Many of my Muslim students studying English ask me for the English words for their Arabic Ramadan words. The truth is that nowadays Muslims in the western world who don’t speak Arabic, use these Arabic words freely and don’t even translate them, as they are now considered part of the ‘multi-cultural/multi-religious’ aspect of English. But it is still good if we look at them so we can know what they actually mean in English.
I’m doing this for two reasons:
- For those Muslim readers it is good to know how you can explain it to your native English friends.
- For those who are not Muslims, you can be better informed as to what your Muslim friends are saying and doing during this month.
So here we go:
Ramadan– the month when all Muslims are expected to fast from dawn until dusk.
Fajr– the early morning prayer at sunrise
Dhuhr – the lunch time prayer
Asir – the mid afternoon prayer
Magrib – the early evening prayer at sunset
Isha – the later evening prayer
Iftar– the name of the meal when the faster breaks their fast
Eidilfitri– the day when Ramadan is finally over and festivities begin for the celebration of completing the Ramadan
Bismillah-rahman-rahim – the direct translation is ‘”In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate”, but loosely means ‘God please make this moment/journey easy for me.’ Often said just before taking that first sip of water when breaking the fast in Ramadan, the body has been dormant for 12 hours or so, so ingesting something may be difficult for the stomach, so the faster asks for help from God to make this procedure easy on the body.
Allah – God
Salam – the direct translation is ‘peace’ but is used simply as ‘hello’
Assalamalaikum – the direct translation is ‘peace be with you’ but is used as a general greeting of ‘hello/hope you are well’
Salat– any Islamic prayer you do
Inshallah– the direct translation is ‘God willing’, but indirectly means ‘hopefully’
Alhumdillallah – the direct translation is ‘praise to God’ but indirectly means, ‘oh – that is/was good news’
Masha’allah – the word is used to show appreciation, but indirectly means ‘I’m happy to hear/see that.”
So I hope you manage to use these words during this month and explain them to your native English friends. Rituals like this make the world a beautiful place, and English can help spread that kind of world.
Let me know if there are any other words you think I should include here.
Also if you are not a Muslim, are there any words you are not sure of….interested in your feedback.
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