Why Do People Say Muslim Now Instead of Moslem?
Originally published 7-8-02
Ms. Chen is a student at the University of Washington and an intern at HNN.
Is it Muslim or Moslem?
When Baby Boomers were children it was Moslem. The American Heritage Dictionary (1992) noted,"Moslem is the form predominantly preferred in journalism and popular usage. Muslim is preferred by scholars and by English-speaking adherents of Islam." No more. Now, almost everybody uses Muslim.
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.
For others, this spelling differentiation is merely a linguistic matter, with the two spellings a result of variation in transliteration methods. Both Moslem and Muslim are used as nouns. But some writers use Moslem when the word is employed as an adjective.
Journalists switched to Muslim from Moslem in recent years under pressure from Islamic groups. But the use of the word Moslem has not entirely ceased. Established institutions which used the older form of the name have been reluctant to change. The American Moslem Foundation is still the American Moslem Foundation (much as the NAACP is still the NAACP--the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The journal The Moslem World--published by the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut--is still The Moslem World.
comments powered by Disqus
Sheik A.-M. El Shakoor Bey - 8/1/2010
Islamism readers. We deem it neccessary to make it plain. We as the Aboriginal and Indigenous to the Americas(Moorish Americans) are Moslem by our descent nature/creed. We manifest the will of ALLAH(Moslem= are the will of ALLAH) where as a Muslim submits to the will of ALLAH. Which in truth is the FIRST step in ISLAM. However, knowledge comes in degrees and Moslems demonstrate on the manifest the atributes of ALLAH(Perfected Man). The use of Moslem is Ancient, not modern, not just hundreds of years ago or only thousands but Ancient. Ancient as in the Moabites(Moab= the father of nations). We are pleased to have the opportunity to be the example for the world as our ForeMothers and ForeFathers were. Peace and Love. Islamism is my true religion, religion is LAW, and the LAW MUST live-The Prophet Nable Drew Ali.
F bey - 11/6/2009
First of all there is a difference and they are "not" the same word w/ a different spelling. Yes, we both believe in Islam but Muslim means one who submits himself to the will, so i can give you that as being some what correct. Moslem doesn't mean evil and unjust it means the will, not one who submits himself to the will. So there is a difference.
anas nemmassi - 3/3/2007
i would be really pleased if you let me correct a mistake that occured in this article.
-"According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, "مسلمMoslem and Muslim are basically two different spellings for the same word." WHICH IS FALSE.
-"But the seemingly arbitrary choice of spellings is a sensitive subject for many followers of Islam." WHICH IS UNCORRECT.
-"Aمسلم Muslim in Arabic means "one who gives himself to God" WHICH IS CLOSE TO THE RIGHT DEFINITION THAT IS A MUSLIM IS THE ONE WHO SURRENDERS AND ACCEPTS GOD'S WILL AND DEITY.
-MOSLEMمسلم IS JUST ANOTHER SPELLING OF THE WORD MUSLIM AND THE USE OF BOTH OF THEM IS NOT PROBLEMATIC AT ALL.
-"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." WHICH IS AN UNHAPPY MISTAKE? BECAUSE THE WORD MOZLEMمظلم AS YOU ARE REFFERING TO IT IS AN ADJECTIVE OF THE NOUN ZALAM WHICH MEANS DARKNESS OF NIGHT TIME.
-I NOTICED THAT A MIXED HAPPENED CONCERNING THE WORD MOZLEM/MOSLEM? IN WHICH THE AUTHOR OF THE ARTICLE IS REFFERING TO THE TERM ظالم"ZALEM" (ONE WHO MISTREATS;ONE WHO OPRESSES;ONE WHO IS UNJUST) WHICH IS THE SUBJECT NOUN OF THE VERB "ZALAMA" (TO MISTREAT; TO OPRESS; TO BE UNJUST). THE TWO ARE DERIVED FROM THE NOUN "ZOLM"ظلم
-مظلم ADJ PRONOUNCED "MODLEM"
-ظلام NOUN PRONOUNCED "DALAM"
-ظالم NOUN OF THE SUBJECT PRONOUNCED DALEM
-ظلم VERB PRONOUNCED "DALMA"
-ظلم NOUN PRONOUNCED "DOLM"
I DON4T KNOW IF THE MIX WAS DONE INTENTIONALLY BY THE AUTHOR OR IT WAS JUST A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ARABIC LANGUAGE.
Kenneth T. Tellis - 3/27/2004
An Arab friend of many years ago told me that it was not Moslem, but Muslim. Of course there was a word in the English language that was used way back in time and that word was Mohammedan. It turns out that the word Mohammedan came out of the false belief that Muslims prayed to Mohammed, just as Chritians prayed to Christ. The word Mohammedan was the least to say offensive to Muslims, as they only prayed to ALLAH and not to their Prophet Mohammed.
Joseph Covino Jr - 11/12/2002
Kindly acquire my epic romantic adventure fantasy novel dedicated to the innocents killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Arabian Nights Lost: Celestial Verses I by Joseph Covino Jr. Read a description and chapter at http://www.xlibris.com/bookstore. Thank You! Yusuf
- Stephanie Coontz’s work on the history of marriage cited by the Supreme Court.
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- David Hackett Fischer wins $100,000 prize for lifetime achievement in military writing
- Russian historian slams Putin