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


Sachal Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sakib Ahmad said...

To: Sachal Smith

Al-Quran does not "teach" mysticism or occultism. Quite the opposite. Phenomena which cannot be explained by physical laws are gathered under the broad category of Mutashabehaat. We are warned not to get into polemics about these aayaat.

You are presenting a highly subjective interpretation of Quranic aayaat, making them conform to your views on astrology and other practices. My own understanding is that astrology and other occult practices are discouraged in the Quran, e.g (4:51) where people who believe in 'jibt' are rebuked.

Pakistan's Nemesis said...

The so-called religion and its scriptures forbids music. However, in India and Pak one gets to see a large proportion of Muslim musicians. Is it one of the quixotic interpretations of your religion, Mr. Blogger?

Sakib Ahmad said...

To discourage needless debate and waste of time this blog avoids publishing comments that are abusive or obvious distortions. The immediately preceding comment, which is an obvious calumny as it appears to claim that the Quran "forbids music", has been selected as an example of how our ignorant mullahs are propagating a version of Islam that is contrary to the Message of the Quran. It is an uphill battle to argue with Non-Muslims who throw the mullahic nonsense back at us.

My response to non-Muslims who readily swallow mullahic nonsense and disparage Islam is simply this:

The Muslim priesthood can, unwittingly, act as enemies of Islam. Do not blindly accept mullahs' statements which defy common sense and decent standards of propriety. You will find no basis for them in the Quran. All beautiful and life enriching stimuli are permitted for human enjoyment.

Unknown said...

I really want to understand this, so as not to wrongly judge Islam. I don't understand where Sharia Law and Jihad relate to the Quran. Also, there are two American ex-Muslim women who swear that Islam is violent, particularly against women, and they say Muhammed was extremely violent and that he is the example of the teachings. Sort of like Jesus, in that, if you're actually following Jesus' example, you're a good Christian. If you want the urls for those women, I will provide them to you.


Sakib Ahmad said...

Thanks for your comment Anne.

Al-Quran is a Book of Guidance. Laws are made by human beings. What you call "Sharia Law" is, in theory, a flexible and fluid body of laws which harmonises Divine Guidance with temporal changes taking place over the centuries. The Quran denounces priesthood but the tragedy is that a powerful clergy, supported by the ruling class, has arrogated to itself the right to decide what the laws in an Islamic state should be. Let me give you an example.

According to the Quran, marriage is a contract between a man and a woman, each of whom is physically and mentally mature, and freely enters into that contract of his/her own will. But the "laws" sanctioned by the clergy permit pre-teen children to be married off! The question you should be asking is: does the so-called shariah law comply with the Quranic Guidance or not? You would be surprised to learn a lot of them do not.

Re. Jihad. It means ceaseless effort in pursuit of Truth and Justice, and against oppression. It can mean sacrificing one's time, money, possessions and ultimately, if need be, laying down one's life. Quran also allows you to take up arms in self-defence if attacked.

I can reel off a long list of names of "Muslims" who are violent, though probably not as much as Obama and Bush. What has that got to do with Islam? Muhammad, the Slave and Messenger of God, died 1300 years ago. Did the women you mention meet him in their dreams? He was a Complete human being, the living Quran: Loving, Kind, Fearless, Wise, Loved by all who knew him. Indeed, he is the example that I and all sincere Muslims humbly strive to follow.

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