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Switch to Forum Live View Moslem vs. Muslim - is the latter less offensive than the former?
5 years ago  ::  Oct 24, 2008 - 10:09AM #1
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253
Howdy all,

I'm hoping some Muslims will weigh in on this one. A few posts I've seen lately on other forums around Bnet have prompted me to ponder something I considered so basic that I no longer questioned my assumptions.

That being the difference between Moslem and Muslim. Honestly, until Bnet I haven't seen the term "Moslem" in print in over 10 years. I've seen "Muslim" in print many, many times and assumed that "Muslim" has become more prevalent of late because it represents more correct spelling and grammar.

Because of MY underlying assumption that Muslim is perceived to be a better term because it represents the correct spelling and grammar, I was never prompted to go beyond these differences and dig underneath the surface for an underlying meaning.

Started googling and came across a few articles on this topic. There seems to be a matter of debate, whether Moslem and Muslim can be used interchangeably or whether Moslem is a pejorative term for Muslims. What do you all think, is Moslem offensive, is it a pejorative, or is it interchangeable with Muslim?

FYI - For my part, I plan to continue the use of Muslim because I don't want any criticism I may have regarding aspects of Islam to be deliberately offensive. That kinda stops talk right in its tracks and derails discussion.

A few links re: Moslem vs. Muslim.

http://ask.metafilter.com/35958/Potato- … lim-Moslem - this link discusses the differences with a lot of varying opinions.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moslem - This link seems to use them interchangeably, although it references Muslim with Mohammadans - which I understand that Mohammadan and Musselman are offensive, ESPECIALLY the former because that definition implies that Muhammad is the object of worship rather than Allah.

http://islam.about.com/od/basicbeliefs/g/muslim.htm - this link implies the terms can be used interchangeably, but Muslim is preferred because it is closer to the Arabic origin.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 24, 2008 - 6:43PM #2
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253

IDBC wrote:

Normally I use the term Muslim.  The difference between Muslim and Moslem is the difference between Bejing and Peking.   There is debate even among the Musselman :D  themselves.

Hmmm, interesting point about the diff. between Bejing and Peking, perhaps one identifies with one over the other as a matter of historical preference?

I knew a few first and second generation people from the Czech Republic (was Czechoslovakia at the time). They identified themselves as Bohemian, relating to the historical region of Bohemia.  And I met a man from Iran, only he still referred to it as Persia. Then again, he was a Bahai, so perhaps that played into his sense of identity.

IDBC wrote:


They are followers of the Prophet Mohammad, so it is in my opinion proper to define  them as Mohammadians. 

Well, my opinion that the term "Mohammadian" is offensive has been supported by a Muslim.  cryznlv agrees that term Mohammadian is very offensive because it comes too close to an implication of committing shirk. It's a very fine, nuanced difference but a difference nevertheless. Sure, Muhammad was the Prophet, but Muslims don't like anyone to think they follow Muhammad when it's all supposed to be about Allah.... :)

IDBC wrote:


It is a non-issue as far as I am concerned.

Ah, but for you and I, this is a scholarly discussion. It doesn't affect us personally, because we are non-Muslims. Or  non-Moslems.  :) Yet, when we interact with adherents of Islam, it certainly doesn't cause any harm to use the right term. If Moslem is indeed a pejorative then I certainly have no wish to promote the usage.

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5 years ago  ::  Oct 24, 2008 - 6:57PM #3
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253

crzynlv wrote:

Honestly I don't know anything about the dfference between moslem and muslim so I can't really weigh in on that issue ... if I get some time I will try to do some research on that. 

Hallo crzynlv, how are you? Nice to "see" you here! Well, if you find out do let us know. I saw some posts in other areas that used this term and was tempted to correct him, but didn't want to seem pedantic if it's just a preference of spelling or grammar. If it's really considered to be offensive, however, I won't be so hesitant to correct this usage in the future. :)

crzynlv wrote:


I can however say that the term 'mohammadins' is extremely offensive.  We follow the example of mohammad when it comes to living our lives in relation to our fellow humans and our creator.  However, we believe that he learned everything he knew from our creator so in essence we are really following Allah.  We are NOT 'muhammadins'.  Not to mention the fact that for the most part, the ones who chose to use this term are doing so because they have no respect for our faith, which makes it even MORE offensive.

