Weirdly enough, two important people on our campus have said the word “Muslim” during a convocation in the past two weeks. And both times, the word was pronounced incorrectly.

We don’t often think about Muslims being present on campus in Goshen, but they are here. Islam is the second-largest religion in the world with just about two billion followers. 

I was raised in a Muslim household. My dad was an Imam and we often traveled for him to speak at Masjids (Mosques). 

A common problem I faced in my childhood was the struggle between being an American and being a Muslim.

From my experience, American social values and the Muslim values I was raised with often clashed. I struggled to find a happy medium between both these identities. I still struggle with this, as I have never found my place in either Islam or America.

But for most Americans, we often have one event that we associate with Muslims. 

In the aftermath of 9/11, Islamophobia ran rampant in the country. 

For many Americans, it was their first real time hearing the word “Muslim.” The media and news coverage utilized the word in a negative connotation, comparing followers of Islam to violent terrorists. 

During this time, the American version of the word was mostly pronounced, “MUHZ-LUHM.” This became normalized. So much so that if you Google the American pronunciation of the word, this is the pronunciation that comes up. 

However, that pronunciation is wrong.

By saying the word this way, you reinforce a negative view of followers of Islam, informed by stereotypes and ignorance. 

The Arabic word “Islam” comes from the Arabic word aslama, which means to surrender. To define the word Islam, you could say that it means to surrender to Allah. Other older versions of the religion’s name include Muhammadism, which references a major figure in the religion, the Prophet Muhammah (SWT). 

Combining different aspects of the words Muhammad and Islam, you can see how someone could make the word Muslim. 

If you’ve been pronouncing it wrong, don’t fret about it. I understand if saying a word that comes from a different culture seems overwhelming. 

So, in order to respect Muslims, who make up one-fourth of the global population, here’s Fatima’s guide on pronouncing “Muslim.”

You don’t have to speak Arabic to say this word. I swear it is not hard. Say the word, “Puss,” like from Puss In Boots. Puss. Now put an M in front of it. Muss. 

Now say “Lim,” like the beginning of the word “limit.” Lim.

Now put it together. Muslim.

See? Easy enough. 

When you pronounce Muslim the way it was meant to be said, you not only respect your own intelligence by replacing negative stereotypes with positive ones, but you also give respect to the Muslim members of your community and your global community. 

By reflecting the way a Muslim would label themselves, you engage their identity in an educated and aware way that doesn’t seek to minimize their spiritual or religious beliefs or make them feel lesser than you.

So, lose the “MOOSE-LUHM” or “MUHZ-LUHM,” and be thankful you don’t have to say Insha’allah.