Waraqa an enemy of Muhammad

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Christoph Heger

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Dec 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/22/96
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Fouad Haddad has been rather quick, before, in hailing the disgusting
judgement in Dhubai against Mr. Elie Dib Ghaleb, who dared to exercise
his right to marry whom he loves and who loves him, and in presenting
pious, but fraudulent legends about Waraqa ibn Nawfal as an alleged
supporter of Muhammad. In the meantime my postings about the distorted
source of these legends seem to have taken his breath away.

Actually, even the more learned apologetics in sri seem to silently
accept what I showed: That Waraqa ibn Nawfal, the cousin of Khadidja,
Muhammad's first wife, and a learned Christian scribe, was no
supporter of Muhammad, as later Muslim tradition always maintained,
but a bitter enemy of him, whom he considered a pseudo-prophet. I
argued this by showing that the pertinent passages in Ibn Hisham's
"Life of the Prophet" are grossly distorted - even to such an extent
that it again was easy to guess the original, correct text.

Fortunately, there is direct evidence, independent of Ibn Hisham, that
Waraqa indeed was a pious Christian and an enemy of Muhammad.

As is well known, the amount of written evidence of the times of early
Islam is very poor, though literary production in those approximately
150 years cannot have been so low. Obviously a very rigid censureship
has deprived the posterity of the fruits of this
production. Nevertheless some material rose to the surface in later
times, especially when the explosive character of this material wasn't
recognized any more (for instance, of some non-canonical readings of
the Qur'an).

Thus, whereas we even don't know when Waraqa died, a poem of him has
been handed down to posterity. I translate after the Arabic edition by
Louis Cheikho, Kitab shu'ara' an-nasraniya, vol. I: qabla l-islam
(i.e. The book of the Christian poets, vol. I: Before Islam), Beyrouth
1890, reprint Beirut 1967, p. 617, 11 s.):

"You escaped from a hot furnace of God
because of your believe in a lord, whom no lord is alike,
and because you left the gardens of the mountains (al-gannaat al gibaal),
such [sinfull] as they are."

It's not the place here to elaborate the meaning of these "gardens of
the mountains" in the religious and cultural history of mankind in
general and the Arabian peninsula in particular, or to explain their
connection with the "paradise" (gannat) of later Islamic orthodoxy. It
may suffice here to quote the verse of another - obviously Christian -
poet of those times (cf. E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, London
1863-1893, see "khashiya"):

"I have been always afraid, by this time, that those who had followed the
right way, already, would live with the prophet Muhammad in the
gardens."

The last clause clearly expresses (1) the connection between Muhammad
and the "gardens" (2) and the view of the poet that both are
tantamount to apostasy from the Christian belief.

Thus Waraqa's position becomes clear, too: Both he and the other poet
oppose the religious movement of Muhammad, who is connected with
"dwelling in the gardens", as apostasy from the Christian belief, the
"sublime law", which according to Waraqa's words, in his encounter
with Muhammad at the Ka'ba, already has come to the latter before.

Kind regards,
Christoph Heger


P.S. If anybody deliberates to contradict the above translation of the
second poem on the basis of Lane's unacceptable translation which
followed a traditional, but erroneous understanding:

"And I know assuredly that he who follows the right direction,
shall dwell in the gardens (of Paradise) with the prophet Muhammad."

maintaining that the poet hails those who follow Muhammad as living in
the paradise, he may save his time and realize that "khashiya" never
had the meaning of simply "to know", despite later erroneous or even
fraudulent assertions. One always has to keep in mind its original
meaning "to fear for a person", "to care for a person merciful", "to
be troubled because of a person" and so on. Ironically, this
erroneous or even fraudulent assertion of lexicographers of a later
period was the reason why that little poem escaped from the above
mentioned censureship and was handed to posterity: It was used as a
paradigm of this falsely asserted meaning of "khashiya".


D A Rice

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Dec 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/23/96
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In article <59jkoe$h...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>, Christo...@t-online.de (Christoph Heger) writes:
> Actually, even the more learned apologetics in sri seem to silently
> accept what I showed: That Waraqa ibn Nawfal, the cousin of Khadidja,
> Muhammad's first wife, and a learned Christian scribe, was no
> supporter of Muhammad, as later Muslim tradition always maintained,
> but a bitter enemy of him, whom he considered a pseudo-prophet.

I don't know if Christoph Heger would consider me a "learned
apologetic," but I didn't reply because it seemed to me that his
re-interpretation of history is extremely contrived. As a result, I
don't think it really warranted much of a response.

There are books on the market which I have seen which claim Jesus
(peace be with him) was really a Buddhist, through similarly contrived
arguments. When reading Christoph Heger's article, it seemed to me
that his arguments were on a similar par to these stretches of the
imagination.


Peace,

Fariduddien Rice

AbdulraHman Lomax

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Dec 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/25/96
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as-salamu 'alaykum.

Christo...@t-online.de (Christoph Heger) wrote:

>Fortunately, there is direct evidence, independent of Ibn Hisham, that
>Waraqa indeed was a pious Christian and an enemy of Muhammad.

I will examine this evidence carefully.

>As is well known, the amount of written evidence of the times of early
>Islam is very poor, though literary production in those approximately
>150 years cannot have been so low.

It is not clear how much "literary production" there was in that time.
But much that *was* written was written on relatively impermanent
materials. Palm leaves don't do so well after a few hundred years....

>Obviously a very rigid censureship
>has deprived the posterity of the fruits of this
>production.

