Some of the terminology regarding Muslim-Western relations has been widely misused or misunderstood, confusing key issues and clouding constructive opportunities. In an attempt to improve ongoing communication, we have developed the following Terminology in Muslim-Western Relations guide. A downloadable PDF version is also available.
Acts of terrorism by individuals who claim to conduct them in the name of
Why a Problem:
Implies that terrorism can be Islamic in character, i.e., that the ethos of Islam is
compatible with that of terrorism
Most Muslims feel insulted, wronged, and even angry on hearing expressions
which seem to blame terrorism on, or attribute it to, Islam; the term helps
terrorists as it reinforces the idea that the West views Islam as a source of evil
and openly says so
Terrorism in the name of Islam, Terrorists claiming to be Muslims, Terrorists
in/from country X
Takfiri terrorism (Takfir in Arabic is the act of pronouncing/passing
judgment on who is a real Muslim and who is not, a concept that is antithetical
to mainstream Islam. Advantage: it clearly denotes a distinction from
mainstream Islam. Disadvantage: it introduces a non-English word into
popular language, which could be used incorrectly and/or misunderstood.