Heger's "FURQAAN" and "NATHEER" theories [PART 1]

4 views
Skip to first unread message

Dr. Christoph Heger

unread,
Jun 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/28/00
to
Greetings to all,

Mr. Shibli Zaman in his message of Fri, 23 Jun 2000 04:29:15 GMT tried
to refute the evidence I had put forward in favour of the original
understanding of surat al-Furqaan 25:1,

"tabaaraka lladhiy nazzala l-furqaana `alaa abdihi li-yakuwna
li-l-`aalamiyna nadhiyran"

namely to read this verse as the beginning of an old hymn in praise of
Jesus Christ:

"Blessed be He who sent down the salvation on His servant that he me be
a sacrifice for the worlds."

Instead he insists on the by now traditional understanding of the verse:

> "Blessed be He who sent down the criteria on His servant that he might
> be a warner for the worlds."

The crucial point is: the word "FURQAAN(a)" is an old Syriac (=Christian
Aramaic) word for "salvation" or "redemption" and the Arabic word
"NADHIYR" originally meant a "a thing vowed" or a "sacrifice" - a
meaning which is present even in our days.

But Shibli Zaman thought different:

> ... We will analyze:
>
> a) If the words do indeed mean what Dr. Heger alleges.
>
> b) whether his free-style hack job of this verse of the Qur'an is
> correct according to the Qur'an or even the Bible itself.

Unfortunately Mr. Zaman didn't have a look into the relevant literature
I quoted for the perusal of all those interested in the matter:

>> "For the changing of the meaning from "redemption" through
>> "criterion" to "revelation script" see Theodor Nöldeke, Geschichte
>> des Qorans I, Leipzig 1909, p. 34; Neue Beiträge zur semitischen
>> Sprachwissenschaft, Straßburg 1910, p. 23f.; A.J. Wensinck,
>> Enzyklopädie des Islam, Leiden-Leipzig, 1913-1938, II, p. 126; Josef
>> Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen, Berlin-Leipzig, 1926, S. 76;
>> Jewish Proper Names and Derivatives in the Koran, Hebrew Union
>> College Annual, vol. II, Ohio 1925, p. 145-227; Arthur Jeffery, The
>> Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, Baroda 1938, p. 225-229; Richard
>> Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, London 1926,
>> p. 118-125; Introduction to the Qur'an, Edinburgh, 1953, p. 136-138;
>> W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, Oxford 1960, p. 16."

He simply complains that he is unable to use it:

> Dr. Heger knows full well the average reader of SRI does
> not have access to any of these books, most of which are not even in
> English and/or out of print.

It's not my fault if actually he or his "average reader" lacks the
qualification to evaluate the arguments I put forward. If someone has no
opportunity to use at least Noeldeke/Schwally or Jeffery he should
perhaps remain silent. But Shibli Zaman, again, thinks different:

> The reality is that no one needs these books to know the answer to the
> origins of the words "FURQAAN" and "NATHEER" as the BDB and Gesenius
> Lexicons are uncontested authorities on this matter.

Actually? Let's look!

> REGARDING "FURQAAN"

The whole verbose argument of Mr. Zaman can be reduced to this kernel:

1) He doesn't find the word "purqaana/furqaana" in

> [Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, page 692 under
> "PARAQ", Feb. 1999 edition]

nor in

> [Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 830 under
> "PARAQ", fifth edition]

2) He substitutes various verbal or nominal forms and derivatives of the
(English translation of the) Hebrew word "paraaq" in the Bible by the
(English translation of the) Syriac word "purqaana/furqaana" or
connected verbal forms - and finds his own joke very funny.

Ad 1: Mr. Zaman should try a dictionary of the *Syriac* language, not a
dictionary of Hebrew (even if it comprises those Aramaic words which are
present in the few Aramaic passages in the Old Testament). I guess why
he hasn't done so far: He simply cannot read the entries of such a
dictionary and wouldn't recognize the entry "purqaana/furqaana" there.

Ad 2: It's hard not to be sarcastic about this nonsense of Hebrew-Syriac
"sausages" a la Shibli Zaman.

