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Islamic terms and concepts

Allah - Allah is the Arabic word for "God." It is the same word Arabic-speaking Christians use when referring to God. Allah is not the "Muslim God," but is the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews.

Fundamentalist : Muslims view the label "fundamentalist" as stereotypical and ill defined. Muslims also object to the use of terms such as "radical" and "extremist." These terms lack definition and are seen as pejorative. More neutral and objective terms include "Islamist" or "Islamic activist." If the person in question is involved in a criminal act, name that act, not the faith of the person who commits the crime.

Jihad : "Jihad" does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression. The equivalent of the term "holy war" in Arabic is "harb muqaddasah," a term that cannot be found in the Qur'an or the Prophet's sayings (hadith). There is no such thing as "holy war" in Islam, as some careless translators may imply. It is rather a loaded medieval concept that did not arise from within the Muslim community. Because of this myth's frequent repetition, most people in the West accept it as if it were a fact.

Black Muslims: This term, first used to describe the followers of the late Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam, is no longer accurate when used to describe African-American Muslims. Minister Louis Farrakhan does not represent the Muslim community in America.

Muslim/Arab: Not all Muslims are Arab, just as not all Arabs are Muslim. In fact, Arabs are a minority within the Islamic world. According to modern usage, "Arab" is a linguistic, not an ethnic, designation. An Arab can be Christian or Jewish.

Women's Rights: Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. The Islamic rules for modest dress apply to women and men equally. (Men cannot expose certain parts of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses women, it does so in spite of Islam, not because of it.

Arabic Names: Compound Arabic last names, such as "Abd Al-Wahid," which often refer to attributes of God, should be used in full on second reference. If the second reference referred to "Al-Wahid," that person would be taking on an attribute of God ("the One"), something a Muslim would abhor.
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