Baphomet, as a name, has been labeled as Old French or even a mispronunciation for Mahomet (Mohammed) the Islamic prophet. It is unlikely that the Baphomet idol, if it even existed was an idol of Mahomet. This is because the Islamic faith forbids all idols. Therefore the idea of a Mahomet idol is highly speculative at best. It is believed that in those times Mahomet was a common word used by Christians to describe any idol.
In his book, “The Sufis”, Idries Shah put another theory forward along Islamic/ Arabic lines. Shah was born in 1920 and in his lifetime was the author of over 35 books twenty on Sufism alone. His works have been translated into 12 languages and have a following of 15 million copies in print. In addition to being a well know author, Idries Shah was also Director of Studies for the Institute of Cultural Research. This institute was an educational charity, which published materials on cross-cultural patterns of human thought and behavior.
In his book “The Sufis”, he theorized that Baphomet was really a corruption of the Arabic term “Abufihamat” meaning “Father of Understanding.” If this is the case, and the Templars had adopted Sufism into their rituals this possible etymology of Baphomet could simply imply God.
Additionally, Shah suggests the Sufi terminology “ras el-fahmat” which translates to “head of knowledge.” This provides an interesting thought connecting the concept of wisdom with the head. Could this be the head allegedly worshipped by the Templars? It is unlikely as the term speaks in figurative terms rather than literal ones.
“Probably relying on contemporary Eastern sources, Western scholars have recently supposed that ‘Bafomet’ has no connection with Mohammed, but could well be a corruption of the Arabic “Abufihamat” (pronounced in the Moorish Spanish similar to bufihamat). The word means ‘father of understanding’. In Arabic, ‘father’ is taken to mean ’source, chief seat of,’ and so on. In Sufi terminology, ras el-fahmat (head of knowledge) means the mentation of man after undergoing refinement- the transmuted consciousness.”
Idries Shah – The Sufis
The Templars were quite likely to have come in contact with Sufism while in the Holy Land so there is something to be said for Shah’s theory on the etymology of this odd word Baphomet.