Is this a jihadi? Nope, he's a mufsid
Have you ever referred to Islamic terrorists as jihadists? Did you know you were actually heaping praise on them instead of condemning them with a politically correct perjorative? Did you know that to Arabic-speaking listeners, you are acknowledging your own wickedness?
That's the premise of the 2006 essay, "Choosing Words Carefully: Language to Help Fight Islamic Terrorism," by Dr. Douglas E. Streusand and Lt. Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV. They believe Americans have unwittingly adopted the Arabic words that exalt our enemies and their mission -- and suggest several Arabic terms we should be using instead. For example, they write:
"We begin with the word jihad, which literally means striving and generally occurs as part of the expression jihad fi sabil illah, striving in the path of God. Striving in the path of God is a duty of all Muslims. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement global jihad thus indicates that we recognize their doctrines and actions as being in the path of God and, for Muslims, legitimate. In short, we explicitly designate ourselves as the enemies of Islam."Among the alternate words we might use, the authors argue, are hirabah, mufsid and fattan.
Hirabah means "sinful warfare or warfare contrary to Islamic law." So rather than "praising terrorists for jihad, one should describe the Islamic totalitarian movement as the global hirabah.
Mufsid is an evil or corrupt person; the plural is mufsidun. The essay's authors say you should call Islamic fascists mufsidun, not jihadis, because it's unambiguous to Arabic speakers and the word carries "enormous weight" in the Islamic world.
Fitna or fattan literally means "a temptation or trial," but has come to refer to "discord and strife among Muslims." A fattan is a tempter or a subversive. "Applying these terms to our enemies and their works condemns their current activities as divisive and harmful," the authors write, "(and it) also identifies them with movements and individuals in Islamic history with negative reputations."
Finally, the authors urge Westerners to use the word "God" instead of Allah. Saying Allah to refer to God would be like using Jehovah to refer to a Hebrew God. "In fact, Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the God of Abraham," the authors have said. "Using different names exaggerates the divisions among the religions."
Imagine it in reverse: What if Islamic terrorists had blindly adopted the word "heroes" as their word for our soldiers, or ignorantly labeled the war on terror as "God's work." We'd laugh at them, and probably take some pride in our enemies' acknowledgement that we are on the side of the angels.