Glossary

akhund
Traditional teacher or master.
amir
Originally “commander,” as part of amir al-mu’minin (commander of the faithful); in Afghanistan, the title of Mohammadzay rulers down to Amanullah (1919-29); in the jehad period, title of leaders of the Islamic groups.
arobaki
Tribal police force among the Paktia tribes.
’ayyari
Exemplary boldness and chivalry; a social morality of a high degree.
azan
Call for prayer.
basmachi
Anti-Soviet freedom fighters of Bukhara in Central Asia.
fatwa
Ruling or opinion on legal issues issued by head of the Islamic community, and in his absence by the ’ulama.
imam
Leader in prayer; chief of the Muslim community. Originally the imam was the Prophet himself, and his successor filled the office. According to the Shi’as, an imam must be descended from the Prophet through his daughter, Fatima; the Sunnis hold that an imam must be elected.
sma’ili
Follower of a Shi’ite sect that holds the imamate passed from ’Ali, the fourth caliph, to his descendants through a seventh imam, Isma’il.
jahiliyya
The state of religious ignorance before the rise of Islam; adjective form, jahili.
jehad
Extreme exertion of self and property in the cause of God.
jirga
Council or assembly held for the settlement of a dispute in a locality.
jirgamawr
Specialist of jirga regulations and codes.
kahole
Main family; household.
karez
Underground irrigation canal.
khan
Originally a Mongol term signifying prince or ruler; now, head of a tribe or community with many chiefs working under him; also, an honory title by which a man is addressed by others. In earlier periods, the khan was usually a big landowner and enjoyed feudal privileges.
khani
The institution of tribal or tribal eldership.
kufr
State of unbelief; anti-Islamic belief.
loya jirga
Ad hoc grand assembly or grand council, usually called by a setting ruler for the settlement of a national problem, especially in times of emergency.
madrasa
Center for higher studies in Sunni Islam.
marakchi
Specialist of jirga regulations and codes; plural, marakchiyan.
mawlawi
Traditional religious scholar.
mujahid
One who makes jehad; plural, mujahideen.
mujtahid
One who has attained such preeminence in religious scholarship that he may issue opinions on matters of faith.
mulla
Leader of prayer.
nagha
Compensation, especially for something socially significant.
namoas
Honor with social significance, referring especially to the womenfolk of one’s own and of one’s father’s household.
Naqshbandiyya
A Muslim mystic order.
ninawatay
The act of seeking admittance or asylum; a part of pashtunwali.
nirkh
Disciplinary and punitive aspects of pashtunwali; also, prices of commodities.
pashtunwali
Social and legal codes of the Pashtuns.
pir
Head of a mystic order; a religious person with profound influence over his followers.
Qadiriyya
An Islamic mystic order.
sayyed
A real or assumed descendant of the Prophet Mohammad through his daughter, Fatima.
shabnama
Literally, “night letter”; clandestine antiopponent and usually antigovernment leaflet.
shari’a
Literally, “path”; the path of Islam; Islamic laws comprising the four major codified schools of Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali; the first is applied in Afghanistan.
shura
Council.
turboor
Literally, “cousin”; rival; peer rival.
turboori
Literally, “cousinhood”; rivalry; rivalry among peers, especially cousins among the Pashtuns.
’ulama
Religious scholars of Sunni Muslims; singular, ’alim.
’ushr
The Islamic rate of revenue on land; tithe.
Wahhabi
Disciple of Mohammad bin ’Abd al-Wahhab (1703-87), whose aim was to do away with all innovations later than the third century of Islam.