Why do we call Islam “Islam” instead of Muhammadanism?

We do not often question why things were given their particular names, because often they are of no significance… but today while browsing Wikipedia on pages about Baha’i faith, I came across a masters thesis written by a Canadian named Jonah Winters called Dying for God: Martyrdom in the Shii and Babi Religions. In the very first paragraph, we find,

“Bahaism” is considered inappropriate by Bahais, for reasons that are not easy to determine; it is best avoided by scholars, just as “Mohammedanism” is now avoided in favor of the term “Islam”.

This puzzled me… up until the 20th century, Islam was almost universally referred to as “the religion of the Prophet Mohammad”… i.e. Mohammadanism. So, why is Mohammedanism considered inappropriate as a name for their religion? And more importantly, why did everybody go along with it? I did more digging and found this from an article in Middle East Quarterly from 2003:

“But [the term Mohammedanism] rested upon the erroneous presumption that Mohammad stood in relation to Islam as Christ stood in relation to Christianity.”

This is fishy, and you can smell it from a mile away because literally one sentence before was written this:

“The term Islamism first appeared in French in the mid-eighteenth century. But it did not refer to the modern ideological use of Islam, which had not yet come into being. Rather, it was a synonym for the religion of the Muslims, which was then known in French as mahométisme, the religion professed and taught by the Prophet Mohammad.”

Clearly, Mohammedanism or in French, “mahoetisme” was a term which alluded to the religion taught by the Prophet Mohammad… and it is indesputible that the Qu’ran and Hadiths (the Holy Scriptures of the religion in question) were dictated by Mohammad. In Surah 33:40 we find: “Mohammad is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the Messenger of Allah and last of the prophets. And ever is Allah , of all things, Knowing.”  Mohammad may not be seen as the Son of God, as Christ was, but he was certainly the founder of the faith.  So the term “Mohammedanism” does not presume that Mohammad stands in the same relation to Islam as Christ to Christianity… only that Mohammad is the founder of the religion… the most key figure in their faith.

And further, up to 25 verses command people to follow “the Prophet” (Mohammad) and that Mohammad was the perfect model of conduct for all men to follow.

How, then, could it be argued that Mohammadanism is not an excellent name for the religion taught by the Qu’ran (the account of God’s will, as allegedly dictated to Mohammad) and the Hadiths (a biography of Mohammad)? A term like “Islam” is far more foreign and mysterious to Western ears… we aren’t sure what to make of it. A term like “Mohammadanism” cuts right to the root of this religion’s most core belief– that Mohammad was the last of God’s prophets and that the Qu’ran was dictated to him by the angel Gabriel and that his life is a perfect example for all to follow.


When a Westerner is confronted with Islam, he doesn’t know the first place to look to gain an essential understanding of the religion. Islam means “submission” and it is only one element (albeit, a very crucial element) of the religion. This would be like calling Christianity “Mercyism” or simply, “Forgiveness”. It is a lot harder to even know where to begin understanding the core of the religion when it is given such an obfuscatory name. When an ignorant Kafir like myself wishes to learn about Islam, we are directed to reading the Qu’ran– a nearly impenetrable book, so difficult to parse because it has been arranged (roughly) in order from largest chapters to smallest, instead of being arranged temporally or by subject, thus making it immensely confusing.

Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism… clearly these terms denote a following of Christ or Buddha or Zoroaster– the message is immediately made clear. Even terms like Judaism, Paganism, Hinduism… these terms all have etymological roots that point you toward certain places or cultures that immediately reveal what type of religion it is.

Islam, on the other hand, is a name that can only occult the fundamentals of the religion.

This practice of concealment is a mainstay in almost every aspect of Mohammadan tradition. Take Islamic art, for example. Almost all traditional Islamic art is non-figurative. The beautiful patterns of Islamic art at the Dome of the Rock, for instance, are

non-figuative because the Qu’ran clearly states, “Who is there that can intercede in His presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He will.

