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Is it acceptable for members to imply their beliefs in their questions, for example saying, our lord Jesus, or prophet Mohammed PBUH, or similar addressing? Should not questions and answers be objective, unbiased, and general. What one considers holy or sacred might not be the case for the others, so I think this practice should be discouraged. I think it should all be kept with the spirit of world encyclopedias, like encyclopedia Britannica. This practice is even followed by wikipedia. What do you think?

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I'm very glad you asked this question, as (after going over your requested edit on What was the original cause of the Camel War in Islamic history? ), I was going to post it myself.

I'm wondering if this has ever come up before on a SE site. Its a very interesting issue that I'd never had to think about before. I had to think fairly hard about it. Here is why, in the end, I put the PBUH back.

The issue here is how to handle ṣalawāt, which many devout Muslims are compelled by their religion to follow any reference to a revered Prophet or archangel.

We do differ from Wikipedia in one rather important respect. Our question and answer format gives each question and each answer a specific author. Unlike Wikipedia, we prominently (and permanently) display this author for as long as that question or answer exists.

As such, if a question or answer author on an SE site feels compelled to add a ṣalawāt, I believe it would be wrong for an editor remove it. It is their question, and we should not be rephrasing it in a way that would seem like disrespectful phrasing to them or their community, and then leave their name prominently attached to it.

Likewise, I believe it would also be wrong for a devout Muslim with edit privs to go through here and start adding PBUH to the entries of those who didn't want it.

The exception would be community wiki entries (which have the author's name removed). In that case, I think the Wikipedia policy is a good one.

"Our Lord Jesus", IMHO would be a bit different. Nobody really looks askance at a Christian who just says "Jesus", and the phrase makes an assertion of divinity, which in my mind would be a huge red flag that the question belongs on Christianity.SE. Merely wishing a deceased person peace (PBOH) is something I (as a Christian) have no religious issue with whatsoever.

I'm curious what others think about this.

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  • Thanks for answering. It was by chance that the post I edited was by a Muslim. It was never intended to be an insult or anything. That's why my question was general. However, I tend to disagree. I think we should enforce the encyclopedic handling of objectivity. In fact, I was about to answer that question but seeing that the author had put PBUH, it gave me the impression that he might be a devout religious person. As such, an answer with a different point of view might be considered insulting or even downvoted for being objective. I think this could influence what and how to answer. – The Byzantine Jan 27 '13 at 1:39
  • Oh, I'm not trying to imply any insult was meant by you. Also, if you have an answer, please do answer the question as objectively as you know how to. He may downvote you for religious reasons (happens to me all the time here), but there are a lot more people here than just him. If its a good answer it will hardly matter. It takes 5 downvotes to cancel the rep from 1 upvote. :-) – T.E.D. Jan 27 '13 at 1:53
  • OK. I will post the answer once I back it up with references. I will try to present the case from the two different view points. Thought the references I have are not in English. But I guess Google translate will help some. – The Byzantine Jan 27 '13 at 1:59
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    Sorry, -1. I don't care what the justifications are, everyone should have the same policy. PBUH is a religiously commanded expression, not a secular expression of respect. So the same policy should apply to both. The DV is specifically about your last big paragraph - I agree with the proposed policy in the original. As a NON-Christian, I have a problem with PBUH being allowed while "Our Lord" not. – DVK Jan 30 '13 at 20:40
  • @DVK - Thank you for your input. I posted this precisely looking for input like yours. – T.E.D. Jan 30 '13 at 22:17
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I think that T.E.D.'s answer is quite good; however, I would say that I think the site should strive for objectivity. With that said, would it be beyond the convictions of devout religious authors to add caveats to their statements (such as in my opinion, or according to...etc.) when they answer questions related to religious history, or is this beyond what is allowed? Even a clarification that stated "according to (insert religion)" would suffice.

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    This is not a case targeted at Muslims, it is a rule for all religious devouts in here. Though, in my observation, only our Muslim friends breach this objectivity issue. I strongly second your opinion for striving for objectivity. I too agree that statements as "According to" or "claims" make a lot of difference. Recently, I had the case where a Muslim devout answered one of my questions with extreme zeal that his only reference is the Quran and what it says. Needless to say, he had many downvotes, I flagged his answer as spam and his answer was deleted afterwards. – The Byzantine Jan 29 '13 at 6:14
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    continued- Presenting "holy" books as undisputed valid references which must be accepted is a truly a concern. They are not but internal references which fail many tests. Beliefs and "truths" which are held sacred by few percent of world population does not make it global truth. Not even facts, or valid references. I truly can not understand the mentality of those people. They are so much carried away and swept with their beliefs that nothing else is beyond the truth of the "holy" book. The utmost form of brainwashing IMHO. What a shame. Lets keep this site a beacon for freedom of thought. – The Byzantine Jan 29 '13 at 6:20
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    This has actually happened a couple of times (to my memory mostly by Hindu and Christian authors, not Muslims, but the principle is the same). Generally the user moderation seems to take care of it quite well. A little more troublesome is downvotes based on "fixed beliefs", but on the balance one has to live with that. What we really have little defense against is statements of religious/political belief couched as fact in comments. That seems to be on the rise lately too. – T.E.D. Jan 29 '13 at 13:18
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live and let live, the existence of such text or lack there of is irrelevant to the objective quality of the answer. If an answerer sees fit to add it I see no reason to remove it, similarly I see no reason for another to add them to other's answers. always removing or adding such things just angers one group for no good reason. We aren't Wikipedia, we a group of people with a common interest that each have our own style in answering questions, I see no reason to single out some user's preferences as bad.

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I agree with T.E.D. in general, but I'd require some clarification of any behavior not trivial to understand. "PBUH" was quite confusing for me until reading of few questions on Islam.SE made me to find out what does it mean. "Our lord Jesus Christ" is quite comprehensible and Jewish "G_d" is something in between - I understood it after few seconds of thinking. I'd make a community wiki post with list of examples like "PBUH" and "G_d" with clarification of their meaning, and ask everyone with any similar case (such as "Lord" meaning "Jesus" or "God" for a Christian) to clarify what they mean.

We all want questions and answers to be clear, but we all should be tolerant, both in accepting that others might be confused by peculiarities of our religion and in accepting others' difference (including religious) and still give them good answers, i.e. don't assume someone is an ignorant moron not worthy of objective answer just because they wrote "PBUH" after some name.

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PBUH is an Islamic honorific. In some societies, it is considered extremely disrespectful to refer to the Prophet without a PBUH. It is similar to how the Japanese use -san for equals, or how many societies use Mr or Sir with a superior. Similar applies to the Jewish G_d or Our Lord.

I can see how some people find such honorifics offensive because they may view the same figures as dishonorable. That's where tolerance comes in, in that we tolerate other people's opposing opinions.

The respectful, objective approach would be to not edit honorifics, whether it's adding or removing them. You wouldn't ask someone to remove a cross before entering a secular building, nor would you ask them to wear one.

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