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A Concise Guide to Islam

Defining Key Concepts and Terms

series: Introducing Islam

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For many in the English-speaking world, Islam remains a mysterious religion. What is Islam in the first place? Does it mean "peace," or does it mean "submission"? Can it mean both? What is jihad? Sharia? Hadith? Who is Allah? What is a caliph, caliphate, or infidel?

In this compact volume, an expert in the study of Islam provides explanations for more than one hundred important Islamic concepts and terms, which are divided into major sections: texts, history, faith and belief, practice and religious duties, jurisprudence, and movements. Ayman Ibrahim first introduces the section, then defines each concept or term briefly. Readers can read a chapter at a time or flip through the book to find concepts or terms as needed. Each term is described based on original Muslim sources, mainly written in Arabic, as well as ample scholarly studies.

This introductory guide is written for anyone with little to no knowledge of Islam. It complements the author's A Concise Guide to the Quran and A Concise Guide to the Life of Muhammad. Together, these three volumes are useful as a set of resources on Islam.

Pronunciation Guide
Introduction: How Can One Define Islam?
Islamic Texts
Islamic History
Islamic Faith and Belief
Islamic Practices and Religious Duties
Islamic Jurisprudence
Islamic Movements
Sources Consulted
Resources on Islam


"To 'love your neighbor as yourself' requires both caring and understanding. In this thoughtful work, Ayman Ibrahim opens windows into our Muslim neighbors' worldview by clearly explaining Islam's key concepts and vocabulary. He shows not only how these terms are used in Islamic texts and movements throughout history but also what they mean for the matters of faith and practice by which these neighbors live. An excellent resource for healthy dialogue."

George Bristow, senior research fellow, Institute for the Study of Religion in the Middle East (ISRME)

"Ayman Ibrahim provides an invaluable resource in A Concise Guide to Islam. For those working or serving among Muslims, this book will be the go-to reference to better understand Islamic concepts or words. For the novice or veteran Christian missionary, A Concise Guide to Islam meets an important felt need, while also serving as a resource for anyone wanting to understand more about the Islamic faith."

Carol B. Ghattas, author and speaker with over thirty years in cross-cultural ministry among Muslims

"Without knowledge of the meaning of basic terms and concepts, one is merely 'flailing in the wind' in the attempt to understand any particular religion. Ibrahim has provided a work that will be kept close, not only by those who are initially seeking to understand Islam and its adherents but also by any who find themselves needing a clear definition or explanation of a term or concept related to Islam. An exceptional resource for all who wish to understand Islam!"

George H. Martin, professor of Christian missions and world religions, chair of the Department of Evangelism and Missions, and editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Missions and Evangelism, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"This is a valuable book, incorporating up-to-date scholarship in an easy-to-read style. Ibrahim has provided a versatile volume that promises to be frequently consulted and will be at home both in a university library or on a pastor's bookshelf."

Duane Alexander Miller, professor of Old Testament, Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE)

"In his latest, aptly named book, Ayman Ibrahim brings welcome clarity to this influential world religion. Writing for beginners, he focuses on key Muslim beliefs and practices, delivering a compendium of a hundred-plus terms and concepts. The entire itinerary, from Islamic texts and history through jurisprudence to Islamic movements, will considerably enrich general readers who go the distance. Serious travelers (and day-trippers) will also benefit from this ready reference tool as they return to it time and again."

Ant Greenham, coeditor of Muslim Conversions to Christ: A Critique of Insider Movements in Islamic Contexts

"Ayman Ibrahim has produced yet another insightful volume for students of Islam and neighbors of Muslims. In his approachable way, Ibrahim clarifies important terminology and historical data, providing the reader with information about the Islamic faith while shedding light on Muslims who practice it. He writes a fair treatment of the issues and ideas while not refraining from describing some of the lesser-known internal conflicts and inconsistencies within Islamic thought and practice. Ibrahim brings to the table the mind of a scholar and the heart of an evangelist. This book will be a welcome companion to all who desire to better understand the faith of their Muslim friends. I cannot recommend it strongly enough."

J. Keith McKinley, associate professor of Christian missions, director of the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Ayman S. Ibrahim

    Ayman S. Ibrahim

    Ayman S. Ibrahim (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary; PhD, Haifa University) is Bill and Connie Jenkins Professor of Islamic Studies and director of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in...

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