There is little evidence of such massive censorship, except perhaps
with the variant texts of the Qur'an. And, as is well known, mere
censorship doesn't work very well to eradicate unpopular material. It
survives, even if all the people who produce it are killed. A
repressive government simply cannot search every hiding-place, every
trash-heap, every nook and cranny of every building. Heger simply
betrays his bias and his polemic intent.

>Nevertheless some material rose to the surface in later
>times, especially when the explosive character of this material wasn't
>recognized any more (for instance, of some non-canonical readings of
>the Qur'an).

Heger's reading of the history is his own; he states his unproven
hypotheses as if they were facts.

>Thus, whereas we even don't know when Waraqa died, a poem of him has
>been handed down to posterity. I translate after the Arabic edition by
>Louis Cheikho, Kitab shu'ara' an-nasraniya, vol. I: qabla l-islam
>(i.e. The book of the Christian poets, vol. I: Before Islam), Beyrouth
>1890, reprint Beirut 1967, p. 617, 11 s.):

Now, we are supposed to accept as a fact that Waraqa, RA, actually
wrote this poem. It would be better to say that this poem has been
attributed to Waraqa; but polemicists don't like cautious
distinctions: they weaken the polemic effect.

> "You escaped from a hot furnace of God
> because of your believe in a lord, whom no lord is alike,
> and because you left the gardens of the mountains (al-gannaat al gibaal),
> such [sinfull] as they are."

I'll accept the poem as being from Waraqa. It rings true. And the
metaphor is quite clear to me.

>It's not the place here to elaborate the meaning of these "gardens of
>the mountains" in the religious and cultural history of mankind in
>general and the Arabian peninsula in particular, or to explain their
>connection with the "paradise" (gannat) of later Islamic orthodoxy. It
>may suffice here to quote the verse of another - obviously Christian -
>poet of those times (cf. E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, London
>1863-1893, see "khashiya"):

Heger wants to avoid an "elaboration" of the meaning of the "mountain
gardens" because if we know what it actually means, we will not be
able to read it with the meaning he proposes.

> "I have been always afraid, by this time, that those who had followed the
> right way, already, would live with the prophet Muhammad in the
>gardens."

And now we return to a familiar theme of Heger's. He insists that his
own translation (and tafsir) is superior to that of those who have
been intimately familiar with Arabic language and idiom, Muslim and
non-Muslim. We saw this with his first foray into soc.religion.islam
and his idiosyncratic translation from surat ul-'alaq. It is no more
defensible here.

He comments that the author of the poem which he has mangled is
"obviously" a Christian. Now, the poet is not named in Lane's
reference. I think that Heger has no idea whether the poet was
Christian or not. He soley bases the conclusion on his insistence of a
literal meaning for "khashiytu" (I fear) in the cited poem. But Lane
has cited this poem as an example, among others, if the usage of
khashiya to mean "hope."

>The last clause clearly expresses (1) the connection between Muhammad
>and the "gardens" (2) and the view of the poet that both are
>tantamount to apostasy from the Christian belief.

As it was with Heger's imagination of sura 96, his supposed meaning
makes little sense. A pious Christian, who, as he surmises, believed
that Islam was misguidance, would hardly "fear that one on right
guidance would dwell with Muhammad in the garden." Or, more
accurately, if he feared that, he would be allowing the possibility
that Muhammad's way was the right one; and thus that his *own* views
were incorrect. Thus the poem, even if we disallow the clear usage in
it of kashiya to mean "hope" -- so clear that it is used as an example
in a dictionary, and we accept the *very* speculative assertion that
the author was Christian, would not represent a judgement of apostasy
against the Muslims, but rather an expression of taqwa, of fear of
God, a fear that would be appropriate.

But it appears that Heger has no such fear.

Now, the point of citing this poem was to connect in the reader's mind
the "garden" in which one might dwell with Muhammad, with the mountain
gardens of the poem attributed to Waraqa. And there is a subsidiary
point, which is to attempt to cite "another" anti-Islamic "Christian"
poem which might be roughly contemporaneous.

>Thus Waraqa's position becomes clear, too: Both he and the other poet
>oppose the religious movement of Muhammad, who is connected with
>"dwelling in the gardens", as apostasy from the Christian belief, the
>"sublime law", which according to Waraqa's words, in his encounter
>with Muhammad at the Ka'ba, already has come to the latter before.

I am now going to quote what Heger wrote at the beginning of his
article.

>Fouad Haddad [...:] my postings about the distorted


>source of these legends seem to have taken his breath away.

I must say that Heger's audacity, his utter lack of shame at proposing
a bizarre speculation, with only the most tenous of connections with
the evidence, as if it were "clear" proof of his point, does leave me
temporarily speechless. But it is not the speechlessness of awe and
wonder at erudition, no, it is the speechlessness of amazement at the
sheer complexity of a twisted mind.

>P.S. If anybody deliberates to contradict the above translation of the
>second poem on the basis of Lane's unacceptable translation which
>followed a traditional, but erroneous understanding:

> "And I know assuredly that he who follows the right direction,
> shall dwell in the gardens (of Paradise) with the prophet Muhammad."

As a postscript Heger deigns to inform the reader that there might be
some tiny question about his translation above. Lane spent the major
part of his adult life in the study of Arabic. From about 1842 to
1876, subsidised by the British government, he did nothing but
research and compile his dictionary. He was not a Muslim. His purpose
was merely to elucidate the language, as thoroughly and completely as
was in his power to do. Unlike Heger, he had no ideological axe to
grind. So, *of course* his translation is unacceptible to Heger.

