Raymond Ibrahim: Why We Need Words Like ‘Islamist’

Over at PJ Media (via RaymondIbrahim.com), I discuss the reason why words like “Islamist” are useful. Based on some comments on PJ Media, which misunderstand the point of the article (probably by not even reading it and just going by the title), some clarifications may be in order: 1) I am not arguing that “Islamism” is bad, “Islam” is good, as some seem to think; in fact, I point out that “traditional, mainstream Islam” is often more problematic than “Islamism”; 2) I am not making an argument for the specific word “Islamist,” but rather, as the very title of my article indicates, “words like Islamist”; 3) The whole point of the article is to help create precision of speech and clarity of thought, especially as a way to reach out to the Western mainstream””not expound on Islamic doctrine.

For example, consider these recent news headlines: “Egypt’s Islamists secure 75 percent of parliament”; “U.S. official meets with Egypt’s Islamists”; and “Islamist Named Speaker of Egypt House.” Think of how meaningless it would be to use the word “Muslim” in these headlines, and how it would lead precisely to what those who staunchly oppose using words like “Islamist” claim to be combating: a completely misinformed Western public. In 90% Muslim Egypt, what’s the point of saying that parliament is 75% “Muslim,” or that the house-speaker is a “Muslim,” etc? Where’s the news? But by using “Islamist,” readers quickly understand that these are new developments of concern.

Is the problem Islam or Islamism? Muslims or Islamists?

These and related questions regularly foster debate (see the exchange between Robert Spencer and Andrew McCarthy for a recent example). The greatest obstacle on the road to consensus is what such words imply; namely, that Islamism and Islamists are “bad,” and Islam and Muslims are good (or simply neutral).

Some observations in this regard:

Islamism is a distinct phenomenon and, to an extent, different from historic Islam. The staunch literalness of today’s Islamists is so artificial and anachronistic that, if only in this way, it contradicts the practices of medieval Muslims, which often came natural and better fit their historical context.

More to the point, for all their talk that they are out to enact the literal example of the early Muslims, today’s Islamists often permit and forbid things that their forbears did not, simply because, like it or not, they are influenced by Westernization. As Daniel Pipes observes:

Whereas traditional Islam’s sacred law is a personal law, a law a Muslim must follow wherever he is, Islamism tries to apply a Western-style geographic law that depends on where one lives. Take the case of Sudan, where traditionally a Christian was perfectly entitled to drink alcohol, for he is a Christian, and Islamic law applies only to Muslims. But the current regime has banned alcohol for every Sudanese. It assumes Islamic law is territorial because that is the way a Western society is run.

That said, there is no denying that Islam’s sacred law, Sharia””the backbone of mainstream Islam””is intrinsically problematic. One example: hostility for Muslim apostates””from ostracizing them to executing them””is simply a part of the religion of Islam, historically and doctrinally. The same can be said about the duty of offensive jihad and the subjugation of religious minorities and females.

Accordingly, while there is room for the word Islamism””in that it is a distinct phenomenon””that does not mean Islam proper is trouble-free. In fact, sometimes Islam’s traditional teachings are more problematic than Islamist teachings. For instance, during the “Arab spring,” many traditional Muslim sheikhs correctly pointed out that Sharia commands Muslims to obey their leader, even if he is unjust and tyrannical, as long as he is a Muslim, while Western-influenced Islamists were making the “humanitarian argument” against tyrants, one that had little grounding in Sharia.

At this point, one might argue that use of words like “Islamist,” while valid, are ultimately academic and have the potential further to confuse the layman. However, what is often missed in this debate is the true significance of such words: they satisfy a linguistic need””the need to differentiate and be precise””without which meaningful talk becomes next to impossible…

Read it all and see how.

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Comments

  1. says

    In short, the need for words like “Islamist” is less to make a doctrinal distinction and more to make a practical, linguistic distinction.

    Good article! So, to sharpen the distinction between a neutral word like ‘Muslim’ and a word like Islamist, which requires an accompanying explanatory note to fix the meaning, why not just call them Sharia-ists; ie those who wish to impose Sharia across the world.
    Then, the only problem would be to educate people as to what Sharia is and why its imposition would spell the end of the civilized world as we know it.
    Are you a Muslim or a Sharia-ist? would elicit an answer that means that someone prefers a zero-Sharia society, or that someone wants to enslave us by imposing Islamic law.

    In fact, a term like Sharia Islam could be used as shorthand for all that is inimical to the best interests of dar al-harbian societies (if I can make an adjective out of dar al-Harb!).

    There’s more to come on this topic, I’m sure.

  2. says

    When I talk to lay people about these issues, I do indeed find it necessary sometimes to use terms that aren’t strictly accurate, and that I wouldn’t use if I was speaking with someone more familiar with this topic, otherwise it would be a barrier to communicating with the layperson.

    However, whether there is actually such a thing as an “Islamist” is another matter entirely. There isn’t. There is no such distinction made among Muslims. And regarding arguments like the one cited by Pipes, just because Islamic law over time in different areas has not been lived out in exactly the same way down to the smallest detail as in other places and times, it does not logically follow from that that this points to the existence of a distinctly different class of Muslim, especially when Muslims themselves don’t acknowledge any such distinction. Islamic law is based on such disjointed, semi-literate material, that it inevitably leads to debate among Muslims over minute details of its full implementation relative to particular historical and geographical environments. But the ideal desire to implement it in true accord with “Allah’s intentions” is uniform among Muslims nonetheless, at least in a theological sense. Hence, no Islamist-Muslim distinction.

    Inventing our own vocabulary that doesn’t correspond to reality actually inhibits “precision of speech and clarity of thought,” and further encourages fantasy-based policy making.

  3. says

    Further:

    Consider: even the severest critic of Islam will concede that not all who are labeled “Muslim””well over a billion people”are “the enemy.”

    It depends on how one defines “the enemy.” All Muslims are Muslim, even if only in name, that’s simply a fact. It is perfectly valid to hold any person on Earth accountable for the ideologies they associate themselves with by their own free will, no matter how casually they do it. If one opposes the Islamic ideology, then one necessarily stands in opposition to all those who bear it as a label. In that sense, all Muslims are indeed “the enemy.”

    Furthermore, Islam is unique in that even its most casual adherents – Muslims in name only – passively serve to advance the ideology’s full agenda, if only by, for example, boosting the number of those present in Western countries, thus giving Islam a higher political profile and empowering those Muslims that are more serious about advancing the Islamic political agenda.

    Can you imagine how badly World War 2 would have turned out if we tried to approach it from a standpoint that not all Nazis were “the enemy”? This is very dangerous thinking that must be rejected entirely if we are to survive.

  4. says

    My sole objection to the word is that people like McCarthy and others who do not want to face the jihad threat in all its magnitude use it to suggest that there is an Islam that is peaceful and benign — not just Muslims who are, but a form of Islam itself.

    That’s why I avoid the term, and use others like “Islamic supremacist.”

    Cordially
    Robert Spencer

  5. says

    I also believe a word such as islamist just clouds the issue regarding the mythical moderate muzlum versus the so called radical muzlum. They both quote the same koran.

  6. says

    A lot of things about Islam are influenced by the times – look at this Arab all-black and burqu-ed attire for women.

    In Muhammad’s day you simply could not afford the dye to turn that much cloth black.

    Its it most definitely an extravagance – in Islamic expression.

    ::

    But one must question Daniel Pipes observation:

    Islamic ‘personal law’, had to have been part and parcel of regional law, because it was enforced.

    Islamic ‘personal law’ – in the west called ‘Islamic sentiment’ – is the law in the Islamic world.

    The ‘Islamist’ of today – is there to remind Muslims to abide by that law, so are the enforcers, and impinge upon Muslims to do the same to others. This against the natural human tendency to – live and let live.

    If you are in a Muslims country during Ramadan it is a real eye opener – you can see how much they control each other.

    The problematic part of Islam – the rise of Islamism, rise of radicalism, and the rise of fundamentalism – is that ‘personal law’ should be enforced as state law. Any state – and therefore should extend to others.

    In most Muslim countries you could expect a visit from the police – if you are caught eating during Ramadan. The extension of this law – was were Algerian Christians were brought to trial for the crime of eating during Ramadan.

    Trying to use a different example than Koran 9:29 – but its one of the best examples of Muhammad’s command to make ‘personal law’ – those who do versus don’t do what is forbidden – the law of the land. Requiring a tax – from the non-believing people of the book – or those who ‘do what is forbidden’ – which would have been regulated by the governing i.e. religious authority. And further that – these people who do what is forbidden – should be rendered to a submissive, subjugated state – versus equality with those convert and don’t do what is forbidden.

    ::

    Was there ever a Shangri-la period in Islam – I think rather there were Shangri-La people – some people are really good no matter what they say they believe – and some people can call themselves anything – and it would not matter.

