Monday, June 08, 2009

Mohammedan is not a misnomer

Some say that I should not use the term "Mohammedan" because some Mohammedans prefer not to use the term. The Islamic Bulletin says:
What does 'Islam' mean?
The Arabic word 'Islam' simply means 'submission', and derives from a word meaning 'peace'. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God. 'Mohammedanism' is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God.
This is just wrong. It is not a misnomer. The term Lutheran does not suggest that Lutherans worship Luther. The term Buddhist does not suggest that Buddhists worship Buddha. Christians do not worship Christ rather than God. Christians follow the teachings of Christ. Mohammedans follow the teachings of Mohammad. It is a completely accurate and inoffensive term.

A 1913 dictionary defines:
a. Of or pertaining to Mohammed, or the religion and institutions founded by Mohammed.
n. A follower of Mohammed, the founder of Islamism; one who professes Mohammedanism or Islamism.
Mohammad founded the religion of Islam, and he also political and legal systems. The followers of Mohammad usually subscribe to his religious and his non-religious teachings. If you just want to refer to someone who subscribes to the religion of Islam, then I guess moslem or muslim would be the best term. If you want to describe someone who more broadly follows the teachings of Mohammad, then I think that Mohammedan is the more accurate term.

I am not trying to offend anyone, or to reinvent terms. I don't think that I am saying anything here that Mohammedans would disagree with. Being a Mohammedan is more than just subscribing to a religion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree and I would like to add that when Mohammad was dictating the Qur'an, he would say things along the lines of: "Islam is the best religion" and "To be a muslim is best in the eyes of Allah", etc. I believe it is dysunifying to translate the works of Mohammad into English without translating ALL the words. If ALL the Arabic words were translated into English, Mohammad would be saying "Submission to God is the best religion" and "Being someone who submits to the will of God is best in the eyes of God." Mohammedans do not have the market cornered on following Islam or being a Muslim, for Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Baha'i's, etc. can also all be muslims and follow islam, as long as they submit to the will of God.