Monday, August 21, 2006

Reformation

When the Bible was taught only in Latin throughout Europe, the priests had an enormous level of control over the population. Since the people did not have direct access to that which they ostensibly believed, the priests, acting as gatekeepers, could change the interpretation to suit their own ends. During the Reformation, Luther's real contribution was that he lived long enough to translate the Bible into German, and had the newly invented moveable type printing press available to disperse it. By making the Bible widely available in the vernacular languages, the ability of the priests to control the beliefs of the people was greatly reduced.

It seems to me that Islam is in a similar situation today. The Koran is not translated, because those are the very Words of God, and how dare a feeble human presume to alter them! Thus the people for whom seventh century Arabic is not a first language learn the Koran in a language which is unfamiliar to them, and whose meaning is controlled by clerical decisions.

It will probably make them even angrier to have the infidel Americans do so, but we should translate the Koran into as many Muslim languages and dialects as we possibly can. If they won't let us print it, we should broadcast it. Perhaps we should even sponsor multiple translations. By getting versions of the Koran to the Muslim world that are outside the control of the clerics, we will cause people to question the meaning and intepretation thereof, and thereby reduce the political power of religious authority. The separation of church and state at its most vital.

2 Comments:

Blogger Noumenon said...

Thus the people for whom seventh century Arabic is not a first language learn the Koran in a language which is unfamiliar to them, and whose meaning is controlled by clerical decisions.

Sounds like you read this article about the Muslim Center in New York:

There is no special technique for memorizing the Koran, except for pure repetition. Several times a day, the students recite for their teachers. First, they recite the lesson from the previous day, which usually amounts to a page or two from the Koran. Then they must recite the previous six or seven lessons combined. Finally, they recite the equivalent of one-thirtieth of the Koran — the Koran is divided into 30 parts. This is how each student, at his own pace, works his way through the entire Koran, learning a new section every day, but reviewing older ones he has already memorized.

Making the work even more difficult, the students, for the most part, do not understand what they are reciting. Muslims believe the Koran was spoken to the prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel in Arabic. Because it is seen as the literal word of God, the use of translations is frowned upon. Students know how to pronounce the words but mostly do not know what they mean.


Takes two years or more of eight-hour school days to finish. But you get to become a "hafiz" and take 10 people with you into heaven when you're done! The equivalent of the 72 virgins clause for nerds.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

Sounds like you read this article about the Muslim Center in New York:

I read no such article recently enough for me to remember it.

8:46 AM  

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