CRZYNLV

Yes, that's one of many things I've learned in my travels on Bnet. Mohammadian is very offensive, and I'll never use it.

How about Musselmen, is that offensive? It seems kind of a silly term, like someone didn't know how to spell or something. Honestly, how did they come up with Musselmen to describe a group of people?  Makes me think of mussels, which are very good to eat but hardly a fitting name for a group of people.

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5 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2008 - 1:45PM #4
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253
Good morning lovely people! :)

I just tried a different search term to determine the difference between Muslim and Moslem and wound up with this. Pasting a bit of the text below (enclosed in quotes " and highlighted in PURPLE cause purple's my favorite color  :) from this link:http://hnn.us/articles/524.html

" According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, "Moslem and Muslim are basically two different spellings for the same word." But the seemingly arbitrary choice of spellings is a sensitive subject for many followers of Islam. Whereas for most English speakers, the two words are synonymous in meaning, the Arabic roots of the two words are very different. A Muslim in Arabic means "one who gives himself to God," and is by definition, someone who adheres to Islam. By contrast, a Moslem in Arabic means "one who is evil and unjust" when the word is pronounced, as it is in English, Mozlem with a z."

Wow, is this true? Does Moslem in Arabic really mean one who's evil and unjust? Geez, if this article is based on any fact, no wonder Moslem is considered to be a pejorative term.  Will someone familiar with Arabic please weigh in and substantiate this article?


Kind regards,

---agnosticspirit
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2008 - 7:56PM #5
Ceren
Posts: 1,430

agnosticspirit wrote:



" According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, "Moslem and Muslim are basically two different spellings for the same word." But the seemingly arbitrary choice of spellings is a sensitive subject for many followers of Islam. Whereas for most English speakers, the two words are synonymous in meaning, the Arabic roots of the two words are very different. A Muslim in Arabic means "one who gives himself to God," and is by definition, someone who adheres to Islam. By contrast, a Moslem in Arabic means "one who is evil and unjust" when the word is pronounced, as it is in English, Mozlem with a z."

Wow, is this true? Does Moslem in Arabic really mean one who's evil and unjust? Geez, if this article is based on any fact, no wonder Moslem is considered to be a pejorative term. Will someone familiar with Arabic please weigh in and substantiate this article?


Kind regards,

---agnosticspirit



He he it seems the author is more an Urdu speaker than an Arabic speaker.

Mudhlim (the letter is "dhad" , which has no equivalent in the english language, it's like a deep "dh" , the arabic character is   ظ ) would have a negative connotation.  But the form it  is in "muf`il", which is used to refer mostly to physical spaces as opposed to people. If you wanted to say that a person is evil then it would be on the form "fA`il" which in this case it would be "dhalim". The word "dhalim" and "dhalimun" is used in the Quran to refer to evil-doers.

I don't think that Moslem, Muslim makes a difference. If anything, Moslem was used more in the past by orientalist at a time where few works had been translated into english so orientalist run free in the non-arabic speaking academia. Now with more balanced scholarship (and more universally accepted transliteration codes) most people write "Muslim".

I don't know why, but it seems (crazy) evangelical Christians think it's a perjorative way of naming Muslims so they sort of use "Moslem" as an insult, which I find very interesting!

That's all I know.

All the best,
Ceren

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5 years ago  ::  Oct 25, 2008 - 8:10PM #6
crzynlv
Posts: 155
It's funny Ceren that you say that last part.  When I googled just the question "is 'moslem' offensive?" the majority of the hits were anti-islamic sites and people talking about using the term on purpose just to try to upset muslims.  Here is a snippit of one of the sites:

"An English term used to identify a member of the Islamic cult.

Members of the Islamic cult regard the English use of the word Moslem as derogatory because they believe in Islamic supremacism. The word Moslem is self assertive and thouroghly English compared to using the term Muslim which often is a sign of Dhimmitude.

