Glossary Terms

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z
falasifa (sing. faylasuf)

Practitioners of falsafa (Arabic word derived from the Greek philosophia). Falsafa was sometimes identified with the Arabic hikma (wisdom), a term found in the Qur’an. The most common usage refers to the Muslim authors who were the inheritors and successors of Greek thinkers. Their technical vocabulary was based on translations or adaptations of Greek terminology. They pursued the study of logic, the natural sciences, metaphysics and the nature of the human mind or soul. They were influenced in various degrees by Neoplatonism and the falasifa in general endeavoured to establish an ultimate harmony between philosophy and religion. They looked upon philosophy (demonstrative reason) as superior to religion. However, they also recognised that the exacting method of philosophy (or science) can be pursued only by a few. Thus they saw religion as a set of doctrines, narratives and moral and legal injunctions through which the higher truths grasped rationally by the intelligentsia, were made accessible to the broad masses, enabling them to attain happiness in this world and the next. Principal figures include al–Kindi (d. 866), Abu Bakr al–Razi (d. ca. 925), al–Farabi (d. ca. 950), Ibn Sina (d. 1037) and Ibn Rushd (d. 1198).

Faqih

(pl. fuqaha’, derived from Arabic fa-qi-ha meaning to have a correct understanding of matters). Faqih is an expert in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). Early in the 10th century CE, the fuqaha’ represented a major part of the religious elite. They functioned as judges (qudat) and jurisconsults (muftin). The importance of the fuqaha’ has steadily declined during the twentieth-century as a result of the massive legal reforms which took place in most Muslim countries during and after the colonial period. The fuqaha’ have largely been replaced by modern lawyers, jurists, and judges.

Farman

From Persian lit. command, authority, will, permission. At the time of the Ottomans, the word ‘farman’ was used in Ottoman Turkish to denote any order of the Ottoman Sultans. In the 15th century CE, the word was first used in its strict sense of a written document. Typically, such documents would open with an invocation to God and were addressed to a governmental official in the capital cities or in the provinces as well as to dependent/client rulers. In the Shi‘i Ismaili context, it refers to an address by the Imam to his community. 

Fars

A province in southwestern Persia, the capital of which is Shiraz.

Fatima

Daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and his first wife, Khadija bint Khuwaylid. Also wife of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib and mother of al–Hasan and al–Husayn.

Fatimids

Major Muslim dynasty of Ismaili caliphs in North Africa (from 909) and later in Egypt (973–1171), who claimed descent from the Prophet Muhammad through ‘Ali and derived their name from the Prophet's daughter, Fatima.

Fatimiyya

Major Muslim dynasty of Ismaili caliphs in North Africa (from 909) and later in Egypt (973–1171), who claimed descent from the Prophet Muhammad through ‘Ali and derived their name from the Prophet's daughter, Fatima.

fida’i

Also fidawi. Young devotee who volunteers to sacrifice his life for a cause. Between the 11th and the 13th centuries, fida’is are known to have gradually formed a corps whose members were sent from Alamut and the other Nizari fortresses in Iran and Syria to assassinate certain prominent enemies of the Nizaris, usually in public locations. Legends were developed by Muslim and Crusader authors, who began to attribute every single political assassination to the Nizaris. The myth that fida’is were called hashashin because they consumed hashish was popularised by European authors such as Marco Polo (d. 1324).

fiqh

The science of Islamic jurisprudence.

Fustat

Old Cairo, the first Muslim city in Egypt, founded by ‘Amr b. al–‘As (d. 663).