They're not Mohammedans. They're Muslims.

Hi guys, I’m mostly a lurker here but I wanted to post something that’s bothered me. I’ve seen people here, on a couple occasions, using the term “Mohammedan” to refer to Muslim people and practices, and “Mohammedanism” to refer to Islam.

I don’t know if the people using the word know the modern connotations, but nowadays it’s considered quite offensive and disrespectful to our Muslim friends.

I know not everyone is doing this, but I felt like I had to post this. If I were a Muslim considering conversion to Catholicism, I’d be very hurt by people throwing this sort of archaism around–I’d feel like someone had called me a Saracen or something. Has anyone else noticed people using this term?

“Muslim” is an Arabic word meaning “one who submits to God”. Do they submit to God? :confused:

As best as they understand him, sure. I don’t know, maybe they have it right.

Maybe because it seems Muslims love Muhammed more than Allah, because he is specific to them while God can be for Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

For example, if you remember the Danish newspaper which published Muhammad’ cartoons and how the Islamic world reacted after that, if that Danish newspaper had published something similar but for God then Muslims would have not reacted in the same level if any at all…

And they submit to Allah via a system “revealed” and promulgated by Mohammed. The “an” and “ism” seem to flow fairly well with that out of the way.

I’m sure the Arians thought their label was somehow offensive since they were just worshiping God and Jesus as best they understood Him based on some man’s ideas.

And I’m sure Mormons get a little upset when we scoff at JosephSmithism in the context of outright ridiculing such a concept as Mormonism. The concept is the issue, I feel. The believers certainly shouldn’t be offended, though their belief may certainly be.

Now you say they may have it right… what?

You’re exhorting Catholics to not use a term which is correct and historically sound in the discussion of the belief, particularly in Catholic circles, by now calling into question the Catholic faith?

Way to win friends and influence people, Broseph.

Nothing new about the term…Mohammedanism. Pretty sure followers of Catholicism and Judaism would prefer not to be called Infidels also. :shrug:

Actually, the whole reason that they reacted the way they did is because many of them take the “No Graven Images” thing really seriously. To say that Mohammad was anything more than a simple human would be blasphemous to a Muslim. Had that Danish newspaper drawn a picture of the Muslim conception of God, the reaction would’ve been the same. I see what you mean though! Religions are recognized by their messengers.

Well, I’m just saying that I don’t know for sure.

I suppose the term is historically correct in the same sense as calling Mohammad “Mahound”, and people of Middle Eastern Descent as “Saracens”? That is, it’s a term historically used by outsiders who believed Islam placed divinity on Mohammad, or was somehow non-monotheistic. Semantically, sure, it’s not necessarily offensive in itself, but neither is calling an African a “Moor”. What’s important is the social connotation, don’t you think?

But that’s only a few people who call us Infidels. Every Muslim I’ve met personally has spoken very highly of Christianity and Judaism. Even if they did, shouldn’t we treat them with respect nonetheless? Turn the other cheek, or whatever?

I do not agree with you, for example take this Saudi journalist incident, had he wrote against Allah only, the reaction would be less by just giving him some mosque lectures, but when it comes to Muhammed then that is a red line and a completely different story…

From what I can tell (and I’m certainly not the most learned guy), the term Mohammedans is an old-time term, which I would consider archaic today. I encountered it mostly in older books like “Radio Replies” by Rumble & Carty, and “The Great Heresies” by Hilaire Belloc.
I think it would be insulting if I said to a Muslim associate, “You Mohammedans are this or that or whatever” but maybe I’m too politically correct. I still maintain it is better to approach one another with respect.

It has nothing to do with implying lack of belief, just pointing out that the term makes more sense than Allahism, or even Islam, as Mohammed is the one they are supposed to emulate in submission to Allah. Christianity teaches God revealed Himself in Christ, and the name implies an emphasis on the divine nature of Christ, as a man alone doesn’t save. There is no hypostatic union concept or understanding in Islam, and this throws them in their understanding of why we are called Christians versus Jesusists. In focusing on the divine, it then serves to address the actual hypostatic union as the Messiah (Christ) HAD to be human as well. So, in this, we recognize that man doesn’t save, but rather the only begotten: best understood in its Latin or Greek rendering. In Latin, a spelling is unigenitum. It literally means the only one of His kind. The only one of His genus. The only one, who is Christ.

The closest thing they have is Mohammed, so, like all heresies/competing ideas against the true Gospel, they were named after their founding member of the doctrine. Their objection is, more modernly, due to the seeking of propaganda pushing in the vein of “Islam means peace, ergo, Islam is peaceful”. These sappy and paralyzingly shallow arguments are intoxicating society. Theirs is a very dualistic method of reconciling competing ideas in harmony, and uncharacteristic of perfection, and dualism is not perfect, but merely tolerates evil, and even embraces it as necessary for the good’s sake.

Their little ban on graven images is not even a totally Islamic concept. Depending on the sect, there are plenty of graven images, and with no actual authority in Islam, no one way is right. The Protestant logic profile is evident in Islam from its inception. It’s all about who wrangles the most power or retains the most favor, and no one of a chosen descent.

With no set method of transliteration, depending on the accent, one could indeed arrive at Mahomet as many Church documents refer to him. Koran, Qoran, Quran, Quu’ran, Qu’ran, etc. You get the idea. Saracens were a specific group of certain areas, not a belief system which is global. The Moors were specific group in the same style as the Saracens. Both of these terms morphed in history. Saracen was nothing more than a term used in pre-Islam Pagan Rome for Arabians. This morphed into all those in Arabia in Christendom because of the spread of Islam in those areas. So, in this regard it must be, again, understood from a Catholic perspective from which it morphed:

John of Damascus, in a polemical work typical of this attitude described the Saracens in the early 8th century thus:
There is also the people-deceiving cult (threskeia) of the Ishmaelites, the forerunner of the Antichrist, which prevails until now. It derives from Ishmael, who was born to Abraham from Hagar, wherefore they are called Hagarenes and Ishmaelites. And they call them Saracens, inasmuch as they were sent away empty-handed by Sarah; for it was said to the angel by Hagar: “Sarah has sent me away empty-handed” (cf. Book of Genesis xxi. 10, 14).

  • Wikipedia, with citation from the titled work.

Funny, but his assessment covers the lands and culture in which Mohammed sprang from. This paints a damning picture for the reality of Islam. It describes Islam perfectly in its use of “threskeia”, and covers the geographical areas perfectly as well. And it would seem that Islamic eschatology is like the bizarro AntiChrist wins version of Christian end times understanding, albeit the historical view of the AntiChrist is he will be of Jewish descent. At any rate, ain’t nothing too great about it when stepping back and removing the protest cries of gullible people and the plaintiff, and just looking at the evidence.

Hey, Brofessor,

A believing muslim would never utter the words “maybe they have it right” in reference to Christians, Jews, or anyone else. He/she is a believer and to him/her, there is one God and one prophet, that is Mohamed.

With all due respect, who cares? I don’t have feelings one way or another regarding people who can’t understand that Christ is the Savior of this world not some figure who may lead others astray. Just pray for them and hope they one day understand what Christ did to save our souls! He is the One who deserves our love and devotion.

I don’t see why it’s so offensive. Someone who followed Arius was an Arian. People who follow Martin Luther are called Lutherans. And so on.

Sure, it’s archaic, but I wouldn’t be offended is someone referred to Christians as “Nazareans.”

I kind of doubt that, since they seem to be the ones causing much of the terrorism in the world. I know there are Muslems who abhor this behavior but I’m just sayin’:shrug: Of course most every religion on earth has its whackos!

Muslems even hold Mary in high regard. Since there was an appearance of her at Fatima Portugal and Mohammed had a daughter named Fatima:)

They don’t hold Mary in high regard as the Mother of God, but as the mother of a fairly minor prophet who faked his death on a cross.

I would say it’s like calling Catholics “Papists”. My parents sometimes say “negroes” instead of “black” (then when I correct them, they use the “it’s how we said it back then!” defense).

It is offensive to call a Muslim a “Mohammedan”…it is not charitable…and it matters not what Muslims call Christians…“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”…if a Protestant used the word “Papist” for any length of time on this board, he or she would be banned as it was disrespctful and offensive…yet here we are…many defending the use of an offensive adjective because “Muslims do X Y Z”…not a good excuse IMO, nor a charitable thing to do…:shrug:

We could always use the “precursor to the antichrist” title our Holy Father St. John of Damascus called the Muslims, but I doubt that would go over quite well either.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit