Heinz Klatt looking for reasons to decry the Quran

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Sublime Quran is more inclusive”
Oct. 25, 2007

To the editor:
The only “controversy on campus” I can detect in your article about Laleh Bakhtiar’s English translation of the Quran is that professor emeritus Heinz Klatt objects to it.

Klatt is well known on campus for his insistence (in articles in Western News and elsewhere) that Islam is an inherently violent religion. He generally backs up these claims by citing passages from the Quran. It’s therefore not surprising that he would object to a translation that interprets some verses less violently.

It seems to me most ancient scriptures can be interpreted as condoning violence against non-believers. In the Christian Bible we have examples ranging from Jehu’s brutal and degrading treatment of Jezebel and the Baal worshippers to the horrific acts of vengeance prophesied for the afterlife in Revelation.

What matters is not so much what is written in these scriptures, but rather how we interpret them as guidance for how we should live our lives today. This applies equally to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and every other religion.

From what I have read about Bakhtiar’s translation, it merely makes reasonable translation choices for words that can be interpreted a number of different ways. Klatt’s characterization of it as a “subjective, biased reading” does a disservice to Bakhtiar as a translator, and promotes a view of Islam that is itself biased.
"Jamie Andrews
Associate Professor
Computer Science

Re: “Sublime Quran is more inclusive”
Oct. 25, 2007

To the editor:
I disagree with Professor Heinz Klatt when he says the Quran is a “rather violent document.” In fact, I don’t see how it’s any more violent than the Torah or the Bible, both of which were refined many times from their original violent texts. This is not what the message is about.

The Quran has always been portrayed negatively and misinterpreted in the West, and it’s about time a distinguished scholar like Dr. Bakhtiar stepped up to clear the fog around this ancient text.

Dr. Klatt also says “If I were Muslim, I’d be outraged by this.” Well, professor, you’re not Muslim, so why do you speak like you know how Muslims should feel about this? Are we supposed to fit into the biased stereotype and declare Dr. Bakhtiar an infidel?

The only explanation I can come up with for Dr. Bakhtiar’s critics is some people do not like to see the Quran viewed in any positive way.

Can we please drop this Islamophobic behaviour once and for all?
"Tarik Mohd
Biochemistry III

Re: “Sublime Quran is more inclusive”
Oct. 25, 2007

To the editor:
There have always been people who will go to absurd lengths to portray Islam in a negative light, taking the unremarkable and then distorting it for the purpose of creating a controversy.

Dr. Heinz Klatt seems to be The Gazette’s go-to man for this purpose.

There is a difference between an intelligent criticism of others’ opinions and beliefs, and cynical attempts to misconstrue them for a political agenda " Dr. Klatt’s record shows that he is more interested in the latter.

In his last appearance in The Gazette, the esteemed emeritus professor explained why a piece of Arabic modern art shouldn’t be displayed in an interfaith exhibit at King’s. Why? Because the shape of the word’s silhouette resembled an obscure piece of ancient Arabic calligraphy that, according to Dr. Klatt, was once used to symbolize Muslim dominance over non-Muslim peoples. At that time, Dr. Klatt drew parallels between Nazi Germany and ancient Andalusia. Yawn.

This week, Dr. Klatt gave The Gazette another story " he objects to a new English translation of the Quran by Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, which uses the word “God” instead of its Arabic equivalent “Allah” and does not direct Muslim men to beat their disobedient wives.

Neither is a remarkable departure from the plurality of Islamic scholarship, present or past " while there have always been reactionaries in the Muslim world, the bulk of Islamic scholars interpret the verses in the relevant chapter as discouraging the mistreatment to women, not a license to be cruel.

Dr. Klatt would much rather tell us the Muslim world uniformly follows a cruel and barbaric religion, one that he alone is gifted with insight into. More gallingly, he tells us Muslims that we should be outraged not at him, but at Dr. Bakhtiar, for failing to subscribe to his interpretation of Islam. On the one hand, he laments what he sees as violent barbarism, and on the other hand he wants Muslims to defend it.

I’m afraid I cannot satisfy Dr. Klatt by defending that which I don’t actually believe in. There are undoubtedly legitimate criticisms of both Muslims and Dr. Bakhtiar’s work, but I would ask in the future that The Gazette consult a more genuine source for them, rather than letting a retired hack create its stories.

Ed(s). Note: While Dr. Klatt has been approached by us as a source for two religious stories, he does not “give us” stories.
"Wajid Sayeed
M.D. Candidate 2010

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