Resources: Glossary


Agriculturalist – a person who practices the science, art, and business of cultivating soil, producing crops, and raising livestock; farming. (Source:

Ahmadiyya Muslims – founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1889, believe that Muhammad was the last law-bearing prophet but that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the last non-law-bearing prophet. Ghulam Ahmad is seen as the promised messiah of all religions, a reincarnation of all prophets from all religions into one person. Ahmadiyya believe in all prophets sent by God (including Krishna, Buddha, and Confucius) and various religious books such as the Torah, Bible, and Qur’an. Like Jews, the Ahmadiyya do not believe that hell is everlasting, but a temporary place where sinners are cleansed of their sins. (Source:

Animism - The term animism is derived from the Latin word anima meaning breath or soul. The belief of animism is probably one of man's oldest beliefs, with its origin most likely dating to the Paleolithic age. From its earliest beginnings it was a belief that a soul or spirit existed in every object, even if it was inanimate. In a future state this soul or spirit would exist as part of an immaterial soul. The spirit, therefore, was thought to be universal. (Source: )

Aryans – were fierce nomadic, tribal peoples of Euro-Asia that lived on steppe lands and who used horses and chariots in war. As they moved southward to conquer the lands of Persia and India they took for themselves the name “Aryas” from the root “ar”, meaning noble or superior. They brought with them to India the Vedic culture which was centered on tribal units called jana who were ruled by a chief called a raja. The Aryans quickly established a stratified class system which turned into a rigid caste system. (Source:


Babar (or Babur) -- February 23 1483 - January 5, 1531) was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of India. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother. Babur identified his lineage as Timurid and Chaghatay-Turkic, while his origin, milieu, training, and culture were steeped in Persian culture and so he was largely responsible for the fostering of this culture by his descendants, and for the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic, and historiographical results.(Source:

BCE- is an abbreviation for Before the Common Era or Before the Current Era, and is used to number the year part of a date. BCE is any date that comes before the Common Era roughly over 2,000 years ago. BCE is close to the dates used for BC (before Christ) and always comes after the date of the year. (Source:

British East India Trading Company – Established by Queen Elizabeth I in the 1600’s, the BEIC founded its first factory in 1611 in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. What was at first a trading company quickly turned into a ruling endeavor when the BEIC won the battle of Plassey in 1757 against the ruler of Bengal. In 1773 the Regulating Act was passed that allowed the BEIC to have parliamentary control and the power to rule India under a British Governor General. After impoverishing the people of India through resource extraction, the citizens revolted and the administration of India went back to the crown. (Source:

Buddhism – is an enlightenment religion that currently has around 300 million follower world wide. The word Buddhism comes from “budhi” meaning “to awaken”. Founded by Siddhartha Gotama (aka the Buddha) 2,500 years ago, Buddhists follow the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are: (1) life is suffering; (2) suffering is caused by craving and aversion; (3) suffering can be overcome and happiness attained by overcoming worldly desires; and (4) the Noble Eightfold path is the path to end suffering.  The Noble Eightfold Path teaches morality, thoughtfulness in actions, and the development of wisdom and understanding. Buddhists follow five precepts and these include not taking the life of any living thing, not taking anything unless it is freely given, abstinence from sexual misconduct and overindulgence, refraining from untrue speech, and avoiding intoxication (i.e. loosing mindfulness). Buddhists also follow the principles of Karma and reincarnation. (Source:


Cardinal Directions - the four points on a compass: north, south, east, and west. (Source:

CE - is an abbreviation of Common Era or Current Era, which is used to number the year part of a date. The Common Era starts roughly over 2,000 years ago and is close to the dates used for AD (after death of Christ). CE always comes after the date of the year. (Source:

Coastal eco-region - This region runs along the coast of the Baluchistan and Sindh provinces. The main flora of the area consists of mangrove forests which are the main breeding grounds for fish, crabs, and shrimp. Not surprisingly the main economic enterprise in the area is fishing. Major threats to the region come from industrial and agricultural run-off which contain led, mercury, and oil. (Source:


Desert eco-region - Deserts are found throughout the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces. These areas are comprised of open expanses, barren land, and wadis (dried out river beds that are similar to canyons). The areas are prone to drought, have very little rain fall, and consist primarily of scrub plants. Because of the lack of infrastructure, health facilities, and schools these areas are commonly the poorest in Pakistan.(Source:

