В старину считалось, что во время лунного затмения оживляются все темные силы, а у людей наступает помрак, т.е. помутнение сознания. Видимо, доля правды в народных приметах имеется – иначе как объяснить, что ноябрь месяц собрал богатый урожай безумных идей, экстравагантных высказываний и экстраординарных предложений, с которыми выступили депутаты Госдумы, (особенно запомнились Владимир Жириновский с идеей обнести Кавказ колючей проволокой, от которой он позже так неуклюже открещивался; и его соратник по партии с законодательной инициативой запретить хождение наличных долларов в России, а также неугомонная Мизулина с предложением поправить Конституцию), и экс-министр Алексей Кудрин с намерением разрушить вертикаль власти и упразднить МВД, а так же небополитики с Манифестом разумных от народа, в котором вредоносные идеи и крайне опасные призывы оказались замаскированными под этнолингвистическую малограмотность, патриотическую риторику и псевдо-заботу о русском народе.
На заграницу лунные затмения тоже действуют, поэтому «умопомрачительные» заявления звучали с берегов Америки, из штаб-квартиры Евросоюза, Израили и Польши по тематике Украины, Ирана и, конечно же, России. Короче, осторожности и взвешенности в суждениях некоторых людей не наблюдалось.
В предлагаемой статье, далекой от политических конъюнктур, автор призывает к тому, чтобы высказывания по общественно значимым вопросам тщательно обдумывались. Поскольку содержание статьи имеет как внутреннюю, (в основном, на ВИИяковцев), так и внешнюю направленность, она публикуется на английском языке.
A careful approach to the interpretation of holy and ancient texts instead of jumping to conclusions
By Vladimir Knyazhev, researcher and linguist with oriental experience gained from living in Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait and Turkmenistan for a total nine years.
It is hard to believe, but the number of scientists, linguists and researchers involved in the investigation and interpretation of sacred texts, is surprisingly huge. Representatives of practically all nations of the world took part in the extensive studies of the ancient texts left to us by Mother History and vanished civilizations.
The process of digging through the layers of the past is capturing more and more human minds. In this Study the attempt is made to emphasize the significance of a careful approach to professional reading and interpretation of sacred ancient texts by revealing a poor and sometimes wrong understanding of their contexts. At the same time the Study is in no way an attempt to criticize or diminish the significance of the works presented by numerous researchers involved in the process of finding explanations of very complicated and important matters.
The scope of work in this Study is also deliberately reduced to reviewing a very limited number of samples related to the purpose of the Study in which some known and most contradictory interpretations of the Holy Book, namely the Koran, have been illuminated and provided with a different reading.
For the purpose of this review we intend to use samples and passages contained in the “Syro-Aramaic reading of the Koran” – the outstanding study carried out by Christopher Luxemberg who also gave it another title, namely “A contribution to the Decoding of the language of the Koran”.*
* Luxemberg C. “Syro-Aramaic reading of the Koran. A contribution to the Decoding of the language of the Koran”, 1st Edition 007, published by Verlag Hans Schiller, Berlin.
The Koran is a sacred scripture of Islam and is considered by Muslims to be the eternal word of God revealed in Arabic. From this point of view the need for clarification of a number of obscurities in this holy text gains its ultimate significance. Lack of philological clarification of some very important parts of the Koran is admitted not only by Western linguists, but also by Arabic philologists as well.
To begin with we should not avoid the answer to the question commonly asked on the nature of the language of the Koran – whether it was originally composed in a dialect of Mecca and Medina thus being a product of a Western part of the Arab world or it was initially written in classical Arabic language still having some dialectal intrusions.
It seems that the expression “lya barid wa lya kri:m “
[ٍبَارِدٍ وَ لاكَرِيم لَّا ] that we find in Sura 56:42-44 is a dialectical form.
Luxemberg translates it as follows: the word “barid” is interpreted as “chilled” or “cool” and the word “kri:m” he reads as “karim” so it acquires the meaning of “choice”. Together, thanks to Luxemberg, they make a strange couple of a noun and an unrelated adjective. Though nowadays, in reality, “barid” means a bottle of Coca-Cola or any other type of beverage one can buy in Egypt from a man standing next to a box filled with ice and cooled bottles of Coca-Cola and Fanta. One may also go to the nearest “dukkyan” and take Cola from a fridge. In another fridge we may find ice cream which stands for the second word in the above mentioned expression.
If we read the Verses in classical Arabic the meaning of at least the word [كَرِيمٍ] is totally misinterpreted by Luxemberg saying that the expression “… heavenly fruits are «choice» as well as «chilled» is substantiated by the Koran in Sura 56:42-44, which says: “… on the contrary of those who are on the left (that is of the damned) that they will be in the heat of fire, where they will not receive nothing cool nor choice – “lya barid wa lya karim”.
