Use of the Feminine Gender
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Why are Muslim women sometimes referred to as Muslimahs? Does this mean that the word Muslim is for males?


The word Muslimah is a perfectly legitimate Arabic word. It is the feminine form of the word Muslim and used thus very commonly. However, if someone uses it only because he or she thinks that the word Muslim connotes the male gender only, then this would be an incorrect inference. The word Muslim covers both men and women. Consequently, you will often hear the sentence ‘She is a good Muslim’. There are several other words which are used irrespective of gender, for example the words ‘writer’ and ‘poet’.

It seems that it is because of the influence of the feminist movement, which started a couple of centuries ago, that the feminine gender of words used for both genders have started springing up. The word ‘chairman’ and ‘webmaster’ are irrespective of gender. But now the trend is to ‘feminize’ them as well. Thus you now have a chairwoman and a webmistress.

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