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Qur'aan Translations by ZWjNJ5QI


									      The Role Played by Qur’an
Translations in Steering Public Opinion
     against Islam in NonMuslim
    Counteracting Antipathy against Islam
   Insights Ironically Inspired by Two Non-
              Muslims and More ..

                  IBRAHIM SALEH & DAHLIA SABRY
  The Qur'ān
Translated with
   a Critical
 of the Surahs

Richard Bell
 In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, there
was a boom in the sales of Qur'an translations.
 • About 6 000 000 translations were sold in Germany
 • In Israel, bookstores ran out of their Qur'an translation

   In this era, Qur'an translations have become far more crucial than any time
before. Apart from their importance to non-Arabic speaking Muslims, they
represent the primary source of information and the major recourse for the
non-Muslims who are curious to pursue familiarity with Islam through first-hand
   The role of such translations is gravely serious in formulating recipients'
opinion about the Muslims’ religion. Thomas Cleary, one of the modern Qur’an
translators, states:
For non-Muslims, one special advantage in reading the Qur'an
  is that it provides an authentic point of reference from
  which to examine the biased stereotypes of Islam to which
  We s t e r n e r s a r e h a b i t u a l l y e x p o s e d . Pr i m a r y i n f o r m a t i o n i s
  essential to distinguish between opinion and fact in a
  reasonable manner. This exercise may also enable the thinking
  individual to understand the inherently defective nature of
  prejudice itself … (1993, p. VIII).
   However, to present "an authentic point of reference ", Qur’an translations
have to be an authentic representation of what the original says. Has this been
the case?
            Problem Statement

Islamophobia has been on the rise in recent years even
though it is deeply rooted in the past. There are a lot of
misconceptions about Islam and Muslims propagated
by the media. In trying to analyze the reasons for such
phenomenon, it was found out that translating the
meanings of the holy Qur'an offered an opportunity to
distort and misinterpret its meanings. This played a
crucial role in framing a negative and an inaccurate
image of Islam. The problem can be ascribed mostly to
translations by non-Muslims, however, also partially to
translations by Muslims. Besides, the problem has also
to do with western education and some other factors.
                                                                                        Major Factors
                                                                                        Contributing to
                                                                                         the Negative
                                                                                        Image of Islam

             Deliberate Defamation
                                                                          Tailor-made/Deviant               Non-deliberate        Insufficiency
                 & Propagation                                                                                                                      Other Problems
               of Misconceptions                                             Interpretations              Linguistic Problems     of translations

            Roots of Islamophobia                            Sectarian translations
                                                                                      Twisted Translations
                                                                                                             poor translations/
            in the early Orientalist   Decontextualization        by Muslims           by the Non-Muslim
                  translations                                                                                  literalism/
                                                                                        Qadyani Groups

Latin Translations                                                        Shi’ite translations

  English and
                                                                         Translations affected
 other language                                                          by the rationalist trend

A. Roots of Islamophobia in the early Orientalist Translations

•The first Qur'an translation was into Latin by Robert of Ketton in 1143. It was
  made at the request of the Abbot of the monastery of Cluny. (abounds in

• Another Latin translation by Ludovicus Marracci was published in 1698. It was
supplemented with quotes from Qur'an commentaries "carefully juxtaposed and
sufficiently garbled so as to portray Islam in the worst possible light" (Colin Turner,1997 p.
xii). The title of the introductory volume of such translation was A Refutation of the Qur'an.

  Such translations formed the foundation for a number of subsequent translations into
                         English, French, Italian, German, etc.
• The first English translation was that of Alexander Ross published in 1649. In his
introduction, Ross says "I thought good to bring it to their colours, that so viewing thine
enemies in their full body, thou must the better prepare to encounter … his Alcoran" (p.
• Similarly, H. Reckendorf (1857) says in his Hebrew translation of the Qur'an, "I can now
stop writing and ask God's pardon for the sin I committed when I profaned our sacred
language and transferred to it the talk of lies and falsehood" (as cited in Abdul Aal,
January 29, 2006, p. 78).

• In 1734, George Sale’s translation came out based on Marracci’s earlier notorious

• In 1861, J. M. Rodwell’s work provided a further example of a writer "gunning for
   Islam" (Turner, 1997, p. xii).
Samples of Early Translations
Maurice Bucaille (1981), an eminent French surgeon, stresses the
existence of mainstream inaccurate ideas that brainwash non-Muslims
    As most people in the West have been brought up on
    misconceptions concerning Islam and the Qur'an; for a large
    part of my life, I myself was one such person … As I grew up, I
   was always taught that 'Mahomet was the author of the Qur'an.

