What is the scariest word of them all?
Well, if one asks Google, it would appear to be "Allahu Akbar". Not only is it the first seach response, it is also highlighted in large bold letters as though it is the only answer.
The result comes from a Quora response to an used who had wanted to know what the "scariest word" was.
The first response, which shows up on the Google search page has been upvoted 66 times and says that while that was technically two words, it is "literally the scariest word in the world".
The phrase itself is rather innocuous, roughly translating to "God is the most great", and is used to offer thanks or during a prayer. It is also used as a greeting on occasion.
If you delve into the Quora user's response however, there are several justifications as to why it was so terrifying.
"Though this phrase has been used by Muslim community people usually while greeting or saying good bye, but since many years videos have been surfaced on the internet, where we have seen the terrorist have been using this word at the moment of pushing button of their suicide vest or firing the gun," the anonymous writer said.
The user said that a Muslim man had been fined £170 for using the phrase after seeing his friend in Switzerland because he inadvertently scared those around him.
"Once a man shouted “Allahu Akbar” in a shopping mall in Iran and everyone started running towards the exit to save their lives," the post adds.
It must be mentioned that before the chat forum took such a grim turn other conntenders for scariest word had included "Monday", "death", "sin", "divorce" "fire" and "terminal". One user had also pointed out the irony in the word ”Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia", which in case you were wondering is a fear of long words.
Coming back to Allahu Akbar, the stigma attached to the word is not new. There have been several terror-related incidents where the participants have allegedly used the phrase before venturing out to wreak havoc. In 2017, the driver of a truck that rammed into and killed 8 people and injured several others was said to have said it moments before he was shot down, and in 2015, those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack allegedly chanted the same before they stormed the offices of the satirical weekly in Paris. There are many other instances.
As a article by The Washington Post notes, "From state policy to newsprint, television and film, the Arabic language has been inextricably tied to terrorism".
The stigma extends to phrases such as “Inshallah” and regular greetings such as “Al-Salaamu Alaikum”, creating anxiety in the minds of those who hear it. And with these words being a fixture in the news coverage and even in movies, perhaps it is easier to understand why it would be considered a scary word by some.
That said, it does not condone the perception or Google's search results.