Skip to comments."Challenging the Qur’an" by Stefan Theil
Posted on 02/07/2006 6:11:51 AM PST by NewJerseyJoe
|Challenging the Quran
A German scholar contends that the Islamic text has been mistranscribed and promises raisins, not virgins
By Stefan Theil
July 28 issue In a note of encouragement to his fellow hijackers, September 11 ringleader Muhammad Atta cheered their impending marriage in Paradise to the 72 wide-eyed virgins the Quran promises to the departed faithful. Palestinian newspapers have been known to describe the death of a suicide bomber as a wedding to the black-eyed in eternal Paradise. But if a German expert on Middle Eastern languages is correct, these hopes of sexual reward in the afterlife are based on a terrible misunderstanding.
ARGUING THAT TODAYS version of the Quran has been mistranscribed from the original text, scholar Christoph Luxenberg says that what are described as houris with swelling breasts refer to nothing more than white raisins and juicy fruits.
Luxenberga pseudonymis one of a small but growing group of scholars, most of them working in non-Muslim countries, studying the language and history of the Quran. When his new book is published this fall, its likely to be the most far-reaching scholarly commentary on the Qurans early genesis, taking this infant discipline far into unchartedand highly controversialterritory. Thats because Islamic orthodoxy considers the holy book to be the verbatim revelation of Allah, speaking to his prophet, Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel, in Arabic. Therefore, critical study of Gods undiluted word has been off-limits in much of the Islamic world. (For the same reason, translations of the Quran are never considered authentic.) Islamic scholars who have dared ignore this taboo have often found themselves labeled heretics and targeted with death threats and violence. Luxenberg, a professor of Semitic languages at one of Germanys leading universities, has chosen to remain anonymous because he fears a fatwa by enraged Islamic extremists.
Luxenbergs chief hypothesis is that the original language of the Quran was not Arabic but something closer to Aramaic. He says the copy of the Quran used today is a mistranscription of the original text from Muhammads time, which according to Islamic tradition was destroyed by the third caliph, Osman, in the seventh century. But Arabic did not turn up as a written language until 150 years after Muhammads death, and most learned Arabs at that time spoke a version of Aramaic. Rereading the Paradise passage in Aramaic, the mysterious houris turn into raisins and fruitmuch more common components of the Paradise myth.
The forthcoming book contains plenty of other bombshells. It claims that the Qurans commandment for women to cover themselves is based on a similar misreading; in Sura 24, the verse that calls for women to snap their scarves over their bags becomes in Aramaic snap their belts around their waists. Even more explosive are readings that strengthen scholars views that the Quran had Christian origins. Sura 33 calls Muhammad the seal of the prophets, taken to mean the final and ultimate prophet of God. But an Aramaic reading, says Luxenberg, turns Muhammad into a witness of the prophetsi.e., someone who bears witness to the established Judeo-Christian texts. The Quran, in Arabic, talks about the revelation of Allah, but in Aramaic that term turns into teaching of the ancient Scriptures. The original Quran, Luxenberg contends, was in fact a Christian liturgical documentbefore an expanding Arab empire turned Muhammads teachings into the basis for its new religion long after the Prophets death.
Such interpretations will undoubtedly draw the ire of many Muslimsand not just extremists. After all, revisionist scholars have been persecuted for much less; in 2001, Egypts Constitutional Court confirmed the apostasy of former University of Cairo scholar Nasr Hamid Abu-Zayd, for considering the Quran a document written by humans.
Still, Luxenberg may be ushering in a whole new era of Quranic study. Luxenbergs findings are very relevant and convincing, says Mondher Sfar, a Tunisian specialist on the historic origins of the Quran in exile in Paris. They make possible a new interpretation of the Quran. In the West, questioning the literal veracity of the Bible was a crucial step in breaking the churchs grip on powerand in developing a modern, secular society. That experience, as much as the questioning itself, is no doubt what concerns conservative Muslims as they struggle over the meaning and influence of Islam in the 21st century. But if Luxenbergs work is any indication, the questioning is just getting underway.
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I wonder if the raisins are soaked in gin?
The Qur'an was not written by Allah but, rather, by some selfish greedy man who wanted only his own comfort.
When reading the Hadith, the words of Muhammed, you'll find different events of Prophet Muhammed' s life in which, when he had problems, Allah solved them right away.
For example, he was sexually aroused by seeing his daughter-in-law, so Allah sent him a message saying he could marry her because his son was adopted and not a real son, so the marriage was therefore justified. Further, he created a new rule, that Muslims would not be allowed to adopt any children.
Muhammed married thirteen times, one of his brides being six-year-old Ayesha.
Allah, he said, told him that he was only allowed to enjoy captive women, and he put Ayesha in a veil because he was jealous and did not want his friends looking admiringly at her when they went to his house. Allah, he said, told his friends they could go to the Prophet' s house any time they wanted but if they went they should not look at any of his wives or ask any of them for anything. He was so jealous of his wives that he introduced the veil for his wives and, ultimately, for all Muslim women.
Even though widow-marriage was legal, he made it illegal for men to marry any of his own wives when he himself died.
It becomes clear that Muhammed had written the Qur'an for his own interest, for his own comfort, for his own fun. So why all the mooselimbs?
Few can read and the ones that can are extremely gullible or want to live like Muhammed and go to muslim heaven. If we lived like that we know we'd go to hell.
Since you will know a tree by the fruit it bears, we can only conclude that Islam is toadstool and biting from it will bring on death.
It is unfortunate that some people have been pulled into it, but then it seduces those people with worldly desires. The concept that death will bring sexual gratification is absurd, yet it seems to work.
"houris" sounds like "whores"
"swelling breasts" sounds like pregnancy
They are not getting 70 virgins. They are getting 70 pregnant whores!!!!
'There will be a nice basket of fruit waiting for you'
I have read that Osman collected all of the known copies of the Koran and had them redacted, erasing many of Mohammeds more serious depradations.
Aye. How about a $50,000 challenge to Muslims to disprove charges against Mohammed portraying to be a rapist, etc..?
Great post. Any idea when this book will be published?
So the terrorists flew the planes into the WTC, and all they got was a Welcome Wagon basket?
I'd love to read the argument carefully, as the reviews are very mixed, both in English and on the Amazon.de website. At the very least I get the sense that serious scholarship on the Koran would be at least as interesting as the biblical scholarship of the past 200 years, and far more devastating for Islam than the higher criticism was for fundamentalist Christianity.
Actually, the Koran refers to the terrorists meeting 72
Virginians in the afterlife. It will not be pleasant.
So let me get this straight, the original text had inadvertantly been changed over the years to promising martyrs 72 Sweet Maidens when what the original text really said was that they would get 72 Sun Maids? Oops! Lost a little in the transcribing, eh? BWUAHAHAHAAAAA......!!
Indeed, hopefully all of them alumni of the Virigina Military Institute....
Im confused though if the original Aramaic text is not available to be studied, how can he know what it originally said?
Why wait for the afterlife? The citizens of Virginia are very well armed ... many concealed, many not ... and quite a few of a much higher caliber!