Besides, at the International Seminar on Islam in Paris, held under the
auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Bucaille (1985)

  When I started my in-depth research on the reality of Islam, for
  the first time, I started to study its scripture, the Qur'an and I
  was obliged to use translations done by various Islamologues or
   orientalists. Alas, … I remember having found in several
   translations of the same paragraph such differences that it was
   evident that these interpretations were due to translators and
   their commentaries, often added to the text. Later on, having
   acquired the knowledge of the Arabic language, enabling me to
   read the Qur'an in the original text, I … discerned the evident
   desire to camouflage or to willfully change the meaning,
   evidently in order to adapt the text to a personal point of view.
   (p. 10)
Testifying to the deliberate mistranslation of the Qur'an by some orientalists to
confirm the misconceptions about Islam taught to students at schools, Hussain
Rofe, a British convert to Islam states:
   Reading Rodwell's translation of the Qur'an Al-Karim had specially fixed
   these negative preconceptions into my subconscious. Rodwell had
  mistranslated some parts of the Qur'an Al-Karim and distorted its
  meanings, thus turning the holy book into a mass of unintelligible
  words altogether different from the original version. It was not till after
  having contacted the 'Islamic Society' in London and having read a true
  translation of the Qur'an Al-Karim that I knew the truth. (as cited in Why
  did they become Muslims? 1995)

Unfortunately, as Sir Edward Denson Ross (1940) asserts in his introduction to
George Sales' translation:
 [for] many centuries the acquaintance which the majority of Europeans
 possessed of Mohammedanism was based almost entirely on distorted
 reports of fanatics which led to dissemination of a multitude of gross
 calumnies. What was good in Mohammedanism was entirely ignored,
 and what was not good, in the eyes of Europe, was exaggerated or
 misinterpreted. (as cited in Sales, 1940, p. 7)
B. Decontextualization
    A major trend that helped in spreading the misconception that Islam is a religion of terrorism
is that the western media decontextualize ayat of Qur'an translations dealing with war and use
them to criticize Islam.
  Along the same lines, in their book The Dark Side of Islam, Abdul Saleeb and R. C. Sproul
(2003) decontextualize some ayat to prove that Islam is a religion that instigates violence. One of
the examples they mention is ayat 190-193 of sura 2. This is how they cite them:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, … and slay them
wherever you catch them, ... and fight them on until there is no more
tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah" (p. 87)
However, the full ayat read:
"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not attack them
first. God does not love the aggressors, and slay them wherever you catch
them [those who fight against you]; drive them out of the places from
which they drove you, for persecution is worse than killing. But do not
fight them at the Sacred Mosque until they first attack you there, but if
they attack you [there], then kill them. Such is the retribution of the
disbelievers. But if they desist, then [know that] God is Forgiving,
Compassionate, and fight them on until there is no more tumult or
oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah. But if they desist,
then let there be no hostility except against the transgressors."
It is sad too that many Qur’an translations by Muslims reflect ideas that
drift away from the mainstream Muslim beliefs.
A. Sectarian Translations
Some translations, even though good in many respects, are influenced by
scientific rationalism like those of Ahmad and Dina Zidan (1979),
Muhammad Asad (1980), and Ahmad Ali (1984). They intend to interpret
any references to miracles in the Qur'an on rational or figurative basis as
they reject the idea of miracles. For example, Asad (1980), whose
translation is praised by many, believes that Jesus Christ's miraculous talk
in his cradle is "a metaphorical allusion to the prophetic wisdom which
was to inspire Jesus from a very early age" (p. 73).
Unfortunately, these views reflect obvious refutation of basic mainstream
beliefs of the majority of Muslims who fully acknowledge these miracles.
Shi'ite translations differ in some respects from the mainstream
understanding of certain ayat (verses) to reflect their own doctrinal biases
rather than give an accurate presentation of the Muslims’ Scripture.

