Reporting on Mohammad, Islam’s prophet

Reuters has responded to a reader who asked why the news agency in its reports refers to the Islamic prophet Mohammad as “The Prophet Mohammad”.

The reader suggests that the designation means Reuters and other mainstream news outlets treat everyone as Muslims, saying that “Rightly, he should be described as ‘the Islamic prophet Muhammad’ rather than ‘The Prophet Muhammad’.”

On its blog the agency answers:

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.

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.

Incidentally, the reader spelled the prophet’s name as both Mohammad and Muhammad. Various spellings of the name exist and are correct. However the Reuters Style Guide uses ‘Mohammad.’

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This post was last updated: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 3:00 PM, Central European Time (CET)