Eventually, Mr. Zaman threatens another contribution of his about my
linguistic arguments concerning "nadhiyr". I am afraid he actually
cannot be adviced not to make fun of himself.

Kind regards,
Christoph Heger

Dr. Christoph Heger

unread,
Jun 29, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/29/00
to

Altway 2

unread,
Jun 29, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/29/00
to
In article <8jcuov$gae$1...@samba.rahul.net>, Christo...@t-online.de (Dr.
Christoph Heger) writes:

>"tabaaraka lladhiy nazzala l-furqaana `alaa abdihi li-yakuwna
li-l-`aalamiyna nadhiyran"
>namely to read this verse as the beginning of an old hymn in praise of
Jesus Christ:

>"Blessed be He who sent down the salvation on His servant that he may be


a sacrifice for the worlds."

>Instead he insists on the by now traditional understanding of the verse:
> "Blessed be He who sent down the criteria on His servant that he might
be a warner for the worlds."

>The crucial point is: the word "FURQAAN(a)" is an old Syriac (=Christian
Aramaic) word for "salvation" or "redemption" and the Arabic word
"NADHIYR" originally meant a "a thing vowed" or a "sacrifice" - a
>meaning which is present even in our days.

Comment:-
I cannot see how Dr, Hegers interpretation of this verse makes any good sense
or fits into the context of the Sura. "Sent down the salvation"? "Sacrifice for
the worlds"? The first leading to the second? I must confess I am wholly
perplexed.

Is it being asserted that the Quran is teaching Pauline Christianity in this
verse?
I would have thought that it would be obvious to anyone who knows the Quran
that this would make it inconsistent with the rest of the Quran.

Surely the Quran should be read according to how it was intended to be read and
not according to the meaning of words in another language.
Even in English if someone tells us about "Gays" we could look up the original
meaning of the word which is "cheerful, jovial, carefree, bright-coloured etc"
and reach a completely absurd conclusion about what is intended by the modern
speaker.
It is an interesting bit of speculation, but it is hardly likely that Muslims
will accept an anti-muslim's interpretation of a Quranic verse - the reason
should be obvious :- people perceive and interpret things according to their
motives and attitudes. But perhaps it is an attempt to support, in any way,
other readers hostile to Islam.
It is possible to give things a great number of alternative meanings if one
wishes desperately to interpret them according to ones desires.


H.S.Aziz


Dr. Christoph Heger

unread,
Jun 30, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/30/00
to
Greetings to all,

Mr. H.S.Aziz in his message of 29 Jun 2000 had another objection to my
reconstruction of the original meaning of surah 25:1

"tabaaraka lladhiy nazzala l-furqaana `alaa abdihi li-yakuwna
li-l-`aalamiyna nadhiyran"

namely to read this verse as the beginning of an old hymn in praise of
Jesus Christ:

"Blessed be He who sent down the salvation on His servant that he may be
a sacrifice for the worlds."

He comments:

> I cannot see how Dr, Hegers interpretation of this verse makes any
> good sense or fits into the context of the Sura.

The immediate context, indeed, has been destroyed - for good, as I am
afraid. But some verses below the continuation of the hymn can be
recognized. I hope I will sometimes find the time to condense the
evidence for this emendation into a contribution to sri.

Concerning the question of good sense, Mr. Aziz asks:

> "Sent down the salvation"? "Sacrifice for the worlds"? The first
> leading to the second? I must confess I am wholly perplexed.

I may invite to read more about the whole matter of restoring 25:1 in my
article "Surah 25:1 Al-Furqân and 'the warner'" on
http://home.t-online.de/home/Christoph.Heger/sura25_1.html

You have to allow for the poetic costums of the old Arabic poets who
liked to use short and often even complicated allusions. That "His
servant" Jesus is said to have been chosen for being "a sacrifice for
the worlds" (probably originally: "for the both worlds") presents no
problem with regard to Christian theology. But you are right, Mr. Aziz,
in that it is surprising to read that sending down the salvation upon
Jesus should have been the reason or condition for this "being a
sacrifice".

