I Heard It Through The Grapevine
I received a pleasant surprise Friday. My friend Carol Speranza (nee Sulcoski) sent me a gift: the book The Trouble With Islam by Irshad Manji. The book is Ms. Manji's attempt to reconcile her faith (Islam) with her social/political beliefs (liberal humanist). Needless to say, she has trouble with a religion that condemns her because she is a woman, a lesbian and a free-thinker. Actually, she finds just being a thinker a source of conflict in the Muslim world. Her essays accomplish what I had hoped to do by reading the Koran, except she knows what she's talking about.
I haven't finished the book and will post more thoughts when I do; however, there's one passage I wanted to share now. Manji is describing the possibility of mistranslations and ancient transcription errors being in the Koran. This isn't something that is often discussed. There are entire books about how the Bible and its meanings have changed as it moved from one language to another (the most famous example: "Virgin" Mary may actually have been "Young Girl" Mary), but the Koran is usually not subjected to the same linguistic investigation.
Manji is discussing the famous "seventy virgins" waiting in paradise for male martyrs to Islam:
But we have reason to believe that there's trouble in paradise, a human error that's made its way into the Koran. According to new research, what martyrs can anticipate for their sacrifices aren't virgins but raisins! The word that Koranic scholars have for centuries read as "dark-eyed virgins" - hur - might be more accurately understood as "white raisins." (Don't laugh. Not excessively, anyway. Raisins would have been pricey enough delicacies in seventh-century Arabia to be considered a heavenly treat.) Still, raisins instead of virgins?
I have many words for suicidal terrorist martyrs, most of which I can't use because I've given up cursing for Lent. But now I can add one more.
Fun with Spellcheck: it suggests Carol's maiden name shouldn't be "Sulcoski" but should be "Salacious" and, more interestingly, "mistranslation" should be "masterminding." Hmmm....