"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam - Revisited

[P.S. This book (published in 2002) has received an interesting comment now, and hence it deserves a revisit].

Question: There is a book entitled The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam. It discusses within it many things, including the etymology of the word “mosque”. It says that this word is derived from the Spanish word for “mosquito”. It claims that the word was first used during the Christian invasion of Muslim Spain in the 15th century when the forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella boasted they would swat out Muslim prayer houses like so many mosquitoes. Is this true?

Answered by the Scientific Research Committee - IslamToday.net

This etymology is incorrect.

The Spanish word for "mosquito" is mosquito and literally means “little fly”. This is a case where the English language borrowed the word directly from the Spanish.

The word for “fly” in Spanish is mosca, which is derived from the Latin musca. The diminutive suffix “-ito” is attached to it to form the word mosquito or “little fly”.

The Spanish term for “mosque” is mezquita, derived from the old Spanish mesquita. This word was most certainly derived from the Arabic word masjid, which many Arabs then and now pronounce as masgid.

In Spain during the era of Muslim rule – and this was before the time of King Ferdinand – Spanish speakers were using the word mosquito for the insect and the word mesquita for the Muslim place of worship. The two words are not related to one another in any way.

The word “mosque” was introduced into the English language in the late 14th or early 15th century from the French. It comes from the French word mosquée from the old French word mousquaie. The French, in turn, derived the word from the Italian word moschea from moscheta. The Italians got it either directly from the Arabic word masjid or from the old Spanish mesquita.

>>The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition; © 2000 Houghton Mifflin Company.
>>Online Etymology Dictionary, ETYMOLOGY Moo-Muc
[source: Discoveringislam@yahoogroups.com, Wed, 19 Jul 2006

About the book:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam. By Yahiya Emerick. Forward by Qasim Najar. Indianapolis, IN., Alpha Books, 2002.(ISBN: 0-02-864233-3). U.S. $18.95 / Canadian $28.95.

My comments (with editorial assistance of Prof. Khaja Jalaluddin):
There is an urgent need to provide a reference book, to the ordinary people and the specialists, which highlights the meaning and the message of Islam. Yahiya Emerick’s book entitled ‘ The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam’ successfully meets this need.

Islam is the simplest religion. Its message is direct and its objective clear. It has the lowest number of rituals. It never indulges in any philosophical complexities. It has always appealed to the common mind. The present stereotyping of ‘militant Islam’ is not its true color. The political aspect of Islam, for most of its followers, is only secondary in nature. The book under review tries to present this bottom line, to a world that is baffled after 9/11. The time has come to give Islam its legitimate place in the galaxy of religions. This book is a good guide for those who know little about Islam but who want to understand it sincerely. It describes in a matter-of-fact way what this religion is all about and what it is not about.

As a useful reference source, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning the truth about Islam. In conclusion, I find it appropriate to quote Tennyson: ‘Let knowledge grow from more to more; and more of reverence in us dwell.’
  • For my complete review see Muslim World Book Review, 2003
  • See also Google for more reviews of this book

    See also my other reviews at: Islamicity.cjb.net and the list includes, Book Review of Lunde's Islam, Review of Index Islamicus CD-ROM, etc.

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