October 23, 2005 


Dear Ms. Howell:

The President, the Post, and virtually every other U.S. news media
persist in using oxymorons: Islamic extremism, Islamic terrorism,
and now in the President's October 6 address to the National
Endowment For Democracy "Islamo-fascism."

For anyone with sufficient knowledge of Islam all these are
oxymorons. Islam, as the Quran says, is the middle path. While
some Muslims may rightly be addressed as terrorists, etc., to
define them as "Islamic" is an oxymoron.

Perhaps this is a little difficult for non-Muslims to understand
because, unlike other faiths, the faith and the believer have
different names: Islam and Muslim respectively.

Leaving aside the definition of terrorism for the moment, Muslim
terrorist would be more accurate, but then one should be
consistent when referring to Christian, Jewish, or Hindu

The use of these oxymorons is a daily attack on millions of
Muslims who see their faith so denigrated. If such terms are used
they should appear in quotation marks.

I realize that what I ask may be the Mount Everest of obstacles to
overcome, but then the resulting victory will be so much more

Wishing you the best in your new assignment,

Enver Masud
Chairman and CEO
The Wisdom Fund

October 25, 2005


Dear Ms. Howell:

Regarding my previous email on the same subject, here is a further
explanation of the oxymorons routinely used in The Washington Post
to describe acts attributed to Muslims: Islamic fundamentalism,
Islamic extremism, Islamic terrorism, Islamo-fascism.

Consider this table:

    Faith or Religion   Believer or Practitioner  

    Christianity        Christian                
    Judaism             Jew
    Islam               Muslim
    Buddhism            Buddhist
    Hinduism            Hindu

Notice the similarity in names of the faith and the believer in
all these religions except Islam.

When one uses the term Christian fundamentalist, it is a term so
defined by Christian scholars. Muslim scholars have not defined
Islamic fundamentalism - in one sense all Muslims are
fundamentalists because they believe that the Quran is the Word of

When news media use the term "Islamic fundamentalism" they are not
stating a fact, but a conclusion about Islam. They should then be
prepared to provide the reasoning behind such usage by a scholarly
analysis of the Quran that indeed this is what Islam teaches.

It may be be accurate to use the term "Muslim fundamentalist."
Hopefully, then the writer has checked out the fact that the
person is a Muslim - "fundamentalist" is a conclusion they may
draw independent of the Quran and/or Islam.

Similarly, for "Islamic terrorism", "Islamo-fascism", etc.

Another way to look at it is to consider the terms "terrorism",
"fundamentalist" etc. when applied to persons of other faiths or

Thus one would say Jewish terrorist - not Judaic terrorist. I
don't believe that the phrase "Christianic terrorism" would be
acceptable, but this would be the equivalent of saying "Islamic
terrorism." "Christian terrorist" would be the equivalent of
saying "Muslim terrorist."

Yet another way to look at the issue of "Islamic terrorism" -
leaving aside for the moment the definition of "terrorism" itself, 
is to ask: "What is the difference between Islamic terrorism,
Christian terrorism, and Jewish terrorism?"

Is the terrorism itself, somehow, different in each case, or is it
merely the fact that it is being carried out by a Muslim,
Christian, or Jew?

If one cannot define the difference, then isn't the term "Islamic
terrorism" synonymous with Christian terrorism or Jewish
terrorism? Could a Muslim perpetrate Christian terrorism or Jewish

Yes, a terrorist may be a Muslim, Christian or Jew, and one may
call them Muslim, Christian or Jewish terrorists. Of course, then
one should be consistent in describing Hindu, Christian, Buddhist,
Jewish terrorists in the same way.

However, what news media generally do is to say that the  latter
belong to a "cult", thereby, taking care not to smear their faith -
Christianity or Judaism.

Furthermore, use of the term Islamic terrorism has a more
pernicious effect. It paints an entire faith as suspect, lets
governments off the hook too easily by not forcing them to more
precisely define the "enemy."

It also distorts the true nature of the problem, and thus proposed
solutions do not receive the scrutiny they deserve, thereby,
giving governments the freedom to conduct war or take punitive
action for purposes that have little to do with the real threat.

Best wishes,

Enver Masud
Chairman and CEO
The Wisdom Fund

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