>maintaining that the poet hails those who follow Muhammad as living in
>the paradise, he may save his time and realize that "khashiya" never
>had the meaning of simply "to know", despite later erroneous or even
>fraudulent assertions.

If Lane had left the meaning of "fear" in place, I would still read it
as meaning "hope," for I am familiar with Qur'anic usage, and fear and
hope are inextricably bound in the mind of a believer. (Heger does not
mention that Lane goes on to say, after he gives the translation of
Khashaytu as "I know," that the meaning may be "I hope," and I agree
with him, only I would affirm that "hope" is a better translation.)

Further, I might say to a student, "I fear that your studies will earn
you wisdom." This is a standard poetic usage, they have names for it
which I do not remember; it is not unique to Arabic. It means "I
hope."

>One always has to keep in mind its original
>meaning "to fear for a person", "to care for a person merciful", "to
>be troubled because of a person" and so on.

Yes, the other meanings proceed from the original meaning. But this
does not mean that the original meaning is controlling. Sometimes the
linguistic process results in a derived meaning, such as "hope" for
"khashiya," which is the opposite of the original meaning.

>Ironically, this
>erroneous or even fraudulent assertion of lexicographers of a later
>period was the reason why that little poem escaped from the above
>mentioned censureship and was handed to posterity: It was used as a
>paradigm of this falsely asserted meaning of "khashiya".

Heger constructs an enormous edifice of fraud on the tiniest piece of
evidence. As I fear I have made clear, the meaning asserted can be
found in English by exactly the same kind of poetic substitution as
worked in Arabic to produce the cited poem.

*And even if Heger's argument were true about the poem from the
unnamed author, it would not confirm, in the least, his claims about
Waraqa.*

I will say what *is* clear about this affair: Heger is searching for
obscure trivia which will appear to confirm his cold and hostile view
of Islam, and he is willing to stretch the evidence very far indeed in
asserting wild speculation as proven facts.

AbdulraHman Lomax
mar...@ioa.com
P.O. Box 5123
Asheville, NC 28813


AbdulraHman Lomax

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Dec 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/25/96
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as-salamu 'alaykum

Christo...@t-online.de (Christoph Heger) wrote:

>Fouad Haddad [...] my postings about the distorted
>source of these legends seem to have taken his breath away.

>Actually, even the more learned apologetics in sri seem to silently
>accept what I showed ...

Mr Heger flatters himself. Silence on s.r.i. is utterly no indication
of any state on the part of the readers. Some people, after seeing
that a thread is going nowhere, simply set their newsreader to
"ignore." Others believe that argument beyond a certain point is
useless: "So leave them...."

Still others have active lives outside of s.r.i. (what a concept!) and
no time for research and writing.

The post to which this is a response raises issues of interest, but to
research them will take time. I, for one, cannot guarantee that I will
get to it. Waraqa, RA, and his sayings are not exactly matters about
which I have an immediate and encylcopedic grasp, nor do I know any
participant in s.r.i. who does, though Haddad is quite knowledgeable.
In such a situation it is quite possible that an invidual who is
relatively ignorant may still know more about a particular topic than
others who, in general, are far more knowledgeable.

We have seen before that Mr. Heger is interested in debating fine and
fairly obscure points; he believes that he better understands, from a
relatively perfunctory research, certain passages of the Qur'an than
do Muslims who have studied, recited, memorised, reflected, and
discussed those very passages in depth. None of his history on s.r.i.
leads me to believe that he seeks knowledge here; rather his goal is
to parade his findings like a peacock. He should beware: feathers do
not take well to fire.

Our religion does not depend, in the least, on the history of Waraqa,
RA. I know for a fact that many Christians, even to this day, have
recognised Muhammad, SAS; whether or not a particular one actually did
or not is a trivial detail, and it is not a question we will be asked
on the Day of Judgement. But because I learn with each essay into the
research of these questions, it is my intention to follow up Mr.
Heger's points, God willing. But if I do not, he should not imagine
that I am bowled over by his erudition; rather that result may have
more to do with the demands of family life, business, and more
potentially fruitful writing projects than debating with kafiruwn.

Christoph Heger

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Dec 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/28/96
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It's really annoying that Mr. AbdurraHman Lomax, as soon as his beloved Islam is
in any danger to look a bit unhappy, isn't able to discuss scientific matters
without making an unfounded guess about his opponents' bad intentions and
character. He should realize that in scholarly debates pointing to alleged
intentions behind an assertion is not pertinent to the matter and superfluous;
it doesn't render unnecessary dealing with the assertion as such.

Remarkably enough, Lomax in his posting <arielE2...@netcom.com> of
1996/12/25 doesn't contradict what I showed in my earlier postings
<58g466$e...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu> of 1996/12/9 and
<595at9$8...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu> of 1996/12/17: that the two passages in Ibn
Hisham's "Biography of the Prophet" about Waraqa ibn Nawfal's alleged support
for Muhammad are distorted and that Waraqa, on the contrary, was a bitter enemy
of Muhammad.

Lomax opposes only what I gave in addition in my posting
<59jkoe$h...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu> of 1996/12/22:



>>Fortunately, there is direct evidence, independent of Ibn Hisham, that
>>Waraqa indeed was a pious Christian and an enemy of Muhammad.

Lomax promises:

>I will examine this evidence carefully.

Fine, let's look!

