72 virgins

I found this TEDtalk fascinating and eye-opening. I can honestly say that I fit into the Islamophobe category prior to listening to this.
Does this change anyones mindsets on the Koran and Islam.


Transcript below:

You may have heard about the Koran’s idea of paradise being 72 virgins, and I promise I will come back to those virgins. But in fact, here in the northwest, we’re living very close to the real Koranic idea of paradise, defined 36 times as “gardens watered by running streams.” Since I live on a houseboat on the running stream of Lake Union, this makes perfect sense to me. But the thing is, how come it’s news to most people? I know many well-intentioned non-Muslims who’ve begun reading the Koran, but given up, disconcerted by its “otherness.” The historian Thomas Carlyle considered Muhammad one of the world’s greatest heroes, yet even he called the Koran “as toilsome reading as I ever undertook, a wearisome, confused jumble.”

Part of the problem, I think, is that we imagine that the Koran can be read as we usually read a book – as though we can curl up with it on a rainy afternoon with a bowl of popcorn within reach, as though God – and the Koran is entirely in the voice of God speaking to Muhammad – were just another author on the bestseller list. Yet the fact that so few people do actually read the Koran is precisely why it’s so easy to quote – that is, to misquote. Phrases and snippets taken out of context in what I call the “highlighter version,” which is the one favored by both Muslim fundamentalists and anti-Muslim Islamophobes.

So this past spring, as I was gearing up to begin writing a biography of Muhammad, I realized I needed to read the Koran properly – as properly as I could, that is. My Arabic’s reduced by now to wielding a dictionary, so I took four well-known translations and decided to read them side-by-side, verse-by-verse along with a transliteration and the original seventh-century Arabic. Now I did have an advantage. My last book was about the story behind the Shi’a-Sunni split, and for that I’d worked closely with the earliest Islamic histories, so I knew the events to which the Koran constantly refers, its frame of reference. I knew enough, that is, to know that I’d be a tourist in the Koran – an informed one, an experienced one even, but still an outsider, an agnostic Jew reading some else’s holy book. (Laughter) So I read slowly. I’d set aside three weeks for this project, and that, I think, is what is meant by “hubris” – – because it turned out to be three months. I did resist the temptation to skip to the back where the shorter and more clearly mystical chapters are.

But every time I thought I was beginning to get a handle on the Koran – that feeling of “I get it now” – it would slip away overnight, and I’d come back in the morning wondering if I wasn’t lost in a strange land, and yet the terrain was very familiar. The Koran declares that it comes to renew the message of the Torah and the Gospels. So one-third of it reprises the stories of Biblical figures like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Mary, Jesus. God himself was utterly familiar from his earlier manifestation as Yahweh – jealously insisting on no other gods. The presence of camels, mountains, desert wells and springs took me back to the year I spent wandering the Sinai Desert. And then there was the language, the rhythmic cadence of it, reminding me of evenings spent listening to Bedouin elders recite hours-long narrative poems entirely from memory. And I began to grasp why it’s said that the Koran is really the Koran only in Arabic.

Take the Fatihah, the seven-verse opening chapter that is the Lord’s Prayer and the Shema Yisrael of Islam combined. It’s just 29 words in Arabic, but anywhere from 65 to 72 in translation. And yet the more you add, the more seems to go missing. The Arabic has an incantatory, almost hypnotic, quality that begs to be heard rather than read, felt more than analyzed. It wants to be chanted out loud, to sound its music in the ear and on the tongue. So the Koran in English is a kind of shadow of itself, or as Arthur Arberry called his version, “an interpretation.” But all is not lost in translation.

As the Koran promises, patience is rewarded, and there are many surprises – a degree of environmental awareness, for instance, and of humans as mere stewards of God’s creation, unmatched in the Bible. And where the Bible is addressed exclusively to men, using the second and third person masculine, the Koran includes women – talking, for instance, of believing men and believing women, honorable men and honorable women. Or take the infamous verse about killing the unbelievers. Yes, it does say that, but in a very specific context: the anticipated conquest of the sanctuary city of Mecca where fighting was usually forbidden, and the permission comes hedged about with qualifiers. Not “You must kill unbelievers in Mecca,” but you can, you are allowed to, but only after a grace period is over and only if there’s no other pact in place and only if they try to stop you getting to the Kaaba, and only if they attack you first. And even then – God is merciful; forgiveness is supreme – and so, essentially, better if you don’t. This was perhaps the biggest surprise – how flexible the Koran is, at least in minds that are not fundamentally inflexible.

“Some of these verses are definite in meaning,” it says, “and others are ambiguous.” The perverse at heart will seek out the ambiguities, trying to create discord by pinning down meanings of their own. Only God knows the true meaning. The phrase “God is subtle” appears again and again, and indeed, the whole of the Koran is far more subtle than most of us have been led to believe. As in, for instance, that little matter of virgins and paradise. Old-fashioned Orientalism comes into play here. The word used four times is Houris, rendered as dark-eyed maidens with swelling breasts, or as fair, high-bosomed virgins. Yet all there is in the original Arabic is that one word: Houris. Not a swelling breast nor a high bosom in sight. Now this may be a way of saying “pure beings” – like in angels – or it may be like the Greek Kouros or Kórē, an eternal youth.

But the truth is nobody really knows, and that’s the point. Because the Koran is quite clear when it says that you’ll be “a new creation in paradise” and that you will be “recreated in a form unknown to you,” which seems to me a far more appealing prospect than a virgin. And that number 72 never appears. There are no 72 virgins in the Koran. That idea only came into being 300 years later, and most Islamic scholars see it as the equivalent of people with wings sitting on clouds and strumming harps. Paradise is quite the opposite. It’s not virginity; it’s fecundity. It’s plenty. It’s gardens watered by running streams.

Let’s say (And I don’t know that this is true) that the several hundred million Muslims that are radical enough to support Al Qaeda and female genital mutilation and so on do happen to believe in the 72 virgins thing, despite it not being based on the Koran. What do we make of that? I ask because Christianity is continually held accountable for things that Christians and do that aren’t biblically founded, if enough Christians say them and do them.

I am not accountable for the actions and behaviours of others.
I am only accountable for my own actions and behaviours.
I do not hold people accountable for the actions and behaviours of other people.
It is your choice who you hold accountable.

So, I cannot answer your question and cannot see how it is relevant to the OP.

Lesley Hazelton is reading the Quran with rose-tinted glasses.

To get the true beat of the ethos of the Quran one must read it in all its relevant perspectives, i.e. anthropological, religious, cultural, social, psychobiological aspects of Muhammad, local conditions, etc.

When one reads the Quran objectively and philosophically, there is already a noticeable streak of evil in Chapter 1, i.e.

Chapter 1 - Pickthall

  1. In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
  2. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
  3. The Beneficent, the Merciful.
  4. Owner of the Day of Judgment,
  5. Thee (alone) We worship; Thee alone We ask for help.
  6. Show us the straight path,
  7. The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who astray.

In verse 4, ‘Day of Judgment’ invoked a sense of doomsday, primordial fears and anxieties and verse 5 assured only Allah can relieve one of the doom in hell.
Verse 7 is where the evil streak is introduced, i.e. those who a threat of one’s salvation via allah, those whose paths made Allah angry and those who went astray.

In the light of doom and threats, the Quran introduce the “us versus impulse” in the evil sense. Who are those who a threat or enemies to Muslims? Note the explicit point in this Hilali-Khan translation which is approved by the Saudi Government and distributed by them.

Verse 7 is as follows;
7. The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).
This is the verse that motivate SOME Muslims who go the extent of swatting Jews and Christians like flies in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the world without any sense of compassion as what is critical is their salvation and virgins.

All throughout the 6236 verses of the Quran there are hundreds of verses condemning the Jews, Christians and non-believers against the threat of Muslims going to paradise with eternal life.

Hazelton did not consider the following evil dehumanizing verses.
In three instances (Suras 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166), the Quran tells of Allah turning Jews into apes and/or pigs.
Sura 2:65 “And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, ‘Be apes, despised.’”
Sura 7:166 “So when they were insolent about that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, ‘Be apes, despised.’"
Sura 5:60 “Say, ‘Shall I inform you of [what is] worse than that as penalty from Allah? [It is that of] those (i.e., the Jews) whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut. Those are worse in position and further astray from the sound way.’"

The verification of the above:

There are positive elements in the Quran but they are always conditioned upon believers as Muslims and believers under the domination and being submissive to Muslims.

There are no mentioned of 72 virgins in the Quran, but there are insinuations in the hadiths and the clerics will always twist the associated verses to exploit the sexual impulses of lusty men.

She is what one may refer to as an expert.

Expert wearing rose-tinted glasses?

Read the Quran in relation to all relevant perspective yourself and you will not she is Expert wearing rose-tinted glasses. So is Karen Armstrong the famous Islamic apologist.

The basic requirement is an expert should be able to reconcile every actions and actuality done by Muslims with the holy texts and life examples of Muhammad without any biasness and prejudice.

For a start, note Tom Holland -also an expert.

Tom Holland - Quran didn’t come from Allah - Islamic Truth

One also need to read an extensive range of view from other sources including the fundamentalist extremists, other historian, clergy, anti-Islamic groups, etc.

Can you read Arabic?

So the Muslims are hating on Jews in the same way that Atheists are hating Christians?
Why am I not surprised.

I repeat what I said to Ucci.

We have three factors: Religion, tradition, and culture


I am fully in support of Islamic modernism. This is the path forward.

Here is an interesting take on reforming Islam or as Al Fadi claimed, Islam cannot be reformed but rather only deformed to make it more humane.

Former Muslim: ‘If I were a Muslim today, I would be a member of ISIS.’
foxnews.com/world/2015/02/27 … mber-isis/

That is the usual excuse.
Even if one can read Arabic, there is still a problem to understand the real intent of the Quran as it was originally formulated.

The original Quran is written in a poetic mode and thus at times words are merely combined or repeated to conform to poetic rules and there is often a lack of context and indications of nuances. Thus how the Quran is interpreted can be influenced by the psychological state of a person or group. The clergy of Islam used various method to ‘triangulate’ the proper direction and intent of the Quran but the low self-esteemed and psychological insecure clerics of Islam often tilt their interpretations toward the ‘evil’ end. This is how we end up with so much terrible evil committed by SOME Muslims around the world.

What is important/critical is one need to understand human nature, anthropology, philosophy of religion, general philosophy, neuroscience, neurocognitive science, neuropsychology and the various relevant perspectives to understand what the Quran intended to express within the human context.
However, these days one can easily cross referenced and double checked any verses with a word for word translation of the Quran.

Analogy: For example, once a person understand the human nature [the science, neuroscience, psychology, etc.] of human love, romance, infatuation, passion, jealousy and the whole spectrum of romance with the ultimate act of procreation and production of the next generation, one can easily understand any poem written about feelings of love, eroticism, romance, etc.

As such we can understand the message and psychology of the Quran via its English translations clearly when we are equipped with the knowledge of sufficient and relevant perspectives. These days when I want a translation of a verse, I can refer to 51+ English translations of the Quran.

It is only dangerous and prone to a wayward understanding when the interpretation by a believer is grounded on an illusion and theistic psychology.

Nataurally I disagree with your view but I am okay with that.

The average religious trusts their leader to translate words and intent. Reading and comprehending the entire text is rarely done.
It is the same with politics. Ever sit down to read laws? Few do and few bother with understanding definitions, they trust what they are told. Lawyers are the clergy in the secular world.

It is always the same:

The group “X” commits crime, and instead of the group “X” the group “Y” gets punishment for that crime.

(Put in the right real groups for “X” and for “Y”.)

Or, the idea of any group at all is just a fast and easy categorization, a conceptually necessary short-cut. Honor by association, guilt by association, but people don’t look too much into the nature of the association.

No they do not look into the nature of associations.

Because it does not put food on the table or a roof over their head, looking into things is a job that belongs to another.

Then one should leave the nature of associations to others. Damning a group for a minority seems like a phobia or like discrimination.

 I think that's a red herring. Some people might try to do that, but as a matter of policy, the reality is that the 'minority' you are talking about represents hundreds of millions of Muslims, including prominent influential religious leaders and heads of state.  Acknowledging that there are even more hundreds of millions of Muslims that aren't at war with the west may be worth pointing out from time to time, but I can't what difference it makes to any proposed policy or attitude.

Human beings are group-living animals - just like pack animals. Since the human beings came into the world - whenever their “birth” was - they have been being such group-living animals (naturally) and group-living humans (culturally). So it is very difficult for them to not differentiate themselves from others, especially from other group-living animals (naturally) and group-living humans (culturally). They can not give up their attitude of “we-are-not-them”, “we-do-not-want-to-be-like-them”, “we-are-against-them”, “we-fight-against-them” and so on.