Muhammadanism The Term
Muslim: Christians should not use
the word, Muhammadanism, because Muslims don't worship
Response: This is an unfounded objection, because
the term, Muhammadanism, does not imply that Muslims worship Muhammad. To insist this
must be the meaning indicates a poor understanding of the English language. An -ism refers to a
doctrine, conduct, or system of thought; it does not imply divine worship.
Muhammadanism simply refers to the doctrine, conduct, and system of
thought that were taught by Muhammad.
ism (iz'em) n. [< fol.] a doctrine, theory,
system, etc., especially one whose name ends in -ism
-ism (iz'em) [ME -isme <OFr & L
-isma (< Gr) & -ismus (<Gr -ismos):
orig. suffix of action or of state, forming nouns from verbs in L
-izare, Gr -izein] suffix forming nouns
1 the act, practice, or result of [terrorism] 2
the condition of being [pauperism] 3 action, conduct,
or qualities characteristic of [patriotism] 4 the
doctrine, school, theory, or principle of [cubism, socialism]
5 devotion to [nationalism] 6 an instance,
example, or peculiarity of [Gallicism, witticism] 7
an abnormal condition caused by [alcoholism]
For example, terrorism does not mean the worship of
terror. Darwinism is not the worship of Charles
Darwin; it refers to his theory of biological evolution. Likewise,
Hinduism is not the worship of Hindu, instead it refers to a complex set of beliefs that center around reincarnation, castes, customs, Vedic scriptures,
and a multiplicity of gods. Lastly, Judaism isn't the worship of Judah (Yehuda) who was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. So there is no
insist that Muhammadanism signifies that Muslims worship Muhammad.
She [Leah] conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
Genesis 29:35 (NIV)
وحبلت ايضا وولدت ابنا وقالت هذه المرة احمد الرب . لذلك دعت اسمه يهوذا . ثم
توقفت عن الولادة .
English speaking Muslims know what -ism signifies, but
some disingenuously insist that Muhammadanism still implies the worship of
Muhammad. Yet, these same Muslims add the suffix -ism to
words knowing that the resulting word does not imply worship. For
example, they use the term, Marxism, to
describe the system of thought that Karl Marx developed in Das
Kapital. When they use the term, Marxism, they
know that Marxists don't go to sacred building to worship and pray
to Karl Marx, and they
would never suggest that Marxists revere Karl Marx as a divine
object of worship. Now, if Muslims understand words like Marxism, Judaism, Hinduism, and
Darwinism, why is it so difficult for them to understand the word,
Muslims refer to the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Muhammad as the basis for their religion. The Qur'an instructs Muslims to pattern their lives after Muhammad because he is
thought to be the
perfect pattern of conduct. To accomplish this task, Muslims study many volumes of the hadiths, because these books contain
his sayings and
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)
for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in
the Praise of Allah. Sura Al-Ahzab 33:21 (Yusuf Ali's
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ
حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ
كَثِيرًا. سورة الأحزاب
The prophet of Islam is considered by Muslims to have been the
most perfect of men, in fact the most noble and perfect of all of
Allah's creation, ashraf al-makhluqat. Allah bestowed upon
him all the virtues and all the perfections which the human state
is capable of possessing. As the Noble Qur'an states, he did not
acquire the state of prophethood by himself but was chosen by
Allah; furthermore, all of the virtues became perfectly actualized
in him. Therefore, he is seen by Muslims as the perfect model for
human life to imitate. He is the perfect or universal man, al-insan
al-kamil and the Quran itself refers to him as the example to
be emulated in the verse, "Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye
have a good example" (XXXIII:21).2
In fact, Muslims obey Muhammad as if they were obeying
Allah. This shows the elevated place that Muhammad occupies.
He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. Sura An-Nisa 4:80
مَّنْ يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ
سورة النساء ٤:٨٠
These Muslim sources show the central place that
Muhammad had in the establishment of his religion.
Islam is a term that carries many uncritical assumptions and biases that may not be freely investigated by Muslims. On the other hand, as a term, Muhammadanism
does not ground itself upon these presuppositions. Instead it critically assesses the truth claims of Muhammad in an objective manner that values academic
and intellectual freedom. Most Muslims find this approach distasteful and personally dangerous, so they reject this approach to the study of Muhammad.
In the back of some Muslims' minds is Shari'a law that demands the death of a Muslim who would deny an Islamic tenet where there is prior scholarly consensus.
"Someone raised among Muslims who denies the obligatoriness of the prayer, zakat, fasting Ramadan, the pilgrimage, or the unlawfulness of wine and adultery, or
denies something else upon which there is scholarly consensus (ijmn', def:b7) and which is necessarily known as being of the religion (N: necessarily known
meaning things that any Muslim would know about if asked) thereby becomes an unbeliever (kafir) and is executed for his unbelief..." f1.3, 3
On the other hand the term, Muhammadanism, has been used by scholars past and present who value intellectual freedom and the pursuit of truth. Because of this,
the term, Muhammadanism, is an enlightened and eminently
appropriate term to use for the intellectual study of Muhammad's teachings without assuming the uncritical presuppositions of Muslim believers. This is why scholars
often use the term, Muhammadanism, to describe the topic of
There is no reason why a Muslim who
values intellectual freedom should be offended by the term. Quite the contrary, they should encourage an unfettered study of the teaching and life of Muhammad and
follow the path of truth wherever it leads them. Our prayer should always be,
Show us the straight way. al-Fatiha 1:6
المُستَقِيمَ سورة الفاتحة ٦
We should be able to walk this path without the dread of Shari'a casting its dark shadow over our love and pursuit of the truth.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18 (NIV)
لا خوف في المحبة بل المحبة الكاملة
تطرح الخوف الى خارج لان الخوف له عذاب واما من خاف فلم يتكمل في
المحبة. ١ يوحنا ٤:١٨
May Allah guide you to His Truth and Love.
Last edited 10/16/2002
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