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War and Peace

Reader comment on item: Arabist Snobs
in response to reader comment: SAMPLE OF THAT

Submitted by Pied Piper (Saudi Arabia), Nov 30, 2011 at 14:06

It's important to remember that the idea that Islam = Peace is a purely Western innovation.

Thanks to Western political propaganda, the two words have come to be considered as almost synonyms, at least in the English (in certain circles). (When I first came across this gross linguistic misinterpretation, they had to practically pick me off the floor I was laughing so hard and uncontrollably).

Why was this done? It was done to mollify various groups with stakes in the "War on Terrorism". Western political leaders were desperate to show that the "war on terrorism" did not mean a "war on Islam". And so since the word Islam and the Arabic word for peace appeared to have "some" linguistic connection, why, it was just another hop, skip and a jump from that connection to the conclusion (risible though it may be) that Islam "really" meant peace and thereby everybody was happy.

My point is that no Arabic source, no Arabic speaker makes the claim that Islam means peace. As I said, that is a one hundred % Western fabrication.

It is interesting to note that that Tolstoy's famous novel "War and Peace" regularly appears in Arabic as [al_Harb wa al_Salm] الحرب والسلم not "al_Salaam". While "al_Salaam" can mean "peace" in some contexts, in contemporary Arabic it implies more of a "salutation" than a state meaning the opposite of war. The term "peace" in the sense of "War and Peace" is "al_salm" not "al-salaam". In any case, "Islam" does not mean "peace", nor is peace implied. It's simply the name of a religion. (Not the original name of the religion, by the way, but that's another issue).

[ It's also interesting to note that another word for "peace" in Arabic is Amn [ امن ] which also has a lot of cognate words and is very closely related to a state signifying the opposite of war.]

Bottom line: the more one investigates these linguistic details, the weaker the claim becomes that Dr. Sullivan could be described as an "Arabist".


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