Dunyā (دُنْيا) is originally an Arabic word that was passed to a large number of additional languages such as Persian, Dari, Pashto, Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Kurdish, Nepali, Turkish, Arumanian, North-Caucasian languages, Malay, Swahili, and Indonesian as well as modern Greek. It means the temporal world—and its earthly concerns and possessions—as opposed to the eternal spiritual realm, or the hereafter (ʾākhirah). Dunyā most literally means 'closest' or 'lowest'. In the Qur'an, dunyā and ākhira represent oppositions in temporal, spatial and moral dimensions: now and later, below and above, evil and good, respectively. Two Qur'anic ayat (verses) illustrating these points are:

  • "Ordain for us the good in this world [al-dunyā] and in the hereafter [al-ākhira]." (Surah Al A'râf 7:156)
  • "You are my friend in this world [al-dunyā] and the next [al-ākhira]." (Surah Yusuf 12:101)

Muslims are encouraged in the Qur'an 47:24 to ponder the verses of the Qur'an itself, and to do their best to not get too attached to this temporal existence and its trappings. In Islam, dunyā is a test; success and failure lead to paradise and hell respectively Quran 57:20.

Modern usage

The word Dunya/Dunia is being used today by all Arabic speaking nations as well as additional languages that borrowed it from Arabic.

It is colloquially and in print used to describe a particular world, such as Dunia Islam, or refer to the world (Earth) in general, e.g. Dunya in Turkish, Dunya in Hindi, Dunya in Urdu.

It is additionally a common Middle Eastern feminine name meaning life or world.