From this article in today’s (1/12/08) Wall Street Journal, “The Lost Archive”, regarding a unique photo archive of ancient manuscript iterations of the Koran, which may provide critical evidence of the evolution of the Koranic text:
Ms. Neuwirth, a professor of Arabic studies at Berlin’s Free University, now is overseeing a revival of the research. The project renews a grand tradition of German Quranic scholarship that was interrupted by the Third Reich. The Nazis purged Jewish experts on ancient Arabic texts and compelled Aryan colleagues to serve the war effort. Middle East scholars worked as intelligence officers, interrogators and linguists. Mr. Spitaler himself served, apparently as a translator, in the German-Arab Infantry Battalion 845, a unit of Arab volunteers to the Nazi cause, according to wartime records.
But in effect Neuwirth has likely DENIED serious scholars access to this material for 20 years. Dr. Gerd Puin wrote the following on p. 743, note 1, in an essay of his entitled “Observations of the Early Qur’an Manuscripts in Sanaa [Yemen],” published in Ibn Warraq’s “What The Koran Really Says,” 2002, :
Angelika Neuwirth has given the impression in her GAP (Grundrib der Arabischen Philolgie. Band II: Lietraturwis-senschaft, hrsg., von Helmut Gatje, 1987), article “Koran,” p. 112, footnote 3, that it was the photographs taken in order to build up the “Koran Archiv” in Munich which were destroyed at the end of World War II. This impression is false, and thus it is an amazing fact that evidently no attempt has been made since to study the photographs!
Regardless, even Ms. Neuwirth now admits to the obvious dangers inherent in any objective scholarly research of the Koran’s origins born of an Islamic fanaticism still very evident in our era:
This is a taboo zone.