I pointed to a fact, which often has been deplored: that the amount of written

evidence of the times of early Islam is very poor, though literary production in

those approximately 150 years cannot have been so low. But Lomax thinks:

>It is not clear how much "literary production" there was in that time.

At least not as little as has been handed down to posterity.

Lomax' explanation for this striking scarcity of contemporary evidence for the
times of early Islam is weak:

>But much that *was* written was written on relatively impermanent
>materials. Palm leaves don't do so well after a few hundred years....

This was true for other periods, too, and explains nothing. My explanation that
there was a very rigid censorship, which deprived the posterity of such evidence
didn't please Lomax:

>There is little evidence of such massive censorship,

On the contrary, as I hope to show in further postings.

>... except perhaps with the variant texts of the Qur'an.

At least that is conceded by Mr. Lomax! I wonder why he doesn't realize that
further censorship was inevitable to ensure the success of this political
co-ordination of the Qur'anic text.

>And, as is well known, mere censorship doesn't work very well to eradicate
>unpopular material.

That is not "well known", but an optimistic prejudice, though, of course, a bit
usually survives. As I said before:

>>Nevertheless some material rose to the surface in later times, especially when
>>the explosive character of this material wasn't recognized any more (for
>>instance, of some non-canonical readings of the Qur'an).
>>

>>Thus, whereas we even don't know when Waraqa died, a poem of him has

>>been handed down to posterity...

Concerning this poem Lomax means:

>Now, we are supposed to accept as a fact that Waraqa, RA, actually
>wrote this poem.

No, Lomax is free to give some evidence that the tradition who attributes this
poem to Waraqa is erroneous. But he doesn't. Debates in this newsgroup will be
much more fruitful if Lomax is equally critical against the tradition on other
occasions.

I repeat my translation of the poem for convenience:

"You escaped from a hot furnace of God
because of your believe in a lord, whom no lord is alike,
and because you left the gardens of the mountains (al-gannaat al gibaal),
such [sinfull] as they are."

Lomax suddenly:

>I'll accept the poem as being from Waraqa. It rings true.

Though this "ringing true" is no evidence, Lomax' acceptance shortens this
debate. He continues:

>And the metaphor is quite clear to me.

Apparently not, as the following makes clear. To begin with, Lomax indulges his
desires for dire suspicions of his opponents' intentions:

>Heger wants to avoid an "elaboration" of the meaning of the "mountain
>gardens" because if we know what it actually means, we will not be
>able to read it with the meaning he proposes.

Firstly, the meaning of these "gardens of the mountains" is no secret knowledge
of mine. Lomax can get acquainted with the matter in the scholarly literature.
To begin with, I suggest W. F. Albright, The High Places in Ancient Palestine
(Suppl. to VT IV, Leiden 1957, 257).

Secondly, concerning the other poem, which I quoted,

"I have been always afraid, by this time, that those who had followed the
right way, already, would live with the prophet Muhammad in the gardens."

to give evidence of the link between Muhammad's religious movement and the
"dwelling in the gardens", it doesn't matter who actually wrote it, Muslim,
Christian or Pagan, as long as it is credited to be from early-Islam times.

Thirdly, I don't want to avoid an elaboration of the meaning of the "mountain
gardens". I only cannot deal with all items in one moment. Lomax is asked to be
patient. I hope to be able to elaborate the matter in forthcoming postings.

>And now we return to a familiar theme of Heger's. He insists that his own
>translation (and tafsir) is superior to that of those who have been intimately
>familiar with Arabic language and idiom, Muslim and non-Muslim.

Yes, indeed, I insist that my translation of the little poems is correct - apart
from my modest command of the English language. Due to the fact that Lomax
doesn't belong to those who are intimately familiar with Arabic language and
idiom, he doesn't propose another translation for the first poem and is
prematurely happy with Lane's erroneous translation, which I quoted in my P.S.

Then Lomax licks old wounds:

>We saw this with his first foray into soc.religion.islam and his idiosyncratic
>translation from surat ul-'alaq.

Isn't it nice! If my contribution was a "foray", how should I qualify the mass
of hasty postings of Lomax giving his comments to all and every item. But Lomax
seems to consider soc.religion.islam as his realm. Perhaps in future postings he
will be able to explain what we have to understand by an "idiosyncratic
translation". I know only correct translations and incorrect ones. By the way,
till now I didn't propose any translation of surat 96 al-'alaq, only of verses 6
and 7 of this surah. But Lomax should be confident: I'm proposing a translation
in due time.

>It is no more defensible here.

As everybody can see in the thread "Surah 96" in soc.religion.islam - look, for
instance, my posting <52ou1p$i...@shellx.best.com> of 1996/09/30 -, I showed
that, on the contrary, the traditional understanding/translation of 96:6.7 is
indefensible due to some grammatical errors. One of these mistakes is the
indefensible reflexive translation of "ra'aahu" as "he sees himself" instead as
"he sees him", which Lomax tries to defend till today.

Lomax comment goes on:

>He comments that the author of the poem which he has mangled ...

That's impertinence. I didn't mangle anything. It's easy for me to show the
Arabic text. Lomax himself, however, mangles my translation, as will be seen
below.

>... is "obviously" a Christian.

Yes, I think this conclusion is fair. But the Christianity of the author of the
little poem by no means is essential in my argument.

>Now, the poet is not named in Lane's reference.

I didn't say anything different.

>I think that Heger has no idea whether the poet was Christian or not. He soley
>bases the conclusion on his insistence of a literal meaning for "khashiytu" (I
>fear) in the cited poem.

