Why Does The Mainstream Media Call Muhammad ‘The Prophet’?

Whether Muhammad is a prophet is a matter of faith, not fact.

I’m sure many American journalists are Christians, but when reporting a story that involved Jesus Christ it wouldn’t be proper to refer to him as “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” or “Jesus Christ, the Messiah.” Surely when an American journalist reports on cartoon images of “the Prophet Muhammad” he is not proclaiming his belief that Muhammad was, in fact, a prophet. So why do they do it?

 

In all the coverage of the barbaric terror attacks in Paris Wednesday, one fact of the story kept getting repeated in a curious way on network news, cable news, and in most mainstream publications. They kept saying, “Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Do you see it? You probably have become so used to it you don’t even notice anymore. But it’s strange, isn’t it?

Why on earth do the news media continue to proclaim Muhammad as a prophet? Isn’t “prophet,” in this context, a subjective modifier? Words are important, and the word “prophet” means something very specific.

The Prophetic Nature of Muhammad Is Not A Universal Truth

When the media calls Muhammad a “prophet” they are imparting to him a title that is not based in fact but is a matter of faith. To call Muhammad a “prophet,” don’t you have to believe he was divinely inspired? It is arguable that Muhammad’s status as a prophet is not an objective fact. And the media is supposed to deal in facts, whenever possible (climate change reporting notwithstanding.)

To be sure, if a reporter is Muslim, it would make sense, I suppose, to refer to Muhammad as “The Prophet Muhammad” because he personally believes that Muhammad was an inspired messenger from God. However, in our secular media, it would still be inappropriate.

Can you imagine MSNBC’s Chris Hayes referring to theCharlie Hebdo cartoons by saying, “When I first heard about the murders at the magazine’s office, I remembered the controversy nearly ten years ago over Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.” Of course not! (By the way, the preceding is an exact quote of Hayes last night except for the addition of “peace be upon him.”)

I’m sure many American journalists are Christians, but when reporting a story that involved Jesus Christ it wouldn’t be proper to refer to him as “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” or “Jesus Christ, the Messiah.” Surely when an American journalist reports on cartoon images of “the Prophet Muhammad” he is not proclaiming his belief that Muhammad was, in fact, a prophet. So why do they do it?

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