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Ramadan Terms You Might Not Know

Ramadan 2018: Word List

A quick guide for non-Muslim expats living in Qatar and across the globe

JUST like many expats in Qatar and other Islamic countries, you may be unfamiliar with the commonly used terms during Ramadan.

Here’s a list of words often mentioned by Muslims throughout this month-long religious observance.

Read on and learn the meaning behind each terminology:

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Ramadan or Ramzaan

  • From the Arabic root ‘ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ,’ which means scorching heat or dryness
  • Believed to burn the sins of the believers and scorch away evils
  • 9th month in the Islamic calendar
  • Period of fasting observed by Muslims to celebrate “the best of times”
  • Time of reflection, worship, and complete devotion to Allah
  • Break for families and friends to come together
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  • One of the 5 pillars of Islam
  • Form of worship mandatory for Muslims to abstain from food, drink, sexual intimacy and any negative behavior from dawn until dusk


  • Start of fasting
  • Begins when the first light of dawn becomes visible


  • An Arabic term which means ‘fulfilling’
  • Refers to making up missed fasts due to traveling, sickness, etc.
  • Can be done on any day of the year except on the days of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha


  • Compensation for missing a fast, due to lack of time and certain mistakes while fasting
  • Offering such as donating money or foodstuff, or sacrificing an animal


  • Penalty or expiation when one deliberately breaks his or her fast
  • Fasting for 60 consecutive days, if not, should feed 60 needy persons or donate an amount equal to feeding 60 persons to charity
  • If fasting for 60 days is interrupted for any reason, one has to start the 60-day cycle all over again


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Suhoor or Sahri

  • A pre-dawn meal consumed before fasting


  • An evening meal eaten after the sunset and fasting


  • Sweet fruit eaten to break the fast, following the Sunnah (practice) of the Prophet Mohammed
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 Ramadan Mubarak

  • A greeting which means blessed or happy Ramadan

 Ramadan Kareem 

  • An alternate greeting which means may Ramadan be generous to you



  • One of the 5 pillars of Islam
  • Alms-giving that requires adult Muslims to pay 2.5% of their wealth and assets for one whole lunar year (income, property, gold or harvest, to the poor and needy).
  • Charity given any time of the year, commonly during Ramadan


  • Voluntary charity

Zakat Al Fitr

  • Special form of charity required for Muslims to offer before the end of Ramadan
  • Meant to give the poor and needy a means to celebrate Eid Al Fitr
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  • Means ‘prayer’ and another pillar of Islam
  • To be completed 5 times a day


  • First prayer before the dawn to start fasting


  • Noontime prayer


  • Mid-afternoon prayer


  • Sunset prayer


  • Nighttime prayer


  • Set of prescribed actions, recitations and supplications, usually in twos or fours in each prayer



  • Special congregational or voluntary prayers held every evening.
  • Usually consists of 8-20 rakats or units
  • Encouraged to offer in mosques

Lailatul Qadr

  • Night of Power that the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad
  • May fall on any of the odd nights in the last 10 days of Ramadan (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th)


  • Special late night prayers held in mosques as Muslims ‘seek’ this glorious night


  • Spiritual retreat or isolation during the last 10 days of Ramadan in a mosque or at home with prayers, reflections and recitations of the Quran.


  • Refers to the phrase ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ (God is Great)
  • Recited in congregation during the Eid Al Fitr
  • Repeated in every step of every rakat in prayer



  • Holy book of Islam
  • Believed by Muslims to be the word of Allah
  • Consists of 114 chapters of varying length, divided into 30 volumes
  • First revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during the month of Ramadan, to be a guide to all mankind
  • Encouraged to be read by Muslims during the fasting month of Ramadan


  • To emulate Prophet Mohammed’s life and customs, as a model for all Muslims


  • Collective sayings attributed to the Prophet


  • Form of worship that repeats the name of God or supplications from the Holy Quran or Hadiths.
  • Done using a string of beads called Tasbeeh, Subha or Misbaha


  • Piety or achieving God-consciousness that is particularly strong in Ramadan
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Eid Al Fitr

  • 3-day Muslim celebration that marks the end of Ramadan
  • Time of prayer, visits from friends and family, tasty treats, desserts, and gifts
  • Seeking of forgiveness from Allah
  • Starting afresh following a month of fasting
  • First day of Shawwal, the tenth month in the Islamic calendar.

Eid Al Adha

  • Final month of the Islamic calendar after the Hajj.
  • Time when millions of Muslims embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca and Madinah for Hajj.
  • Period when Muslims are required to sacrifice an animal and distribute its meat amongst family, friends and the needy



  • New moon or crescent that confirms the start of a new Islamic month


  • Annual pilgrimage

Now that you’re already familiar with the Ramadan terms, next time you hear such words, you won’t be scratching your head in oblivion. Spread the word, observe the solemnity, and share the prosperity of the celebration!


Darlene Modelo Regis

“I'm an endangered species. A rare commodity. Survivor from an extinct tribe. Restless. Risk-taker. Intrepid. Night Owl. Nomad. I eat tensions and deadlines for breakfast. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me.” “Darling,” as everyone fondly calls her, Darlene Regis, is a journalist, teacher, artist, and event organizer. Her years of experience at various companies, media firms, schools, among others, catapulted her into the event management and journalism careers. She graduated with a Major in English degree and pursued post-graduate studies in Language and Literacy Development. She then climbed up the corporate ladder as an editor and writer for magazines, newspapers, and websites. Consequently, she has been appointed as an instructor in training centres where she shares her stock knowledge on working professionals. Some of her awards and achievements include: Editor in Chief of the Year, Qualifier for National Schools Press Conference, Champion Feature Writer DSPC, Feature Writer of the Year, YMCA Leader, University President of Student Council, Liberal Arts President, Artium Baccalaureus President, English Club President, Chairperson of COMELEC, among others. A true-blue Leyteñan from Tacloban, Philippines, Darlene has itchy feet for travel. Having worked with the corporate world, fashion-retail division, mainstream media, educational institution, hospitality industry, fashion department, and advertising firm, she gained understanding on the crucial elements in having a proactive team of artists, designers, photographers, trendsetters, and tech-savvies, who work closely together in a fast-paced, multitasking environment — wherein beating the deadline and achieving top-tier results — are utmost priorities. At present, Darlene is managing the communication operations of Doha Clubs Event Management & Services as well as the Doha Events Blog posts. Get in touch with her at

12 thoughts on “Ramadan Terms You Might Not Know

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