That's no matter of "ideas". As the poet is unknown, so his confession. But
the sense of this poem IMO hardly leaves another possibility than that the poet
was Christian.

For the sense of the poem the correct understanding of the verb "khashiya" is
crucial, indeed. And the meaning of this verb - Lomax unduly belittles it as
"literal meaning" - is "to fear", but originally "to fear for a person", "to

care for a person merciful", "to be troubled because of a person" and so on.

To underline this original meaning of "khashiya": Its etymology is undoubted. It
corresponds to Akkadic "khaashu(m)" or to Jewish-Aramaic "khuush", both meaning
"to trouble oneself about a thing or a person", "to fear for a person". This
meaning is undoubtedly present in the Arabic language, too, but no longer as the
unique sense. Out of the specific meaning "to fear for a person" the general
meaning "to fear", even "to fear a person" or "to fear a thing" evolved.

>But Lane has cited this poem as an example, among others, if the usage of
>khashiya to mean "hope."

Lane's erroneous translation is:

"And I know assuredly that he who follows the right direction,
shall dwell in the gardens (of Paradise) with the prophet Muhammad."

>As it was with Heger's imagination of sura 96, his supposed meaning
>makes little sense.

Think's Lomax. Again, he doesn't know of any translation of mine of surah 96,
only of verses 6 and 7, and this translation is - contrary to his -
grammatically correct, makes good sense and will fit perfectly well the context
in a translation which I'm proposing in a continuation of the thread "Surah 96"
of soc.religion.islam.

Lomax helpless deliberation goes on:

>A pious Christian, who, as he surmises, believed that Islam was misguidance,
>would hardly "fear that one on right guidance would dwell with Muhammad in the
>garden."

In this sentence Lomax is distorting my translation, which I may repeat for his
convenience:

"I have been always afraid, by this time, that those who had followed the
right way, already, would live with the prophet Muhammad in the gardens."

To say it more verbosely: The poet always has been afraid, till today, when he
composes this little poem, that those who had followed the right way already,
before, in the past, later would leave this right way and live with the prophet

Muhammad "in the gardens".

But instead of reading my translation correctly, Lomax continues:



>Or, more accurately, if he feared that, he would be allowing the possibility
>that Muhammad's way was the right one; and thus that his *own* views
>were incorrect.

The poet, obviously and to Lomax' misfortune, doesn't think so, he judges
Muhammad's way as a wrong one and he has always feared that the people would
follow it.

>Thus the poem, even if we disallow the clear usage in it of kashiya to mean
>"hope" -- so clear that it is used as an example in a dictionary,

Concerning this linguistically erroneous "hope" of Lomax' look below.

>and we accept the *very* speculative assertion that the author was Christian,

Lomax is free to think of the poet as of a Mormon, if he likes. It doesn't
matter which religion he had. It's clear, however, that his religion wasn't
Islam...

>would not represent a judgement of apostasy against the Muslims, but rather an
>expression of taqwa, of fear of God, a fear that would be appropriate.

... and that he judges the behaviour of those who "live with the prophet
Muhammad in the gardens" as apostasy.

>But it appears that Heger has no such fear.

I love these strong and objective arguments, right to the point of the item in
question!

>Now, the point of citing this poem was to connect in the reader's mind
>the "garden" in which one might dwell with Muhammad, with the mountain

>gardens of the poem attributed to Waraqa...

This connection of the "gardens of the mountains" in the poem attributed to
Waraqa and and the "gardens" - plural, Mr. Lomax! -, where the unknown poet sees
the people living with the prophet Muhammad, indeed, cannot be doubted. This
connection and, additionally, the intriguing connection with the "garden" or
"paradise" of later Muslim orthodoxy will become the more clear the more
scholarly scrutiny will deal with the textual history of the Qur'an.

Finally Lomax neglects my friendly advice not to waste time on Lane's erroneous
translation, which I quoted above.

>Lane spent the major part of his adult life in the study of Arabic. From about
>1842 to 1876, subsidised by the British government, he did nothing but research
>and compile his dictionary. He was not a Muslim. His purpose was merely to
>elucidate the language, as thoroughly and completely as was in his power to do.

It is fine to read that even a non-Muslim orientalist can attain Lomax' praise.
And I'm not in the mood to diminish Lane's merits. But in the above quoted
instance his translation is erroneous - due to the fact that he sometimes wasn't
critical enough of traditional lexicographic assertions and didn't realize their
occasional origin in biassed traditions.

>If Lane had left the meaning of "fear" in place, I would still read it as
>meaning "hope," for I am familiar with Qur'anic usage, and fear and hope are
>inextricably bound in the mind of a believer.

Of course, "fear" and "hope" are bound inextricably, that is to say bound by a
negation: The one thing I fear and the opposite I hope. And such a negation is
missing in our instance.

Concerning the Qur'anic usage, Lomax' argument is a vicious circle: The
tradition maintains some kind of understanding of words, and this understanding
is the proof for the tradition. Actually, as I said, the original meaning of
"khashiya" as "to fear for a person" is undoubtedly present in the Arabic
language. And it is present in the Qur'an, too; look, for instance, verse 18:80.
It's probable that also in other passages the verb "khashiya" has to be
understood in this original sense, contrary to the traditional understanding.

