I was born about 29 years ago, in a town at the gates of the great African Sahara. My town boasts the most exquisite race of ram that every year proposes again in its unique magnificence on Eid al-Adha (the lamb’s offering feast day). The Koranic school for children was still compulsory: it was the space for the memorization of Qur’an, the comprehension of its meaning, its writing and its accurate reciting. I used to go there every morning before going to the public school and each Friday afternoon after the big prayer in the mosque.
As a good Muslim, I grew up reading the Qur’an entirely each month. Qura’an was my guide, when I was searching for a divine sign to pass a test, I used to open the Book randomly (sort of the tv series Charmed’s Book of Shadows) and I found an answer, therefore relief. Qur’an was mubīn, that is clear. It had to have answers for everything and it did. Unfortunately, as it happens in fairy tales, my beliefs held out until I joined the adult word and discovered sexuality.
At University, still convinced that I had to wait marriage to have a sexual intercourse with a woman, I began to go through the male erotic perspective with other men (clearly it was an understandable excuse!). At the beginning, it was plain flirting on the internet, then I moved to the use of hands and after that of other parts of the body! From time to time, I used to say to myself that I was still not ready when one of my exes wanted to go any further than a kiss.
After my first homosexual intercourse, I was morally haywire much more than emotionally because I didn’t expect I’d like it so much that I would like to do it again: I remembered the Furqān words (“[The One] which separates the good from the evil”: one of the names of Qur’an) about Lut’s people (Sodom and Gomorrah). At the same time, primarily because of some kind of anger for a religion that repudiated me, I went back challenging some statements of some sacred verses.
Years passed, I explored my sexual tastes and chose a boy to build a family with. Instead of a blind reading of the Qur’an, I made a run of the various interpretations dropping out of the tradition ergo I became rebellious, the guilt lessened but a little sylph voice whispered in my head that I would fall right down the Sirāt (the right path bridge that men will cross on the Judgment Day: falling down from it you end up straight in Hell… boom!).
Among the most interesting writings that I dug up on the net, there was an essay by Gerd Rùdiger Puin, a German scholar specializing in Koranic studies, named “Observations on Early Qur’an Manuscripts in San’a” and published in Ibn Warraq’s “What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text and Commentary” (Prometheus Books 2002). I found something unusual, related to my doubts about some statements, for instance about the virgins promised to the believers.
I have to admit that a lot of equivocations were justifiably and unavoidably linked to my sexual orientation, so I asked myself: why, among the descriptive verses of the Paradise fruits and the celestial drinks in the Qur’an we find the description of the female sexual reward? Why does He offer me smiling, lovely, willing and revirginazable women instead of chubby and funny blondish or brownish boys as I like them? In the article it was explained that the interpretation of the adjective regarding the “big-eyed” women of Heaven, namely Hur al-‘Īn, could mean quite another thing in Syriac, that is “white grapes”.
As a matter of fact, the author says that the Koranic manuscripts studied at Sana’ show 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.
“The Koran claims for itself that it is ‘mubīn,’ or ‘clear,’ but if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence or so simply doesn’t make sense. 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. If the Koran is not comprehensible—if it can’t even be understood in Arabic—then it’s not translatable. 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.”
I realized that the Qur’an was not a chronological collection of clear texts passed down to Mohammad during his 23 years of prophetic mission and theopathic experiences, this means that taking human-written verses literally could have deflected and humanized divine ideas. So I searched for the Qur’an’s linguistic origin and I came across the Seven Letters’ theory: islamic scholars originally trace the verses’ writing and reading back to seven different ways, not conflicting but still diversified in meaning.
Even more so, after the theological chaos exploded in my head, I decided to analyze the pressing and unclear topics of Islam and finally my repeated questions found brilliant answers, which made me ask myself the most frightening question: maybe – I said maybe – the real meaning of the Qur’an is not the one they’ve been instilling into us all our lives. Maybe – I repeat maybe – this Qur’an that I’ve read thousands of times has been interpreted, at least partially, bad enough to make us loose the right path!
In that light, I decided to take up a different route, the one of the research for personal gain, to understand and comprehend. “Iqra’!”: it means “read!” (but in one of the abovementioned seven letters means “gather”) and it was the first order given to Mohammad and all the Muslim community of the world.
translation by Ameni
©2016 Il Grande Colibrì