Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rock the casbah

This posting isn't really about that venerable song by the Clash ... but it sounded cool :)

This weekend's Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article on the possibility of an independent and critical scholarship of the Qu'ran, similar to the sort of thing that Christian and, later, Jewish scholars achieved in the last 300 years with regards to the Hebrew and Greek scriptures that make up the Bible. German scholars at the forefront of "Oriental" research made a start from the end of the nineteenth century, until the rise of the Nazi regime. The project was suspended and much of its materials (photos of old Quranic texts taken in the 1920s and 30s) apparently lost during the war. The subject is also, of course, one of extreme sensitivity in the Muslim world. Nine years ago, the Atlantic Monthly published a prescient article on the subject, and the politico-religious minefield around it, available if you can find a print or online database copy of their January 1999 issue. (It's available on the Atlantic site only to their subscribers.)

The Journal article announces a stunning discovery: the photo archive was not actually lost. It survives and has been made publicly available. See here and here for more.

POSTSCRIPT: Here we go again with the mindcrime of publishing the Danish-Muhammad cartoons, accompanied by the same weird mixture of the medieval and the postmodern (charges of blasphemy mixed with bogus charges of victimhood). See the brilliant videos from the ludicrously misnamed Ontario "Human Rights" Commission here.

No Danes or Canadians have committed violence against Muslims because of the cartoons.

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