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This week, Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid-al-Adha, one of two official holidays. Eid-al-Adha, known as “Sacrifice Feast,” is the most important Islamic holiday and recalls the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians and Jews) to sacrifice his son. Some people slaughter sheep or cattle, then distribute part of the meat to the poor and eat the rest.
There is so much misinformation about Islam and Muslims floating around, I thought today would be a good day to set the record straight and feature terms that we have all heard, but might not know exactly what they mean or how to spell them.
First off, Islam is the religion of more than one billion people. The followers of Islam are called Muslims. Their holy book is the Quran. The place of worship is a mosque, and the holy day of the week is Friday.
Most of the world’s Muslims reside in a wide belt that reaches halfway across the world, according to the AP Stylebook, across West Africa and North Africa, through the Arab countries of the Middle East, and onto Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Asian countries, parts of the former Soviet Union and western China, to Indonesia and the southern Philippines.
There are two major branches of Islam: Sunni and Shiite.
Clergy titles vary, but according to AP Stylebook, these are the most common.
Grand Mufti: The highest authority in Quranic law.
Sheikh: Used by most clergymen in the same manner as reverend for Christians. Note that not all sheikhs are clergymen. It also can be a secular title of respect or nobility.
Ayatollah: Used by Shiites to denote senior clergymen.
Hojatoleslam: A rank below Ayatollah.
Mullah: Lower-level clergy.
Imam: Used by some sects as the title for a prayer leader at a mosque. Among Shiites, it usually has a more exalted connotation.
Here are some of the terms used for Islamic women’s clothing. Note that not all Muslim women choose to wear these.
Burqa: The all-covering dress worn by some Muslim women.
Chador: A cloak worn by some Muslim women that covers their hair, necks, and shoulders, but not their faces.
Hijab: The head scarf worn by some Muslim women.
Niqab: The veil some Muslim women wear in which, at most, only their eyes show.
Islam has two major holidays — the aforementioned Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr, which is the three-days at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.