Middle East Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of the Middle East


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A Muslim is a believer in Islam, the monotheistic religion founded by Muhammad in the 7th century. It is currently the second-largest religion in the world, with about 1.4 billion adherents. Muslim means "one who submits."

Muslims believe that God revealed the true religion to Muhammad, as related in the Quran and that Muhammad is God's final prophet. They revere all the previous prophets of the Old Testament and New Testament, but consider that Jesus was not the Son of God and did not rise from the dead. The Qur'an and the traditions of Muhammad in the Sunnah are regarded as the fundamental sources of Islam. Muslims believe that Muhammad was the restorer of the monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Jesus, Moses, Noah, and other prophets. He is the last "messenger," sent to correct the distortion of the messages of previous messengers and the corrupted texts of the Bible. Like Judaism, and Christianity, Islam is an Abrahamic religion, but Muslims believe that Abraham sacrificed Ishmael (Isma'il) on the Kaaba stone in Mecca, rather than Isaac.


Synonyms and alternate spellings:  Mohammedan, Mussulman

Further Information: See History of Islam and the Arabs Quran  Islam

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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Middle East Encyclopedia