Let me start this article by saying I’m not a Muslim myself, nor do I know many practicing French Muslims around me who speak French and English fluently. So writing this article was not very easy!
If I made a mistake, or if you have relevant suggestions, please contribute to this article and contact me. I’d be happy to add French Muslim vocabulary (with English translation please).
1 – Muslim French Vocabulary
- L’Islam = Islam
- Islamic = islamique
- Allah = Allah
- God = Dieu
- Mohammed = Mahomet (but also Mohamed, Muhammad…)
- Quran, Koran = Le Coran
- Mecca = La Mecque (pronounce it Mek)
- Muslim = un musulman, une musulmane
- Mosque = une mosquée (ends in a é sound in French)
- Prayer = une prière
- To pray = prier
- Faith = la foi
- A prophet = Un prophète
- A pilgrimage = un pèlerinage
- A pilgrim = un pèlerin
- Alms = l’aumône (faire l’aumône)
- Charity = charité
- “Peace be unto you” = “Que la paix soit sur vous” – “As-salamu-alaykum”
- Fasting = le jeûne (faire le jeûne, jeûner)
- Halal = halal
- Sunrise = le lever du soleil
- Sunset = le coucher du soleil
- Lunar calendar = un calendrier lunaire
- Sunni = un sunnite
- Sufi = un soufi
- Shiite = un chiite
2 – French Muslim Holidays
Islamic holidays follow the life of the prophet Muhammad (Mahomet in French) and the importance of the Koran.
Islam celebrates two major holidays, Aïd el-Fitr, (la fête de la rupture in French) and l’Aïd al-Adha (la fête du sacrifice in French).
The dates varies according to the different Muslims cultures, but the Muslims holidays follow a lunar calendar, meaning that their dates change every year when translated into our usual calendar (Gregorian solar calendar). That’s why I cannot include dates here!
- Aïd el-Fitr = la fête de la rupture
- Aïd al-Adha = la fête du sacrifice
- Aīd al-Kabīr = La grande fête
- Ramadan = Le mois de Ramadan
3 – The Five Pillars of Islam
Les cinq piliers de l’Islam:
- Declaration of faith = la profession de foi
The most important step of the Muslim faith
- Prayer = la prière
Minimum 5 times a day (6 during Ramadan)
- Give charity = Donner la charité
Each muslim should give a part of his/her income to the less fortunate
- Fasting during Ramadan = Faire le jeûne du Ramadan
- Pilgrimage to Mecca = Le pèlerinage à la Mecque
Each muslim should do a pilgrimage to Mecca if s/he is able at least once in his lifetime.
4 – The Use of the Verb to Pray
The verb “prier” (to pray) or “la prière” (prayer) is used in many settings where people of other faiths might not use that word.
Instead of saying “Est-ce que tu vas à la mosquée” (Are you going to the the mosque) they’re more likely to ask, “Est-ce que tu vas à la prière?” .
5 – What is Ramadan ?
Ramadan is a holy month for prayer, charity, good deeds and fasting. It takes place on the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, hence the precise dates change each year for our regular Gregorian calendar.
Adult Muslims who are in good health and able should fast and not drink from dawn to dusk, refrain from all sinful behaviour as well as sexual ones, pray, recite the Koran, be generous… More on wikipedia.
On top of the five compulsory prayers per day, there is a sixth one during the month of Ramadan. Muslims gather every night during that month at the mosque and recite the Koran.
6 – How do you say Happy Ramadan in French?
A friend told me she doesn’t say “joyeux Ramadan” in French, but rather “bon mois de Ramadan”, “excellent Ramadan”, “bon courage pour le jeûne” (good luck for fasting)…
The arabic expression is “Ramadan Moubarak” which translates in French as “Ramadan béni et heureux”, so you can say in French “que ton/votre Ramadan soit béni et heureux”.