Durand Line - in 1893, in exchange for money and weapons, Abdur Rahman Khan made an agreement with the British Empire for the creation of a border bisecting Pashtun tribal lands. This border, known as the Durand Line, exists today as the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although never intended to become a physical boundary, over the years it did so. This line bisects the Pashtun tribal areas and has created tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and among the Pashtun to this very day.(Source:

Durrani Empire - founded by Ahmed Shad Abdali (Durrani), this empire was only second in size to the Ottoman Empire. The greatest Muslim empire during the second half of the 18th century, the empire spread from modern day Afghanistan to Delhi, Kashmir, and back to the Arabian Sea. Durrani’s Pashtun sub-tribe ruled Afghanistan until 1978. (Source:


Ethnic group - refers to a group of people who participate in and share a common culture, language, or experiences. Ethnicity does not refer to biological differences between populations. (Source:

Eunuch - a man who is castrated or who lacks virility. (Source:



Genghis Khan (c. 1162[2]–1227), born Temujin (meaning "ironworker"), was the founder, Khan (ruler) and Khagan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous empire in history. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed "Genghis Khan", he started the Mongol invasions and raids on China, Korea, and Central Asia. During his life the Mongol Empire eventually occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia. He died in 1227 and was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia. His descendants went on to stretch the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering and/or creating vassal states out of all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asian countries, and substantial portions of modern Eastern Europe and the Middle East. (Source:

Greco-Buddhist Period - One who follows Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Græco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism (the union of different systems, especially in religion or philosophy) between the culture of Classical Greece and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 800 years in Central Asia in the area corresponding to modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD. Greco-Buddhism influenced the artistic development of Buddhism, and in particular Mahayana Buddhism, before it was adopted by Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century AD, ultimately spreading to China, Korea and Japan. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great, carried further by the establishment of Indo-Greek rule in the area for some centuries. (Sources:; )


Harappan Civilization (or the Indus Valley Civilization) - named after the first town excavated, Harappa, the Harappan civilization was the biggest of the four old world ancient civilizations (i.e. Egypt, Mesopotamia, Indus, and China) but has the least known about it as its written language has not yet been deciphered. This Civilization was located along the Indus river valley and extended to the Ganges in western India. Unlike other civilizations of the time, the rulers did not use military might, but trade and religion to rule their towns. The Harappan civilization began c. 3,000 BCE, and reached its peak of economic growth and expansion between 2,600 – 1,900 BCE.  (Source:

Hermaphrodite - a person who has both male and female reproductive organs. (Source:

Himalayan broadleaf and subalpine conifer forests - an ecological region with diverse temperatures and a broad range of biodiversity. Broadleaf, evergreen trees are found at the lower elevations, deciduous and conifer trees at higher elevations. (Source:

Hinduism - which has its roots in various religious practices from India, the Harappan Civilization, and Vedic culture, it is the oldest continually practiced enlightenment religion. Hinduism revolves around the tenants of Dharma (ethics, duties, way of life), Samsara (reincarnation), Karma (the right action, and the law of cause and effect), and Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Samsara by becoming one with Brahman). They also believe in truth, non-violence, contentment, prayers, austerity and the idea of one Supreme Being, Brahman that can be manifested through various gods and goddesses (e.g. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva). (Source:


Indo-European ethnic group - originally consisting of nomadic people from the steppes of Russia, the Indo- European people invaded Northern India around 2,000-1,500 BCE. Contemporary Indo-European people can be found all across south Asia, and are composed of Indo-Iranian, Dravidians and Nuristani people. (Source:

Indo-Greek Kingdom - founded around 180 BCE and lasting to the 1st century BCE in northern India, this Kingdom is the successor of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom that ruled northern Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. The Indo-Greek Kingdom was ruled by a dynasty of Greek kings who encouraged the practice of Buddhism. (Source:

Indo-Malayan region - an ecological region that stretches from Pakistan through India, Sri Lanka, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia and is characterized by subtropical and moist forests. (Source:

Indus Delta eco-region: The Indus River which starts in the Himalayan Mountains of western Tibet, travel through Tibet, Kashmir, and then south to the Arabian Sea. There area receives an average of 15 to 62 inches a year, with the raining season from June to September. This ecological region runs from the Punjab province to the Sindh province and is the fifth largest delta in the world, containing habitats that include riverine forests, irrigated plains, fresh water lakes and brackish wetlands. (Source:

