Re: virus: Re:Differing perspectives

Date: Mon Aug 05 2002 - 12:59:19 MDT

On 5 Aug 2002 at 12:27, kharin wrote:

> [Mermaid]"I did mention IRA. You browsed too quickly, perhaps?"
> Quite correct on both counts. Apologies.
> "[Mermaid]True, but there is no religious component to suicide
> bombing. Inflicting terror has occured in all religions in our
> timeline."
> I must say that it is not immediately apparent to me how I am supposed
> to interpret those two sentences. I certainly agree with the latter
> sentence; in any conflict with political and economic components it is
> usually a sound expectation for religious components to be present (it
> would be amazing if this were not the case. There is certainly a
> continuum of causes with the difficulty being in isolating specific
> components; such attempts seem to me to have a 'how long is a piece of
> sting' quality to them). I was rather under the impression that was
> what the Virian critique of UTism precisely pertained to. Certainly, I
> have some sympathy for Richard Dawkins and his observation that the
> promise of an afterlife is usually likely to lead to the concept of
> martrydom; the promise of the virgins made in the hadith (which you
> are correct to identify as a difficult subject*) is merely an
> extension of that.
> "I resent the implication that I believe in some good coming out of
> suicide bombings and I require an authority like 'a group of
> Palestinian intellectuals' to instruct that to me. *smirk*"
> My dear old trout, I am sure that all present made their minds up long
> ago regarding what instruction you need.
> In August, 2001, the American television channel CBS aired an
> interview with a Hamas activist Muhammad Abu Wardeh, who recruited
> terrorists for suicide bombings in Israel. Abu Wardeh was quoted as
> saying: "I described to him how God would compensate the martyr for
> sacrificing his life for his land. If you become a martyr, God will
> give you 70 virgins, 70 wives and everlasting happiness." Wardeh was
> in fact shortchanging his recruits since the rewards in Paradise for
> martyrs was 72 virgins. But I am running ahead of things .
> Since September 11, news stories have repeated the story of suicide
> bombers and their heavenly rewards, and equally Muslim scholars and
> Western apologists of Islam have repeated that suicide is forbidden in
> Islam. Suicide (qatlu nafsi-hi) is not referred to in the Koran but is
> indeed forbidden in the Traditions (Hadith in Arabic), which are the
> collected sayings and doings attributed to the Prophet and traced back
> to him through a series of putatively trustworthy witnesses. They
> include what was done in his presence that he did not forbid, and even
> the authoritative sayings and doings of his companions.
> But the Hamas spokesman correctly uses the word martyr (shahid) and
> not suicide bomber, since those who blow themselves up almost daily in
> Israel and those who died on September 11 were dying in the noblest of
> all causes, Jihad, which is an incumbent religious duty, established
> in the Koran and in the Traditions as a divine institution, and
> enjoined for the purpose of advancing Islam. While suicide is
> forbidden, martyrdom is everywhere praised, welcomed, and urged: "By
> the Being in Whose Hand is my life, I love that I should be killed in
> the way of Allah; then I should be brought back to life and be killed
> again in His way..."; "The Prophet said, 'Nobody who enters Paradise
> will ever like to return to this world even if he were offered
> everything, except the martyr who will desire to return to this world
> and be killed 10 times for the sake of the great honour that has been
> bestowed upon him'." [Sahih Muslim, chapters 781, 782, The Merit of
> Jihad and the Merit of Martyrdom.]
> What of the rewards in paradise? The Islamic paradise is described in
> great sensual detail in the Koran and the Traditions; for instance,
> Koran sura 56 verses 12 -40 ; sura 55 verses 54-56 ; sura 76 verses
> 12-22. I shall quote the celebrated Penguin translation by NJ Dawood
> of sura 56 verses 12- 39: "They shall recline on jewelled couches face
> to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and
> ewers and a cup of purest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor
> take away their reason); with fruits of their own choice and flesh of
> fowls that they relish. And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris,
> chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon for their deeds... We created the
> houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right
> hand..."
> One should note that most translations, even those by Muslims
> themselves such as A Yusuf Ali, and the British Muslim Marmaduke
> Pickthall, translate the Arabic (plural) word Abkarun as virgins, as
> do well-known lexicons such the one by John Penrice. I emphasise this
> fact since many pudic and embarrassed Muslims claim there has been a
> mistranslation, that "virgins" should be replaced by "angels". In sura
> 55 verses 72-74, Dawood translates the Arabic word " hur " as
> "virgins", and the context makes clear that virgin is the appropriate
> translation: "Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents (which of
> your Lord's blessings would you deny?) whom neither man nor jinnee
> will have touched before." The word hur occurs four times in the Koran
> and is usually translated as a "maiden with dark eyes".
> Two points need to be noted. First, there is no mention anywhere in
