Fictional Creatures like ‘Unicorns’?
Isaiah 34:7—”Why does the Bible talk about fictional creatures like unicorns?”
The original Hebrew term translated as “unicorn” in the King James Version is ראם (rêm) , translated in all modern translations and dictionaries more correctly as “wild oxen.” Recent archaeology has shed light on why the King James and Septuagint Greek translations misinterpreted the passage. Mesopotamian reliefs have been excavated which show King Assurnasirpal hunting wild oxen drawn with one horn. The associated texts show that this animal was called ‘rimu’ . When the Septuagint translators mistakenly used the term ” monoceros ” (‘one-horn’) they must have known of this creature and assumed rêm was rimu . The translators of the King James translation followed in this mistranslation.
In the Qur’ān we read that Hazrat Solomon talked with a mythical creature called the ‘ifrit (Al-Naml 27:15-44) which was, according to Hamidullah, “a type of evil devil which one encounters in many fabulous stories.” Encyclopaedia Britannica’s definition runs as follows:
in Islāmic mythology, a class of infernal jinn (spirits below the level of angels and devils) noted for their strength and cunning. An ifrit is an enormous winged creature of smoke, either male or female, who lives underground and frequents ruins. Ifrits live in a society structured along ancient Arab tribal lines, complete with kings, tribes, and clans. They generally marry one another, but they can also marry humans. While ordinary weapons and forces have no power over them, they are susceptible to magic, which humans can use to kill them or to capture and enslave them.
In the account of the Mir’aj, the Prophet (pbuh) was said to physically ride on a white winged horse with a peacock’s tail and an angel’s head. If this is acceptable, surely discussing wild oxen is acceptable.