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Magnanimous - (adjective) Generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness; high-minded; noble. (Source:

Mahatma Gandhi - born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1869, Mahatma Gandhi (“Great Soul”) was raised in a conservative Indian family and later educated in law at University College in London. After passing the British bar in 1891, Gandhi was hired by a law firm to work in South Africa. There Gandhi was appalled at how immigrant Indians were discriminated against and treated as second class citizens. Gandhi began a campaign for Indian immigrant rights in South Africa by passive (non-violent) resistance and civil disobedience which he called Satyagraha. After winning rights for Indians in South Africa, Gandhi moved back to India and began another Satyagraha campaign of resistance to British rule. Gandhi organized non-violent rallies and resistance along with nationwide boycotts of British goods. Gandhi who lived an austere life of prayer, fasting, and meditation became the symbol for a free India. Mahatma held such great political and spiritual power that in 1921 he was made head of the Indian National Congress. But violence eventually broke out among the Indian population against the British, and in 1924 Gandhi decided to retire from politics. He then traveled the country teaching ahimsa (non-violence) and advocating for the equal rights of Dalits (the “Untouchables”; people who are outside the caste system and were systematically discriminated against). Then in 1939 Gandhi returned to politics to help unify the states of India into a free country. When the British agreed to give India its independence in 1947, Gandhi at first opposed partitioning India in order to create a Muslim state (Pakistan), but then agreed in the hopes of peace between Hindus and Muslims. Then on January 30th, 1948 Gandhi was assassinated by a radical Hindu on his was to prayer. (Source:

Mauryan Empire - founded by General Chandragupta Maurya in 324 BCE, the Mauryan Empire for the first time united most of India. Under Chandragupta trade flourished and the Empire expanded northwest into the Indus Valley. Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta, brought peace to the Empire and instituted a common identity by declaring Prakit as the official language. (Source:

Mesopotamia - the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia was found in the fertile lands between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what are modern day Iraq, northeastern Syria, part of southeastern Turkey, and a part of southwestern Iran. Known as the “cradle of civilization”, Mesopotamia was a volatile area that was ruled by numerous empires due to the ever changing course of the rivers, giving the power over water supplies to certain groups of people at different times. The history of ancient Mesopotamia began c. 6,000 BCE but did not develop into empires until c. 3,000 BCE with the rise of Sumerian city-states and ends with the Islamic conquest of Iraq in the 7th century CE. Mesopotamian civilization created the first written language, had extensive mythology and philosophy (e.g. the Epic of Gilgamesh), and were proficient in astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. (Source:

Monsoon - is a name for seasonal winds that bring a large amount of rain to a region. (Source:

Mughal Dynasty -(or Moghul) Muslim dynasty founded by Babur (1526-1530), a decendant of both the Turkic Tamerlane and Genghis Khan, that ruled most of northern India from the early 16th to the mid-18th century. The Mughal dynasty was notable for about two centuries of effective rule over much of India, for the ability of its rulers, who through seven generations maintained a record of unusual talent, and for its administrative organization. A further distinction was the attempt of the Mughals, who were Muslims, to integrate Hindus and Muslims into a united Indian state.  The last Emperor, Bahadur Zafar Shah II, whose rule was restricted to the city of Delhi, was imprisoned and exiled by the British after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. (Sources:

Muhammad Ali Jinnah - born in 1876, Jinnah at the age of 16 was sent to London to study law. After returning to India he started his own law practice in Bombay and then in 1906 joined the Indian National Congress. In 1913 he joined the Muslim League and then in 1916 became the president of the Muslim League. Then in 1920, Jinnah broke with Congress over some of Gandhi’s policies of noncooperation with the British. In the 1937 general elections, Jinnah proposed that Congress form coalition governments with the Muslim League, but was refused. In 1940, the Muslim league passed the Pakistan resolution that demanded a separate state for Muslim Indians. Jinnah accepted the 1947 proposal by the British for an independent Muslim state, and then went on to become Pakistan’s first leader but died shortly after on Sept. 11, 1948. (Source:


Nastaliq - a form of Persian-Arabic script that contains extra letters in the alphabet and is used to write several languages in the Asia including Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, Kasmiri, and Sindhi.  (Source:

Nomadic - a group of people who have no permanent home, but instead travel from area to area in search of resources. (Source:

