Introductory Materials

Msamiati wa Dini

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Below are some Swahili words you will frequently encounter or need to use while communicating, listening, or reading about religion. You can sort the list by Swahili or English or search for particular words. If there are additional words you’d like to see on this list, please leave a comment.You will learn more vocabulary while completing the activities and exercises in this module. As you encounter new words, you should add them to your personalized vocabulary notebook.

Below the list, you will find a variety of activities you can use to develop or check your mastery of this vocabulary.

Note that words with a number after them are nouns (with the number indicating their Bantu noun class in singular and, if applicable, plural). Words with no number or preceding hyphen are verbs (in the imperative form). If you need to review noun class, see the Appendix.

Kiswahili Kiingereza
dini 9/10 religion
Ukristo 14 Christianity
Uislamu 14 Islam
Uhindu 14 Hinduism
silimu convert to Islam
jini 5/6 & 1/2 djinn
malaika 9/10 & 1/2 angel
shetani 5/6 & 1/2 devil
Ibilisi Satan
Isa Jesus (as referred to by Muslims)
Asalaam aleikum a greeting and farewell used among Muslims (literally 'peace be upon you')
Aleikum salaam response to 'Asalaam aleikum' (literally 'and upon you, peace')
Mkristo 1/2 a Christian
Mwislamu 1/2 a Muslim
Mhindu 1/2 a Hindu
-a Kikristo Christian
-a Kiislamu Muslim; Islamic
-a Kihindu Hindu
Yesu Jesus (as referred to by Christians)
Yesu Kristo Jesus Christ (as referred to by Christians)
Mungu 1 God
miungu 4 & 2 gods
soma read, recite
sala 9/10 ritual Islamic prayer
sali pray (for Muslims, perform ritual Islamic prayer; for Christian, perform any kind of prayer)
omba dua pray (for Muslims, petition God through personal prayer, i.e. outside of ritual prayers)
sura 9/10 chapter
aya 9/10 verse
Mwenyezi Mungu 1 God Almighty
Mola 1 God, "Lord" (used primarily by Muslims)
mtume 1/2 prophet
msikiti 3/4 mosque
kanisa 5/6 church
dua 9/10 prayer
abudu worship
kiumbe kisichoonekana 7 invisible being
roho 9/10 soul, spirit
pepo 5/6 ghost, spirit
mzimu 3/4 ancestral spirit



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Dini Afrika ya Mashariki by Katrina Daly Thompson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.