As wikipedia states more clearly, “it is feared by many Muslims that the depiction of the human form is idolatry[13] and thereby a sin against God, forbidden in the Qur’an.brian-creese_dome-of-the-rock

Christian Gospels in Glass

Christianity gets a lot of flack for wishing to keep the Bible in Latin, a language that was not often spoken by the religion’s followers… but at least Christianity encouraged pictorial representations of the leaders and stories that define their values. Stained glass windows in Churches can even be ‘read’ by a child, and the morals of these stories are clear to any observer.

However, attempting to represent things in the world (and especially the Prophet Mohammad, as the Western world learned from attacks such as the Charlie Hebdo murders) is idolatry in Islam, since all things are types of outcrops from Allah… The sense of mystery and total incomprehension in all things must be preserved in Islam… this, I would guess, really helps in exercising control over people. The world itself must be occulted, hidden, and made incomprehensible to anybody without the insider knowledge of what it all means.


This is exactly the case with the term Islam, and it should be clear by now why Mohammadanism is so “offensive” to Mosselmen. The term “Mohammadanism” is too clear, too direct, and it might lead us Westerners toward the pursuit of knowledge about this man called Muhamad and what exactly he did… and it then might lead us to an understanding that Islam is based on following this “Uswa Hasana” (perfect example) of Mohammad… and that *just might* lead us to resisting the spread of such a religion in our nations. Such a thing would certainly be “offensive” to a Mosselman who believes that the religion of the Prophet must follow edicts such as Qu’ran 9:33- “”It is he (Allah) who has sent his Messenger (saw) with guidance and the religion of truth (i.e. Islam), in order for it to be dominant over ALL other religions, even though the Mushrikoon (disbelievers) hate it.”

Followers of Mohammad want to spread their religion across the world, and the Holy Scriptures of Mohammad themselves command followers to use deception and covert tactics to accomplish this, if overt aggression is not suitable in the moment. This is made explicit in Hadiths such as the canonical Bukhari Hadith which states, “The Prophet said, ‘War is deceit.'” (52:269) and “Whenever I tell you a narration from Allah’s Apostle, by Allah, I would rather fall down from the sky than ascribe a false statement to him, but if I tell you something between me and you (not a Hadith) then it was indeed a trick (i.e., I may say things just to cheat my enemy).” (84:64). They even have a word for this: Taqiyya… “sacred deception”. Is the pressure to switch from “Mohammadanism” to “Islam” part of this agenda?

We now see Islamic migrants coming into the West in the millions, and this exodus does not seem to have an end coming any time soon. We see quarters of European cities that are now completely dominated by Sharia, and crime rates against the Kafir natives are skyrocketing. Within a generation, countries like Germany are guaranteed to be majority Mosselman if current rates continue… Terrorist attacks across the world are committed by faithful Musselmen in numbers that overwhelmingly dwarf any other “fundamentalist” assaults, and yet, the dominant narrative is that Islam is a religion of peace and that “not every Muslim is like that”… so to suggest that a violent, world-conquering ideology is inherent in Islamic doctrine is racist, Islamophobic bigotry.

But even the term “Mohammadanism” contradicts such a lie. If we simply read the Hadiths and learned the actual words and actions of Muhammad- the perfect example and prophet of Allah- we would find a *very* clear story with *very* clear morals to be learned. We would learn that Islam began with violence, was spread with violence, and is ultimately meant to end with the “World Peace” of total submission to Allah, that is, with “Islam”.

But as far as your average westerner is concerned, “Islam” is just a religion like any other… it means “Peace” and that they believe in what is in the Qu’ran. All we know of Islam is superficial propaganda… but maybe, if the religion was called Mohammadanism, more people would be able to dig deeper than the surface, discover the life and acts of Mohammad, understand that he is supposed to be a “Perfect Example” and then procede to recoil at the horror of such a religion.

However, this would be detrimental to the spread of Islam, so it is not allowed to be spoken. Whoever pushed scholars in the 19th century to change their clear term to an occulted one, must have had a great deal of influence… but how such a shift occurred is not within the scope of this essay. I leave that to you, the reader, for further research.


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