Friday, February 7, 2014

Moslem vs. Muslim: There's a Great Deal of Difference

Sam Raoul: Moslem or Muslim?
Funny what you learn simply by being a writer who's trying to get his facts right.

I just finished a story for Roanoke College Magazine on alumni Sam Rasoul, our new 11th District General Assembly member, and in the course of writing it, I e-mailed Sam to double check something I knew to be the case: that he is a Moslem. Only he isn't. He is a Muslim. I didn't know there was a difference. There is and it's quite a sensitive spot for people who practice the religion of Muhammad.

Here's an explanation from the History Network (here):

"Moslem and Muslim are basically two different spellings for the same word,"  according to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. However, the choice of spellings can be sensitive.

English speakers believe the words to be synonymous, but the Arabic roots are different. A Muslim in Arabic means "one who gives himself to God," and is by definition, someone who adheres to Islam. 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.

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