Thursday, October 21, 2004

Fruits of paradise?

It being Ramadan, I seem to be on a Muslim streak. Today's factoid comes courtesy of a New York Times op-ed several months ago. It seems that the 72 black-eyed virgins promised in the Koran to martyrs for the jihad may in fact be a mistranslation.
The Koran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that 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.

For example, 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."

Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown.
My idea of paradise does not include white grapes, but it does prominantly feature chocolate truffles, perfectly ripe mangoes, apple strudel, sticky rice and Filipino languanisa, vanilla bean lemonade, a large roasted pig, cinnamon toast, and churros.

I wouldn't ask for 72 virgins, but a couple of tap dancers would be nice.

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