69 million page views

Clearing things up some more

Reader comment on item: The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America [and Its Dreams of Domination]
in response to reader comment: Islam and Killing, the true meaning

Submitted by Ugri (Finland), Aug 25, 2008 at 02:11

Funny how often this issue comes up. I have saved a piece of writing, forgetting of course the author, although I have a hunch to whom the credit goes.

"Islam" Does Not Mean Peace

Most Arabic words are based on a trilateral root system, such as k-t-b or s-l-m. The words formed from these roots often have a connection to one another (kataba is to read, kitāb is a book, maktaba is a library, and so on), but not always (a katība is a squadron of soldiers). In other words, roots have a core meaning but also include unrelated words.

In the case of s-l-m, salām means peace and salāma means safety. But the root also has many meanings unconnected to this core, such as salam (a variety of acacia) sullam (ladder), sulāmā (digital bone in the hand or foot), sulaymāni (mercury chloride), aslama (to betray) … and islām (submission).

There is no connection in meaning between salām and islām, peace and submission. These are two distinct words with unrelated meetings. In brief, "Islam = submission."


: Not only is it common for the same root to mean roughly the opposite, as in the case of peace and submission, but Arabic words famously have
One would think by now that the "Islam = peace" nonsense would not need correcting, but I keep encountering it – just yesterday asserted by a hostile questioner at a talk I gave at Ashland University, today in an oped. So, for the record: Janus-like features, meaning themselves and their opposite. As I put it in a 1980 article, "Mawlas: Freed Slaves and Converts in Early Islam": "Arabists amuse non-initiates with the exaggeration that every Arabic word has four meanings – a basic one, its opposite, one related to sex, and a final one referring to camels." (October 9, 2005) Permalink

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)