Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Low profile for German Koran challenger
Swiss Info ^ | November 11, 2004 | Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

Posted on 11/11/2004 1:18:36 PM PST by Nachum

PARIS (Reuters) - When a Muslim radical murdered the Dutch director Theo van Gogh for a film criticising Islam, Christoph Luxenberg saw his name ripple through Internet forums 1,000 times and immediately knew why.

"The safety of experts on Islam is topical again," he said -- in a surprisingly detached tone for the author of a critique of the Koran who fears it could one day spark similar anger.

Van Gogh, murdered last week for a film slamming Muslim treatment of women, set out to be provocative. But such is the apprehension among critics of Islam that even an obscure German professor of ancient Semitic languages keeps a very low profile.

"Christoph Luxenberg" is a pseudonym. The professor hides his work from his own students -- even those who recommend it to him, not knowing he is its author. He gives interviews by phone and offers little hint of who he really is or where he lives.

This has served Luxenberg well over the past four years, when his book "The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran" was only available in dense academic German. But he doesn't know what to expect when an English translation appears next year.

"I fear a strong reaction in the Islamic world," he told Reuters late on Wednesday by telephone. "My Muslim friends tell me that many people will jump on this book."

The fate of Islamic reformers in the Arab world is sobering.

In the 1990s in Egypt, the writer Faraq Foda was gunned down for criticising fundamentalists and Cairo University professor Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid was forced to divorce his wife and flee abroad for examining the Koran in its historical context.

Luxenberg thinks the academic nature of his work sets him apart from Salman Rushdie, the British writer threatened with death in 1989 by fundamentalists insulted by his novel "The Satanic Verses", which toys with the idea that the Koran is not infallibly divine.

But although he originally thought he could publish under his own name, Muslim friends warned him not to. He said van Gogh's murder "confirms how right they were".

NO VIRGINS, NO VEILS?

Luxenberg's book is a linguistic analysis of the Koran that appears arcane -- but could be explosive underneath.

He argues that many words that are hard to understand in the Arabic text actually came from Aramaic, a related tongue widely spoken in the Middle East when the Muslim holy book was written.

His work recalls that of German Biblical scholars of the 19th century, who changed Christians' understanding of their scriptures by uncovering their multi-layered history.

Luxenberg's analysis is strictly linguistic, not theological, but it inevitably ends up questioning some traditions and dogmas that Muslims hold central to their faith.

For example, he says the Koranic passage promising men "virgins" in heaven -- often cited as a supposed incentive for male suicide bombers -- really used a word for "white raisins".

The passage traditionally taken as an instruction to women to wear headscarves actually tells them to wear a belt or an apron around their loins, Luxenberg argues.

SHAKING CENTRAL DOGMAS

Even more seriously, he shakes a central dogma by saying Mohammad's title as "seal of the prophets", meaning last of the men chosen by God to proclaim his word on earth, actually only means that he confirms what the prophets said.

His thesis that the Koran had Aramaic forerunners, possibly Christian writings, also challenges the tradition that the Koran was dictated in Arabic to Mohammad by the Angel Gabriel and consists of the actual and unchangeable words of God.

"If you challenge that, quite a few things fall apart, so the Muslims don't want to accept this," Luxenberg said, adding that liberal Muslims had encouraged him to continue his work.

"My work does not question the Koran, only the traditional exegesis of the Koran -- what men have read into it."


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Germany; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: challenger; for; german; koran; low; profile
This guy isn't long for this world.
1 posted on 11/11/2004 1:18:36 PM PST by Nachum
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Nachum
For example, he says the Koranic passage promising men "virgins" in heaven -- often cited as a supposed incentive for male suicide bombers -- really used a word for "white raisins".

...hmmm...now where have I heard something about white raisins, lately?

2 posted on 11/11/2004 1:23:14 PM PST by weenie (This is a war between the forces of good and evil. Humans are only pawns.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nachum

The islamo-nuts will find him and kill him too.

There is not talking with there murderers...


3 posted on 11/11/2004 1:24:08 PM PST by dinok
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dinok

I don't think so...

And I am waiting for the book...


4 posted on 11/11/2004 1:25:17 PM PST by Pitiricus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Pitiricus

72 virgins? no no, you misunderstood, you get 72 white raisins, I am sorry that they are hot as hell!


5 posted on 11/11/2004 1:30:05 PM PST by RolandBurnam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: All

I've always said that the reason why their will be no reforms in Islam is because of their belief that the Koran is straight from God and therefore ANY challenge to its "teachings" is sacrilegious. In other words, fanaticism as far as the eyes can see...


6 posted on 11/11/2004 1:31:53 PM PST by rpage3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: weenie

"His work recalls that of German Biblical scholars of the 19th century, who changed Christians' understanding of their scriptures by uncovering their multi-layered history."