> the Koran of the actual number of virgins available in paradise, and
> second, the dark-eyed damsels are available for all Muslims, not just
> martyrs. It is in the Islamic Traditions that we find the 72 virgins
> in heaven specified: in a Hadith (Islamic Tradition) collected by
> Al-Tirmidhi (died 892 CE [common era*]) in the Book of Sunan (volume
> IV, chapters on The Features of Paradise as described by the Messenger
> of Allah [Prophet Muhammad], chapter 21, About the Smallest Reward for
> the People of Paradise, (Hadith 2687). The same hadith is also quoted
> by Ibn Kathir (died 1373 CE ) in his Koranic commentary (Tafsir) of
> Surah Al-Rahman (55), verse 72: "The Prophet Muhammad was heard
> saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode
> where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome
> decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance
> from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damasc! us suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'."
> Modern apologists of Islam try to downplay the evident materialism and
> sexual implications of such descriptions, but, as the Encyclopaedia of
> Islam says, even orthodox Muslim theologians such as al Ghazali (died
> 1111 CE) and Al-Ash'ari (died 935 CE) have "admitted sensual pleasures
> into paradise". The sensual pleasures are graphically elaborated by
> Al-Suyuti (died 1505 ), Koranic commentator and polymath. He wrote:
> "Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the
> penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the
> sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious
> and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you
> would faint. Each chosen one [ie Muslim] will marry seventy [sic]
> houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have
> appetising vaginas."
> One of the reasons Nietzsche hated Christianity was that it "made
> something unclean out of sexuality", whereas Islam, many would argue,
> was sex-positive. One cannot imagine any of the Church fathers writing
> ecstatically of heavenly sex as al-Suyuti did, with the possible
> exception of St Augustine before his conversion. But surely to call
> Islam sex-positive is to insult all Muslim women, for sex is seen
> entirely from the male point of view; women's sexuality is admitted
> but seen as something to be feared, repressed, and a work of the
> devil.
> Scholars have long pointed out that these images are clearly drawn
> pictures and must have been inspired by the art of painting. Muhammad,
> or whoever is responsible for the descriptions, may well have seen
> Christian miniatures or mosaics representing the gardens of paradise
> and has interpreted the figures of angels rather literally as those of
> young men and young women. A further textual influence on the imagery
> found in the Koran is the work of Ephrem the Syrian [306-373 CE],
> Hymns on Paradise, written in Syriac, an Aramaic dialect and the
> language of Eastern Christianity, and a Semitic language closely
> related to Hebrew and Arabic.
> This naturally leads to the most fascinating book ever written on the
> language of the Koran, and if proved to be correct in its main thesis,
> probably the most important book ever written on the Koran. Christoph
> Luxenberg's book, Die Syro-Aramaische Lesart des Koran, available only
> in German, came out just over a year ago, but has already had an
> enthusiastic reception, particularly among those scholars with a
> knowledge of several Semitic languages at Princeton, Yale, Berlin,
> Potsdam, Erlangen, Aix-en-Provence, and the Oriental Institute in
> Beirut.
> Luxenberg tries to show that many obscurities of the Koran disappear
> if we read certain words as being Syriac and not Arabic. We cannot go
> into the technical details of his methodology but it allows Luxenberg,
> to the probable horror of all Muslim males dreaming of sexual bliss in
> the Muslim hereafter, to conjure away the wide-eyed houris promised to
> the faithful in suras XLIV.54; LII.20, LV.72, and LVI.22. Luxenberg 's
> new analysis, leaning on the Hymns of Ephrem the Syrian, yields "white
> raisins" of "crystal clarity" rather than doe-eyed, and ever willing
> virgins - the houris. Luxenberg claims that the context makes it clear
> that it is food and drink that is being offerred, and not unsullied
> maidens or houris.
> In Syriac, the word hur is a feminine plural adjective meaning white,
> with the word "raisin" understood implicitly. Similarly, the immortal,
> pearl-like ephebes or youths of suras such as LXXVI.19 are really a
> misreading of a Syriac expression meaning chilled raisins (or drinks)
> that the just will have the pleasure of tasting in contrast to the
> boiling drinks promised the unfaithful and damned.
> As Luxenberg's work has only recently been published we must await its
> scholarly assessment before we can pass any judgements. But if his
> analysis is correct then suicide bombers, or rather prospective
> martyrs, would do well to abandon their culture of death, and instead
> concentrate on getting laid 72 times in this world, unless of course
> they would really prefer chilled or white raisins, according to their
> taste, in the next.
> Common era is an alternative to Christian era as a method of
> historical dating
A fine reply, which I nominate for inclusion in the Virus BBs "Best of"
> ----
> This message was posted by kharin to the Virus 2002 board on Church of
> Virus BBS.
> <;action=display;thread
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