Northern Alliance – the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (UIF), commonly known as the Northern Alliance, was a conglomeration of anti-Taliban forces made up of the Jamiat-i-Islami (Islamic Society) and Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami (National Islamic Movement). The Jamiat-i-Islami group was headed by ousted ethnic Tajik president, Burhanuddin Rabanni. The Junbish-I Milli-yi Islami, an ethnically Uzbek party, was founded by General Abdul Rashid Dotsum. The Northern Alliance, centered around the city of Mazaar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, was supported with military supplies from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. President Rabanni’s military commander Ahmad Shah Masood created the Supervisory Council of the North (SCN), which coordinated Jamiat commanders in five provinces and created a region-wide military force called Masood’s Islamic Army (Urdu-yi Islami). The Urdu-yi Islami had been known to use torture against their prisoners and political opponents.

In 2001, the U.S. and the UK military provide ground and air support for the UIF, allowing them to retake most of Afghanistan from the Taliban. A majority of UIF forces have been absorbed into the Afghanistan military. In areas where the UIF ruled, there has been various accusations of human rights breaches, including executions, rape, and disappearances of civilians. (Source:



Paganism – are earth based or nature centered religions that believe in the sanctity of Nature, and revere the Divine in all things; and believe in a vast, unknowable spirit that runs through the universe, both seen and unseen. Most Pagans believe in some form of reincarnation and practice different rituals and forms of Magick. (Source:

Persian Empire - founded around 550 BCE in modern day Iran by Cyrus II, the empire lasted 200 years and stretched from Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Darius I, the greatest ruler of the Persian Empire, built a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea (a precursor to the Suez Canal), created the Royal Road which stretched from Iraq to Turkey, and introduced coinage. (Source:

Polytheistic - polytheistic religions believe in and worship multiple deities, or gods and goddesses. Polytheistic religions usually have a few primary deities that are the same throughout a population, with several (up to thousands) of lesser deities that tend to be village based. (Source:

Princely States – hundreds of autonomous Princely States existed in India during British rule of the sub-continent. Each state was controlled by a different King, and were internally autonomous but depended on the British government for external affairs. With the Indian Independence Act of 1947, each Princely State was given the choice of whether to join India or Pakistan. Some Princely States held out in the hopes of becoming independent countries but were later annexed by India. (Source:



Rann of Kutch Flooded Grasslands - The only flooded grasslands in all of the Indo-Malayan region, the Rann of Kutch contains seasonally flooded salt marshes and savannas with expanses of mangroves and desert vegetation. This ecosystem runs along the southeast border of the Sindh province. (Source:

Riverine forests – the riverine forests along the banks of the Indus River in the Sindh province rely on the yearly inundation by the river for irrigation and soil deposition. The forests include mangrove stands that protect the surrounding areas from severe flooding. (Source:


Secular - means to be worldly rather than spiritual; something not specifically related to religion or to a religious body or organization. (Source:

Shamanism - is a form of spirituality that is practiced in various religions. Shamanism, practiced by individuals called Shamans, practice herbal healing, rituals, meditation, self-projection, magick, and trances. Shamanistic belief systems are based on the idea that everything in the universe is alive and interconnected and the world is full of invisible forces or spirits that affect our lives. (Source:

Shi’a - (sometimes Shi'ite) (noun) one of the two main branches of orthodox Islam; mainly in Iran. The second largest denomination of Islam, after Sunni Islam.  Similar to other branches of Islam, Shi'a Islam is based on the teachings of the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an and the message of the final prophet of Islam Muhammad. In contrast to other branches, Shi'a Islam holds that Muhammad's family, the Ahl al-Bayt ("the People of the House"), and certain individuals among his descendants, who are known as Imams, have special spiritual and political rule over the community. Shi’a Muslims further believe that Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of these Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad. Shī‘ah Muslims, though a minority in the Muslim world, constitute the majority of the populations in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq. (Sources:;

Shiva worship - also known as Shaivism, it is one of four sects of Hinduism. Shaivas revere Shiva, the destroyer, as the Supreme Being. Shiva worship is centered on the shivalingam, which is a stone statue of an erect phallus and a symbol of the destructive and creative powers of Shiva.  (Source:

Sikhism - a monotheistic religion preaching equality and brotherhood, was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 15th century. A Sikh’s ultimate goal is to have a personal relationship with God and in turn their spiritual union with God will result in salvation. To obtain salvation one must break free of the reincarnation cycle by forsaking worldly desires and pursuits. (Source:

