Saturday, 19 November 2016

‘The Art of the Qur’an,’ a Rare Peek at Islam’s Holy Text -

Here is a classic in the genre of "bend over backwards to make Islam sound nice". Here it's the New York Times art critic Holland Cotter on an exhibition of Korans, now on in Washington, in 'The Art of the Qu'ran', a Rare Peek at Islam's Holy Text.
Cotter describes the source of the Koran. And he does so by buying into and retailing that story according to what Muslims believe -- that it was the Angel Gabriel talking to Muhammad, an medieval age trader and telling him to "Koran-it". That is to recite it. BUT: Cotter doesn't say that this is what Muslims believe. He writes it down (recites it) as if that were the truth. He does not say, for example,  "Muslims believe that...":
The word Quran (or Koran) is derived from an Arabic verb for speaking from memory or reading aloud. And the book originated with the sound of a voice heard by a man named Muhammad ibn Abdullah near Mecca, the city in what is now Saudi Arabia. A trader by profession, he was in the habit of spending periods of reflection in a cave outside of town. On one visit, in A.D. 610, when he was 40, he heard a command, seemingly coming from nowhere, in Arabic:
Recite! In the name of thy Lord,
Who taught by the pen,
Taught man what he knew not.
Fearing for his sanity, he fled the cave. But he returned, and the voice, which belonged to the Angel Gabriel, spoke again, bringing a message from God. The message named Muhammad prophet of a new monotheistic religion and explained its tenets and beliefs to him. He began to share what he'd heard, but encountered violent resistance, and had to move to another city, Medina. The voice followed him there and would continue to speak until Muhammad's death in 632.
Is it more likely that this man, Muhammad, really heard the angel Gabriel; or that this man, Muhammad, heard voices?  If anyone today, whether or not named Muhammad, said they heard voices from God, they're pretty smartly sent off to the asylum. 
After this particularly Medieval Muhammad started proselytizing, the Jews who then were the majority in today's Saudi Arabia, mocked him. That's in the official Islamic history, the Sirah. But Cotter doesn't report mockery. He says that the Medieval Muhammad met "violent resistance". Not true. Cotter buys into the now familiar Muslim grievance industry. 
As for the growth of Islam, for Cotter, it simply "spread". Nothing about the violence by which it spread. Correctly and infamously, Islam was "spread by the sword". This is well documented in Islamic texts. 
For Cotter the Koran is in ancient Arabic, therefore neither he nor any non Arabic speaker can fully understand what he accepts to be the beauty of its message. And this accounts, per Cotter, the Islamophobia of the likes of Trump. Trump cannot understand the beauty of the basic text of Islam. 
I do not buy the islamopologists' tripe that you can't understand the Koran if you don't understand Arabic. I know Chinese, including Classical Chinese. It's difficult; more so than Arabic. But it can still can be translated. Even by me a non Chinese. 
And what of the world's most populous Muslim country, Indonesia?  They can't speak Arabic. Are they incapable of understanding the core message of Islam?
This is sheer bullshit apologia. By the New York Times no less.
Shame on Cotter. Shame on the New York Times.