I hope it doesn't. The 19th century Higher Criticism movement among German scholars was as intellectually bogus as they come. It's been exposed; there are no "multiple layers".


7 posted on 11/11/2004 1:36:23 PM PST by mikeus_maximus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Nachum

unfortunately that's probably true. It does however demonstrate something that leaders say is peaceful and history says otherwise.


8 posted on 11/11/2004 1:40:38 PM PST by F15Eagle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: weenie

She flashed through my mind as I read it as well.


9 posted on 11/11/2004 1:41:03 PM PST by processing please hold (Islam and Christianity do not mix ----9-11 taught us that)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Nachum
Hmmm . . . his work would seem to lend linguistic credence to the theories of theologians who see Nabataean influences in Islam.

The Nabataeans were an Arabic people who lived on the eastern borders of the Jews. They spoke Aramaic and they were allies of the Romans.

Their religion was apparently a mixture of Arab paganism with tinges of Judaism and Christian influences as well.

If the Koran shows as heavy an Aramaic influence as this guy suggests, it makes it pretty likely that the Koran is just cobbled-together fragments of eclectic Nabataean religious texts.

Just as many Jewish texts are written in a blend of Aramaic and Hebrew using Aramaic script, the Koran could be a blend of Arabic and Aramaic in Arabic script.

This would explain the thousands of words and phrases in the Koran that are obscure and that have provoked endless commentary.

It would also explain why the Koran is so disorganized and shuffled. It is the least coherent, in terms of narrative structure, of any major Near Eastern text.

10 posted on 11/11/2004 1:41:26 PM PST by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nachum

Islam is today's repository of totalitarianism. Communism is pretty much dead as an ideology. Socialism is alive and well, but currently isn't engaged in totalitarianism.

Only Islam is currently executing people for publishing ideas.


11 posted on 11/11/2004 1:41:58 PM PST by js1138 (D*mn, I Missed!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mikeus_maximus

(There are...)


12 posted on 11/11/2004 1:48:39 PM PST by Pitiricus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: mikeus_maximus
As everyone knows, criticism is an important part of the exploration of any idea or religion or philosphy.

The absolute prohibition of criticism by Islam has deprived it of any vibrancy.

But of course there is a good reason Islam prohibits criticism. The Prophet must have known Islam could not withstand careful examination.

"Here is the truth...but it must never be examined in the light of day...it must be spread by the sword...and once accepted, a person can leave it only under penalty of death."

Yeah, Mohammed had much confidence in the natural durability of his truth. What kind of truth is it that is afraid of the light of day?

13 posted on 11/11/2004 1:57:10 PM PST by weenie (This is a war between the forces of good and evil. Humans are only pawns.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Nachum
"My Muslim friends tell me that many people will jump on this book."

Uh...you mean...they know that you're the author?

14 posted on 11/11/2004 2:06:58 PM PST by Savage Beast (9/11 was never repeated--thanks to President Bush!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nachum

On the Net: Answering Islam, A Christian-Muslim Dialog and Apologetic.
http://answering-islam.org.uk/index.html

See my tagline for link to The Life of Muhammad. A biography of the 'prophet' published in 1913.


15 posted on 11/11/2004 2:07:29 PM PST by Fred Nerks (Understand Evil: Read THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD free pdf. See FRED NERKS for link)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nachum

I pray that Daniel Pipes has a bodyguard.


16 posted on 11/11/2004 2:08:48 PM PST by dinasour (Pajamahadeen)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nachum
SCENES WE'D LIKE TO SEE

Terrorist in Hell: "I blew myself up for what, 72 raisins? Aaarrgghhh!"

17 posted on 11/11/2004 2:33:29 PM PST by TexasRepublic (Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: weenie
...hmmm...now where have I heard something about white raisins, lately?

You must have been reading the Koran. Althought maybe it has something to do with either Ketchup or with naturepathic home remedies. Of course in the good old days they just got drunk. (wink, wink, Mrs. Kerry)

18 posted on 11/11/2004 3:44:35 PM PST by Robert357 (D.Rather "Hoist with his own petard!" www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1223916/posts)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: wideawake; Nachum; MarMema; Destro; eluminate

Thanks for posting this. We have to dissiminate the information about the Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran especially next year when an English translation appears.

Here is an academic book review:

Christoph Luxenberg (ps.) Die syro-aramaeische Lesart des Koran; Ein Beitrag zur Entschlüsselung der Qur'ansprache.

http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol6No1/HV6N1PRPhenixHorn.html


19 posted on 11/28/2004 10:57:14 AM PST by AdmSmith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: AdmSmith

Sorry, I can not spell dissiminate =>disseminate


20 posted on 11/28/2004 11:00:56 AM PST by AdmSmith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson