A non-prophet organization?

January 20, 2011

Pope: Governments must protect minority Christians

IRAQ/He made reference to last week’s murder of Salman Taseer, the Muslim governor of Punjab province and an outspoken liberal, who was gunned down for opposing the law, which imposes a death sentence for those who insult the Prophet Mohammad.

I’ve just noticed recently that Reuters is following in the footsteps of AP and AFP in designating the Islamic prophet Mohammad as “The Prophet Mohammad”.

I as a Christian don’t consider him my prophet, and neither do, I’m sure, Jews, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.

Why then have all the mainstream news outlets decided to treat us all as if we are Muslims?

Rightly, he should be described as “the Islamic prophet Muhammad” rather than “The Prophet Muhammad”.


Reuters uses a wide variety of official and traditional titles and honorifics without endorsing them.

In the political sphere, if a head of state or government uses the title “president,” we use it as well, regardless of whether he or she is elected or appointed or a dictator, or what the journalist might personally think about it.

We also refer to kings as kings, even if there are republicans in the country in question who challenge the monarch’s right to be head of state.

In the religious sphere, we use official titles and honorifics that are common in the faith concerned and widely understood across religious boundaries. We refer to Jesus Christ, even though non-Christians would dispute his honorific “the Annointed One.” The same goes for Buddha, a title (“the Enlightened One”) for Siddhartha Gautama that non-Buddhists could also contest.

I think readers understand that we are simply using commonly understood titles.

The title “prophet” indicates which Mohammad we are talking about. This has been our style for many years, and does not “follow in the footsteps of AP and AFP.”

See more discussion of this topic on our FaithWorld blog. GBU Editor

Shi’ite pilgrims pray at Imam Abbas shrine in the holy city of Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) south of Baghdad, December 15, 2010. Shi’ite Muslims are preparing for Ashura, the most important day in the Shi’ite calendar which commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in the 7th century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammad

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[…] Robert Basler answered on his reader feedback blog Good, Bad and Ugly. Normally, we simply crosspost religion-related items from other Reuters blogs (such as Front Row Washington or Pakistan: Now or Never?), but I’m not sure all readers know that Good, Bad and Ugly (GBU) is the blog where we answer readers’ criticisms. So now that that’s clear, here’s what the GBU editor posted in “A non-prophet organisation?”: […]

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