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Ibn Warraq: The word Kalifa is not an Arabic word and the caravan and the mangy dogs barking

Reader comment on item: Study the Koran?

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Sep 20, 2014 at 11:31

Dr. Pipes

For the readers wishing to view the Syriac script I suggest that they use older versions of msn or they can download Syriac script and it is avaliable for Mac, msn newer versions, iphones and androids

This time I will concentrate on the word خليفة or Khalifa (Caliph) and indeed the Ulama had great difficulty in defining such word and the real difficulty is this a masculine word but it has a feminine ending which did not make grammatical sense and this feminine ending is the last letter in the word and that is the Ta Marbouta or ة . The Ulama also suspected that it might be a foreign word

Well in Arabic the word حليف or Halif is really what a Khalifa is but it is not the word used in the Qur'an and why would it be this way


And here is the meaning of the word Khalifa in Arabic


And notice that we are told that a khalifa is

المستحلف والجمع حلفاء or al-Mustahlef (from halif) and the plural is Hulafa' (compare this with Khulafa')

Now Luxenberg tells us that the Syriac word ܚܠܝܦܐ or Halipa is really vocalized is Khalipa and the Syriac letter P is really Arabic F et voila now we have the Arabized version of the Syriac word ܚܠܝܦܐ or Khalip(read as f)a in the Qur'an

He makes lots of sense

This does not mean that every one agrees with him but because he makes sense Ibn Warraq reminds us of the old saying: "The Caravan passes and a few mangy dogs bark." so there are many barking mangy dogs out there

The real question is: Are there any other scholars that are reaching similar conclusions about this Syriac layer in the Qur'an and the answer is yes and the following from Gred Puin (Of the Sana Mosque Codex) and it is not is this volume but it is worth mentioning

1. He believes that Surat Qaf or Q50 or سورة ق is really a misreading of the Syriac letter Sadhe ܨ (Arabic Sad) but the Ulama got it right in the case of the Quranic Surat Sad or Q38 سورة ص

2. He believes that the very strange word الاحقاف al-Ahqaf which is the name of Sura 46 or سورة الاحقاف The Ulama tell us that it means the sand dunes. Puin believes that the word is misreading of the Garshouni (Arabic text written in Syriac alphabet) word ܒܠܐܥܡܩ or in Arabic الاعماق or in deep places and this can be read as al-Ahqaf and once the word moved from the Syriac writing system to the arabic language there was no going back

3. he also believes that the Islamic tradition misreads the mysterious letters حم or Ha meem and that it should be عم or Aiyn meem from Syriac ܥܡ (compare the morphology with Arabic حم) and more evidence is that in Q78 it is read as the correct Ha meem

So it is not only Luxenberg but other scholars the likes of Puin realize believe that the Qur'an has a significant Syriac layer

Oh next? I will provide a very brief review of Luxenberg's: Christmas in the Qur'an. Eucharist in the Qur'an, Easter in the Qur'an and his reading of the very strange Surat al-Kawthar

As I always say when it comes to the history of early Islam and the Qur'an one starts with Wansbrough and ends with him. Most of the Qur'an does not make linguistic sense and cannot be understood with out reading the early commentaries of the Qur'an and why would al-Tabari be struggling with telling us about what the Qur'an is really saying unless the Qur'an predates Muhammad or the Qur'an was not canonized for a long time after his death and by then no one had a clue about what the Qur'an is really saying and if it was indeed (at least in part) old Syro-Arabic Christian lectionary written in Arabic, Garshouni and Syriac

The real tragedy is that the islamic historical tradition is the most destructive tradition and Muslims destroyed their link with the past


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