The Quran, unlike it’s Christian equivalent the Bible, is the actual word of God.It was revealed to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel and Mohammed passed it down via oral tradition until it was first written down later (650-656) )by the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, who ordered all versions to be collected, written down and standardized with all other versions thereafter to be destroyed. Mohammed died in 632. Additionally, the Quran is written (mostly) in the first person further supporting the claim that they are literally God’s words.
However, an interesting theory has been posed by a scholar here in Germany, who, however, has found it necessary to publish his work under a pseudonym due to constant death threats by intolerant and ignorant Muslims. The work, which appeared under the name Christoph Luxenberg and slowly gained fame, is entitled Die Syro- AramÃƒÂ¤ische Lesart des Koran. Ein Beitrag zur EntschlÃƒÂ¼sselung der Koransprache or “The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran.” It is a linguistic analysis of of the Quran which has caused controversy beyond belief.
Due to the very nature of Arabic, written without short vowels, there has long been controversy about meaning, the correct vowels, pronunciation and so forth. If we look at the alphabet below for example:
You’ll note that the letters B, T, TH look exactly the same except they have different dots. N again looks almost the same. This also goes for other letters such as Ch,H and J or S and SH to name other examples. Yet, originally, the dots that differentiate these letters weren’t written at all! Add to that fact that short vowels weren’t written and you’ve already left room for a great deal of confusion with words having many different possible readings (up to 42 for example).
Though the Quran has long since been standardized with regard to writing, the dots which belong to the letters, vowels, chronology etc., there remain certain “dark” words and passages which make little sense. In short, Luxenberg contends that these passages (and more) are actually bits of Aramaic. It should first be clear that his book is purely linguistic and does not concern itself with theology, though it inadvertently has caused a, pardon my Arabic, shit storm since publication.
For example, he says the Koranic passage promising men “virgins” in heaven — often cited as a supposed incentive for male suicide bombers — really used a word for “white raisins”. The passage traditionally taken as an instruction to women to wear headscarves actually tells them to wear a belt or an apron around their loins, Luxenberg argues.
Even more seriously, he shakes a central dogma by saying Mohammad’s title as “seal of the prophets”, meaning last of the men chosen by God to proclaim his word on earth, actually only means that he confirms what the prophets said.His thesis that the Koran had Aramaic forerunners, possibly Christian writings, also challenges the tradition that the Koran was dictated in Arabic to Mohammad by the Angel Gabriel and consists of the actual and unchangeable words of God.
Whatever the truth be, the fact remains that Muslims realize they’d be opening a serious can of worms by seriously discussing this thesis. Having seen the many theological “wars” and splits with in Christianity, they are unlikely to embrace an opportunity to experience the same. Yet, regardless of how this thesis withstands the test of time and scrutiny, a greater deal of tolerance and open mindedness is urgently needed on the part of many lest Luxenburg end up like the late Theo Van Gogh.