Arabic language guide: Ramadan

Arabic phrases to learn during the month of Ramadan

Ramadan 2011, Ramadan, The Knowledge

Manon Hazell shares a linguistic guide to the terms you’ll be hearing a lot of throughout this special time of year.

Call to prayer



Mid-afternoon prayer

Dhuhur (aka Dhuhr or Zuhr)
Midday prayer

Eid al-Adha (Day of Sacrifice)
Four-day festival that starts about 70 days after the end of Ramadan, commemorating Ibrahim (aka Abraham) being ready to sacrifice his son

Eid al-Fitr
A festival at the end of Ramadan (the first three days of the month of Shawwal) to celebrate the completion of the month of fasting

Eid Mubarak
Greeting at the start of Eid

Fajr (aka dawn)
The first prayer of the day, at dawn

The evening meal after sunset to break the daily fast during Ramadan

An Islamic religious leader

Beginning the daily fast, means the act rather than the time

Isha (aka Isha’a)
Evening prayer, the fifth and last prayer of the day

Kabaa (aka Ka’ba, Kaaba, Kabah)
The black granite structure inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, regarded as the holiest place for Muslims.

Laylat Al Qadr or Lailat Al Qadr (Night of Power)
One of the last nights of Ramadan, marking the anniversary of when the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by the Angel Gabriel

Maghreb (aka Maghrib)
Sunset prayer


The direction of the Ka’ba in Mecca (aka Makkah)

Qur’an (aka Koran)
The holy book for Islam, first revealed during Lailat Al Qadr. Muslims recite the entire Qur’an during Ramadan.

Rak’ah (aka Raka, Rak’a, Rak’aa, Rakaa)
The cycle of standing, bowing, prostration and recitation that make up a unit of prayer. Each of the five daily prayer sessions consists of two to four Rakat (plural of Rak’ah)

Ramadan Kareem
Ramadan greeting (Kareem means ‘generous’)

Ramadan Mubarak
Ramadan greeting (Mubarak means ‘blessings’)

Salah (aka Salat)

Salat Al Jama’a
Communal prayers

Abstinence or fasting

The morning meal taken before the sun rises and the start of fasting during Ramadan

Early morning prayer

Sunnah (aka Sunna)
The way of the Prophet, meaning to follow his words and actions. Literally can be taken to mean custom, practice, or recommended

Taraweeh prayers
Special evening prayers during Ramadan, after Isha, when the Qur’an is recited

Cleansing of the body when preparing for prayer

Giving alms. It is especially important for Muslims to give Zakat during Ramadan

Useful phrases

Converse with friends and colleagues by using one of these essential Arabic greetings


How are you?
Kayf al Haal?

Praise God (Answer to ‘how are you?’)

Good Morning
SabaaH al khayR

Good Evening
masaa al khayR

Good Bye
ma:a salama


Ramadan greeting, (‘Kareem’ equivalent to ‘generous’)
Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan greeting: ‘Mubarak’ equivalent to ‘blessings’
Ramadan Mubarak

Happy Eid
:iid sa:iid

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