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Mohammedan



Ed Jajko explains:
"Mohammedan/Muhammadan, 'follower of Muhammad,' is a term that has never been liked or accepted by Muslims, who feel they are not followers of the prophet but of God. One can hear from Muslims that they are not followers of Muhammad like Christians are of Christ, hence the inappropriateness of the term.

In medieval times, Muslim Arabs used a comparable term for Jews, "Musawi," i.e. follower of Moses. Muslims refer to Christians as "Masihi," of the Messiah, or Nasrani, "Nazorean." Muhammadan is a term that is at once old-fashioned and politically incorrect because associated with Orientalism.

Ignaz Goldziher, who is probably the father of Orientalism and perhaps of modern Middle East studies, published a work on hadith entitled Muhammedanische Studien, in 1889-1890. Even my late teacher, S.D. Goitein, used to say that Goldziher should have known better. Nevertheless, the adjective persisted in various languages. The proper form is Muslim/Moslem, a participle that means 'one who has submitted.'

So much safer to write about Muslim terminology than on politics, although I am pleased that Miles Seeley feels that "Ed. Jajko struck a nerve" and that Ronald Hilton thinks that "Despite all this, Ed makes a very valid point."

RH:
Ed is going away for a break. We look forward to his return, since WAIS will miss his scholarship and wisdom. We will welcome him when he returns safely. Inshala.

Ronald Hilton - 09.19.03


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