World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Dīn (دين, also anglicized as Deen) is an Arabic word which is commonly associated with Islam, but it is also used in Sikhism and Arab Christian worship. The term is loosely associated with "religion", but as used in the Qur'an, it means the way of life in which righteous Muslims are obligated to adopt in order to comply with divine law (Quran and sunnah), or Shari'a, and to the divine judgment or recompense to which all humanity must inevitably face without intercessors before God.[1] Thus, although secular Muslims would say that their practical interpretation of Dīn conforms to "religion" in the restricted sense of something that can be carried out in separation from other areas of life, both mainstream and reformist Muslim writers take the word to mean an all-encompassing way of life carried out under the auspices of God's divine purpose as expressed in the Qur'an and hadith. As one notably progressive Muslim writer puts it, far from being a discrete aspect of life carried out in the mosque, "Islam is Dīn, a complete way of life".[2]


  • Etymology 1
    • Dīn as used in Islam 1.1
    • Dīn as used in Judaism 1.2
  • See also 2
  • References and notes 3
  • External links 4


How the term Dīn came to be used in Islamic Arabia is uncertain, but its use in modern Persian may derive etymologically from the Zoroastrian concept of Daena, as it is called in the ancient Eastern Iranian Avestan language, which represents "insight" and "revelation", and from this "conscience" and "religion". Here, Daena is the Eternal Law, which was revealed to humanity through the Mathra-Spenta ("Holy Words"). Alternatively, the Hebrew term "דין", transliterated as "dīn", means either "law" or "judgement". In the Kabbalah of Judaism, the term can, alongside "Gevurah" (cognate to the Arabic "Jabaarah"), refer to "power", and to "judgement".[3] It may be the root of the common Semitic word Madīnah (city), and of Madyan, a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur'an. Thus, Dīn does not simply mean "religion" or "faith", but refers to "Governance".

Dīn as used in Islam

It has been said that the word Dīn appears in as many as 79 verses in the Qur'an,[4] but because there is no exact English translation of the term its precise definition has been the subject of some misunderstanding and disagreement. For instance, the term is often translated in parts of the Qur'an as "religion".[5] However, in the Qur'an itself, the act of submission to God is always referred to as Dīn, rather than as Madhhab (مذهب), which is the Arabic word for "religion".

Some Qur'anic scholars have translated Dīn in places as "faith"[6] Others suggest that the term "has been used in various forms and meanings, e.g., system, power, supremacy, ascendancy, sovereignty or lordship, dominion, law, constitution, mastery, government, realm, decision, definite outcome, reward and punishment. On the other hand, this word is also used in the sense of obedience, submission and allegiance".[7]

In addition to the two broad usages referred to so far - of sovereignty on the one hand and submission on the other - others have noted[8] that the term Dīn is also widely used in translations of the Qur'an in a third sense. Most famously in its opening chapter, al-Fātiḥah, the term is translated in almost all English translations as "judgment":

The well-known Islamic scholar, Fazlur Rahman Malik, suggested that Dīn is best considered as "the way-to-be-followed". In this interpretation, Dīn is the exact correlate of Shari'a: "whereas Shari'a is the ordaining of the Way and its proper subject is God, Dīn is the following of that Way, and its subject is man".[9] Thus, "if we abstract from the Divine and the human points of reference, Shari'a and Dīn would be identical as far as the 'Way' and its content are concerned".[10]

In many hadith, the din has been described as a midway lifestyle:

Narrated Abu Huraira, the Prophet said, "Religion (Dīn) is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights."
— Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:2:39, (Fath-ul-Bari, Page 102, Vol 1)

Dīn as used in Judaism

In Judaism, the word Dīn (Hebrew: דִּין) appears in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), which occurs 24 times. It often means –to judge, or –execute judgment, and –to vindicate. The intransitive usage of the verb loosely means –to be obedient, submissive. The transitive verb usage denotes requite, compensate, rule, govern, obedience, abasement, recompense, requiter, governor.

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ e.g. 1:4, 2:256, 4:46, 8:72, 9:11, 9:122, 15:35, 22:78, etc.
  2. ^ "Inside the Gender Jihad", p. 92, Amina Wadud, Oneworld Publications, 2006
  3. ^
  4. ^ Gulam Ahmed Parwez, "Exposition of the Qur'an", p. 12, Tolu-E-Islam Trust
  5. ^ For instance, translations of the Qur'an by Marmaduke Pickthall, Shakir, and others
  6. ^ For instance, the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, 60:9
  7. ^ Lugh’at-ul-Quran, Ghulam Ahmed Parwez, Tolu-e-Islam Trust, 1941
  8. ^ "Let Us Be Muslims, Abu Ala Maududi U.K.I.M. Dawah Center, 1960
  9. ^ Rahman F, Islam, p. 100, University of Chicago Press, 1979
  10. ^ Rahman F, Islam, p. 100, University of Chicago Press, 1979

External links

  • Definition of Deen
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.