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Part of the series on

Islam


History of Islam
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Vocabulary of Islam
Index of articles on Islam

A Muslim (Arabic: مسلم) is an adherent of Islam. Literally, the word means someone who has submitted/surrendered himself or herself to the will of God.

Most Muslims accept as a fellow Muslim anyone who has sincerely pronounced the Shahada, a ritual declaration of submission to God and assertion that Muhammad is the last prophet. Muslims describe many Biblical figures, such as Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus), as Muslims because they submitted completely to God.

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Etymology

The singular form of the word Muslim comes from the Arabic plural form 'Al-Muslimīn, from the tri-consonantal root SLM, also found in the words Islam and salām. The plural form is instanced in the Qur'an, 22:79, Al-Hajj.

Pronunciation and spelling

Until around the late 1980s, the word was commonly spelled Moslem. The spelling has since fallen into disuse. Muslims do not recommend this spelling because it is often pronounced "mawzlem," which sounds somewhat similar to an Arabic word for "oppressor" (Za'lem in Arabic). The word is pronounced "Mus"-lim in Arabic, but some English dictionaries allow both "Mus"-lim and "Muz"-lim. The word is written "Muslim".

Other words for Muslim

Many English-language writers used to call Muslims "Mohammedans" or "Mahometans," meaning "followers of Mohammed," but this terminology is considered incorrect and insulting, because Muslims believe it implies that they worship the prophet Muhammad, contrary to the fundamental principles of Islam itself. This terminology is seen as too similar to Christians as followers and worshippers of Christ. In addition, Muslims believe that the religion of submitting to God (Islām in Arabic) existed long before the birth of Muhammad, making all the prophets before him "Muslims."

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 European languages. These words are similar to the French, Spanish, and Italian words for "Muslim."

See also



The term Musselman was also used by prisoners in the German concentration camps of World War II (see Holocaust) as a slang term for a prisoner who had lost the will to live [1]. Why this particular religious term should have been "annexed" for such a completely different purpose is unclear.

 

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