    But it takes courage to go against Islam’s fundamental teachings. And those who do and still profess to be Muslim – should be commended.

    It would be preferable if Muslims made a conscious choice to turn away from these archaic ways.

    One good article appearing in Der Spiegel – a German-Egyptian when asked – was he still a Muslim – he would not answer – but said he will be a slave to nothing.

  7. says

    Good article. I agree. There is a need for a term to differentiate islamic supremacists from muslims who don’t take the supremacist aspect of islam too seriously.

  8. says

    I agree with Mr. Spencer. It’s useful to have a distincion between the radical and “moderate” (whatever they are exactly) Muslims, but the word Islamist does seem to be used primarily as a bogeyman that serves to distant “good and peaceful Islam” from the evil terrorist/Islamist/fundamentalist, as if not identifying someone as an “Islamist” means there is nothing to worry about.

    In WWII, some argued that only Nazi party members should share the guilt for the war-crimes, and not regular Germans who didn’t even vote for them and didn’t share their values. But it was also argued that even those not technically party members still tacitly supported the actions of their Nazi neighbors by not doing anything to stop what was going on.

    I don’t like “Islamist”, as it doesn’t really describe very accurately. It sorta just means “nutcase” or “radical”, and isn’t very useful in combating exactly what institutions and literature are creating these people.

    Perhaps something like “Devout Muslims”, or just plain old “Muslim Literalists” would work better. These terms would tell people the violent and angry ones are not some lunatic fringe or politically-motivated group, but rather those Muslims who are simply following Mohamed’s example and writings to the letter.

  9. says

    I define “islamism” as the campaign to implement sharia and “islamist” as one who works to implement sharia. I rarely use the word muslim; I cannot and do not speak for them. How many practitioners of islam are islamists? I don’t know, I suspect it is frighteningly high.

    The campaign will continue until all profess the faith, properly submit or are killed in jihad at which point sharia-maintenance takes over. Think of those nice people whipping women with canes, the parents killing unruly – unislamic – children, and old men marrying frightened young girls.

    I am a threatened infidel, a kaffir. I recognize islam/sharia an enemy ideology as it wishes to convert, oppress or kill me and mine. Language is important, but I don’t wish to muzzle anyone. We are still bringing our side up to speed on the threat. Find what language resonates with a broad spectrum of infidels and USE IT.

  10. says

    I don’t favor the use of “islamist”, nor “islamic supremacist” as one infers a contradiction between a conventional muslim and an adherent to an entity called “political islam” or a supremacist, which we all know is incorrect. Imho the best formula to use is “muslim activist”. It simply means an individual willing to act upon the dictates of islam without expressing a difference of ideology between the two.

  11. says

    Without a pool of Muslims to provide recruitment material, safety in numbers and/or tacit or open support there would be no ‘Islamists’. Take away the logistical and moral base, and the ‘Islamists’ will evaporate into thin air.

    Hence, the attempt to distinguish creates a misleading dichotomy. It’s called enabling.

  12. says

    M sorry I stand by my definition of a moderate muzlum vs a radical one. As you know, Mr. Spencer himself has said many times there is no reliable way to positively identify who is a moderate muzlum.

    Also I dont believe there is any such English word as flase so I have no idea what you mean by that.

  13. says

    Hi everyone! :>

    Can someone help me? I have some questions related to the article.

    Let me explain myself better:

    Am i right to deduce that Islamist is a synonymous of Devout/Pure Muslim? Am i right to deduce that the “Islamist” are the “Devout Muslims” cause they’re simply following Mohammed’s example and writings to the letter? But…doesn’t Islam require it followers to imitate Mohammed and to follow his writings? (by writings i mean what inspired the Islamic jurists who developed The Sharia).

    If NO! Then the Islamist/Devout Muslims are in error. But if Islam requires 1)following Mohammed’s examples and 2) writings to the letter (Sharia), then the Islamist are leaning towards the goal of Islam/The Qur’an while, the Non-Devout/Peaceful/Moderate/Muslims are not (yet) “conformed” to the role model which is Mohammed the Khayru-l-Khalq (Best of Creation).

    So after reading this article I wanted to know the real difference (if there is any) between a Muslim, a Devout Muslim, Islamist and if according to the Qur’an a someone who is not following Mohammed’s example and writings to the letter or whose aim isn’t to follow Mohammed’s path should be considered o consider himself a (true) Muslim.

    Thanks!

  14. says

    There is the Ummah, or Mohammedan Mob.

    And there are the Jihad gang bosses, often self-appointed, and there are (often overlapping with the jihad gang bosses) the Sharia-pushers, the people whom ex-Muslim Nonie Darwish, in her book on Sharia, ‘Cruel and Usual Punishment’, dubs ‘allah’s enforcers’.

    Everybody else in the Ummah, unless they publicly and openly defect (and run far and fast, to avoid the sharia hit-men coming after them), is a member of the Mob. They are kept in line by the Enforcers, and if they get really devout and embark upon the Imitatio Mohammedi in earnest, they become Enforcers, or join a jihad brigade.

  15. says

    I agree with Raymond. The term Islamist is useful in some contexts. Robert’s use of “Islamic supremacist” is more explicit, but could be subject to the same objection that it implies the existence of a mainstream Islam that is not supremacist. I should add that I don’t necessarily agree with this objection, but rather that this objection can be applied to both terms. But since Islamist is already in widespread use, I don’t see enough justification for abandoning it in the sorts of contexts Raymond cited.

    “As Daniel Pipes observes:
    “Whereas traditional Islam’s sacred law is a personal law, a law a Muslim must follow wherever he is, Islamism tries to apply a Western-style geographic law that depends on where one lives. Take the case of Sudan, where traditionally a Christian was perfectly entitled to drink alcohol, for he is a Christian, and Islamic law applies only to Muslims. But the current regime has banned alcohol for every Sudanese. It assumes Islamic law is territorial because that is the way a Western society is run.””

    I have to disagree with Pipes on some points here.
    1. A Muslim was not always required (legally held accountable) to follow Islamic law in every aspect, wherever he was. For example, as noted in the Hidayah, a classic book of Hanafi figh, a Muslim man could not be convicted by a Muslim authority for “committing whoredom” (i.e., adultery or fornication) in a territory ruled by non-Muslim law.
    And yet, Pipes is right to some extent. For example, a Muslim may be permitted by a Muslim authority to kill someone who committed blasphemy (against Islam) in a non-Muslim jurisdiction. Anyways, there is such variation on this issue I’m not sure Pipes can make the generalization that he does. Hence the distinction between Islamism and classical Islamic law doesn’t seem to hold here.

    2. “It assumes Islamic law is territorial because that is the way a Western society is run.” I disagree. The territorial limits here I think are pragmatic and temporary, and do not reflect an in-principle difference between classical Islamic law and the Islamism of recent history. They also do not reflect a theoretical embrace of the western notion of a state.

    3. “…traditionally a Christian was perfectly entitled to drink alcohol, for he is a Christian, and Islamic law applies only to Muslims.”
    Not true; because even where classical Islamic law allowed Christian dhimmis to drink alcohol, the extent and manner in which they were allowed to do so was regulated by Islamic law. It’s not as though Islamic law didn’t intrude. Overall, the extent to which Christians were allowed to practice their beliefs or what was allowed by their beliefs was itself defined and limited by Islamic law.

    Anyways, Islamic law is as much about regulating Muslims as it is about regulating non-Muslims; if anything, more so the latter.

  16. says

    “…more so the latter.: –at least with regards to major issues; sure sharia regulates all kinds of detailed ritual etc. for Muslims that it does not impose on non-Muslims.

  17. says

    “For instance, during the “Arab spring,” many traditional Muslim sheikhs correctly pointed out that Sharia commands Muslims to obey their leader, even if he is unjust and tyrannical, as long as he is a Muslim, while Western-influenced Islamists were making the “humanitarian argument” against tyrants, one that had little grounding in Sharia.” -Raymond

    I think one should be clear that, even if the authority is nominally Muslim, Muslims are obliged to overthrow him if (a) he violates the Quran and Islamic law or is not implementing it, and (b) they have the capacity to do so.

    Islamists’ use of the humanitarian argument is largely if not entirely propaganda and is not unlike the propaganda shown in Muhammad’s Meccan phase–“say to them “peace”, but they will come to know”; i.e., disarm the infidels with platitudes in preparation for attaining power and conquering them later.

    “Consider: even the severest critic of Islam will concede that not all who are labeled “Muslim””well over a billion people”are “the enemy.” Well, then, how shall we differentiate them in speech? What words shall we use?”

    I don’t know, there is a subset of commenters here who have insisted for years that all Muslims are the enemy or should be treated as such.

    But anyways I agree with Raymond on what seems obvious to me and I think most others: Not all Muslims are the enemy. I would add that a small percentage of Muslims (approx 5-10% of Muslims globally, as suggested by polling data) are in agreement with us in opposing sharia. I have no significant problem with Muslims who oppose sharia and jihad.

