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
Raqqada

A royal capital near Qayrawan in North Africa founded by the Aghlabids.

rasul

Lit. ‘messenger.’ A term used in the Qur’an for the apostles of God, including the Prophet Muhammad who is called Rasul Allah, the Messenger of God.

Ribat

(pl. rubut) An Arabic word derived from the root ra-ba-ta meaning ‘to attach’ or ‘to link’; and for in certain Sufi traditions it means strengthening the heart. Ribat as a building could describe a small fort, a fortified place, or an urban establishment for mystics. The earliest foundations of this kind of building date back to the first half-century of the ‘Abbasid period (750-1258 CE). Soon the idea of the ribat moved to the coastal side of North Africa, Andalusia, and Sicily by means of Harthama ibn A‘yan, who was the first to find a ribat in North Africa in 795 CE. It usually served to offer refuge and protection to the troops and to the surrounding countryside in case of attack. It also refers to the mystical institution that developed around it, and therefore, the urban residences of Sufis were subsequently known as rubut. Early rubut differ in size and intricacy from isolated watchtowers to fortified places with small units for the residents, a mosque, storehouses, and towers. A verified example of the latter survives in Tunisia, e.g., the Ribat of Susa (found in 821 CE). Today, rubut exist mainly in North Africa as places for Sufi worship.

ruhani-ruhaniyya

As an adjective (ruhani), it means spiritual. As a noun (ruhaniyya, pl. ruhaniyyat or ruhaniyyun), it means spiritual beings. In texts such as the Epistles of the Ikhwan al-Safa’, it refers to the angels that rule the celestial spheres. According to Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1240), the ruhaniyya is the spiritual essence of a prophet or a deceased wali whose murid receives supernatural assistance.

ruku

A posture in the Muslim ritual prayer, involving an inclination of the head with the hands resting upon the knees.

ruku’

A posture in the Muslim ritual prayer, involving an inclination of the head with the hands resting upon the knees.

Rumi, Jalal al-Din (d. 1273 CE)

One of the greatest mystical poets of all time, known by the sobriquet Mawlana (1207-1273 CE). He was born in Balkh, Afghanistan, and died in Konya, Turkey, where he is buried. A significant influence on his spiritual development was a mysterious figure, Shams al-Din Tabrizi. The Mathnawi, Rumi’s most famous work, was written in Persian and has been translated into numerous languages. His disciples formed a Sufi order called the Mevleviyya, which is active in many parts of the world.