We think that the classical translation of this Verse is much better: Sura 56;44 “Neither cool nor honorable”.
We also see that misreading of the word “kari:m” resulted in the explanation that was made up by Luxemberg.
The dialectal reading of this expression is not feasible because it was impossible to find ice cream in those old days of non-electrical and non-industrial era. It might be that “cream” means milk product but in no way does it mean “choice”.
Further reading of the Koran brings us to the conclusion that, not only does it have many “writers”, but also that it was reworked and adapted several times in the history of Islam.
We may assume that the first oral verses of the Koran were composed in dialectal form but later when they were put on paper some of them were written in classical Arabic [fusha] and some others remained dialectal depending on the educational status of the contributors to the holy text.
And now it is time to discuss the most sensitive part of Luxemberg’s interpretations of the sacred Book of Islam.
His approach to the interpretation of some passages of the holy text caused a furious reaction from Islam theologists. They stuck to their own understanding of newly explained parts of the Koranic text as well as separate words and expressions. They do it regardless of the fact that their reading of the Holy Book is contradicting, in some expressions, the moral principles of the Koran itself.
Here we talk about Sura 52:20 which offers us an example of a rather important expression
مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَى سُرُرٍمَّصْفُوفَة وَزَوَّجْنَاهُم بِحُورٍ عِين ٍ [52:20] Reclining on thrones set in lines, and We will unite them to large-eyed beautiful ones) that has been misread and misinterpreted by Luxemberg in his attempt to correct Arabic and Western commentators and philologists.
There is no room in this small article for reproduction of the very long discussion occupying dozens of pages in Luxemberg’s book helping in justification of his interpretation of the double expression “bi-hur-In” [ عِين بِحُورٍ ] as well as individual words [hur – بِحُور] and [عِينٍ = In] in 52: 20 as “crystal (clear) white grapes” instead of “dark-wide-eyed (maidens), which was translated into English as “large-eyed beautiful ones”, and so approved by Islamic Arabic Scholarship in which [عِينٍ = In] is translated as “eyes” in spite of the Koran grammar that dictates another form of plural [ الْأَعْيُنُ وَتَلَذ = “aai:n” or “uyu:n”] given by Sura 43:71 “There shall be sent round to them golden bowls and drinking-cups and therein shall be what their souls yearn after and (wherein) the eyes shall delight, and you shall abide therein’.
Not knowing what to do with the verb [وَزَوَّجْنَاهُم ] = [va – zawwagd-na-hum -bi] which is poorly suited to the grapes Luxemberg grabs his courage in his hand and writes [rawwah-na-hum bein hur In] – “We will let them rest comfortably between white grapes” – instead of
عِينٍ بِحُور ٍ وَزَوَّجْنَاهُم = zawwagd-na-hum –bi- hur In] where “zawwagd-na-hum” means “we made them marry…we married them to (beautiful ones)”.
It is quite obvious that grapes do not fit in the ceremony that is organized for the human beings.
Now we have the problem with identification of the parties, because “virgins of Paradise” or any other sexy ‘huris” which have beautiful eyes, do not correspond to the moral principles of sacred scripture of Islam.
In addition to that Luxemberg has no difficulty in ruling out the meaning of “eyes” in the sense of women’s eyes, and by doing so he eliminates the imaginary virgins from the holy text.
But it is not possible to eliminate “wives” mentioned in numerous passages of the Koran (Sura 44:54, 52:20, 55-72). It is said in Sura 43:70 – “Enter into Paradise; therein shall you be brought together with your wives”. They are also mentioned in Sura 36:56
[وَأَزْوَاجُهُمْ مُتَّكِؤُونَ عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ فِي ظِلَالٍ ْ هُم ] “They and their wives lie (reclining) on carpets in the shade”.
It is unbelievable that Paradise is the right place for the common scenario to be played: a man, his wife and his “huris”. But equally there is no ground for an assumption that «“earthly wives” of the pious men are assured admission into Paradise» where them and their husbands “will abide forever”.
In this connection the Koran says nothing about children whom Arabs adore. So one cannot imagine how the earthly wives and their departed husbands enjoy themselves in the Gardens of Paradise with children left in the desert.
We start to believe that some other female creatures “are given to the blessed departed ones as wives”.
In order to identify such creatures we should go back to the double expression of [ عِينٍ بِحُورٍ ] interpreted by Luxemberg as “white grapes”. But is it possible to agree with Luxemberg and his statement saying: “The meaning of [عِينٍ] [In] should actually be clear.
As a noun standing in apposition to the plural [hur= حُورٌ ] ”white grapes” it has a descriptive function”.
Is this a linguistic discovery in terms of a new grammar form found by Luxemberg in Arabic language? And why he is talking about function and is not providing us with its linguistic term? For example English grammar tells us that Gerund is a verbal noun (noun that comes from a verb).
