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

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Jun 23, 2000, 3:00:00 AM6/23/00
bismillah wa-l Hamdu lillah waS-Salaatu was-salaamu `alaa rasoolillah,

as-salaamu `alaykum

I just now learned of an article Dr. Christoph Heger wrote on August
11, 1999 concerning the first verse of Surat al-Furqan, the 25th surah
(or chapter) of the Qur'aan. After reading this article I was amazed
that such heinous and wanton misinformation can be disseminated. I
honestly believe Dr. Heger knew what he was writing was false.
Otherwise, if he claims that he did not know it was erroneous and
false, then he is admitting a severe incompetence in the area of
Semitic languages and needs to refrain from writing any further
articles on the subject. Dr. Heger, pick one. Now for the refutations.

The verse is as follow:

"Blessed be He who sent down the criteria on His servant that he might
be a warner for the worlds."
[al-Qur'aan, surat al-Furqan 25:1]

This verse is transliterated as:

"tabaarak-allathee nazzala-l FURQAANA `alaa abdihi li yakoona li-l
`aalameena NATHEERAN"

Dr. Heger alleges in his article that the word "FURQAAN" is an old
Aramaic word for "salvation" and/or "redemption" and that the word
"NATHEER" is a word which means a "vow" or a "sacrifice". Thus, he
garrotes himself by saying that this verse was originally a Christian
prayer which was, "Blessed be He who sent down the SALVATION on His
servant that he me be a SACRIFICE for the worlds." 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.

In his first version of his article dated 7/11/99 he states:

"The meaning 'criterion' usually maintained for "furqaan" results from
the attempt to interpret the Syriac "furqaan", which has the meaning
of "redemption, salvation", in a way that relates both to the Arabic
word "farq" meaning "separation" and to the contexts in which the word
is found."

Then he goes on to quote a wide list of book title's without quoting a
single one of them:

"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."

Oddly, Dr. Heger has such a long list of books, but he doesn't quote a
single word from any of them to support his claim that "FURQAAN" means
"salvation". 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. 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.

Most notably odd is that this list of books is all Dr. Heger says
about the word "FURQAAN" and then the entirety of the remainder of his
article focuses on the word "NATHEER". The reason so little emphasis
is placed on the word "FURQAAN" is because what he says is simply not
founded on anything at all. It is, simply put, scholastic guile as we
shall see.


Though Dr. Heger wishes not to discuss the word "FURQAAN", I will very
thoroughly, much to his chagrin. The Arabic word "FURQAAN" comes from
the Arabic tri-lateral root "FA, RAA, QAAF". This means to "divide,
seperate, break, break away, etc". Allah uses it to describe the
Qur'an because it is what discerns and seperates right from wrong and
truth from falsehood.

This word IS found in Hebrew, Aramaic and even Chaldee as the word
"PARAAQ" and not "PURQAAN" as Dr. Heger says in errata. In the Semitic
languages the letter "FEH" is interchanged with the letter "PEH". Such
as in the Aramaic/Syriac alphabet the letter "ALEF" is "ALEP". Also
the letter "KAF" is "KAP" in Aramaic/Syriac. The word "KAFAR" in
Arabic is "KAPAR" in Hebrew.

Now, regarding the word "PARAAQ" what do the leading Lexicons of the
Old Testament say?

Dr. William Gesenius of the 1800's upon whose work all the noteworthy
Hebrew/Aramaic/Chaldee Old Testament Lexicons are based is the utmost
authority in this subject.

"PARAAQ - To Bend, to break..1) To break off, followed by "MA'AAL"
Genesis 27:40. 2) To break or crush bones and limbs (used of a wild
beast), Psalm 7:3. 3) To break away, to liberate, Psalm 136:24.
Lamentations 5:8 (Syriac "PARAQ") Piel. - 1) To break off, to tear
off, Exodus 32:2. Zechariah 11:16, 2) To break, or rend in pieces, 1
Kings 19:11. Hithapiel. - 1) to be broken in pieces, Ezekiel 19:12. 2)
To break, or tear off from oneself, with an acc. Exodus
32:3,24;...Derivatives "PARAQ", "PEREQ", "MAPIREQEH"."
[Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, page 692 under
"PARAQ", Feb. 1999 edition]

Where is the mention of Dr. Heger's definition "SALVATION" or
"REDEMPTION"? Observe what the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English
Lexicon states:

"PARAAQ - verb. tear away, apart (New Hebrew: remove (load, etc.)) Pi.
separate, take to pieces; Arabic: "FARAQA" split, divide; *ESPECIALLY*
"PIRAQ" (PEH/shva, REH/patax, QOF) redeem, rescue; Syriac "PARAQ"
withdraw (intransitive), also remove, rescue..."
[Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 830 under
"PARAQ", fifth edition]

So, now we see where Dr. Heger gets his definition of "salvation".
However, the sad reality is that "FARAQ" does not mean salvation but
to "seperate, remove or divide". Thus, it is used to designate
salvation IMPLICITLY by meaning a seperation or removal from
adversity. This also, to Dr. Heger's chagrin, is ONLY when it is used
as "PEH, REH, QOF" with a "shva" on the "PEH" and a "patax" on the
"REH" as mentioned in the B-D-B Lexicon (page 830, fifth edition).

The word "PARAAQ" is used in its various forms 10 times in the Bible.
It is used only 3 times to IMPLICITLY designate salvation by removal
from adversity. This is in Psalms 7:2, 136:24 and Lamentations 5:8.
The other 7 times it is used in the Bible it is used to mean "breaking

Now we have already destroyed the first half of Dr. Heger's argument
without a shred of doubt. But let us pursue it one step further to put
one last nail in the coffin. Let us replace each occurrence of "PARAQ"
in the Old Testament with "SALVATION".

"And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it
shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt
SALVATION/REDEEM his yoke from off thy neck." [Genesis 27:40]

"..REDEEM his yoke from off thy neck"? "SALVATION his yoke from off
thy neck"? "SALVAGE his yoke from off thy neck"? I don't think so...

"And Aaron said unto them, SALVATION/REDEEM the golden earrings, which
are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters,
and bring them unto me."
[Exodus 32:2]

"REDEEM the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives.."?
"SALVATION the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your
wives.."? Here even with a stretch to make the words applicable you
end up with the OPPOSITE of what the Bible says. The Bible says Aaron
said to remove the earrings and cast them off. Dr. Heger's
interpretation would be to salvage them.

And all the people SALVATION/REDEEM(ed) off the golden earrings which
were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
[Exodus 32:3]

"REDEEM(ed) off the golden earrings which were in their ears.."?
"SALVATION off the golden earrings which were in their ears.."?
"SALVAGED off the golden earrings which were in their ears.."? Again,
Dr. Heger's interpretation of the word brings about a serious oxymoron
in this sentence. How does one "SALVAGE off" something?

There are 7 other examples but I will not task the readers any more.
Dr. Heger's point has been refuted enough. The fact that he alleges he
wrote a "thesis" on this and it met no opposition is quite absurd as
any sincere professor of Semitic languages would have shot it down
with a rail gun. That *IS* any *SINCERE* Professor of Semitic
Languages and as well all know that is not always the case. I will
give examples of this insincerity and scholastic guile like Dr.
Heger's in a seperate article based on missionary fabrications
regarding the origin of the phrase "Allahu Akbar".

I will conitnue regarding the Arabic word "NATHEER" in Part 2 of this


Shibli Zaman

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