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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Media's Use of "The Prophet" Before Muhammad Trending Up

This is from a website called Sand in the Gears (hat tip: The Corner):

The thing is, I didn’t know we’d all gotten together and decided to officially call this guy “the Prophet Muhammad.” I know that’s what he is to 2 billion or so Muslims, but that leaves around 5 billion of us who are undecided on the matter.

It seems to be the case, however, that major news outlets have begun using the honorific title far more frequently. I don’t think that’s very good journalistic practice. I mean, to 2.2 billion Christians, Jesus Christ is “Lord Jesus Christ”—but we don’t expect The Washington Post to call him that.

I decided to do a news search, a very basic one, using Google and some simple filters. Basically, I wanted to see whether mentions of Muhammad have changed in six major news organs: CBS, NBC, ABC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. I began my search in 1998, in order to include a period when Muslim terrorists had begun more noticeably killing people worldwide, but before 9/11 and the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl.

Honoring Muhammad

The challenge is that there seems to be a rule that if you are Muslim, you need to name at least one of your sons Muhammad. So a news search for articles that refer to a Muhammad, but don’t call him “Prophet Muhammad,” will turn up Muhammad Jones, who robbed a liquor store in Detroit, or the handful of Muhammads who have played for sports teams, the many Muhammads who run Middle Eastern countries, and all manner of Muhammads who have beheaded Jews or blown up school buses or sniped motorists in the name of Allah.

So I added some terms to screen out the lesser Muhammads, essentially by identifying only articles that mention Muhammad as well as Islam and religion, in order to do a better job of isolating the articles that are most likely talking about the main guy.

Not a perfect screen, but it rules out a lot of chaff, and allows us to examine changes in the variable we care about, provided major news mentions of Muhammad the religious founder didn’t become significantly more likely to talk about him without mentioning the words “religion” and “Islam,” which is a scenario that seems unlikely.

I also used two major spellings, “Muhammad” and “Mohammed,” which tend to be the ones used by news outlets.

And as you can see, between 1998 and 2011, major news outlets tended to give Muhammad the honorific “Prophet” title less than 10 percent of the time. So far this year, however, around 67 percent of the time they call him “the Prophet.”...

Posted on 09/20/2012 8:44 AM by Rebecca Bynum
20 Sep 2012
Hugh Fitzgerald

"2 billion Muslims...."

No. Why repeat, carelessly, Musilm propaganda? In the world there are at most 1.2 billion Muslims. And that figure is only arrived at if you assume that almost everyone in a Muslim country is indeed a Muslim, when some may no longer be believers but are not about to announce the fact.

20 Sep 2012
Send an emailCiccio

I was reading some story about some disaster in Pakistan - disaster and Pakistan are syninymous - and it quoted this General and then that General and the another General, none of them in a military capacity and I thought I would look into eactly how many generals there re in Pakistan. Never managed to track that down, with the retired ones strutting about there are over 1,000 of them but from th active ones there were 83 of them General Mohamed something or General something Mohamed. So if you are ever in Pakistan you can always blame or refer something to General Mohamed and you won't be far off the mark.

20 Sep 2012
Paul Blaskowicz

One sometimes has to be specific when referring to the Perfect Man.

When talking to people who would find my usual epithets unacceptable, I say "the so-called prophet mo" or "the muslims' prophet mo". 

I thnk a descriptor is necessary in newspapers, news broadcasts etc; It is better to refer to him with some identification tag (definitely not "prophet Mohammad") rather than just as "Muhammad", because the name on its own gives the impression that everyone knows who he is. I prefer the more robust "the muslims' prophet" to "the muslim prophet".

Perhaps we should all start to popularise Mahound then there would be no doubt about the identity of the man concerned.

20 Sep 2012
Paul Blaskowicz

It is  sometimes necessary to use an identification tag for him; in fact, I think that is better than referring to him by the simple "Muhammed".  When I'm in respectable circles I usually say "the muslims' prophet Mohammad" - which sounds more robust than "the muslim prophet M".

  Confusion could be completely avoided if we popularised the archaism Mahound (mahoundians, mahounianism, mahoundism &c.)

20 Sep 2012
Send an emailwally greeninker

In view of his favourite wife commencing full married life at the age of nine, perhaps the easiest way to distiguish the "prophet" from all other Mohammeds by would be to refer to him as  'Mo-ped.'

20 Sep 2012
Christina McIntosh

 Maimonides referred to him as Ha-Meshugga - The Mad One.

Mohammed Ha-Meshugga - Mohammed The Mad.  

But if one just wants a flat, neutral identifier, then 'the Muslims' prophet Mohammed', as proposed by another commenter above, does the job.

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