Sunday, 25 February 2007

Raisins, anyone?

Think of a food. Think of a heavenly food. For me, this is indisputedly cheese in all its many and varied forms. I know that because when I was living in China dairy products were in short supply. In fact, the only contact between my lips and cheese (substitute) came on the rare occasions that I ran across a McDonalds and was able to 'savour' a double cheeseburger. I dreamed of the stuff, for heaven's sake. We went to Hong Kong to get our visas renewed and what did I bring back but two packs of New Zealand cheddar and some proper coffee which was carefully rationed throughout the summer.

But would I kill for cheese? And if I wouldn't kill for cheese would I kill for raisins?? This isn't as daft as it seems. For our Islamic brothers are dying in their dozens for the sake of 70 white raisins. I came across this astonishing contention in Irshad Manji's book 'The Problem With Islam Today'. In it, she claims that "according to new research, what martyrs can anticipate for their sacrifices aren't virgins but raisins! The word that Quranic scholars have for centuries read as 'dark-eyed virgins' - hur - might be more accurately understood as white raisins" - pricey goods in seventh-century Arabia....Thanks to Dry Bones for his memorable sketch on the misunderstanding. But is it correct? Virgins or raisins, what's your vote?

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