Sufi - Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God." The Sufi philosophy is universal in nature, its roots predating the rise of Islam and the other modern-day religions. Some Muslims consider Sufism outside the sphere of Islam, although generally scholars of Islam contend that it is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam.(Source: Dr. Alan Godlas, University of Georgia, Sufism's Many Paths, 2000, University of Georgia)

Sunni - Sunni Islam is the largest denomination of Islam. Sunni Islam is also referred to as Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘ah (Arabic: أهل السنة والجماعة‎ "people of the example (of Muhammad) and the community") or Ahl as-Sunnah (Arabic: أهل السنة‎) for short. The word Sunni comes from the word Sunnah (Arabic: سنة‎), which means the words and actions[1] or example of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims is not a religious difference, but a political one. Sunnis believe that Imams should be elected according to their education and accomplishments, and Shi’a believe that Imams should be descendents of the prophet Muhammad.  (Sources: ;


Tamerlane (6 April 1336 – 19 February 1405), also known as Timur (Tēmōr or “iron”) was a 14th century Turko-Mongol conqueror of much of western and Central Asia. He founded the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty (1370–1405) in Central Asia, which survived until 1857 as the Mughol Empire of India.  Tamerlane was a military genius who loved to play chess in his spare time to improve his military tactics and skill. (Source:

Tibetan Plateau Steppe eco-region: This eco-region is one of the most ecologically diverse alpine systems in the world and is the most pristine grassland in all of Eurasia. It is no surprise that this area with average elevations of 15,000 feet is known as the “Roof of the World” and contains environments ranging from glaciers to pastures. The Hindu Kush which is part of the Karakoram mountain range is found here along with K2, the second highest mountain at 28,251 ft. The plateau is found in the NWFP, Northern Areas, and the disputed provinces of Jammu and Kashmir. (Source:

Timurid Dynasty - The Timurids were a Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of originally Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Central Asia, Iran, modern Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as large parts of India, Mesopotamia and Caucasus. It was founded by the legendary conqueror Tamerlane (Timur) in the 14th century, a descendent of Turks affiliated with the preceding Mongol rulers. In the 16th century, Timurid prince Babur, invaded India and founded the Mughol Empire, which ruled most of the Indian subcontinent until its decline in the early 18th century, and was formally dissolved by the British Raj after the Indian rebellion of 1857. (Source:

Transvestite - a person who adopts the dress and behaviors of the opposite sex. (Source:


Umayyad (or Umayyid) — The Umayyad Caliphate (Arabic: بنو أمية‎, Banu Umayyah) was the second of the four Islamic caliphates established after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family's originally from the city of Mecca, Damascus, was the capital of their Caliphate. After the Umayyads were overthrown by the Abbasid Caliphate, they relocated to Al-Andalus, where they established the Caliphate of Córdoba, Spain. Umayyad has the distinction of the largest Arab muslim state in history. (Source:;


Vedic religion – also known as Brahmanism, it is the historical predecessor to Hinduism. It is centered on reincarnation, recitation of the four Vedas (holy hymn books), the worship of elements (e.g. fire and water) and deities, along with animal sacrifice. Brahmanism is still practiced by a few groups in India. (Source:


Wahhabism – is a fundamentalist sect of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Qur’an and has grown exponentially since 1970 when Saudi charities started funding schools and mosques around the world. The austerity and rigidity of Wahhabism has led to misinterpretations and distortions of Islam, leading some strict Salfis to “believe all those who don’t practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies”. (Source:

Western Himalayan Temperate forests: This region which runs along the Himalayan mountain range and crosses through the NWFP,  Punjab province, and the disputed provinces of Jammu and Kashmir is the most flora-rich area in Pakistan and contains many plant species found nowhere else on earth. This eco-region contains two sub-regions, one is the Western Himalayan broadleaf forests nd the other is the Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests (Source:




Zoroastrianism – thought to be the first monotheistic religion in the world, Zorastrianism provided the basis for the other monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Founded by Zarathustra Spitaman, or Zoroaster, Zoroastrianism is a religion that teaches self-realization, progressiveness, and good will. God (Ahura Mazda) in Zoroastrianism is not about guilt or condemnation but is seen as wisdom, love, and logic. God has no favorites, treats humans with respect, and is not vengeful or jealous. Man is seen as not sinful or depraved and was created to eliminate wrong from the Cosmos in Partnership with God. Additionally, heaven and hell are not seen as places but are states of mind. (Source:
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