Tag Archives: islam

Impressions of “The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran,” by Christoph Luxenberg

Three centuries after Christ, a Syrian named Nestorius was horrified by those who denied that Christ was truly God. When he became the Patriarch of Constantinople, he ordered the burning of a monestary of Arian monks who believed that Christ was merely the Son of God. Soon, he would go farther and emphasize that Christ was so divine that Christ’s Godly person was not Christ’s human person.

Or that is what we recall.

From our perspective, these disagreements are bewildering. It’s hard to understand what caused such confusion between Arian Bishops, such as Ulfilas who wrote

I, Ulfila, bishop and confessor, have always so believed, and in this, the one true faith, I make the journey to my Lord;

I believe in one God
the Father,
the only unbegotten and invisible,
and in his only-begotten son,
our Lord and God,
the designer and maker of all creation,

having none other like him (so that one alone among all beings is God the Father, who is also the God of our God);

and in one Holy Spirit,
the illuminating and sanctifying power,

as Christ said after his resurrection to his apostles: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) and again “But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8); being neither God (the Father) nor our God (Christ), but the minister of Christ… subject and obedient in all things to the Son; and the Son, subject and obedient in all things to God who is his Father… (whom) he ordained in the Holy Spirit through his Christ.

And Nestorius, who condemned Arius, Ulfilias, and others in this letter to Pope Celestine I:

Blind men! They do not remember the account of the holy fathers who openly contradict them:

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,
incarnate of the Holy Spirit
and the Virgin Mary.

For this statement is with the title which signifies each nature, Christ… is co-essential with the divinity of the Father. But the humanity born in these latter times is from the holy Virgin; on account of its conjunction with divinity, the humanity is worshipped by angels and humans together.

Whatever the motives behind these words, Nestorius was sent into exile, and the Church of the East was founded. This Church for a while was the largest branch of Christianity — a Bishop celebrated the eucharist in Beijing a millennia before Matteo Ricci reached China’s shores, and apostles to India baptized the “St. Thomas Christians” long before Norman Kings reigned in London.

And, if Christoph Luxenberg is correct, a Nestorian lectionary fell into the hand of an illiterate Arab living in an Aramaic town, and became the Holy Koran. In 2000, he published The Syrio-Aramaic Reading of the Koran.  He is still in hiding.

Luxenberg completely dismisses the hadiths and sunnah (sayings and stories of Muhammad) as either predating or postdating the Koran, and insists on a text only interpretation. Next, he argues the use of Old Poetic Arabic is inappropriate for understanding the vowel-less text of the Koran, and instead the constants shoudl be read as if they are Syrio-Aramaic words.

I am completely unable to judge the validity of this approach. But the results are striking

As Luxenberg translates the word “Koran” itself as Lectionary (a Christian book to guide church services), Surah 41:3, where the Koran describes itself

A Book whose signs have been made distinct as an Arabic Quran

becomes

A scripture that we have translated as an Arabic lectionary

And Surah 41:44

If We had made it a foreign Quran, they would have said: “Why are not its signs made distinct? Foreign and Arabic?”

becomes

If we had composed it as a lectionary in a foreign language, they would have said: “One ought to have translated its scripts!”

and Surah 12:1-2

These are the signs of the Book that is clear. Verily We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran; mayhap ye will understand.

should be

These are the signs of the elucidated Scripture. We have sent them down as an Arabic lectionary so that you may understand.

Numerous other examples are given as well, including re-translatiosn fo portions of the Koran promising “virgins” and “youths” in paradise as descriptions of a heavenly Wedding Feast

Surah 76:19

Round amongst them go boys of perpetual youth, whom when one sees, he thinks them pearls unstrung.

becomes

Iced fruits pass around them; to see them, you would think they were dispersed pearls.

A few of the shorter books of the Koran are retranslated entirely. The ending of of Surah 96, for instance, changes from

May he then call his clique. We shall call the henchmen.
No!
Prostrate yourself
and approach.

becomes

May he call on his idol. He will call on the transitory.
You ought not to heed him at all,
perform your divine service
and take part in the liturgy of the Eucharist.

(while the last time is notably longer in Luxenberg’s translation, the word being translated is “iqtarab”, which is still used to mean “celebrate the Eucharist” in Arabic-speaking churches).

There are may more of these examples, but you get the point. The Koran may not be what it is believed to be. Islam emerged from a world where Christianity in schism against itself, and like other splits (such as the Tai Ping or Lutheranism) may descend from a sincere attempt to get to the core of Christianity occulted by Catholic-Orthodox tradition.

Sadly, the book assumes a familiar with Arabic and Aramaic I do not have.  I cannot judge any of these claims.

If Islam did emerge from a Nestorian lectionary, Nestorius’s program backfired spectacularly.

Nestorius’ attempt to defend the divinity of Christ against the Arians has lead to the censor and destruction of countless Christianity communities. Arius, Nestorius, the Catholics and the Orthodox once said together, “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.”

Such words will lead to your execution, in the world under what the Lectionary has become.

In 1915, the oldest surviving copy of any work by Patriarch Nestorius, The Bazaar of Heracleides — was destroyed by the Turks.

Want to buy a Koran at UNL?

Good luck.

Daily Nebraskan – Muslim students buy out Qurans in protest
Religious sensitivity made its way into the classroom early this semester for University of Nebraska-Lincoln students in an Introduction to Islam class.
When Michael Huston went to the bookstore to buy a copy of the Quran for the class last month, he learned it was sold out. However, it wasn’t bought out by students from the class.
Huston. a senior art major, learned that a few students from the Pakistan Students Association had bought all the books because they didn’t want non-muslim students to accidently deface the Quran.
“It seems more like a protest in general to get people aware of their stance,” Huston said about PSA students’ sensitivity to the Quran’s usage. “It’s kind of bizarre that they would go to that extent.”
Summayia Khan, president of the Pakistan Students Association, declined to comment.
Misuse or defacement of the Quran, which is highly respected within the Muslim faith, can be considered blasphemy.
“The concern from the Pakistan Students Association over whether it was appropriate for non-muslims to use the Quran was resolved in a pleasant, collegial conversation between the instructor of the class, the president of the Pakistan Student Association and myself,” said Sidnie Crawford, chairwoman of the classics and religious studies department at UNL.

Of course, the Pakistan Students Association has a right to protest against non-Muslims handling the Quaran, and they did so peacefully and in a way that brought some coin to the university bookstore. Still, this hardly demonstrates a respect (or even tolerance) for liberty, as their actions were specifically aimed at limiting the ability of those not in their religion from reading their religious texts.

Of all the trials that students in the Pakistan Students Association have gone through, joining the Scientologists in hiding their beliefs from others is perhaps the dumbest.

Inbreeding becomes politically correct

While this blog suggests clearing the ghettos and using bio-chemistry to instill better behaviors, Noah Feldman seems to want to go in the opposite direction:

The Way We Live Now – The New Pariahs? – The Rise of Anti-Islamic Bias in Western Europe – NYTimes.com
Even Britain, which has afforded Muslims a more welcoming environment, has had some worrying moments. A few years back, a Labor M.P. called for an end to “the tradition of first-cousin marriages” among Pakistanis and other South Asians in Britain. The basis for her suggestion was the claim that Pakistanis in Britain were more likely than the general population to suffer from recessive autosomal genetic disorders. Of course, so are Ashkenazi Jews, but you can hardly imagine an M.P. proposing to limit Jews’ marriage choices for this reason, especially given the historic Nazi allegation of Jewish genetic inferiority.

Matrimonial incest is a pretty good definition of the Gap. It’s also bad for the health of a people. Children of first-cousins are not as healthy as children in the general population. This is true, no matter how many times you cry “Nazi!”

Islam and Europe

Earlier this year, Catholicgauze posted “The United Caliphates of Europe,” which he had earlier presented at the yearly meeting of the Association of American Geographers in San Francisco.

For those who messed it, another lesson in the danger of importing Islamic microsotates is from in the International Herald Tribune‘s “France stunned by rioters’ savagery (hat-tip to Glenn):

In retrospect, it was not a good idea to have left his pistol at home. Called to the scene of a traffic accident in the Paris suburbs last Sunday, Jean-François Illy, a regional police chief, came face to face with a mob of immigrant youths armed with baseball bats, iron bars and shotguns.

What happened next has sickened the nation. As Illy tried to reassure the gang that there would be an investigation into the deaths of two teenagers whose motorbike had just collided with a police car, he heard a voice shouting: “Somebody must pay for this. Some pigs must die tonight!”

The 43-year-old commissaire realised it was time to leave, but that was not possible: they set his car ablaze. He stood as the mob closed in on him, parrying the first few baseball bat blows with his arms. An iron bar in the face knocked him down.

“I tried to roll myself into a ball on the ground,” said Illy from his hospital bed. He was breathing with difficulty because several of his ribs had been broken and one had punctured his lung.

His bruised and bloodied face signalled a worrying new level of barbarity in the mainly Muslim banlieues, where organised gangs of rioters used guns against police in a two-day rampage of looting and burning last week.

As the European Union follows the United States in adding members to increase its labor and land, Brussells must be careful to minimize its exposure to whatever is wrong in Islamic cultures. The West Balkans and Ukraine are logical next steps for integration. Contra Secretary Miliband (hat-tip to Tom), integration of Muslim countries, such as Turkey, or states that may be Islamic by the end of the century, such as Russia, should be delayed for the time being. (Economic and business ties, of course, can expand and their natural rate.)

Terror Doctors

No one should be surprised that several of the (latest) British terrorists are highly educated Muslims. Two years ago, a respected special ed teacher was one of the 7-7 bombers.

While we disagree with Osama bin Laden’s goal of “civilizational apartheid,” it nonetheless may be wise to minimize the globe’s commerce with the Arab world while pushing as much humiliating feedback to her as possible.

Modern Islam is Radical Islam,” indeed. This is the fault of a deeply sick Arab world that we must do our best to transform into something human.

Blog Update Links

No central thread to today’s links, other than that they touch on topics previously discussed.

That’s all for now!

Violent Intolerance

Catholicgauze has posted his really cool powerpoint slides for “United Caliphates of Europe,” which he presented at AAG ’07. CG looks at retaliatory violence through the group level of analysis:


Behead those who insult Islam

Earlier, in “The Wary Guerrilla, I looked at the phenomonon on the individual level:

Blah blah blah

Stay tuned to tdaxp for an expanded version of “The Wary Student,” which will follow up previous research by looking at classroom settings. Or even check out the attack on Mike Daisey for another example of this sort of intolerance.