Friday, March 23, 2007

Translating The Koran

Countdown to outrage- 5...4...3...?

A new English-language interpretation of the Muslim Holy book the Koran challenges the use of words that feminists say have been used to justify the abuse of Islamic women.

In the new book, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, a former lecturer on Islam at the University of Chicago, challenges the translation of the Arab word "idrib," traditionally translated as "beat," which feminists say has been used to justify abuse of women.

"Why choose to interpret the word as 'to beat' when it can also mean 'to go away'," she writes in the introduction to the new book.

The passage is generally translated: "And as for those women whose illwill you have reason to fear, admonish them; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great!"

Instead, Bakhtiar suggests "Husbands at that point should submit to God, let God handle it -- go away from them and let God work His Will instead of a human being inflicting pain and suffering on another human being in the Name of God."

She isn't stopping there either-

In other changes to the text, she cites the most accurate translation of the word traditionally translated to mean "infidel" as "ungrateful."

And she uses "God" instead of "Allah," saying that God is the universal English term.

It will be interesting to see how this new work is accepted- and what effect the new translation will have. Indeed, will it be used to any extent to challenge the current accepted meaning of that passage? I fear that she has an uphill struggle to convince many Muslim men that they no longer have any justification to beat their wives.

I wonder what CAIR will have to say- there are, after all, a civil rights group- surely they should welcome a new translation which will protect Muslim women's rights? As opposed to the right to beat them.

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