  18. says

    I think that the “Islamist” can be called a non-Muslim people who doing things for the advancement of Islam. As for Muslims, if it does not kill kafirs, it means that he very bad Muslim

  19. says

    I prefer the term “mohammedan”. It’s more of a laymans term, and it doesn’t sound as lofty as “Islamist” or “Islamic Supremacist”.

    “mohammedan” is very straightforward and draws your attention directly to the evil founder of islam: muhammad. Whereas “Islamist” or “Islamic Supremacist” does not, and can seem rather confusing to the average person. Okay “mohammedan” doesn’t sound very sophisticated as “Islamist” or “Islamic Supremacist”, but so what! Is our aim to sound impressive and sophisticated, or to draw everyone’s attention to it’s evil founder? …who’s really at the heart of the matter.

    A “mohammedan”, or muslim, is a follower of muhammad, which would include any and ALL muslims from every different sect within islam. Also, the term “mohammedan” in no way tries to whitewash the evil man behind the scene: muhammad, as the other terms seem to do.

    So not only do muslims either defend this evil barbarian perverted-prophet, or they pretend that muhammad means nothing to them; but now there are those on the anti-jihad movement seemingly enabling this effort to downplay muhammad with terms like “Islamist” and/or “Islamic Supremacist”, almost as if the founder of islam no longer matters to us either. Ahem!, he does matter, and he needs to be exposed for the evil man that he was whenever possible. Lets not play the same games mohammedans play by whitewashing the truth about muhammad. My 2 cents anyway …

  20. says

    Possibly those supposedly moderate muzlums, maybe 10 percent, do NOT support sharia at the core of their humanity. Would those same muzlums DARE express that in public, at the mosque or to their really-into-their-iszlum muslim friends considering what what they know would most likely happen to them if they did (death threats and worse).

    Therefore does this percentage of the muzlum population really MATTER in light of the bigger picture?

  21. says

    To add to the above, if these non-sharia-supporting muzlums dare not speak of their oppposition to it, then how in the world would they even begin to effect a reformation?

    They are vastly outnumbered by their sharia-supporting bretheren and we have seen what happens to the vocal anti sharia supporters in Europe North America Egypt Malaysia, Indonesia etc. (i.e.”even if they repent from their apostasy or blasphemy, kill them still”)

  22. says

    I certainly understand Raymond’s point, along with Robert’s clarification of desired term-usage to differentiate the degree of piety to the core texts, tenets and encompassing religious Sharia law that Muslims variably pursue.

    There is indeed a difference in individuality amongst a billion Muslims globally and they are certainly not monolithic. A concern of terms belies a foundational problem in my estimation. This problem is the discussion of individual Muslims or even sub-groups of Muslims at all.

    While the specific terminology in writing to provide a pedogogical service is warranted to a degree, it must always have the caveat to make the associative declaration that where they may be tolerant and peaceful Muslims, there is no tolerant or peaceful Islam.

    The eye on the prize moment here for me is to constantly reaffirm that with each passing act of violence perpetrated by any particular Muslim group or individiual is borne solely of a pious adherence to Islam, and not in spite of it.

  23. says

    For example, consider these recent news headlines: “Egypt’s Islamists secure 75 percent of parliament”; “U.S. official meets with Egypt’s Islamists”; and “Islamist Named Speaker of Egypt House.” Think of how meaningless it would be to use the word “Muslim” in these headlines…
    ………………………..

    Excellent point, Mr. Ibrahim. I have actually found “Islamist” useful in just this specific context”that is, to describe the most orthodox strain of Islam and its followers in an already Muslim country.

    I also use the term “Islamizing” to describe a country”Muslim or otherwise”that is becoming more strictly Islamic.

    We are seeing this now all across the Mahgreb.

    More:

    Islamism is a distinct phenomenon and, to an extent, different from historic Islam.
    ………………………..

    Not sure I entirely agree with this. From my study of history, it appears Dar-al-Islam has experienced periods of comparative laxity interspersed with waves”often violent waves”of strict Islam.

    We are certainly seeing a disturbing trend towards this over much of the Muslim world right now”but this is hardly the first time this has happened.

    Just one example would be the rise of the Wahabbism in the 18th century.

    Incidentally, I’d like to thank Robert Spencer for hosting this debate. He has another point of view, here:

    “Robert Spencer: Why We Don’t Need Words Like ‘Islamist'”

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/02/robert-spencer-why-we-dont-need-words-like-islamist.html

  24. says

    You wrote: Can you imagine how badly World War 2 would have turned out if we tried to approach it from a standpoint that not all Nazis were “the enemy”?