Ahkmed: "I am a Muslim and Islam is the religion of peace."

Jack: "If Islam is the religion of peace why are Moslems blowing people up and screaming about Jihad, stop using taqiyya it doesnt work!"

Ahkmed: "Infidel!""


I think it's kind of funny actually.  :-D  I didn't come across any actual muslims who said they thought it is an offensive spelling.  In fact, I like yourself, and I'm sure the majority, really don't see a difference and think it's just a spelling preference. 

So I wouldn't worry about it too much agnosticspirit ;)

CRZYNLV
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2008 - 1:20PM #7
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253
Good morning lovely human beings! :D

A few posts relating to  whether or not "Muhammadeans" is offensive were moved to a new thread. http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/s … hp?t=30433

Please continue your "Muhammadean" discussion there and please excuse the possibility of a slightly disjointed  thread as I'm going to do my best NOT to remove any content from these discussions but as a result of splitting this thread into two, not all responses may  "hang together". :) With this forewarning having been given, any new posts on the topic of Muhammadean will either be moved or deleted.

In the mean time, carry on and have a great day, everyone!

---agnosticspirit

Bnet co-host of Discuss Islam.
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2008 - 2:03PM #8
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253
OK, so what I gather from crzynlv and Ceren is that the terns "Muslim" or "Moslem" are basically interchangeable. Yet those who use the term Moslem usually do so out of a desire to cast insult, even though the receivers of the attempted slur aren't REALLY insulted because they recognize the not so subtle attempt to offend?

I wonder if the groups who use  "Moslem" in their critiques  recognize the irony of this tactic.... :D Probably not.....:rolleyes:
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5 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2008 - 2:07PM #9
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253

world citizen wrote:

Honestly, how did they come up with Musselmen to describe a group of people? Makes me think of mussels, which are very good to eat but hardly a fitting name for a group of people.

Salaam everyone!  Thought I'd get this one out of the way so all would now know and could then forget about it for the rest of their days...  :D

The spelling, first of all, seems to be a westernized morphing of the original Persian musulman, probably because it was easier to pronounce.  "Musulman" is simply the Farsi version of the Arabic "muslim."



Howdy WC, good to see you! Thank you for enlightening us. As I suspected, someone didn't know how to spell very well. Or translate. So now we have Musselmen forever engraved in the printing presses of old instead of musulman. Or would the plural be musulmen?

I'm starting on a book about the relationship of the US to the Middle East going back to our colonial times. Musselmen was very prevalent during those times, so I'll probably remember this little tidbit of trivia. Unless other factoids crowd it out! :D

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5 years ago  ::  Oct 27, 2008 - 2:14PM #10
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,253

crzynlv wrote:

It's funny Ceren that you say that last part.  When I googled just the question "is 'moslem' offensive?" the majority of the hits were anti-islamic sites and people talking about using the term on purpose just to try to upset muslims.  Here is a snippit of one of the sites:

"An English term used to identify a member of the Islamic cult.

Members of the Islamic cult regard the English use of the word Moslem as derogatory because they believe in Islamic supremacism. The word Moslem is self assertive and thouroghly English compared to using the term Muslim which often is a sign of Dhimmitude.

Ahkmed: "I am a Muslim and Islam is the religion of peace."

Jack: "If Islam is the religion of peace why are Moslems blowing people up and screaming about Jihad, stop using taqiyya it doesnt work!"

Ahkmed: "Infidel!""



Hey crzynlv, isn't it interesting how different search terms yield such different results? This was the source of my confusion, which led me to post this question.

The first links in my original post originated from the key phrase "muslim vs. moslem". I wound up with 3 links each with their own variances.

The second link I provided came from using the key phrase "muslim or moslem" - That resulted in the rather startling article I pasted.

So, when you used the key phrase with different words, you came with something entirely different.

Just goes to demonstrate how even an oracle can be both right and wrong, depending upon how you ask the question! :D

This little un-scientific research of ours may even be the beginning hypothesis of how people can read the same words and walk away with entirely different ideas. But I'm sure others have thought of that already, hehe.....

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