Such a backlash is not to be taken lightly; the Salman Rushdie affair is a solemn reminder of the power of an angry Muslim community. After the author wrote his novel Satanic Verses, which was considered by Muslims to be blasphemous, a fatwa , or religious decree, was pronounced against him in that left him fearing for his life. Rushdie has only recently reappeared in public after nearly 10 years in hiding. According to Muslim belief, the Koran is the eternal, unaltered Word of God, which has remained the same for 14 centuries. But Dr Gerd R Puin, a renowned Islamicist at Saarland University, Germany, says it is not one single work that has survived unchanged through the centuries. It may include stories that were written before the prophet Mohammed began his ministry and which have subsequently been rewritten.
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According to writer Toby Lester , his examination revealed "unconventional verse orderings, minor textual variations, and rare styles of orthography and artistic embellishment. Some of the papyrus on which the text appears shows clear signs of earlier use, being that previous, washed-off writings are also visible on it. Assessment of the Quran[ edit ] In an article in Atlantic Monthly,  Gerd Puin is quoted as saying that: My idea is that the Koran is a kind of cocktail of texts that were not all understood even at the time of Muhammad.
Many of them may even be a hundred years older than Islam itself. Even within the Islamic traditions there is a huge body of contradictory information, including a significant Christian substrate; one can derive a whole Islamic anti-history from them if one wants.
Many Muslims—and Orientalists—will tell you otherwise, of course, but the fact is that a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible. This is what has caused the traditional anxiety regarding translation. People fear that. And since the Koran claims repeatedly to be clear but obviously is not—as even speakers of Arabic will tell you—there is a contradiction.
Something else must be going on.
Gerd R. Puin
Querying the Koran