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Translations of The Quran

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Author Topic: Translations of The Quran  (Read 357 times)

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« on: August 18, 2013, 06:26:22 pm »

Salaam to all the members. I hope you guys all had a great Eid even though it was last week. Anyway, I've been doing a lot of (extensive) research on English translations of the Quran. Main reason being is that even though I can read it in Arabic, I don't understand the meaning of that language, just like many Muslims in the world have that problem. So, for me, it is important that I choose a reliable translator(s), but since the original Quran cannot be translated perfectly, there will be some errors. The Quran is inimitable. Anyway, I'm aware that this site favours Pickthall's translation & from what I've been reading so far, it really is a good translation. I actually have a modern English version of Pickthall's translation, revised by IDCI (Islamic Dawah Centre Institute) which is located in Birmingham, UK. The organisation provide those Qurans it for free, only for UK residents.

Here is a link:

Overall, from what I'm reading so far & comparing verses to the original translation of Pickthall's, it is actually pretty good. At first, I was little bit concerned, but so far, it's pretty good. But if there's any verses that I need to check, please list them so that I can compare it to the modern English version. I appreciate that.

Before I owned a Pickthall's translation, I have Saheeh international & Muhsin Khan translations of the Quran. Those 2 translations are very similar & they are shocking, some verses are distorted on purpose to mislead Muslims around the world! I will create a new post some time later so that I can show you what I mean. In fact, those 2 translations, particularly with Muhsin Khan's version are distributed by Saudi Arabia (no surprises there).

I am also looking to get Abdel Haleem's translation, which is regarded by many as the best translation in modern times. However, there's another translation of the Quran that has been regarded by some as possibly the most literal translation ever made. It's Arthur Arberry's translation & so far, I'm looking into it & I've compared certain verses to other translators & he seems to be spot on. The only issue that I have with Arberry's translation is chapter 78:33, which says: ''and maidens with swelling breasts, like of age,''. That is controversial, but other than that, his translations seems to be really good to me. This is what Abdel Haleem, himself has to say about Arberry's translation:

''Arberry shows great respect towards the language of the Qur'an, particularly its musical effects. His careful observation of Arabic sentence structure and phraseology makes his translation very close to the Arabic original in grammatical terms ... [however] this feature, along with the lack of any notes or comments, can make the text seem difficult to understand and confusingly unidiomatic''.

As a guest, is there a way to reply back? Anyway, I wanna know what you guys think of this. Thanks for reading.
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N. Truth Seeker
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2013, 09:41:14 pm »

Walaykum As-salam IUR.  Welcome to our guestbook and a belated happy Eid mubarak to you too.

Concerning Quranic translations as we have stated many times on our different boards, the only two reliable works are by Muhammed Marmaduke Pickthall and Abdel Haleem.  These are the only to translators who have translated the original by keeping it independent of the extra-Quranic contents of Hadith and Shariah.  All other translators including Yusuf Ali (whose translation is supposed to be the one endorsed by Saudi Arabia) have carried out their translations with the motive of keeping their works compatible with the contents of the Hadith.  That's why many a times it feels shocking as if such translations aren't accurate and are trying to misguide the readers.  In fact, as Hadith adherents, they are trying to misguide the readers with incorrect information, taking advantage of the fact that not more than 20% of the world's total Muslim population speaks Arabic.  These translators mostly indulge in such tactics by putting in their own incorrect interpretations within brackets.  Sometimes they even go as far as distorting the original Arabic words of the Quran. 

I haven't read much of Arthur Arberry's works, just a little bit.  But I didn't pursue it as I really didn't find it too different from the mainstream.  While the use of eloquent language is an added plus in Quranic translations, it's important to remember that the Quran is primarily a Book of guidance and a comprehensive code of life.  It's not a Book of poems or prose.  Therefore, top priority should be the accuracy of the information that has been translated rather than its rhetorical elegance.

I repeat, the only two reliable ones are Pickthall and Haleem.  Pickthall's translation is in old English while Haleem's is in modern English.  That's the only difference.  Both of them have used excellent language and have translated the Quran independently of the Hadith which is the way it ought to be.  So, I would advise, stick to these two only.   Reading too many different translations never helps, rather it often piles up on the quantum of confusion since we know that majority of the translations aren't accurate in their attempt to cater to the Hadith. 

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