Which one is correct?

Dear readers,

Does any of you know the correct spelling of the prophet’s name in English? I’m constantly switching between Mohammed, Muhammed, Mohammad and Muhammad. Is it all correct, or is one of them better or more frequently used than the others? Also, I was wondering if there is any difference in pronunciation between his name in Arabic and his name spelled in the “Roman way”, e.g. the alphabet English, French, etc. is written in?

3 Responses to “Which one is correct?”
  1. This is a constant problem with the transliteration of names and words from languages that use other alphabets than the Latin one. This not only concerns Arabic, but also Persian and Hebrew (and many other languages).
    French, English and Germany simply don’t have all the same letters and combinations as these languages have, and so the transliteration is always an approximation. If Arabic has a letter that is between our “o” and our “a”, we have to pick either one.
    My personal rule is to keep it as simple as possible. For example, when I have to choose between “Ghaddafi” and “Gaddafi”, I opt for the later one because the “h” doesn’t change anything in the pronunciation. I don’t know why the English transliteration of the Saudi capital is “Riyadh” for example, when “Riad” (as it is written in German) would sound exactly the same.

    • That’s right. I just came across this problem again when I was reading the Qu’ran translated by a Dutch-Iranian writer (more about him in one of my earlier posts). He stated in his introduction: ”Out of respect for the prophet, I will use his correct name as written down in the Qu’ran, Mohammad.” That’s what made me ask this question again.

  2. As far as I know Mohammed is used more often than Muhammed. Muslims also add (PBUH) after his name, which is an abbreviation for Peace Be Upon Him.

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