Monday, October 23, 2006

Agnostic Meditation II

Of translation still...
I speak of my own experience, as I don't know otherwise. And as maybe the things I mistrust more than translations are auto-biographies. I won't mention about translated auto-biographies... My own experience consists of the following: I tried approaching Islam, but Islam kept me away by all means possible. Therefore, I took a Coran and started reading.
My argument with Cornelius started over one of those miss-interpretations. But knowing Cornelius, I'm inclined to believe it was an non deliberate one. After last winter circus over the Mohammed cartoons, I found an article published on an online site about Islam and tolerance. I was angry mad at the "faithful" masquerade, because, as a relative pointed out, no true Muslim should be offended by those stupidities for the simple fact that no historical source cited Mohammed the way he was portrayed, i.e. as Bin Laden-Abu Musaab mix. I, for instance, always imagined him to look like one shop owner I used to know back in Damascus.
Nevertheless, I never found as many outrages about Islam put together before laying eyes on Cornelius' post. Let me point out that if there is one truth about Islam in all the babbling advertisement of our glorious Imams, that truth is the part about tolerance, which I will be speaking about later. I was enraged. That was the only time when I was so utterly enraged, that I was ready to put everyone in front of a whitewashed wall and give them the traditional last smoke. I posted something, I don't even remember exactly what it was, but I made a point it seems. So good a point that I gained a friend and a follower. One square meter of heaven for me, as Father says!
Now the interesting part about the post is that it was actually accurate, in the sense of miss-translation, of course. It was about some versets in Coran which literally threaten with curses all those not Muslim. I read the very versets, and was struck with an axe over the head when I realized they meant the same meaning Cornelius was talking about. For the moment, I felt like an idiot to defend a religion so inhumane. It took me some time to recover. I remembered that the Versets weren't brought upon Mohammed overnight, and that Coran itself contains several parts, each part consist of one or more Surat, or even part of a Surat (Bakara), each of the major Surat speak of many aspects of life, thus are also parted into "sub-chapters". Many times one such "sub-chapter" can stand alone in it's meaning, or sometimes more than one "sub-chapter" are gathered together around a certain issue or subject. And at the end of this partition chain comes the verset. Now, when translating a poem, you don't translate every line as a stand-alone fact. More accurately, you translate a whole paragraph, to get a closer meaning, and when needed, even translate a number of paragraphs together, if your goal is to achieve even a more truthful translation of the subject. Thus, back to Coran, the biggest mistake is to translate each verset alone. This is what happened to both Cornelius and me, we took the exact versets and tried understanding they meaning and were outraged at the result. When I looked at the verset in a larger context, in it's sub-chapter, then in the whole Surat, the meaning of it was revealed to me, as clear as sunshine. It was something close to "all those of religion different than Islam should be cursed by God All-Mighty". Literal translation. Contextual translation was: "Some of the clerics would try manipulating the minds of the Simple through their knowledge, some might try to interpret the truth as it may suit their own well-being, some will go as far as claiming divinity. All those that lie in the name of God and his true Prophets (!), those, no matter their religion, will suffer God's curse for forever live endarkened". Hmm... How much more truth can be hold in one simple sentence? Isn't God actually trying to warn us of all nowadays clerics who consider themselves the only righteous enough to speak God's laws and teachings? Is it more logic to trust into the words of a cleric, a human, or to put your trust into Divinity? How can I trust a fellow human, albeit the most pious of clerics, when I know that his humanity, like mine, is likely to make him mistake? Wasn't the Prophet himself mistaken when Satan insuflated his sinful versets upon him? What makes a sheikh or a priest or cleric better interpreter than the Prophet himself, who recognized he was led into confusion by Evil? What make the Prophet better than the clerics: he recognized his humanity, he recognized the possibility of being mistaken, he recognized his mistakes. What did the clerics do? They perpetuated in their endarkening...