Though it may be justifiable even from orthodox trinitarian theology, it
is more probable that it reflexes the theology of antitrinitarian
Christians (haniyfs), who outside the Roman Empire in Arabia (so called
Arabia Haeretica!) continued to exist. They typically didn't consider
Jesus Christ as the Son Incarnate, but as kind of archangel on earth. In
their view it was quite natural that divine salvation was sent upon him
to become the sacrifice for the worlds.

> Is it being asserted that the Quran is teaching Pauline Christianity
> in this verse?

Not necessarily. Though the teaching that Jesus Christ offered himself
as sacrifice for the worlds surely is shared by Paul, too. Any
non-trinitarian views would be alien to him.

> I would have thought that it would be obvious to anyone who knows the
> Quran that this would make it inconsistent with the rest of the Quran.

Not to the whole rest of the Quran. There are in the Qur'an many other
passages the original version of which is in absolute agreement with it.
It is no need that the younger parts of the Qur'an must be consistent
with the original understanding of the older parts.

> Surely the Quran should be read according to how it was intended to be
> read

Surely, but how is read in the meantime it was not originally intended
to be read

> and not according to the meaning of words in another language. Even in
> English if someone tells us about "Gays" we could look up the
> original meaning of the word which is "cheerful, jovial, carefree,
> bright-coloured etc"

So you see, Mr. Aziz, there is an etymological development of "gay". Why
don't you read in the literature cited by me how the etymology of
"furqaan" from Syriac "purqaana" developed?

You should not make the mistake to belittle the importance of textual
criticism of the Qur'an and the sometimes achieved successes in emending
the text.

Kind regards,
Christoph Heger

Altway 2

unread,
Jul 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/3/00
to
In article <8ji424$h37$1...@samba.rahul.net>, Christo...@t-online.de (Dr.
Christoph Heger) writes:
Regarding :- I cannot see how Dr, Hegers interpretation of this verse makes any

good sense or fits into the context of the Sura.

>The immediate context, indeed, has been destroyed - for good, as I am
>afraid. But some verses below the continuation of the hymn can be
>recognized. I hope I will sometimes find the time to condense the
>evidence for this emendation into a contribution to sri.

Comment:-
Are we to understand that though the immediate context has been destroyed you
know what it is, and that because a part of some thing resembles a part of
something else then this proves your thesis? Does the occurance of the same
string of words in a Commercial document and a Scientific document make Science
into commerce or vice versa?

>Concerning the question of good sense, Mr. Aziz asks:
>
>> "Sent down the salvation"? "Sacrifice for the worlds"? The first
>> leading to the second? I must confess I am wholly perplexed.
>
>I may invite to read more about the whole matter of restoring 25:1 in my
>article "Surah 25:1 Al-Furqân and 'the warner'" on
>http://home.t-online.de/home/Christoph.Heger/sura25_1.html

>You have to allow for the poetic costums of the old Arabic poets who
>liked to use short and often even complicated allusions. That "His
>servant" Jesus is said to have been chosen for being "a sacrifice for
>the worlds" (probably originally: "for the both worlds") presents no
>problem with regard to Christian theology. But you are right, Mr. Aziz,
>in that it is surprising to read that sending down the salvation upon
>Jesus should have been the reason or condition for this "being a
>sacrifice".

Comment:-
The poetic custom of Arab Poets? The Quran denies that it is poetry.
The assumptions on which you base your conclusions are unacceptable.

>Though the teaching that Jesus Christ offered himself
>as sacrifice for the worlds surely is shared by Paul, too. Any
>non-trinitarian views would be alien to him.

Comment:-
Paul was a Jew. There is no trinitarian doctrine in the Old Testament and there
is none in Paul's writings either.
I think the idea of sacrifice as it occurs in the New Testament is a
misunderstanding which Muhammad (saw) corrected. The Prophets sacrifice
themselves on behalf of God and man in that they devote their lives to bringing
the message of God about salvation to man and are willing to suffer hardship
and persecution in doing this.
I think you have yourself misunderstood this and based your theories on false
premises having been conditioned by Christian Theology.


>> I would have thought that it would be obvious to anyone who knows the
>> Quran that this would make it inconsistent with the rest of the Quran.

>Not to the whole rest of the Quran. There are in the Qur'an many other
>passages the original version of which is in absolute agreement with it.
>It is no need that the younger parts of the Qur'an must be consistent
>with the original understanding of the older parts.

Comment :-
The missing original version again?
If it does not exist then the conclusion must be that the chances of it never
having existed are far greater specially as one can invent any number of
versions to suit any number of speculations.

It is a central part of the Quran itself that it is wholly self-consistent. If
then you regard it as not being self-consistent, you are not reading it as it
shold be read. That being the case it is not possible to take your conclusions
seriously.

>> Surely the Quran should be read according to how it was intended to be
>> read
>Surely, but how is read in the meantime it was not originally intended
>to be read

Comment :-
As above

>> and not according to the meaning of words in another language. Even in
English if someone tells us about "Gays" we could look up the
original meaning of the word which is "cheerful, jovial, carefree,
bright-coloured etc"
>So you see, Mr. Aziz, there is an etymological development of "gay". Why
>don't you read in the literature cited by me how the etymology of
>"furqaan" from Syriac "purqaana" developed?

Comment:-
The fact remains that words change their meaning in different cultures, times,
peoples, and in different subjects and in different books.

>You should not make the mistake to belittle the importance of textual
>criticism of the Qur'an and the sometimes achieved successes in emending
>the text.

Comment :-
I regard the textual criticism of the kind you are proposing wholly irrelevant
to religion. We need to understand what the words and phrases mean in the
context of the whole of the Quran, the Mission of the Prophet and Islam as a
whole and even in relation to the objective natural world.

But it might be an amusing game and may even be useful from the point of
linguistics or history. But there is a great difference between bare facts,
meanings and values. A study of the one does not necessarily give any
understanding in the other two fields and may even obstruct. The difference is
like that between three people who hear Robert say "Harry is round the bend."
One of them goes round the bend to look for him. The second thinks that Robert
believes Harry to be crazy; and the third wonders what made Robert say this and
what does he mean and wish to achieve by saying it.

H.S.Aziz

H.S.Aziz

Altway 2

unread,
Jul 3, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/3/00
to
In article <8ji424$h37$1...@samba.rahul.net>, Christo...@t-online.de (Dr.
Christoph Heger) writes:

>>I may invite to read more about the whole matter of restoring 25:1 in my
>>article "Surah 25:1 Al-Furqân and 'the warner'" on
>>http://home.t-online.de/home/Christoph.Heger/sura25_1.html

Comment :-
I have read it. Here are some impressions it made on me.

It does not prove that the Islamic interpretation is incorrect as you suppose.

"Farq" means as you say "to separate", but has the sense of "to discriminate".
This has been translated as "criterion", but does not imply that the
translation is exact. The Quran is certainly referred to in many verses as a
provider of discrimination and something which differentiate between truth and
falsity, good and evil, the objective world of creation and the world of
desires and fantasies - we are required to judge all things by the Quran.

You say that "nadhir" is a masculin form which does not mean "warn" but "to
vow" and that its feminine form "nadhira" means "gift" or "sacrifice."

I think these very narrow literal interpretations are as naive as those above.


In fact the masculin form refer to the act of giving and the feminine to the
thing given. "Warning" is certainly not an exact translation, but no one claims
that the translation of the Quran is exact. It can be translated as
"admonition" or "assersion of a truth" which includes meanings such as
"vowing" , "warning" etc.

I think you have badly mistaken the nature of the Arabic language.

H.S.Aziz


Shibli Zaman

unread,
Jul 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM7/4/00
to
this response was devoid of:

a) Even a single counter-argument

b) Even the slightest clue regarding Syriac/Aramaic.

At one point Mr. Heger actually says that a Hebrew/Aramaic - English
Lexicon is insufficient and that I should try a "Syriac Dictionary".
This is an extremely odd statement considering SYRIAC IS CHRISTIAN
ARAMAIC!

Also, since he is extremely unfamiliar with scholastic works printed
in this century, let me inform him that the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew
and English Lexicon has Aramaic notes to establish lexical origins.

Also, Heger never answered my question. What is he a doctor in?
Perhaps he missed the question the first time. I hope he doesn't
"miss" the question a second time.

