The worst news of the day for Muslim martyrs is that the Koran promises not “72 (or any number of) virgins” to martyrs but, according to Islam scholar Irshad Manji, “raisins.”
In the oft-quoted words of Rainman, “Uh oh!”
A report on The Blaze today quoted Manji as telling CNN’s Fareer Zakaria that, “Nowhere in the Koran does it promise 72 virgins, 70 virgins, 48 virgins. What it promises, as far as heaven goes, is something lush. The Arabic word for virgin,” she said, “has been mistranslated. The original word that was used in the Koran was the word for ‘raisin,’ not ‘virgin.’ In other words, that martyrs would get raisins in heaven, not virgins.”
Manji made this claim during a CNN special last month entitled “Why They Hate Us.” She cited “several scholars” who, she said, found upon studying the original Koranic text, that the word ‘raisins’ is a both closer to the original Arabic meaning than the word ‘virgins’ is.
Oddly, the first photo shown in The Blaze report depicts sultanas, not raisins. My personal experience with sultanas dates back to 1971, when I visited Greece.
Like everyone else departing flights into Athens then, I was handed a small bag of sultanas – which are yellow, while raisins are dark in color. They come from different varies of white-flesh grapes; While both are sweet, sultanas tend to be sweeter.
But I digress.
The question is, if Manji and her ‘scholars’ are correct, are martyrs going to give a flying fig if they receive yellow or dark-colored versions of dried grapes?
The Blaze noted that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh referenced Manji‘s comments on the matter in a recent segment as well, explaining that he subsequently began looking into the dispute over the Arabic meaning of the word.
“I just am not wantonly accepting of this stuff. I actually dug into this,” Limbaugh said last month. “I found out that it is an ongoing controversy within Islam, the definition of the word that has been translated ‘virgins’ as it’s used by militant Islamists as they recruit.”
The radio host said that the debate remains unsettled and that “there is one interpretation that does mean raisins.”
To paraphrase an old saying, if you’re given raisins, make raisin-chip cookies.
Or, to paraphrase again, let them eat, um, raisins.
This idea about raisins is not new, as a 2002 piece in the Guadian noted that author Christoph Luxenberg‘s book “Die Syro-Aramaische Lesart des Koran,” posited that “many obscurities of the Koran disappear if we read certain words as being Syriac and not Arabic.”
Based on this methodology, Luxenberg came to the conclusion that “white raisins” or “crystal clarity” were the real potential meanings behind the text attributed to virgins, according to the article.
As Rainman said, “Uh oh!”