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History of Islam

Beliefs and practices

Oneness of God
Profession of Faith

Major figures

Household of Muhammad
Prophets of Islam
Companions of Muhammad

Texts & Laws


Major branches


Societal aspects


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Vocabulary of Islam

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A Muslim (Arabic: مسلم, Persian and Urdu: مسلمان, Turkish: Müslüman, Albanian: Mysliman, Bosnian: Musliman) is an adherent of Islam. The feminine form of Muslim is Muslimah (Ar: مسلمه). Literally, the word means "one who submits (to God)" [Ar. muslim, pl. musliminsalma, to submit (to God)]

Muslims believe that Islam existed long before Muhammad. The Koran [Ar. qu'ran (قران), recitation] describes as Muslims many Biblical prophets and messengers: Adam, Noah (Arabic: Nuh), Moses (Arabic: Musa) and Jesus (Arabic: Isa) and his apostles. The Koran states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values. Thus, in Surah 3 v52 of the Koran, Jesus’ disciples tell Jesus: “do thou bear witness that we are Muslims”.

Most Muslims accept as a Muslim anyone who has publicly pronounced the Shahada, which states, "There is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger." This is often translated as, "There is no god except Allah," however "Allah" is the Arabic word for "the God".


Other words for Muslim

Until the late 1980s, the term Moslem was commonly used. Muslims do not recommend this spelling because it is often pronounced "mawzlem" /mɒzlɛm/ which sounds somewhat similar to an Arabic word for "oppressed" (Za'lem in Arabic).[citation needed] The word is pronounced /muslem/ in Arabic, but often /mʊślɪm/ in English. The word is now most commonly written "Muslim".

Up until at least the mid 1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mohammedans or Mahometans. (See for instance the second edition of "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage" by HW Fowler, revised by Ernest_Gowers (Oxford, 1965)). However, many Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they are labels that imply that they are followers of the Prophet who give him too much reverence or that even imply that Muslims worship the Prophet rather than or in addition to God. In this sense, Muslims regard the terms as too similar to the term Christians used to describe the followers and worshippers of Christ.

English writers of the 19th century and earlier sometimes used the words Mussulman, Musselman, or Mussulmaun. Variant forms of this word are still used by many Indo-European languages. These words are similar to the French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese words for "Muslim."

Muslim and mu'min

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Islam & Iman

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One of the verses in the Qur'an makes a distinction between a mu'min, a believer, and a Muslim:

The Arabs of the desert say, "We believe." (tu/minu) Say thou: Ye believe not; but rather say, "We profess Islam;" (aslamna) for the faith (al-imanu) hath not yet found its way into your hearts. But if ye obey Allah and His Apostle, he will not allow you to lose any of your actions: for Allah is Indulgent, Merciful ('The Koran 49:14, Rodwell).

According to the Western academician Carl Ernst, contemporary usage of the terms "Islam" and "Muslim" for the faith and its adherents is a modern innovation. As shown in the Quranic passage cited above, early Muslims distinguished between the Muslim, who has "submitted" and does the bare minimum required to be considered a part of the community, and the mu'min, the believer, who has given himself or herself to the faith heart and soul. Ernst writes:

"The Arabic term Islam itself was of relatively minor importance in classical theologies based on the Qur'an. If one looks at the works of theologians such as the famous al-Ghazali (d. 1111), the key term of religious identity is not Islam but iman(faith), and the one who possesses it is the mu'min (believer). Faith is one of the major topics of the Qur'an; it is mentioned hundreds of times in the sacred text. In comparison, Islam is a relatively less common term of secondary importance; it only occurs eight times in the Qur'an. Since, however, the term Islam had a derivative meaning relating to the community of those who have submitted to Allah, it has taken on a new political significance, especially in recent history." <ref>Ernst, Carl, Following Muhammad, University of North Carolina Press, 2003, p. 63</ref>

For another term in Islam for a non-Muslim who is nevertheless a monotheist believer (usually applied historically in a pre-Islamic context), see hanif.


There are some individuals and groups who consider themselves Muslims but are not accepted as Muslim by most other Muslims. For example, neither Sunni nor Shi'a Muslims accept Ahmadis or adherents of the Nation of Islam as fellow Muslims. To reject another self-proclaimed Muslim as a non-Muslim is called takfir and, strictly, is considered un-Islamic.

However, in practice, many Muslim groups, sects, or political factions have labeled other groups, sects, or political factions as non-Muslims; thus, some Sunni will reject other Sunni, some Shi'a will reject other Shi'a, et cetera. In some Muslim-majority countries, the state itself takes a position on certain groups; for example, Ahmadis are not Muslims by the law of Pakistan.

See also



External Links

az:Müsəlman bs:Musliman cs:Muslimové da:Muslim de:Muslim eo:Islamano es:Musulmán et:Muslim fa:مسلمان fr:Musulman he:מוסלמי it:Musulmano ja:ムスリム ko:무슬림 ku:Misilman ms:Muslim nl:Moslim pl:Muzułmanin ru:Мусульманин simple:Islam sr:Муслимани (религија) sv:Muslim th:มุสลิม tl:Muslim tr:Müslüman zh:穆斯林


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