inclusionary religious term

Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Thu Dec 2 23:34:03 UTC 1999

"A. Maberry" <maberry at U.WASHINGTON.EDU> writes

> "People of the book" is the PR term for
> inclusive-Middle-Eastern-religions:

I'm not sure what PR stands for.

Public relations, probably.

          But, Ahl al-Kitab lit. "people of the
Book" are peoples who have received revealed scriptures (Torah=Tawrah,
Gospel=Injil) and is the way Muslims refer to Jews, Christians and some
Sabians. I don't believe that Muslims refer to themselves as being
included among the peoples of the Book. The peoples of the Book have
certain rights and privleges in Islamic law that other peoples don't.
But, if "People of the book" is used as including Muslims, it is being
used incorrectly--at least by my reading of it.

My father used to say he enjoyed visiting Salt Lake City, because that was the
only place in America where he was a gentile. (We're Jewish.)

I guess my point is that, whatever the use of "Ahl al-Kitab" in Arabic,
English-speakers are IMHO free to define "people of the book" differently. I am
not taking into account here considerations of the sort "We shouldn't use it
differently than they do because that gives the appearance of excluding Muslims
from our society".

Of course, the only book all three groups have in common is what we Jews call
Tanach* and Christians call the Old Testament, and at that it's not the same for
all three (including between Christian denominations), much less understood in a
comparable way. It is in theory
 - for Jews, *the* revealed Teaching;
 - for Christians, to the best of my knowledge, a set of revelations enlarged,
completed, and superseded by the New Testament;
 - and for Muslims I'm not sure what, except not as meaningful as the Koran.

Given such differences, the term may be as content-free, or as debatable, as

-- Mark

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