We may guess that Luxemberg by saying “descriptive function” meant a “descriptive noun” that comes from an adjective, but the question remains: What is the reading and the meaning of this noun?
Looking for the answer to these questions we should split [ عِينٍ حُورٌ ] “hur In” and study each word separately.
We are not much interested in the first word “hur” [hur = حُورٌ ]. Its meaning could be debated but the options are very few – it is either [hur] “white” in Syro-Aramaic or [hurust] “beautiful” in archaic Persian language.
The second word in that notorious double expression is more important. Arabs understood the word [عِينٍ] [In], (which in fact is described by Western commentators as an unclear one in terms of its grammatical form), as a description of eyes because it could be pronounced as single [in] – “eye”.
But none of the linguists and commentators including Luxemberg thought of a possible mistake in handwriting made by a human being thus recognizing the fact that the lower dot – point of the letter [i] [عِينٍ] is sitting in the wrong place and should be shifted under the letter [nun] [عِينٍ] transforming it into letter [ba], and the upper dot-point of letter [nun] should go to the right creating by this move the letter and sound [n].
And what do we see and read now? We see and pronounce the word “Inab” – grapes.
Is that “white grapes” again? But, fortunately, this time we deal with a metaphorical double expression and the comparison of “white grapes” as Paradise fruits with beautiful women. Likewise Russian fairy tales refer to a metaphorical “apple” with which young beauty is compared.
And it should be emphasized that this is the only case when the Koran tells us about grapes in a very special way.
The “grapes” are mentioned in many other parts of the Koran: Sura 6:99; 13:4; 16: 11, 67; 18:32; 23:19; 36:34: 56:22; 80:28. In each case the word “grapes’ is written in its usual commonly recognizable plural form, for example, in Sura 13:4 [أَعْنَابٍ ] [aIna:b] stands for different types of grapes, but when it comes to some particular type of “white grapes” it is written as [Inab].
Now we can say to all righteous that they won’t be left alone in Paradise and each of them will get his “heaven wife”.
What will happen to their “earthly wives” is a riddle of the Koran.
And now let’s revise some other examples of the Koran interpretations.
The comparison of such interpretations made by Arab and Western researchers proves the fact of different reading of one and the same expression or a passage of the Koranic text.
Sura 44 “The Smoke” and its interpretations will serve as an example of how it was translated into Russian and English and interpreted in Arabic:
Sura 44 «.The Smoke»
فَارْتَقِبْ يَوْمَ تَأْتِي سَّمَاءبِدُخَان ٍ مُّبِينٍ ا
يَغْشَى النَّاسَ هَذَا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
Elmir Kuliev, a rather famous Islamic theologist, translates the Verses 44:10 and 44: 11 as follows:
[44 :10] [You] keep waiting for the day when the sky shall bring light (fogless) smoke,
[44:11] that shall overtake men; this will be an agonized suffering.
Kuliev’s interpretation is pretty close to [44:10] and [44:11] English version:
[44.10] Therefore keep waiting for the day when the heaven shall bring an evident smoke,
[44.11] That shall overtake men; this is a painful punishment.
And finally we read the interpretation [tafsi:r] made in Egypt by Arab researchers from the University of Azhar, the center of Islam theology:
[44:10] So wait, [ya rasul Alla] the Messenger of Allah when poor harvest will hit them and they will suffer from emaciation and loss of eye-vision. And then only evident smoke spread between the earth surface and the sky could be visible and men be hearing other men but fail to see them.
[44 : 11] This smoke overtakes those hit by the poor harvest and those who deny the Prophet. And they will say in fear and horror: It’s a very painful punishment!
Now we understand that characterization of the Koranic smoke as evident vs. fogless has no alternative because otherwise there will be no painful punishment to non-believers caused by deadly clouds of volcanic ash that will fall from the sky by will of God.
In this connection the following translation of Verses 44:10 and 44:11 has no grounds at all though it was made by Valeriya Porokhova, the well-known translator of the Koran and a member of Russian Academy of Natural Science:
44:10 (You ) wait to that Day, on which the sky will eat away [consume] clearly visible smoke.
It is quite obvious that her proposal to wait until the smoke fades away rules out any punishment to those who remain in doubt: Sura 44 : 09 [bal – homma – fi – shyakk-yalabun]
[44: 09] يَلْعَبُونَ شَكٍّ بَلْ هُمْ فِي
One may ask a question: Is it worth spending time and money on the decoding of the language of the ancient texts and holy books?
The answer is that secular society must be provided with exact meanings and interpretations of the holy texts, including the Koran, the Bible and any other sacred books, in order to be able to match their reading with the proclaimed peaceful nature of any religion adopted by the members of such secular society.
It is also important to exercise a careful approach to the reading of holy and ancient texts instead of jumping to conclusions while making false interpretations which may result in cultural conflicts.