To underline this: though the stem "khshy" occurs in the Qur'an 48 times, not
any single passage in the traditional reading shows God as the subject of the
fear for man's eternal salvation. That's strange and arouses suspicion. I
elaborated this in my posting <5564sr$l...@shellx.best.com> in soc.religion.islam
on surah 35:28. A standard translation of 35:28 is:

"And of men and Ad-Dawab (i.e. moving living creatures, beasts, etc.) and
cattle, in like manner of various colours. It is only those who have knowledge
among His slaves that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving"
(according to Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsi Khan).

The focus of interest now is the second sentence, since it hardly seems
understandable that among the servants of God only those with knowledge are said
to fear him, since to fear him is the quality which makes a person a servant of
God. It's rather blasphemous to think that only, say, scholarly people are able
to fear God properly. Actually, that doesn't seem the original meaning of the
sentence

"Innamaa yakhshay Allaha min 'ibaadihi l-'ulamaa'u."

One only has to use the original meaning of the verb "khashiya" as "to fear for

a person", "to care for a person merciful", "to be troubled because of a

person". Now, it's impossible to think that the "'ulamaa'" would fear for God
with sorrows and mercy! Of course not the "'ulamaa'" are fearing for God, but
God in his mercy is fearing for the "'ulamaa'", since he fears that they would
not come into the paradise.

That the vowelling marks in the (Uthmanic) standard text of the Qur'an seem to
contradict this understanding, since we now have to read "Allahu" etc., should
be no problem. The first written notes of the verses of the Qur'an surely were
only rasm text, without vowelling marks and diacritical signs - as some of the
earliest extant Qur'an manuscripts are.

Consequently, we have to translate:

"God fears among his servants especially for the 'ulamaa'."

So far, at the moment, my comment on Lomax' asylum of ignorance, his "Qur'anic
use".

Lomax complains:

>(Heger does not mention that Lane goes on to say, after he gives the
>translation of Khashaytu as "I know," that the meaning may be "I hope," and I
>agree with him, only I would affirm that "hope" is a better translation.)

To supply this odd idea, to understand "to fear" as "to hope", with some
credibility, Lomax takes refuge in a humorous or ironic use of the word "to
fear" in English colloquial style:

>Further, I might say to a student, "I fear that your studies will earn you
>wisdom." This is a standard poetic usage, they have names for it which I do not
>remember; it is not unique to Arabic. It means "I hope."

Firstly, Lomax is invited to present some paradigms for this use of "khashiya"
in classical Arabic literature. Secondly, such a humorous use would be
inappropriate in the context of the little, old poem.

>Heger constructs an enormous edifice of fraud on the tiniest piece of
>evidence.

In this thread "Waraqa", which may be said to be a tiny and remote item, I
showed that two passages in Ibn Hisham's book are distorted. Actually now, I
only showed that Lane's translation was erroneous. But there are lots of such
"tiny pieces". One only has to look at the things, unimpressed by the bias of
lots of fraudulent traditions.

Lomax finish is astonishing, indeed:

>*And even if Heger's argument were true about the poem from the unnamed author,
>it would not confirm, in the least, his claims about Waraqa.*

That's strong belief. That's beyond me.

>I will say what *is* clear about this affair: Heger is searching for obscure
>trivia

If the story of Waraqa belongs to trivia - why then is Mr. Lomax thus upset by
my proof that the pious legend about him as a supporter of Muhammad is faulty
and the opposite true.

>... which will appear to confirm his cold and hostile view of Islam, and he is

>willing to stretch the evidence very far indeed in asserting wild speculation
>as proven facts.

Apart from his guess about my bad intentions: I would say it is Lomax who, still
maintaining, after all, that the pious legends about Waraqa are true, stretches
his strong beliefs against all evidence. And his personal invectives (which I
mostly snipped in this reply) don't add credibility to this method of opposing
strong beliefs against linguistic evidence.

Kind regards,
Christoph Heger


AbdulraHman Lomax

unread,
Dec 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/30/96
to

as-salamu 'alaykum.

Christo...@t-online.de (Christoph Heger) wrote:

>It's really annoying that Mr. AbdurraHman Lomax, as soon as his beloved Islam is
>in any danger to look a bit unhappy, isn't able to discuss scientific matters
>without making an unfounded guess about his opponents' bad intentions and
>character.

Scientific matters? What scientific matters? Heger made a completely
far-fetched interpretation of some obscure poetry, of doubtful or
unestablished provenance, and I demonstrated this. In the same post I
made some inferences about Mr. Heger's motives. These matters are
separable. Heger seems to have the concept that soc.religion.islam is
confined to discussion of "scientific matters," because if this were
true, then his objection would have a certain validity. But even then,
in a purely scientific conference, if one participant had evidence
that another had been, for example, paid to produce research with a
certain result, it would be relevant. Now, I do not think that Mr.
Heger was paid; no, his foolishness he inflicts on us, I would assume,
as a volunteer. And, of course, the same could be said about me.

>He should realize that in scholarly debates pointing to alleged
>intentions behind an assertion is not pertinent to the matter and superfluous;
>it doesn't render unnecessary dealing with the assertion as such.

The assertions in the post to which I responded were dealt with. I am
not quite sure why, but Heger's response, cited above, is not threaded
on my server as a response to one of my responses, but appears as if
it were a response to his own post.

>Remarkably enough, Lomax in his posting <arielE2...@netcom.com> of
>1996/12/25 doesn't contradict what I showed in my earlier postings
><58g466$e...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu> of 1996/12/9 and
><595at9$8...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu> of 1996/12/17: that the two passages in Ibn
>Hisham's "Biography of the Prophet" about Waraqa ibn Nawfal's alleged support
>for Muhammad are distorted and that Waraqa, on the contrary, was a bitter enemy
>of Muhammad.

>Lomax opposes only what I gave in addition in my posting
><59jkoe$h...@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu> of 1996/12/22:

It's not remarkable. I respond to one post at a time, usually. In this
case Heger had started a new thread, which makes it somewhat tedious
to go back and find the earlier comments. There is a post, back there,
to which, it appears, there has not been a response. I will put it
queue for response, since Heger seems to think that it is so
significant. It may take me some time to get to it.

>>Now, we are supposed to accept as a fact that Waraqa, RA, actually
>>wrote this poem.

>No, Lomax is free to give some evidence that the tradition who attributes this
>poem to Waraqa is erroneous. But he doesn't. Debates in this newsgroup will be
>much more fruitful if Lomax is equally critical against the tradition on other
>occasions.

On the contrary, the burden of proof as to provenance is the one who
asserts it. Heger cited no evidence whatsoever that the poem was from
Waraqa, except that it was included in a collection.

Here is what he said:
***begin quote***


Thus, whereas we even don't know when Waraqa died, a poem of him has

been handed down to posterity. I translate after the Arabic edition by
Louis Cheikho, Kitab shu'ara' an-nasraniya, vol. I: qabla l-islam
(i.e. The book of the Christian poets, vol. I: Before Islam), Beyrouth
1890, reprint Beirut 1967, p. 617, 11 s.)

***end quote***

Now, this text is, for the vast majority of readers of s.r.i.,
obscure. Heger does not cite any material from the text that would
indicate how strong or weak the attribution to Waraqa is. Yet he
states as if it were a proven fact that the poem was "of him" ("of
his" would be more correct English). I pointed out this fact in my
last post, because it is evidence that Heger is not following the
sober protocols of scholarship that he seems to demand that others
follow; rather his arguments proceed from a desire to prove his
idiosyncratic conclusions, not to elucidate or inform with sholarly
caution.

Heger did not respond to this criticism. He edited it out of his
quotation of me, above. Here is what I had said in that paragraph:

***quote***


Now, we are supposed to accept as a fact that Waraqa, RA, actually

wrote this poem. It would be better to say that this poem has been
attributed to Waraqa; but polemicists don't like cautious
distinctions: they weaken the polemic effect.

***end quote***



>I repeat my translation of the poem for convenience:

> "You escaped from a hot furnace of God
> because of your believe in a lord, whom no lord is alike,
> and because you left the gardens of the mountains (al-gannaat al gibaal),
> such [sinfull] as they are."

>Lomax suddenly:

>>I'll accept the poem as being from Waraqa. It rings true.

It was not sudden. Rather, it was my next comment. I pointed out that
the provenance was not proven, then I accepted it, for the purpose of
discussion.

>Though this "ringing true" is no evidence, Lomax' acceptance shortens this
>debate. He continues:

That's the idea. However, "ringing true" *is* evidence, but not to the
likes of Heger.

>>And the metaphor is quite clear to me.

>Apparently not, as the following makes clear. To begin with, Lomax indulges his
>desires for dire suspicions of his opponents' intentions:

>>Heger wants to avoid an "elaboration" of the meaning of the "mountain
>>gardens" because if we know what it actually means, we will not be
>>able to read it with the meaning he proposes.

>Firstly, the meaning of these "gardens of the mountains" is no secret knowledge
>of mine. Lomax can get acquainted with the matter in the scholarly literature.
>To begin with, I suggest W. F. Albright, The High Places in Ancient Palestine
>(Suppl. to VT IV, Leiden 1957, 257).

Perhaps in a couple of years I can find a copy. But the meaning of the
phrase is clear, as I said. I am quite sure that Waraqa, who lived in
the area of Mecca, had not consulted Albright before writing his poem.
One assumes, first, that a poet writes according to the culture in
which he lives and breathes, and this culture, for Waraqa, was not
Ancient Palestine.

I have no confidence that Heger has given us the entire poem. But I
will assume for the moment that he has. Waraqa was a dweller in the
desert, and there were many Christian anchorites who believed that God
was more easily found in the desert than in more lush environments.
This poem fits exactly into that context. The "gardens of the
mountains" is an image for the world, as the desert is a symbol for
leaving the world. Waraqa, or whoever the author was, plays with this
imagery, for he also makes the parallel with the desert with hell, and
he knows the connection between "garden" (as in jan aden, or the
Garden of Eden) and paradise. So one leaves paradise to find God in a
place which is like Hell. Like all good poetry it says a great deal in
a few short words.

To connect the "gardens of the mountains" with the Muslim paradise
will stand in my mind for a long time as an example of far-fetched
metaphorical interpretation, and this interpretation, which I can only
described as "ridiculous," is central to Heger's thesis that the poem
is anti-Islamic. No, the poem does nothing to indicate, in the least,
that Waraqa was against Islam; such an impression would only arise in
one who was searching for any evidence that might create such a thing.

>Secondly, concerning the other poem, which I quoted,

> "I have been always afraid, by this time, that those who had followed the
> right way, already, would live with the prophet Muhammad in the gardens."

>to give evidence of the link between Muhammad's religious movement and the
>"dwelling in the gardens", it doesn't matter who actually wrote it, Muslim,
>Christian or Pagan, as long as it is credited to be from early-Islam times.

