The Candid Eye

October 21, 2009

The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran – Part1

Filed under: Islam,Jihad — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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Source: Frontpage Magazine

An interview with Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is the author of nine books on Islam and Jihad, a weekly columnist for Human Events and Frontpagemag.com, and has led numerous seminars for the U.S. military and intelligence communities. He is the author of the new book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran.

Infidel's guide to Koran

Infidel's guide to Koran

FP: Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Spencer: Thanks, Jamie. It is always an honor to chat with a perceptive and honest thinker like you.

FP: Well thank you.

So how is this new book different from your previous ones?

Spencer: While in my other books I’ve quoted from the Koran in explaining various aspects of the jihad doctrine and Islamic supremacism, this book is unique among my books in being an in-depth examination of the Koran itself. In this book, and in none of my other books, I discuss how the Koran was compiled; alternate versions of the Koran; alleged miracles of the Koran; how the Koran adapts and alters Biblical stories such as those of Adam, Noah, Moses, Solomon, Mary and Jesus; the Koranic appropriation of Jewish, Christian and even pagan figures; the foundations of Islamic mysticism in the Koran; the ways in which seemingly innocuous passages of the Koran actually convey meanings quite different from what may appear to non-Muslim Westerners; how the Koran’s stories of the Biblical prophets are all told in a way meant to support Muhammad’s prophetic claim; why Muslims regard the Jews as their worst enemies; how and why the New Testament accounts of Christ are altered in the Koran; the Koran’s moral code and what it is conspicuously lacking; and much more.

FP: How come there is so much ignorance about the Koran, not only among non-Muslims but also Muslims themselves?

Spencer: Large numbers of Muslims have no firm idea of what is really in the Koran. This is in large part because, as central as it is to Islamic faith and culture, the Koran is an Arabic book: its Arabic character is part of its essence. This notion comes from the book itself: “We have revealed the Koran in the Arabic tongue so that you may grow in understanding” (12:1). The Koran describes itself repeatedly as essentially and inherently an “Arabic Koran” (12:2; 20:113; 39:28; 41:3; 41:44; 42:7; and 43:3).

Indeed, with an eye apparently only on the local situation in Muhammad’s time and not on the long-term picture, Allah says that it would not have made any sense to send down the Koran to Muhammad in any language other than Arabic, and to have done so would have incited the scorn of Infidels: “Had We sent this as a Qur’an (in the language) other than Arabic, they would have said: ‘Why are not its verses explained in detail? What! (a Book) not in Arabic and (a Messenger) an Arab?’” (41:44).

All Muslims, whether or not they speak Arabic (and most Muslims today are not Arabs), are obligated to recite the Koran in Arabic. This means most Muslims worldwide recite their prayers from rote memory. Translations of the Koran occupy a curious position in the Islamic world. Muslims do not consider any translation of the Koran to be the Koran at all; it is only Allah’s word when it is transmitted in Arabic. In Arabic, says English Muslim convert Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, the Koran is an “inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy.” But that quality allegedly doesn’t carry over to other languages – something essential is lost in translation.

Still, translations of the Koran are tolerated for the sake of spreading Islam to non-Arabic speakers. Muslim groups worldwide work energetically to convert non-Muslims, offering Islamic materials such as translated Korans that are produced by Muslims themselves, despite the alleged impossibility of understanding the Koran except in Arabic. And yet Muslim scholars and apologists often dodge tough questions about the allegedly peaceful nature of Islam by dismissing all translations of the Koran and claiming that the book can only be truly understood in Arabic. Why they bother translating it and distributing these translations among non-Muslims remains unexplained.

The religious superiority of Arabic in Islam has led to an Arabic cultural hegemony in the non-Arabic Muslim world. Great non-Arab civilizations in lands that are now Muslim — most notably Iran — are not valued as part of the Muslim heritage, but are generally dismissed as products of the worthless time of jahiliyya, the “pre-Islamic period of ignorance.” This view has led to a surprising lack of knowledge on the part of even faithful and devoted Muslims as to the precise contents of the Koran. Many recite it syllabically without any deep understanding of the meaning of the words they are pronouncing. A Pakistani Muslim once said to me, in all seriousness, “I am very proud of my religion, and have memorized almost all of the Koran. And one day I plan to get one of those translations and find out what it means.”

The implications of this for contemporary debates about Islamic terrorism are profound. The point here is not that peaceful Muslims misunderstand their own religion and would become radicalized if they knew it better. But when the Koran is not immediately understood – and its seventh-century Arabic can be difficult even for native Arabic speakers – those who believe in it understand it by means of how it is preached and presented in the local mosque. If the imams there do not preach hatred of Infidels and the necessity to fight and subjugate them, then these probably won’t be live ideas in the minds of the devout – and such has long been the case in many areas of the world.

At the same time, however, the Koran says what it says, and so jihadist movements do point to chapter and verse to attempt to recruit peaceful Muslims to their cause, and to justify their actions within the Islamic community.

Many non-Muslims, meanwhile, simply assume without examination that the Koran, since it is a religious book, must teach peace, love, brotherhood, and compassion.

To be continued…..

Also read Part 3 & Part 2 of this series..

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