Now for Heger's sad response to this decisive refutation...

On 29 Jun 2000 15:21:13 GMT, Christo...@t-online.de (Dr.
Christoph Heger) wrote:

>The crucial point is: the word "FURQAAN(a)" is an old Syriac (=Christian
>Aramaic) word for "salvation" or "redemption" and the Arabic word

1) Provide its usage in this way in

- a) Any 1st-2nd century AD Christian literature
- b) Any verse of the Aramaic/Syriac/Assyrian Bible

Interesting how Heger brings forth this theory that the first ayah of
Surat al-Furqaan was inspired by a Christian prayer yet FAILS to
provide that prayer or evidence of its existence with that word usage.
Could this be because such a thing has never existed? Of course.

>"NADHIYR" originally meant a "a thing vowed" or a "sacrifice" - a
>meaning which is present even in our days.

This will be addressed in Part 2 regarding the word "NATHEER". I will
show no more mercy in dismantling these willful and wanton untruths of
Heger.

>
>But Shibli Zaman thought different:

No, the entirety of scholarship thinks differently, the entirety of
literature on the subject states differently. Heger quoted all these
sources (some in German and most out of print), why not quote just one
sentence from them? I found that odd as well. Of course, if you know
the reality of Heger's agenda and intentions it is not odd at all.
Heger states he wrote some "thesis" on this and received "no
opposition" from his peers. Who would those peers be? May I ask their
opinion on this matter? Would Heger please present their contact
information? I don't think so.

>Unfortunately Mr. Zaman didn't have a look into the relevant literature
>I quoted for the perusal of all those interested in the matter:
>
>>> "For the changing of the meaning from "redemption" through
>>> "criterion" to "revelation script" see Theodor Nöldeke, Geschichte
>>> des Qorans I, Leipzig 1909, p. 34; Neue Beiträge zur semitischen
>>> Sprachwissenschaft, Straßburg 1910, p. 23f.; A.J. Wensinck,
>>> Enzyklopädie des Islam, Leiden-Leipzig, 1913-1938, II, p. 126; Josef
>>> Horovitz, Koranische Untersuchungen, Berlin-Leipzig, 1926, S. 76;
>>> Jewish Proper Names and Derivatives in the Koran, Hebrew Union
>>> College Annual, vol. II, Ohio 1925, p. 145-227; Arthur Jeffery, The
>>> Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, Baroda 1938, p. 225-229; Richard
>>> Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, London 1926,
>>> p. 118-125; Introduction to the Qur'an, Edinburgh, 1953, p. 136-138;
>>> W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, Oxford 1960, p. 16."

Unfortunately, Heger didn't find these archaic sources good enough to
quote.

>The whole verbose argument of Mr. Zaman can be reduced to this kernel:
>
>1) He doesn't find the word "purqaana/furqaana" in
>
>> [Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, page 692 under
>> "PARAQ", Feb. 1999 edition]
>
>nor in
>
>> [Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 830 under
>> "PARAQ", fifth edition]
>
>2) He substitutes various verbal or nominal forms and derivatives of the
>(English translation of the) Hebrew word "paraaq" in the Bible by the
>(English translation of the) Syriac word "purqaana/furqaana" or
>connected verbal forms - and finds his own joke very funny.

In case Heger is suffering from scholastic schizophrenia as well as
the practice of scholastic guile, let me refresh his memory. Hebrew
evolved from Aramaic. Actually, Heger went through great lengths to
prove that Aramaic evolved from Hebrew until I silenced him with
archaeological data with photographs of proof that there exist no
older Hebrew tablets than the ones we have of Aramaic.

Now for some repetition for the scholastically impaired...

Thus, the word is "PEH, RESH, KOF" in Hebrew and "PEH, RESH, QOP" in
Aramaic in its trilateral root (as is the case with a majority of
Semitic words). The root word is "PARAQ" spelled "PEH[FEH],
RESH/petocho, QOP" in ARAMAIC and "PEH/kamets, RESH/patach, KOF" in
HEBREW. Thus, Hegers alleged Aramaic word "PURQAAN" occurs how many
times in the Bible? None. The Biblical derivatives are "PARAQ",
"PEREQ", "MAPIREQEH".

