Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there a halachic issue with referring to a Muslim imam by the title "Imam" (or "Imam __" with the person's name inserted in place of the underscore)?

Here are the thoughts that lead me to ask this question: The Arabic word "imam" means something like "leader" (according to Wiktionary), which seems like a pretty harmless term to use. On the other hand, perhaps lending this sort of kavod to a Muslim religious leader is inappropriate in that it legitimizes Islam, which we may not want to promote. (A possible precedent for this could be how Rav Moshe Feinstein writes ראביי instead of רב when he is referring to non-Orthodox Jewish clergy; even though both terms have the same etymological origin, Rav Moshe does not want to legitimize non-Orthodox Judaism through the use of the honorific רב.)

share|improve this question
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/31928 – Fred Nov 6 '13 at 2:42
what does imam mean? then you will have an answer – Efraim Nov 6 '13 at 3:14
According to Wiktionary (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D8%A5%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85#Arabic), it literally means something like "leader". – Malper Nov 6 '13 at 3:15
Why would "leader" be a term that would be Asur to use? – Seth J Nov 6 '13 at 3:42
That doesn't clarify my confusion. Why is "leader" a problem? You're not saying "my leader", are you? It's not like "father", either, which suggests something more than a simple acknowledgment that other people follow him. – Seth J Nov 6 '13 at 3:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.