bq.. It has long been a staple of Islam that Muslim martyrs will go to paradise and marry 72 black-eyed virgins. But a growing body of rigorous scholarship on the Quran points to a less sensual paradise — and, more important, may offer a step away from fundamentalism and toward a reawakening of the Islamic world.
…The Quran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Quran, and there’s growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.
For example, the Quran says martyrs going to heaven will get “hur,” and the word was taken by early commentators to mean “virgins,” hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant “white” and was commonly used to mean “white grapes.”
Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown. But the scholar who pioneered this pathbreaking research, using the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for security reasons, noted in an e-mail interview that grapes made more sense in context because the Quran compares them to crystal and pearls, and because contemporary accounts have paradise abounding with fruit, especially white grapes.
>> “Charlotte Observer”:http://www.centredaily.com/mld/observer/9353496.htm
p. If it’s virgins, 72 seems a bit too many, while if its grapes, than why only 72?
More from the same article:
bq. Luxenberg’s analysis, which has drawn raves from many scholars, also transforms the meaning of the verse that is sometimes cited to require women to wear veils. Instead of instructing pious women ”to draw their veils over their bosoms,” he says, it advises them to ”buckle their belts around their hips.”
bq.. …Nicholas D. Kristof, in this shortsighted and ignorant article, claims that the Muslims line up for martyrdom mission because they expect to be welcomed by 72 virgins in heaven. If the martyr-wanna-be’s were to realize the prize in heaven for martyrdom was the Aramaic “Hur” (white grapes) and not the Arabic “Hur” (described variedly as a beauty, enchantress and virgin), argues Kristof, then Muslims would probably would not be in such a rush to kill themselves.
This, of course, assumes that the old Hollywood stereotype of the Arab as some sort of a perverted, illiterate, maniacal sex-craving fiend is applicable to all those Muslims who volunteer for suicide missions. Take away the virgins, Kristof’s argument suggests, and the fiends would simply take their salivating chops to the next whore house instead of the next bomb belt or Kalashnikov.
Never mind the years of humiliation at the hands of Israelis. Never mind the oppressive, violent regimes supported by the United States. Never mind the stripping away of their sovereignty that has left them naked to exploitation since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Take away the virgins, replace them with grapes, and all of this is resolved.
This kind of thinking, which treats the Arab and Muslim as some kind of a hapless, backward, pathetic, and sick creature is exactly the reason why Americans continue to misunderstand and, therefore, prolong the violent tussle which turns friends into foes.
Those who argue that the Quran, or its misreading, are the cause of violent Islamic fundamentalism forget that for over three generations the most violent Arab and Muslim groups coming out of the Middle East were socialist and secular.
>> “Common Dreams: Grapes? Virgins? Does That Explain Suicide Bombers? “:http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0805-02.htm
p. “It”:http://www.centredaily.com/mld/observer/9353496.htm may be a sorry excuse of an article, but the _grapes v.s virgins_ point has been debated for a long long time now.
*Update:* The ‘Quran’:http://quran.nu/ and the hadith unequivocally and repeatedly promise numerous big breasted virgins to martyrs in heaven, so there is no debate really.
fn1. You can say that again!