So where did Heger get this theory? Certainly there must have existed
some document of ancient Judeo-Christian hymnal or scriptural
literature which led him to this research? No. There exists no such
thing. It was an invention of his imagination inspired by his insipid
hostility towards Islam and Muslims. If he wishes to contest this
conclusion he is forced to produce such hymnal or scriptural
literature dating from the 1st or 2nd centuries AD which may have
inspired his baseless theory.

>Ad 1: Mr. Zaman should try a dictionary of the *Syriac* language, not a
>dictionary of Hebrew (even if it comprises those Aramaic words which are
>present in the few Aramaic passages in the Old Testament). I guess why
>he hasn't done so far: He simply cannot read the entries of such a
>dictionary and wouldn't recognize the entry "purqaana/furqaana" there.

I actually read Aramaic quite well. Had I not been able to, I would
not have been able to read the Aramaic notes in the BDB Lexicon. Had
he been familiar with lexicons printed in this century he would have
known that. Heger obviously can not read any Semitic language well as
he thinks tanween is an integral part of a word in Arabic and he does
not know that Syriac IS Aramaic and that Hebrew is the offspring of
early Aramaic. He actually tried to argue that Aramaic evolved from
Hebrew.

I am still waiting to see that piece of hymnal or scriptural
literature from the first 2 centuries AD which have the words
"FURQAAN" and "NATHEER" used together as they are found in the first
verse of the surat al-Furqaan. Heger shouldn't make us wait too long
and just admit no such thing exists and get it over with.

>Ad 2: It's hard not to be sarcastic about this nonsense of Hebrew-Syriac
>"sausages" a la Shibli Zaman.

Again, Heger himself went through the effort of saying Aramaic (of
which Syriac is a type) evolved from Hebrew. So now he says that
combining the etymology of the two languages is not logical. The only
thing not logical is his lack of reason.

>Eventually, Mr. Zaman threatens another contribution of his about my
>linguistic arguments concerning "nadhiyr". I am afraid he actually
>cannot be adviced not to make fun of himself.
>
>Kind regards,

Nothing about Mr. Heger's absurd attacks on Islam, Muslims and the
Qur'an is "KIND". I am in the process of inviting scholars in the area
of Semitic Etymology to reveal the reality of this "Dr" Heger.

So in conclusion the "Dr" is forced to:

a) Provide any piece of 1st of 2nd century AD Judeo-Christian (or
heretically related to those) scriptural or hymnal piece of evidence
that displays the usage of "FURQAAN" and "NATHEER" in their
Syriac/Aramaic forms.

b) Quote even one sentence from the German and out of print sources he
quotes which substantiates (BEYOND MERE IMPLICIT CONJECTURE) that
these words were used as Heger alleges. HARD ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCRIPTURAL
EVIDENCE. Not silly school yard lexical hack jobs invented by a man
armed with a lexicon professing scholarship.

I have already provided plenty of evidence in contrast to these 2
thoroughly. I am going to drive these people off of the news group in
utter humiliation as much as time allows me to.

An interesting side note is that it took me nearly two weeks of
fighting with Catherine Hampton to post the initial article "Heger's
'FURQAAN' and 'NATHEER' theories [PART 1]". She rejected it twice
without giving a single reason. The article was free from any personal
address towards Heger. Finally, it was posted after much protest.
However, Heger's slapstick response was posted (in spite of its
questionable content directed towards me) not only immediately but
TWICE. Once on the 28th of June and another time on the 29th of June.
The same article needs to be posted twice? Of course, Catherine is a
friend of the Muslims and a good moderator and has no affiliation with
the missionaries and orientalists (sarcasm intended).

Visit http://www.egroups.com/group/sri_awareness

This does not mean that I ascribe to Mr. Mahdi's views in entirety. I
believe the SRI should be a forum for information ABOUT ISLAM. Not a
play ground for missionaries and their polemics. I would like to
discuss ISLAM on SRI for a change rather than waste my time refuting
these children claiming scholarship.

Regards,

Shibli Zaman
Shi...@Zaman.Net

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages