Sunday, February 22, 2015

Translations of the Quran

The Quran is divine in origin. The way Classical Arabic of the 7th century (as used by the Quraysh tribe of Makkah) has been employed in the Quran is unique. As the values and principles described in the Quran embrace all aspects of human existence - physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual - the Quran uses sublime, semi-poetical language to transcend the limitation of words, in places introducing its own semantics. 

Too many translators of the Quran fail to grasp the idioms and expressions used in 7th century Makkah and produce literal translations which make little sense, the original meaning and beauty of the Quran lost in the translation. Apart from outright distortion this allows emphases and nuances to creep into the translation which were not in the original. It is said that the Quran is untranslatable: the best you can do is to present an interpretation with as much honesty as you can muster.

Then there are the dishonest translations where Islam-hating "orientalists" deliberately set out to misrepresent the Message of the Quran. A translation widely used by Islamophobes is by N.J. Dawood, a Jew, published by Penguin. In their book "Distorted Imagination", Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies describe N.J. Dawood's translation as "one of the most inaccurate, misleading and distorted versions on the market (and the preferred choice of Salman Rushdie)".

Authentic renditions of the Quran

The Quran severely rebukes the priest class. Having read translations of the Quran by various so-called doctors of religion, I can see why. An authentic interpretation of the Quran will be free of contradictions and it will appeal to one's common sense and sense of justice. I have found the following three renditions, by men with wide experience of life, of immense help in acquiring an understanding of the Quran:

1. The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad

2. The Quran As It Explains Itself by Dr Shabbir Ahmed (the Urdu version is  قرآن خود اپنی نظر میں )

It can be read or downloaded from the free library, here

3. Mafhoom-ul-Quran by G A Parwaiz  (in Urdu) مفہوم القرآن 
(an English translation, "Exposition of the Holy Quran" is also available)

Tailpiece (added 26/02/2017)

Islam derives naturally from the Quran. An introduction to Islam can be read here

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