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The Sublime Quran


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Very interesting. An American Muslim woman publishes her version of the Quran. She's an atypical scholar, and it's an atypical translation. Tribune:

Bakhtiar follows Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. In Iran, she lived in a Shiite community. In Chicago, she has lived for 15 years in a Sunni community. She says she doesn't belong to any one sect: She's simply Muslim. She also doesn't think she's a feminist.

Good for her. American feminists are anti-family and in favor of the death penalty for innocents in the womb. Describing herself as a feminist would get in the way of her beliefs and muddy her message.

And since Sept. 11th she no longer wears a hijab.

Up until now the most common translation of the Quran in the US has been the Saudi Wahhabi version, found in countless mosques and prisons, which is explicitly and murderously anti-Semitic and anti-Christian.

Her version, according to the Tribune, differs most notably in defining kufr as "ones who are ungrateful" rather than infidel, and I assume does not mention Jews and Christians in this context. She's also taken on one of the primary obstacles to the acceptance of Islam in the civilized world---its treatment of women justified by most authoritative interpretations of the Quran:

Some of her critics and supporters also are labeling "The Sublime Quran" a feminist translation, citing a controversial verse about how a husband can treat a straying wife. Though some translators render the word in question as "beat," Bakhtiar believes "go away" more closely conveys the meaning. Because Muslims are taught to read the Quran in Arabic, English translations are used only as supplements. There is no single authority that governs whether a translation is valid.

NY Times earlier story on Dr. Bahktiar:

Laleh Bakhtiar had already spent two years working on an English translation of the Koran when she came upon Chapter 4, Verse 34.

She nearly dropped the project right then.

The hotly debated verse states that a rebellious woman should first be admonished, then abandoned in bed, and ultimately ''beaten'' -- the most common translation for the Arabic word ''daraba'' -- unless her behavior improves.

''I decided it either has to have a different meaning, or I can't keep translating,'' said Ms. Bakhtiar, an Iranian-American who adopted her father's Islamic faith as an adult and had not dwelled on the verse before. ''I couldn't believe that God would sanction harming another human being except in war.'' [snip]

There are at least 20 English translations of the Koran. ''Daraba'' has been translated as beat, hit, strike, scourge, chastise, flog, make an example of, spank, pet, tap and even seduce.

And here's the crux--if terrorists can use the Quran to justify their murder, why can't this American grandmother advance her peaceful, bridge-building interpretation? She is a brave woman. I look forward to reading her book. (here are some of her other books.)

Related posts: A Model of Muslim Tolerance, A Hijab With Your Name on It, Hirsi Ali Speaks Up, They Call Me Infidel, The Multiculti Trap



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