    But there were Germans who defied the Nazis; the White Rose group, for example. Then there was Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Hitler – one of three attempts.

    Similarly, in Islam, there have been notable individuals who have left Islam and written books about the deceptive and violent nature of Islam. There are many apostates who are being persecuted now by Muslims.
    Not all Muslims want to be Muslim! There are millions yearning to be freed from Islam. It’s only force that keeps millions of them in their chains.

    I firmly believe that dismantling the ideology piece by rancid piece would do more to destroy this so-called religion that wants to enslave the world than taking a scatter gun approach to all Muslims.

    I sympathize with Muslims, but hate the ideology of Islam.

  25. says

    hi there! your argu,rmt does not hold. to put all muslims in the basket and all of the with the same brush not only it is not good but it also is not going to advance the cause that we are here for. you need to take into context that billions of people belive in god and they all have different religions. should everyone define it their relion the same way and go by every rule it has? my girl friend is a submarine Jew. she surfaces twice a year on Roshashana and yum kipur and never to be seen again. only on those two days she fasts and goes to temple. she does not observe any other jewish laws, and yet she considers herself very jewish.
    I have a lot of catholic friends who go to church fairlt reguarly, and yet they are pro abortion. does that make them any less of a catholic? my sister is a devout muslims. she doesn’t go around blowing people up.
    M

  26. says

    You wrote: Can you imagine how badly World War 2 would have turned out if we tried to approach it from a standpoint that not all Nazis were “the enemy”?

    But there were Germans who defied the Nazis; the White Rose group, for example. Then there was Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Hitler – one of three attempts.

    That’s why I used the word “Nazis,” not “Germans.” Nazism is the ideology, and it is ideology we are discussing.

    Similarly, in Islam, there have been notable individuals who have left Islam and written books about the deceptive and violent nature of Islam. There are many apostates who are being persecuted now by Muslims.
    Not all Muslims want to be Muslim! There are millions yearning to be freed from Islam. It’s only force that keeps millions of them in their chains.

    That’s why I was careful to stress “by their own free will.” I don’t include people who are physically forced to bear the Muslim label. And obviously the individuals you cite that left Islam aren’t Muslim, so they are not part of that assessment either.

  27. says

    David:

    You really think it’s okay to use the word “Muslim” instead of “Islamist” in those three headlines I mentioned?

    If so, we get this:

    “Egypt’s Muslims secure 75 percent of parliament”; “U.S. official meets with Egypt’s Muslims”; and “Muslim Named Speaker of Egypt House.”

    In a nation of 70 million Muslims, do you really think such headlines would better serve to open the eyes of Western readers, instead of using the word “Islamist”?

  28. says

    If so, we get this:

    “Egypt’s Muslims secure 75 percent of parliament”; “U.S. official meets with Egypt’s Muslims”; and “Muslim Named Speaker of Egypt House.”

    It would be less absurd than the way it’s reported now. But that’s not saying much.

  29. says

    “Egypt’s Muslims secure 75 percent of parliament”; “U.S. official meets with Egypt’s Muslims”; and “Muslim Named Speaker of Egypt House.”

    Raymond & David

    I think the above could more accurately be rephrased as

    “Islamic parties secure 75 percent of Egypt’s parliament”; “U.S. official meets with Egypt’s Islamic reps”; and “Egypt House gets Islamic speaker.”

    The difference b/w Islamic and Muslim – another difference I frankly don’t care much for the way it is paraded, even on this site, would be obvious here. Also, given that what – 70% of Egypt’s entire population i.e. a higher % of Egypt’s Muslims supported them makes this @ a practical level a distinction w/o a difference.

  30. says

    I actually like the term Mohammedan a lot, since it conveys the image of Islam as a cult and Mohammed as a cult leader. In fact, Mohammedan had been used for the longest time as a synonym for Muslim or Islamic. Icing on the cake is that even though Mohammedan was a classical use of the term for Islamic or Muslim, Muslims see it as implying that they are a cult (which they are), even though it fails some analogy tests i.e. Lutheran is not someone who worships Martin Luthor.

    My only reservation about this term is that it diffuses some of the focus from Islam and Muslim, but not qualitatively the way ‘Islamist’ or ‘Islamism’ does. Other than that, I myself have used it on this time very often, and interchangably w/ Muslim or Islamic.