Religious terms referring to Muslims & Islam
Terminology referring to Islam is a special case:
But a follower of Islam is called a Muslim.
Islam, is derived from the Arabic word "salam," which is often interpreted as meaning "peace." However "submission" appears to be a more accurate translation.
A Muslim is a follower of Islam. "Muslim" is an Arabic word that refers to a person who submits themselves to the will of God.
Having very different words for the name of the religion and the name of the believer has generated problems. By linking terrorist acts committed by Muslims to the religion of Islam instead of to the perpetrators themselves, the media, government and others convey the belief that Islam is responsible for the atrocities, not the individuals who actually committed the deeds. This has produced a great deal of anger among many Muslims.
Good deeds and bad deeds are done by individual people, not by religions. Religious can sometime provide the theological justification for discrimination based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc. But, oppression, murder, genocide, etc. are actually committed by individual believers. It is those individuals who must bear primary responsibility for the acts.
After Timothy McVeigh parked a rental truck loaded with explosives in front of the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, and perpetrated the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil up until that time, he was simply identified as a terrorist.
The media generally refer to him as an individual terrorist, not as a Christian, Roman Catholic, or Agnostic terrorist. Similarly, they did not refer to his partner, Terry Nichols, as a born-again Christian terrorist. 4 That is a reasonable approach because their religious beliefs and affiliations had little, if anything, to do with their terrorist act. It appears to have been motivated by their hatred of the government, their extremist militia beliefs and their disregard of the value of human life.
In contrast, those terrorist atrocities committed by Muslims, like 9-11, are often referred to as being perpetrated by:
In an address by President Bush on 2005-OCT-06, he used terms:
By using these terms, many view the media and the U.S. government as attributing the terrorist acts to the religion of Islam and not to the small minority of Muslims who are radical, violent, and fundamentalist perpetrators. Blaming the entire religion of Islam is guaranteed to generate an immense wellspring of anger among many Muslims, worldwide. 7,8
During 2007-SEP, pollsters and communications advisers to Republicans in Congress told the lawmakers that surveys had shown:
To maintain a consistent approach, the best terminology might well be to:
That short list would probably cover most of the world's terrorist acts in the past decade.
We feel that it is preferable to be as specific as possible when identifying the perpetrators of a terrorist act. For those acts motivated by religion, we suggest that the specific wing, faith group, or tradition be specified where possible. Every major world religion includes a wide range of belief systems from the most conservative to the most liberal. By not identifying the specific group responsible, some will view the blame as spread equally over all believers of that religion.
Some people are only too willing to use the concept of collective responsibility when considering terrorist attacks. For example, they are willing to blame all Muslims for the acts of a few extremist, radical, violent, Fundamentalist Muslims.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Copyright © 2005 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious