compulsory reading

Suicide terrorism. It’s all about grapes.

This is one of the best scientific insights I have read about this year. And if it weren’t for all the innocent victims of suicide terrorists, it would be really funny, in some sense.

Well, I suppose that most of us have heard about the infamous parts of the Koran in which those dying in Jihad are promised that they would instantly go to Paradise where they would then be pampered by 70 big eyed (eternal!) virgins (“huris”) to which they will be married. Given the rigid religious and sexual customs and otherwise poor living conditions in a lot of muslim countries these days, I suppose that the suggestion of such a sensual adventure in heaven will indeed have a certain seductive power for mostly uneducated and indoctrinated youngsters. The fact that the Koran is taken literally by most Muslims does add even more salience. That’s all common knowledge. Well…

Today, I read a review in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of a new book by a German Islam researcher called Christoph Luxenberg (pseudonym, to avoid a Fatwa) who suggests some linguistic interpretations: His book is called “The syro-aramaean interpretation of Koran. A contribution to the decryption of the language of the Koran“.

The reviwer, Wolfgang G. Lerch, suggests that Luxenberg indeed succeeded to make new sense of a lot of Sures by starting from the syro-aramaean etymological roots of Arabic, which, according to the article, was not a fully developed language at the time the Koran was written.

Translations are always a great way to get rid of meaning. As long as everyone is willing to accept that fact and tries to mitigate the consequences by analysing the0 context the problem can possibly be alleviated. But for a lot of Muslims in many islamist countries, and especially their more knowledgeable leaders, interpreting the Koran is religiously inacceptable (as it would likely begin to 0undermine conservative leadership structures and their justification.) The problem is, that we all have to bear the consequences of their unwillingness.

Since, as Mr Luxenberg shows, if correct, it’s not all about girls, but all about grapes. In syro-aramaean “hur” means “white grapes”. And following the syro-aramaean interpretation, the Koran says that in Paradise there’s a lot of them. Good food for hungry dead warriors. But over time, the syro-aramaean roots appear to have been forgotten about (or that was politically engineered), and thus the virgin “huris” became the uncontested way to read the Koran.

Too bad for all of us, for I don’t think there would be as many eager young guys with an overload of testosterone blowing themselves up for grapes. I am very interested in the islamic public’s reception of this interpretation.