. muqaddamun; Arabic: "initiator") Muslim (African): One who has the authority to initiate others into a sufi tariqa.

murabit (pl. murabitun; Arabic)
See also Al-Murabitun.

  1. Muslim: Frontier warrior.

  2. Muslim (Sufi): Saint.

Muslim: A group in early Islam who held the "status quo" position in the debates over faith; generally connected to Abu Hanifa (d. 767).

Muslim: Pre-Islamic code of Arab virtues.

Jewish: A prayer added to the amidah on Sabbaths and festivals.

musharaka (Arabic: profit-and-loss-sharing in economic transactions)

muslihun (Arabic: those who work for islah)

Muslim (Arabic: "one who submits" to the will of God)

Muslim: The common term used to denote a member of the Islamic faith. Note: this transliteration is the currently preferred form (do not use Moslem and never use Mohammedan).

mushrikun (Arabic: "polytheist")
Muslim: Used to denote those who worship god(s) other than God.

mustad afin (=mustaz afin) (Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Term which occurs five times in the Qur'an where it signifies orphans or the disinherited and perhaps the weak and oppressed generally.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Denotes the oppressed classes in radical Shi'i political theory.

musuhi (Japanese)
Shinto: A core belief, referring to creating and harmonizing power.

Muslim: [incomplete] Temporary marriage.

mutakalimun (Arabic)
Muslim: Clerics who practiced speculative theology using the method of kalam.

Muslim (Saudi Arabia): The religious police.

Muslim: Rationalist formulation of theology known for stressing that God created all things, including the Qu'ran.

muwahid (Arabic)
Muslim: Believer in tawhid, the doctrine of the unity of God.

A person who seeks personal union with the divine.

A term invented by 20th century scholars to describe people who claim direct experiences of God.

As an explanation of otherwise unexplainable mysteries, a myth is a story that may contain historical fact, may be entirely fictitious or some combination that is nonetheless rooted in reality.

Group or collection of myths.

nabi (Arabic: "informer," "prophet")

nafaqah (Arabic: "alimony")

Muslim (Shi'ite): The soul or psyche which stands between the body and the spirit or intellect.

Hindu/Buddhist: Snake; especially a legendary or a deified serpent.

nahda (Arabic?: "renaissance")

Nahrawan, Battle of
Muslim (Shi'ite): Event in 38 AH (658 CE).

naib (Arabic: "deputy", "representative")

  • naib al-imam: Arabic: "representative of the imam".

Place name (Iraq): City in which Ali was assassinated, hence a pilgrimage site for Shi'a Muslims.

[incomplete] Hindu: There are 27 nakshatras in the zodiac: Ashwini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigasira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Aashlesha, Magha, Purva phalguni, Uttara phalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Swaati, Vishaakha, Anuraadha, Jyshtha, Mula, Purvaashaadha, Uttaraashaadha, Shravanam, Dhanishtha, Shatabhisham, Puurvabhadra, Uttarabhaadra and Revati.

Hindu: A very common word of greeting, often translated as, "I salute all divine qualities in you."

namaz (Urdu, Persian)(=salat)
Muslim (Shi'ite): Ritual prayers.

Hindu: A bull, Shiva's traditional conveyance and a symbol of fecundity.

Muslim: Chief or leader.

Nar ayan
Hindu: Vishnu represented as the creator of life. A lotus from Narayan's navel issued Brahma.

Hindu: Vishnu's incarnation as a lion.

nasab (Arabic: "nobility of descent")

Muslim: The 10 days added to the Muslim lunar calendar to make it the same length as the solar calendar.

Nation of Islam (NOI)

Nation of Islam: A form of Islam indigenous to the United States; founded c. 1930 by Wallace Fard and led by Elijah Muhammad until his death in 1975. In the following decade, the majority followed Elijah's son, Wallace D. Mohammed into the Sunni path of traditional Islam while a minority, keeping the original name of the faith, remain with Louis Farrakhan.
Nation of Islam: African-American religious movement, now led by the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, founded in 1930 and emphasizing self-help and moral discipline. Theology viewed as unorthodox by many traditional Muslims.

Nativity of...

  1. Christian / Nativity of Mary, the Mother of God: Celebration of Mary's birth.

  2. Christian / Nativity of St. John the Baptist: Celebration of the role of John in baptizing Jesus. Continues a pre Christian Midsummer's Day celebration. Special interest for Hispanic tradition.

Priory of Sion: Title given to Grand Master.

natsu matsuri (Japanese)
Shinto: The summer festival.

Nav Ruz (=Naw Ruz; Farsi)

  1. Zoroastrian: New Year's observance.

  2. Baha'i: Observance of the vernal equinox symbolizing spiritual growth and renewal.

Navaratri Dusserha
Hindu (holiday): Festival of the divine mother honoring Durga, wife of Shiva, and seeking her blessings. Also observed as a celebration recalling the days of Lord Krishna.

negi (Japanese)

Shinto: A senior priest of a shrine, ranking after guji and gonguji.


Christian: The English name for a movement in German-language theology initiated by Karl Barth's book,
The Epistle to the Romans; also called "crisis theology" and "dialectical theology".


New Age: Its practitioners revive and adapt ancient Pagan practices and beliefs of pre-Christian Europe to contemporary life. Core beliefs include: respect for all life, observation of the seasons and cycles of life through ritual, believe in the divine as manifesting in many gods (both male and female), and the practice of magic (often spelled magick to differentiate it from stage illusions) to help with the day-to-day trials of life. (see also Wicca)


Archaic: Philosophical system founded in the 3rd century based on Plato's ideas and common in the Middle East up to the Arab conquests.


Common usage (esp. 18th C): Belief that global floods are responsible for changes in topography. (See also Plutonism.)


Christian (heretical): The teachings of Nestorius, a 5th century bishop of Constantinople, that the eternal Logos of God and the man Jesus were united merely by conjunction.

New Church Day

Christian (Swedenborgian/Church of the New Jerusalem): The annual commemoration of the 1770 vision document, "The True Christian Religion", by Emanuel Swedenborg.

New Era Dianetics for OTs (=NOTs)

Scientologist: A series of auditing actions, delivered as part of the OT levels, developed by L. Ron Hubbard during his research into New Era Dianetics in the late 1970s.

New Year for the Trees (= Tu B’Shevat)

See Tu B’Shevat.

Newson, Henry (=Henry “Big Daddy” Newson)

New Age: Founder of the Ten Oaks religious sect in Whittier, Calif., about 1947. See also Love Cults.

Newton, Isaac

  1. English scientist (b. 1642, Lincolnshire): Formulated mass and distance laws of gravity in 1684 and the three laws of motion in 1687. Member, Royal Academy of Science. Friend of Boyle, Robert and John Locke.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

  3. "Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
    God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light." -- Alexander Pope

Traditional (African): A creator god, source of all life and power, no longer directly involved with human affairs; normally approached through intermediaries.

African ethnic society centered in the Congo whose traditional monotheistic worship centers on Akongo.

Christian: Location of a church council in 325 CE where the Nicene Creed was formulated.

Christian: Having to do with the council of Nicaea or the doctrine of the Trinity which it formulated.

Nichiren (Japanese: "sun lotus")
Buddhist (Mahayana): A sociopolitical Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism.

Nichiren Daishonin Memorial

Buddhist: The memory of Nichiren Daishonin and the Dai-Gohonzon, the true object of worship, for all humanity.

Nichiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai (Japanese)

(see Soka Gakkai)

Nicolas Flamel

See: Flamel, Nicolas.

nihang (see akali)

Muslim: The act of giving a woman in marriage; the contractual relationship defining marriage.

Nineteen Day Fast

[incomplete; see Ramadan]
Baha'i: The Fast to be observed by adult Baha'is in good health from sunrise to sundown.

Ninth Day of Ridvan

Baha'i: The celebration of the arrival of Baha'u'llah at a sacred garden.

Ninth of Av (Hebrew)

  1. Jewish: The day of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE.

  2. Jewish: The day of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE

Nirvana Day

Buddhist: An observance of the death of the Buddha.


Jewish: Month in the Hebrew calendar in which Passover occurs.

nitem (or, nit-nem) (Punjabi: "daily rule")

  1. Sikh: The daily religious observance.

  2. Sikh: The recitation at appointed times of verses from the gutka, a book comprised of passages from Sikh scripture.

nirvana (Sanskrit: "blowing out"; =nibbana, =nehan)

  1. The cessation of human individuality and desires.

  2. Hindu: Absorption into Brahman

  3. Buddhist: The extinction of self; the goal of meditation.

  4. Buddhist (Zen): An aspect of the world expressed as oneness, stillness, and exhaustion of desires.

Muslim: Free will.

nizam (Persian?: "system")

Noachian deluge (=Noah's flood)

Noche Buena (=Christmas Eve; Spanish)

Nodier, Charles

  1. French writer and politician; b. 1780.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

nomological (from Greek)
Hellenistic: A mode of causation employed by God that makes use of immutable laws.


  1. Christian: Fifth part of the daily prayer time schedule.

  2. Common usage (Christian, esp. Roman Catholic): =Early afternoon.

  3. Common usage (Christian, esp. Roman Catholic): 3 p.m.

norito (Japanese)
Shinto: Words addressed by a priest to a deity or deities in an ancient style of Japanese.

Norman, Dr. Ernest and Ruth
New Age: Founders of the Unarious Society religious sect in El Cajon, Calif., in 1954.

Norooz (Farsi, "The New Day")

Zoroastrian: New Year's celebration.

nous (Greek)

  1. Developed reason.

  2. Aristotelian: Those with the most wisdom are the ideal combination of episteme and nous.

Christian (Roman Catholic): Any period of nine consecutive days during which special devotions are carried out.

