[Homestead] Saudi Wah-Habi Terrorist Factory
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Sep 23 13:46:37 EDT 2004
Rewriting the Koran
From the September 27, 2004 issue: A bigoted Saudi translation.
by Stephen Schwartz
09/27/2004, Volume 010, Issue 03
THE UNITED STATES took the bold step last week of formally designating
Saudi Arabia a "country of particular concern" for its lack of religious
freedom. In the words of the State Department's 2004 report on religious
freedom worldwide, "basic religious freedoms are denied to all [Saudi
citizens] but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni
Islam . . . commonly called Wahhabi." This incontrovertible statement of
fact is a breakthrough in the diplomatic dance of many veils. It casts
in a new and somewhat hopeful light certain forms of engagement the
administration continues to pursue with the Saudi kingdom.
Thus, also last week, the State Department welcomed a group of
professors of religion from Saudi Arabia on a three-week tour of the
United States. The stated goal of the visit is to show the 15 guests how
Americans handle various issues of public policy and civil society,
including state and federal responsibilities in education, the
accreditation, financing, and curriculum of public and private schools,
the academic study of religions including Islam, religious diversity,
and interfaith activities.
All this should indeed be strange and informative to visitors whose
delegation is led by five professors from the Imam Mohammed Ibn-Saud
Islamic University, a seminary for the training of clerics in Wahhabism.
Familiarly known as the "terrorist factory," this institution was the
alma mater of three of the 9/11 suicide hijackers. Abd al-Aziz Abd
al-Rahman Al-Omari (who was on the first plane to crash into the World
Trade Center) met and befriended several bin
Ladenite clerics while studying at the Ibn-Saud campus in the city of
Qaseem. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Nami (who was on the plane that crashed in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania) studied at the university's branch in the
city of Abha. And Mohned Mohamed al-Shehri (who was on the plane that
struck the South Tower) was recruited, according to Saudi dissident
sources, to the bin Laden network directly from the university.
Not only that, but the same seminary ran the Institute of Islamic and
Arabic Sciences in America (IIASA) as an extension campus in Fairfax,
Virginia, under the supervision of the Department of Religious Affairs
of the Saudi Embassy in Washington. Early this year, the State
Department expelled 24 Saudis associated with this network for abusing
their diplomatic passports to interfere with American religious life.
The most obvious window into the theology taught at Ibn-Saud Islamic
University is the Wahhabi Koran, an edition of the Islamic scripture,
with commentary, printed in every major European, Asian, and African
language in paperback editions that are distributed free or at low cost
throughout the world (and are available on the web at
www.kuran.gen.tr/html/english3). The fifteenth revised edition of this
work was published as The Noble Qur'ân in the English Language by
Darussalam Publishers and Distributors in Riyadh in 1996. The
translators are Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan,
both affiliated with another extremist institution, the Islamic
University of Medina, two of whose faculty members are also among the
educators being hosted by the State Department.
The Wahhabi Koran is notable in that, while Muslims believe that their
sacred text was dictated by God and cannot be altered, the Saudi English
version adds to the original so as to change its sense in a radical
direction. For example, the opening chapter, or surah, is known as
Fatiha, and is recited in Muslim daily prayer and (among non-Wahhabis)
as a memorial to the dead. The four final lines of Fatiha read, in a
normal rendition of the Arabic original (such as this translation by
N.J. Dawood, published by Penguin Books): Guide us to the straight path,
/ The path of those whom You have favored, / Not of those who have
incurred Your wrath, / Nor of those who have gone astray.
The Wahhabi Koran renders these lines: Guide us to the Straight Way. /
The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of
those who have earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who
went astray (such as the Christians). The Wahhabi Koran prints this
translation alongside the Arabic text, which contains no reference to
either Jews or Christians.
There is nothing to indicate to the uninformed reader that these
interpolations, printed in parentheses, are absent from the Arabic. The
reader encountering Islam for the first time, as well as the Muslim
already indoctrinated in Wahhabism, is led to believe that the Koran
denounces all Jews and Christians, which it does not.
There are, of course, many individuals who are unprepared to read this
translation with a critical eye. This is especially true wherever
Wahhabis conduct the missionary outreach called dawa--above all in
prisons in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Indeed, it is to
just such readers that this edition is directed. The Wahhabi Koran is
also a mainstay of Muslim student groups on campuses throughout the West.
Distortions of the text stating or implying that God has condemned the
Jews and Christians are scattered throughout the Wahhabi Koran. Notably,
they invert the meaning of the several verses that express respect for
the "People of the Book," the Jews and Christians. Thus, verse 2:62 in
its authentic form states: Believers, Jews, Christians, and
Sabaeans--whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is
right--shall be rewarded by their Lord. (The Sabaeans were followers of
an ancient religion impossible to identify clearly today.) In the Saudi
English translation, this passage is footnoted to declare, No other
religion except Islam will be accepted from anyone, although no such
statement appears in the Arabic.
The standard translation of verse 3:113 reads: There are among the
People of the Book some upright men who all night long recite the
revelations of God and worship Him, who believe in God and the Last Day,
who enjoin justice and forbid evil.
The Saudi translation again inserts verbiage hostile to non-Muslims. In
the Wahhabi Koran, the upright Jews and Christians turn out to be those
who convert to Islam: those enjoining Islamic Monotheism and following
Prophet Muhammad and not opposing Prophet Muhammad. To repeat, where the
Arabic text actually praises pious Jews and Christians, the Wahhabi
English version praises only Jews and Christians who become Muslims.
The original verse 5:65 says of the Jews and Christians: If they observe
the Torah and the Gospel and what is revealed to them from their Lord,
they shall enjoy abundance.
The Wahhabi edition adds that, in addition to Jews' observing the Torah
and Christians' the New Testament, both must accept the Koran--that is,
become Muslims--which nowhere appears in the Arabic text and conflicts
with traditional Islamic theology. Mainstream Islam treats the Torah,
the New Testament, and the Koran as different books. Wahhabism, by
contrast, treats the Jewish and Christian scriptures as primitive
editions of the Islamic text.
And, inevitably, the Wahhabi Koran adds language aggravating
Muslim-Jewish controversies. Verse 17:1 refers to the night journey, an
out-of-body experience in which the Prophet Muhammad was taken on a
magical steed to a site called in the standard text the farther Temple.
The Wahhabi translation alters this to stake the Islamic claim to
Jerusalem. It refers to Muhammad's journey by night from
Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Jerusalem).
Contempt for non-Muslims suffuses Saudi translations of the Islamic holy
book. It is a matter of some urgency, then, that federal and state
correctional institutions stop allowing the use of the Wahhabi Koran in
Islamic teaching. Every prison warden in America should examine his
library and replace this volume with an accurate translation.
The same bigotry is integral to the creed taught at the Imam Mohammed
Ibn-Saud Islamic University and spread around the world by preachers and
missionaries funded by the Saudi royal family. The spotlight the
administration has now fixed on Riyadh's policy of religious intolerance
may have embarrassed our Saudi visitors this week. If so, their
discomfort is only fitting, as long as their universities and their
government continue to promote the extremist cult in which terrorism breeds.
Stephen Schwartz is the author of The Two Faces of Islam.
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