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  • Writer's picture Peter Kupisz

"Every Fifth Sentence or So [of the Quran] Simply Doesn’t Make Sense"

Muslims insist that the Quran is God’s revelation to mankind. As a divinely revealed book, they insist that it is clear and perfect. However, non-Muslim scholars disagree. For example, Gerd R. Puin is a specialist in Arabic calligraphy and Quranic paleography; he is based at Saarland University in Germany. He insists that much of the Quran is simply incomprehensible. In an article from The Atlantic, he stated the following.

Gerd R. Puin speaks with disdain about the traditional willingness, on the part of Muslim and Western scholars, to accept the conventional understanding of the Koran. “The Koran claims for itself that it is ‘mubeen,’ or ‘clear,'” he says. “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.”

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Toby Lester, “What Is the Koran?,” The Atlantic, January 1, 1999,



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