Arabic: Muslim synonyms

Rainbowlight

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello,

First of all, I apologize for not being able to write this message in your beautiful language, as I don't have the ability to write or speak Arabic.

I would like to know if there are other synonyms which Muslims use to define themselves and/or their religious and cultural identity.

I am also curious as to the fact of those non-religious people living in countries that are associated with Islam. Is there any word(s) used to define those individuals or communities?

Thank you very much
 
  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    In religious discourse a Muslim will refer to himself also as muʾmin (“believer”), also sometimes as ḥanīf. It might be worth mentioning that Muslims do NOT refer to themselves as “Muhammadans” and tend to find this term offensive.

    To your second question: The number of “non-religious” people in Muslim-majority countries is very small (possible exception: Albania). There are various abusive terms like kāfir, but non-believers will normally identify themselves by an ethnic term like “Arab” or “Iranian” or “Egyptian”.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I would like to know if there are other synonyms which Muslims use to define themselves and/or their religious and cultural identity.

    The Qur'an addresses Muslims as al-mu'minuun / al-mu'miniin (the "believers" or "faithful"), but this was not generally adopted as a synonym for Muslims afterwards, except in the the title amir ul-mu'miniin (commander of the faithful) used by Caliphs, and there are verses that seem to include some Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc. among the mu'minuun.

    There are other synonyms or epithets for Muslims that appear in Muslim writings such as ahl al-qiblah (people of the qiblah, meaning the direction of prayer to Mecca). Occasionally, you may find references to Muslims as haniifiyyah, although this term technically includes followers of pre-Islamic Arab monotheism (but then again so does the term 'Muslim' in its Quranic usage, which includes all Abrahamic prophets).

    I am also curious as to the fact of those non-religious people living in countries that are associated with Islam. Is there any word(s) used to define those individuals or communities?

    Non-religious people in Muslims countries exist as individuals, not as communities. The politically neutral term would be something like Laadiini (irreligious) or simply ghayr mutadayyin (non-religious). An atheist is called mulHid, though this can have a slightly perjorative connotation. Of course the traditional terms among Muslims for such people would include kaafir / kuffaar (unbelievers), zindiiq / zanaadiqah (freethinker) and munaafiq / munaafiquun (hypocrite, secret unbeliever).
     

    Rainbowlight

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    In religious discourse a Muslim will refer to himself also as muʾmin (“believer”), also sometimes as ḥanīf. It might be worth mentioning that Muslims do NOT refer to themselves as “Muhammadans” and tend to find this term offensive.

    To your second question: The number of “non-religious” people in Muslim-majority countries is very small (possible exception: Albania). There are various abusive terms like kāfir, but non-believers will normally identify themselves by an ethnic term like “Arab” or “Iranian” or “Egyptian”.
    Thank you very much.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The correct pronunciation is indeed ʿalmānī. It is a loanword from Aramaic (ʿālam “world” + suffix -ānī, with typical Aramaic shortening of the first vowel and elision of the second). Originally a Christian term for “laicy” as opposed to “clergy”, in modern Arabic it is used also for “secular” in the political sense.
     
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    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    So ‘almaani itself is from Aramaic not just ‘aalam?

    In any case, in Arabic both ‘almaani and ‘ilmaani occur. The latter is easier to say and so is much more common at least in my region, but it has the unfortunate effect of leading people to wrongly believe it derives from ‘ilm (science) instead of ‘aalam (the world).
     

    Rainbowlight

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Another word non-religious people might use is علماني or 3ilmaani, "secular".
    Thank you. I know this sentence is going to sound weird, but does the root of علماني have by any chance a similarity with the Arabic terms for words such as world, worldly (as in related to the physical realm and not having links to religion), sickle, cereal, rye or century?

    Thanks for your help and kindness.
     
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