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‘Raisins,’ not ‘Virgins,’ Quran scholars say

/ 07:10 AM January 27, 2018

It has been said that Muslim martyrs will be rewarded with 72 virgins in heaven, or paradise. But a growing number of Quran scholars and Islamic theologians have contested its interpretation.

In the CNN special show “Why They Hate Us” in 2016, Canadian author and Quran scholar Irshad Manji said the word “virgin” in the Quran meant “raisin.”

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“Nowhere in the Quran does it promise 72 virgins, 70 virgins, 48 virgins. … The Arabic word for ‘virgin’ has been mistranslated. The original [word] that was used in the Quran was the word for raisin, not virgin. In other words, that martyrs would get raisins in heaven, not virgins,” Manji said.

Likewise, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said “the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Koran, and there’s growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.”

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“The Koran says martyrs going to heaven will get ‘hur,’ and the word was taken by early commentators to mean ‘virgins,’ hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant ‘white’ and was commonly used to mean ‘white grapes’,” Kristof said.

Christoph Luxenberg (pseudonym), a scholar who pioneered such research, said in an e-mail interview with Kristof that grapes made more sense in context because the Quran compares them to crystal and pearls and that paradise are described as abounding with fruit especially white grapes.

“But Muslim fundamentalists regard the Koran—every word of it—as God’s own language, and they have violently attacked freethinking scholars as heretics. So Muslim intellectuals have been intimidated, and Islam has often been transmitted by narrow-minded extremists,” Kristof said.

Inquirer Research

Sources:

The New York Times and CNN

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