Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Found In Translation

When Pamela Geller was on Hannity last Friday, she was gifted with a humungous Koran. According to the gifter--Islamic activist Michael Ghouse--it was supposedly translated in a way that emphasized the book's positives (i.e. its inherent "pluralism") and eliminated the negatives (i.e. the "evil"--yes, that's the word Ghouse used--inherent in common "mistranslations").

Imagine her surprise when she happened upon some, er, problematic and decidedly un-pluralistic verses:
The first thing I noticed was that this translation uses "God" for Allah throughout, even as it shows on every page that the Allah of the Qur'an is not the G-d of the Jews or of the Christians. Hmmmm.
I found plenty of pluralism. I found Allah saying to the Jews, who "profaned the Sabbath," "Be as apes despicable!" (2:65). And saying to the Muslims that they should "fight in God's cause against those who wage war against you, and do not commit aggression, for, verily, God does not love aggressors. And slay them wherever you find them" (2:190-191). Don't commit aggression, but slay them wherever you find them. Right.
I kept reading. "And as for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear, admonish them [first]; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them" (4:34; the bracketed word is in the book in this and all other quotes). I sure am glad I am finally reading the right translation.
The pluralism and peace don't end there. I learned that God has "disowned" the "hypocrites" -- that is, people who pretend to be Muslim but aren't really, or who were once Muslim but leave the religion. It says that if they "revert to [open] enmity," the Muslims should "seize them and slay them wherever you may find them" (4:89). So now Muslims are supposed to beat "women whose ill-will" they "have reason to fear," and kill those who wage war against them, and hypocrites who are in open enmity against them, wherever they find them. And we're only on page 139 (out of 1,164 pages). They're not told to try to talk things out, or turn the other cheek, or work to make peace even while defending themselves. Muslims are supposed to fight against those who have "denied the truth" until "there is no more oppression and all worship is devoted to God alone" (8:39). So now Muslims have to fight unbelievers until everyone worships only Allah.
I guess we can add "pluralism" to the list of words (which includes "freedom," "democracy," "peace" and "justice") that mean one thing to non-believers and another thing (i.e. Islam/sharia) to those who submit to God/Allah.

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