Common usage: One who is new at a task.
Christian: One serving a noviceship.
Christian: Time spent in a novitiate; the second step in becoming a member of a religious organization. See formation.

Christian: A program in which a layperson participates in the life of a religious organization without taking the final vows of affiliation.

Novum Organum (Latin: "new logic")
Common usage: Title of a book by Francis Bacon published in 1620.

Novus Ordo Seclorum (Latin: "new secular order")

  1. Illuminati: Motto.

  2. American Civil Religion: Words which appear beneath the pyramid on the reverse of the $1 bill.

Hindu: God of dance.

Christian (Roman Catholic): A diplomat-bishop serving as ambassador of the Holy See at the Vatican to the government of a secular state.

nur al-muhammadi (Arabic: "light of Muhammad")
Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A Sufi term associated with hadrat.


Akan (West Africa): The name of the Supreme Being.


See Ordo Templi Orientis.

Objectives (=Objective Processing)

Scientologist: An auditing action which helps a person to look or place his attention outward from himself.

Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart
Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

O-bon (=obon; Japanese)
Buddist/secular Japanese: A summer festival of Buddhist origin at which the spirits of departed ancestors are welcomed to feasting and dancing.

Santeria: One of the four Gods (the others are Eleggua, Oggun, and Oshu).

occultation, major
Muslim (Shi'ite): 329-? AH (940-? CE).

occultation, minor
Muslim (Shi'ite): 260-329 AH (873-940 CE).

Odin (or, Wodin)
New Age/Pagan: The leader of the Scandinavian Aesir is usually depicted as a riding warrior with a spear, attended by raven, eagle and wolf. His eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, carried him through the sky. The Valkyries did his bidding, conducting dead warriors to his hall, Valhalla.

The monks of monasteries and the canons of cathedrals attended and sang a series of services called "Offices", which took place throughout the day. The word "Office" means ‘function’ or duty, and most of the clergy devoted the majority of their time to the performance of this ‘duty’, especially in monastic communities. The monastic structure for the Hours was as follows:

  • Matins: 2 or 3 a.m.

  • Lauds: Daybreak

  • Prime: 6 a.m.

  • Terce: 9 a.m.

  • Sext: Noon

  • None: 3 p.m.

  • Vespers: Sunset

  • Compline: Bedtime


Santeria: One of the four Gods (the others are Ellegua, Ochosi, and Oshu).

Shinto (ritual): Grand Purification Ceremony. Observed twice yearly to obtain purification from offenses committed during each half of the year.

Traditional (African): Creator, sustainer and final judge of all things; removed, transcendent but not immanent. The central focus of worship for the Yoruba.

Hindu: Specific sound made as part of meditation.

Om! -- this syllable is this whole world.
Its further explanation is:
The past, the present, the future -- everything is just the word Om.
And whatever else that transcends threefold time -- that, too, is just the word Om.
(Mandukya Upanisad)

Omer (Hebrew)
Jewish: The 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot.

o-mairi (Japanese)
Shinto/Buddhist: A visit to a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple, including an act of reverence or prayer.

Concerning being, existence.

ontological proof
An argument for the existence of God based on the concept of God, which is sufficient by itself to show that such a thing as God could not not exist.

ontology (from the Greek ontos: "being")
The subdiscipline of philosophy concerned with the nature of being or reality.

Operating Theatans (=OTs)

  1. Scientologist: Humans in their pure state.

  2. Scientologist: A state of being above Clear, in which the Clear has become refamiliarized with his native capabilities.

orange (color)
Buddhist (Tibetan): Flames in orange symbolize pristine awareness.

Order of the Crescent

Secret Society: Founded in France in 1448 by René d'Anjou as a revival of the Order of the Ship and the Double Cresent.

Order of the Eastern Star
Secret Society/Fraternal Order: Women’s division of the Freemasons.

Order of the Ship and the Double Crescent
Secret Society: Founded in France in the 13th Century; one member said to be Guillaume de Gisors.

Order of the Temple
See Knights Templar.

Order of the Thelmic Golden Dawn
Secret Society/New Age: An offshoot of the Order Templi Orientis.

ordinance (=sacrament)
Christian (Assemblies of God USA): There are two ordinances of the church, according to the Statement of Fundamental Truth: baptism in water and Holy Communion.

Christian/Jewish: A sacred rite marking the passage from the state of layman to that of an ordained clergyperson.

Orde de la Fidelité
Secret Society: Founded approx. 1420 by the Cardinal of Lorraine, France.

Ordre de la Rose-Croix Veritas
See Priory of Sion

Ordre de Sion
See Priory of Sion

Ordo Templi Orientis
Secret Society/New Age: A sect originating in Middle Europe in the early 19th Century; see also Ordo Templi Orientis.

organizing board
Scientologist: A pattern of organization which expresses every function a Scientology church needs to attend to in order to minister to its congregation.

Oriental Rite of Memphis
Freemasonry/Europe/18th Century: Order of Freemasonry.

Oriental Templar Order
See Ordo Templi Orientis.

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