Common local concepts and terms in Pakistan

As we get many legal queries regarding such terms as those listed  below from our foreign clients having to deal with the local law of Pakistan, we have prepared another small list here  with explanations about these terms.

For more information about a possible legal query/matter on these terms , we welcome prospective clients to email us at

haq mehr

Promissory gift from the bride’s in-laws at the time of marriage. A kind of bride wealth based on Islamic traditions stipulated in the marriage contract, to be paid to the wife in the event of divorce or her husband’s early death.

hudood (sing., hadd)

The most serious kinds of crime in Islamic law, such as those pertaining to theft and adultery.


Generally the leader of congregational prayers, implying no ordination or special spiritual powers beyond sufficient education to carry out this function. The word is also used figuratively by many Sunni (q.v.) Muslims to mean the leader of the Islamic community. Among Shia (q.v.) Muslims, it indicates the particular descendant of the House of Ali who is believed to have been God’s designated repository of the spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and the means of ascertaining his identity have been the major issues causing divisions among the Shia.


A tax imposed on non-Muslims in a Muslim state meant to compensate the state for the protection given to non-Muslims who are not permitted to serve in the military.


Immigrant or descendant of immigrants from India who fled to Pakistan after partition in 1947.

mujahidin (sing., mujahid)

Fighters of a jihad, a Muslim holy war; Afghan freedom fighters.


Generic term for members of the Islamic clergy; usually refers to preachers or other low-ranking clerics who have not earned the right to interpret religious laws.


Muslims deserving of receiving zakat (q.v.) as stipulated in the Quran, such as the poor, the needy, recent converts to Islam, those who do the good works of God, and those who collect and disburse zakat.


Rule of the Prophet, i.e., rule by sharia (q.v.) law according to Zia ul-Haq’s use of the term.


Term used for speakers of Pakhtu or Pashtu, who are frequently called Pathans or Pashtuns. The tribes north of Peshawar are mostly Pahktu speaking, those south of Peshawar mostly Pashtu speaking.


Tenets of the Pakhtun code of honor.


Pakhtuns (q.v.).


Successor to the founder of a Sufi (q.v.) order or of a local subdivision of an order; in the Sufi tradition, a religious man considered to have mystic powers.


Islamic law. Based on the Quran and the sunna (q.v.) with interpretations of Muslim jurisprudence. There are four major Sunni (q.v.) schools (of which the Hanafi is dominant in Pakistan) and one Shia (q.v.) school (Jafariya).


The smaller of the two major subdivisions of Islam. In Pakistan, the two principal subgroups of Shiism are the “Twelvers” (Ithna Ashari), who follow the same system as the majority group in Iran, and the “Seveners” (Ismailis or Agha Khanis).


A follower of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism.


In common usage refers to the deeds and utterances of Muhammad that form the basis for the practice of the Muslim community.


The larger of the two major subdivisions of Islam, followed by a majority of Pakistanis.


(sing., alim), Islamic scholars.


Islamic system of social welfare based on an alms tax on wealth held more than a year.

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