I already responded to Heger on this point. First of all, that there
is a connection with Muhammad, SAS, and "dwelling in the gardens" is a
no-brainer. But to make a general reference to "the gardens of the
mountains" into a specific rejection of Islam, when there is a far
more simple and coherent reading of Waraqa's poem, is pure
intellectual self-abuse. I can see why Br. Haddad has declined to
participate further in these threads.

>Thirdly, I don't want to avoid an elaboration of the meaning of the "mountain
>gardens". I only cannot deal with all items in one moment. Lomax is asked to be
>patient. I hope to be able to elaborate the matter in forthcoming postings.

All items? How about dealing with one? Heger seems to imagine that we
have not answered his points. He made two points in his article, both
of them were thoroughly demolished. Now he pleads that the whole thing
is too much for him. I can understand. It can take a lot of time to
defend defensible positions, not to speak of indefensible ones like
Heger's.

>>And now we return to a familiar theme of Heger's. He insists that his own
>>translation (and tafsir) is superior to that of those who have been intimately
>>familiar with Arabic language and idiom, Muslim and non-Muslim.

>Yes, indeed, I insist that my translation of the little poems is correct - apart
>from my modest command of the English language.

He has acknowledged the fact. In this case, he is asserting his own
understanding above that of Lane, and of Lane's sources as well. And
with a translation that is ridiculous on its face. In another posting,
Heger gives as his inspiration a "well-known scientist." I do not
wonder that this "scientist" does not want his name associated with
Heger's work.

>Due to the fact that Lomax
>doesn't belong to those who are intimately familiar with Arabic language and
>idiom, he doesn't propose another translation for the first poem and is
>prematurely happy with Lane's erroneous translation, which I quoted in my P.S.

Balderdash. The Arabic of the poem is transparently clear. As I said,
it was clear enough to be used in a dictionary as an example. Think
about it....

[...]

>Lomax comment goes on:

>>He comments that the author of the poem which he has mangled ...

>That's impertinence. I didn't mangle anything. It's easy for me to show the
>Arabic text. Lomax himself, however, mangles my translation, as will be seen
>below.

The paradigm of impertinence accuses a mere student of impertinence. I
am honored....

Heger's assertion that I had mangled his translation stems from his
misreading of a paraphrase as being contrary to the sense that he
asserts. However, the shift in meaning between the paraphrase and the
original (and it was clearly a paraphrase, not asserted as a
quotation, and the orginal was accurately quoted, so that no mistake
could have been made about this) was very slight and not significant
to the argument. In other words, had I said, in my paraphrase, what
Heger asserts was the correct understanding, it would have made no
difference except that Heger would not have been able to assert that I
had "mangled" it. If someone is really interested in going over this
silly mess, he or she is welcome to look at Heger's post.

Heger's interpretation of the poem from Lane depends on his refusal to
recognise a poetical usage of "fear" as meaning "hope." As I have
shown, this usage is established by many examples, not only in Arabic
but in English as well. It does not depend exclusively on this poem.
So Heger's insistence that Lane is "erroneous" only exposes his own
arrogance. Nothing substantial was added by Heger in his response.
Information about Akkadic or Aramaic cognates is simply irrelevant,
for we do not deny the primary meaning of khashiya.

As to Qur'anic usage, there is no Qur'anic example of this poetic
usage, to my knowledge, and none was asserted, so Heger's foray into
Qur'anic usage was gratuitous and only served to show, once again, his
readiness to "discover" interpretations which depend on speculative,
unsupported, alternate readings. If one were free to assert alternate
readings based on untransmitted pronunciations of the skeleton text,
one could, relatively easily, project whatever meaning one desired
onto the Qur'an, and Heger, as an unbeliever, utterly without
khashiya, has no hesitation about doing this.

Fouad Haddad

unread,
Dec 31, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/31/96
to

Salam `alaykum,

Another pearl from Brother Lomax:

>no, his foolishness he inflicts on us, I would assume,
>as a volunteer.

Very funny. :>

For what it's worth:

>***begin quote***
>Thus, whereas we even don't know when Waraqa died, a poem of him has
>been handed down to posterity. I translate after the Arabic edition by
>Louis Cheikho, Kitab shu'ara' an-nasraniya, vol. I: qabla l-islam
>(i.e. The book of the Christian poets, vol. I: Before Islam), Beyrouth
>1890, reprint Beirut 1967, p. 617, 11 s.)
>***end quote***

>Now, this text is, for the vast majority of readers of s.r.i.,
>obscure. Heger does not cite any material from the text that would
>indicate how strong or weak the attribution to Waraqa is.

For Lebanese literati Louis [pr. Lweess] Cheikho is a famous name.
But what Heger omitted to include is the s.j. (Societas Iesu) which
appears after the name of Cheikho, a Jesuit priest, on all his books
even in Arabic. No doubt he was also a great Arabist, as were a few
Syrian and Lebanese clerics from other orders, such as Louis [Lweess]
Ma`luf, the author of the Munjid, one of the best Arabic dictionaries
and a good help although I have Lisan al-`arab. But no doubt
also that one can hardly rely on Cheikho as the sole source for
the authenticity of a an attribution to Waraqa when there is an
entire scholarly institution in place -- and in full working order --
that can do so with far greater accuracy and reliability. Bravo Lomax
for your correct instinct.

I have no further comments except to commend Br. Lomax for using
his precious time to rebut almost every Heger and Yuksel of SRI.
I am sure he knows that he stands greater chances of being heard
if he attempts to reason Charibdys and Scylla, and that he writes in
effect for others, with more malleable hearts than these two.

Fouad Haddad


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