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
tadhkira

A memoir; a genre of Arabic and Persian literature pertaining to the lives of poets, saints and learned people.

Tahirids

A Muslim dynasty which ruled Yemen (1454–1517); the same name is also applied to unrelated minor dynasties of rulers in Spain, Khurasan and Iraq.

takbir

Praise or glorification of God (as in Q 74:3, etc.). The declaration of the formula Allahu Akbar (God is Most Great).

tamam

Arabic word which may be translated as ‘complete’ or ‘perfect.’

tanasukh al-arwah

The doctrine of metempsychosis, reincarnation or transmigration of the soul.

tanzil

Lit. ‘sending down.’ A Qur’anic term (Q 3:22, etc.). It refers to the revelation of ‘the Book’ as transmitted by the Prophets.

taqiyya

Precautionary dissimulation of one’s religious beliefs, especially in time of persecution or danger, a practice especially adopted by the Shi‘i Muslims.

taqwa

Piety, the quality of being God–fearing.

tariqa

Way or path; the path followed by mystical schools of interpretation in Islam.

tariqah

Way or path; the path followed by mystical schools of interpretation in Islam.

Tarum

A region of Persia along the middle course of the river Safidrud before its confluence with the river Shahrud.

tashahhud

Lit. ‘testimony.’ The recitation of the shahada, a formal declaration of the Muslim faith, normally recited during the ritual prayers.

tashbih

Lit. ‘comparison,’ hence, anthropomorphism. A term used by classical theologians to accuse those who described God by analogy with man’s physical existence, and who understood in a literal way Qur’anic expressions such as ‘the hand of God’ (Q 57:29, etc.), God’s sitting on the throne (Q 10:3, etc.) and so on.

tassawwuf

Arabic term for Sufism.

tatil

Lit. ‘stripping’ or ‘denudation.’ A term used mainly by Ash‘ari theologians from the 9th c. onwards in criticism, especially, of the Mu‘tazila and also the falasifa whom they accused of emptying the idea of God of any meaning by divesting Him of all attributes, especially those of power, knowledge and speech.

tawhid

The Oneness of God or belief in Divine Unity, one of the fundamental tenets of Islam.

tawil

The elucidation of the inner or esoteric meaning, batin , from the literal wording or apparent meaning of a text, ritual or religious prescription.

Tayyibis

A branch of the Shi‘a Musta‘li Ismailis with several subdivisions.


Upon the death of the twentieth Imam of the Musta‘li Ismailis, Fatimid Caliph al-‘Amir bi-Ahkam Allah (d. 1130), the Musta‘li community split into rival Hafizi and Tayyibi groups. The official Musta‘li da‘wa in Cairo recognised al ‘Amir’s cousin, al-Hafiz as the next Imam-Caliph (hence, Hafiziyya). In Yemen, the majority of Must‘ali Ismailis along with some groups in Egypt and Syria upheld the rights of al-‘Amir’s infant son, al-Tayyib, as the rightful imam (hence, Tayyibiyya).


The Tayyibis believe that the infant imam al-Tayyib went into concealment (satr) and, since then, the Musta‘li Imamat in his line has continued in concealment. The concealed Imams are represented by the Da‘i al Mutlaq, who has supreme authority to provide leadership to the various Tayyibi communities. For centuries, Yemen was the chief stronghold of the Tayyibi da‘wa. Due to the close relations between Sulayhid Yemen and Gujarat, the Tayyibi cause also spread to India, eventually accounting for the bulk of the Musta‘li Tayyibi Ismailis (mostly of the Daudi branch) there. The Musta‘alis from the Indian Subcontinent are known as Bohras. Over the course of time, the Tayyibis themselves split into Da’udi, Sulaymani and ‘Alavi branches.

Tayyibiyya

A branch of the Shi‘a Musta‘li Ismailis with several subdivisions.


Upon the death of the twentieth Imam of the Musta‘li Ismailis, Fatimid Caliph al-‘Amir bi-Ahkam Allah (d. 1130), the Musta‘li community split into rival Hafizi and Tayyibi groups. The official Musta‘li da‘wa in Cairo recognised al ‘Amir’s cousin, al-Hafiz as the next Imam-Caliph (hence, Hafiziyya). In Yemen, the majority of Must‘ali Ismailis along with some groups in Egypt and Syria upheld the rights of al-‘Amir’s infant son, al-Tayyib, as the rightful imam (hence, Tayyibiyya).


The Tayyibis believe that the infant imam al-Tayyib went into concealment (satr) and, since then, the Musta‘li Imamat in his line has continued in concealment. The concealed Imams are represented by the Da‘i al Mutlaq, who has supreme authority to provide leadership to the various Tayyibi communities. For centuries, Yemen was the chief stronghold of the Tayyibi da‘wa. Due to the close relations between Sulayhid Yemen and Gujarat, the Tayyibi cause also spread to India, eventually accounting for the bulk of the Musta‘li Tayyibi Ismailis (mostly of the Daudi branch) there. The Musta‘alis from the Indian Subcontinent are known as Bohras. Over the course of time, the Tayyibis themselves split into Da’udi, Sulaymani and ‘Alavi branches.

ta’til

Lit. ‘stripping’ or ‘denudation.’ A term used mainly by Ash‘ari theologians from the 9th c. onwards in criticism, especially, of the Mu‘tazila and also the falasifa whom they accused of emptying the idea of God of any meaning by divesting Him of all attributes, especially those of power, knowledge and speech.

ta’wil

The elucidation of the inner or esoteric meaning, batin , from the literal wording or apparent meaning of a text, ritual or religious prescription.

ta’wil-i batin

The esoteric interpretation of a religious text, ritual or prescription. See batini ta’wil .

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pite the civil war in Tajikistan, Dr Niyozov persisted in his studies and also took up the study of English. In 1995, he graduated from the Aga Khaninfo-icon University’s Institute of Educati

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Thatta

A city in Sind which was the capital of the of Sumra Ismaili dynasty.

Tha’aliba

One of the sub–sects of the Ajarida branch of the Kharijites .

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a contemporary endeavour of the Ismaili Imamat to realise the ethics and social conscience of Islam through institutional action. The Network brings together a number of agencies, institutions, and programmes that have been built up over the past forty years and are aimed at improving the living conditions and opportunities and assisting cultural and educational development in specific regions of the developing world. The Network’s institutions have individual mandates that range from fields of health and education to architecture, rural development and the promotion of private sector enterprise. For more information, consult the AKDN website.

The Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Boards (ITREBs)

More precisely the Shia Imami Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Boards. A contemporary term for local and international boards within the Ismaili community, ultimately accountable to the Imam and responsible for religious instruction and supervision over details of the practice of the faith in the localities under their jurisdiction.

Timurids

A Muslim dynasty founded by Timur Lang (Tamerlane) which ruled Persia and Transoxiana (1370–1507 CE).

Transoxania

The region between the Oxus and the Jaxartes Rivers situated in the present–day Republic of Uzbekistan.

Twelvers

See Ithna‘asharis .

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