B. Translations to Suite one’s personal needs
Qadiyani and Ahmadiyya Translations

To serve their own needs, they marred their translations with
modifications to certain ayat (verses), thus disseminating ideas that
contradict with basic Muslim beliefs.
A. Mistranslations or Inadequate Translations
  The mistranslation of certain words or the poor translation of certain ayat lead
  to misunderstandings. One issue is related to the translation of the Arabic words
  "‫ ," إسالم‬Islam, and "‫ ,"مسلمون‬Muslimun in Qur'anic ayat. For many non-
  Muslims who do not understand the original meaning of these words,
  describing the disciples or Prophets who came long before Prophet Muhammad
  (pbuh) as “Muslims” is an anachronism.
Examples of these ayat are:
  "Or where you present when death came to Jacob? When he said to his
   sons: 'what will you worship when I am gone?' They answered: 'We shall
   worship your God and the God of your fathers: Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, the
   One God, and to Him we are Muslims' " [2: 133)
  "When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be my helpers to
   God?" The disciples said, 'we are God's helpers: We believe
   in God, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims' " [3: 52]
An example of a poor translation giving a wrong meaning is the first translation
  below. The second translation is a better one:
  “And in retaliation there is life for you, O men endowed with intellect, that
   possibly you would be pious“ (2: 179).
 “Fair retribution saves life for you, people of understanding, so that you may
  guard off [against what is wrong/further murders]”.
Non-inclusion of the occasions of revelation of the ayat
    Many Qur'an translations do not include any footnotes explaining
allusions and ambiguous pronominal references or giving the cultural
background and brief explanation of the occasions of revelation - at
least of the ayat that may be controversial or misunderstood. One
problematic example is aya 216 of sura 2 which reads:
  "Fighting is prescribed upon you, and ye dislike it. But is possible
that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing
which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth and ye know not" (p. 87)
It is very important to understand the occasion of revelation of this ayah
and its background, which is never given in translations, and to indicate
the first ayat giving permission to fight are those below. These ayat
clearly specified the reasons for fighting.
"Permission to fight is given to those who have been fought against because
they have been done injustice, and God is well able to help them .. those who
have been unjustly driven from their homes only for saying, 'our Lord is God'.
If God did not drive back some people by means of others, monasteries,
churches, synagogues and mosques, where God's name is mentioned much,
would be surely be demolished …" [22: 39-40].
It should be noted that the Qur’an was not revealed to the Prophet at
one shot but rather piecemeal over the 23 years of his Prophetic mission.

•The Partial Coverage of the Media
The following ayah is among those often cited in the media:
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, … nor acknowledge the religion of Truth,
from among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians]"
However, the following ones are often ignored:
"God does not forbid you to be benevolent and equitable to those who have neither made war
on your religion or driven you from your homes. God loves the equitable. God only forbids you
to make friends with those who have fought against you on account of your religion and driven
you from your homes, or abetted others to do so. Those who make friends with them are
unjust." [60:8-9]
"The believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians – any who believes in God and the
Last Day and does good – will have their reward with their Lord. There is nothing for them to
fear nor will they grieve" [2: 62].
• Wrong Information by Schools and Family Members in the Non-Muslim Communities:
Mumin Abd-Ur Razaq Selliah, a Sri Lankan convert to Islam, explains:
   Formerly, I was an arch enemy of Islam. For, all the members of my family and all my friends
were telling me that Islam was an absurd and concocted religion that would lead man to Hell,
and they were even preventing me from talking with Muslims. As soon as I saw a Muslim I would
turn and walk away, and I would curse them behind their back (as cited in Why did they
become Muslims?, 1995).
•Muslims’ Negativity
Muslims are so passive towards what is going on. They do not seriously attempt to counteract
the campaigns discrediting Islam through explaining its true principles. Husain Rofe testifies
to this:

           One thing I would regret to say at this point is that Muslims are doing very little to
           advertise this lovely religion of theirs to the world. If they try to spread the true
          essence of Islam over the entire world with due attention and knowledge, I am sure
          that they will achieve very positive results. In the near East, people are still reserved
          towards foreigners.

           Instead of coming into contact with them and illuminating them, they prefer to
          keep as far away as possible from them. This is an exceedingly wrong attitude. I am
          the most concrete example. For I was somehow hindered from being interested in
          the Islamic religion. Fortunately, one day I met a very respectable and highly
          cultured Muslim. He was very friendly with me. He listened to me with attention.
          He presented me an English version of the Qur'an al-Karim translated by a
          He gave beautiful and logical answers to all my questions. (as cited in Why did they
          become Muslims?, 1995)
• A reliable translation of the Qur'an, encompassing comprehensive information, should be
  prepared as a team work with both language specialists and specialists in religion, who have a good
  command of the target foreign language, to be involved.
• Muslims should attempt to make people acquainted with their religion and to clear the
  misconceptions related to issues like the status of women in Islam, polygamy, Jihad …etc. This can
   be done on two different levels:
 * More explanatory programs in the media should be devoted to addressing such issues in a rational
  scientific documented way.
 *On another level, lay Muslims can engage in such tasks making use of the Internet technology
  and chat talks, that are used only for nonsensical activities, through the notion of "popular
   diplomacy ". The following are comments of some students who were involved in the Connect
   Project at the American University in Cairo. Such program involves students from so many Arab
   and American Universities in videoconferencing where they discuss several crucial issues to bridge
    the communication gap and clear misconceptions
  "I learned that the American media is the main reason why there are many stereotypes
  and false ideas on Islam and the Arab World." (Female, Qatari, University of Qatar).
  “I was happy to see how my American partners in this program could express themselves freely
  and were brave to tell us about the stereotypes they have. I enjoyed answering all their
  questions about Islam and the Arab world" (Female, Qatari, University of Qatar).
  An American student said, "The actual real-time discussions were amazing in that we were
 actually able to speak and ask anything to people we knew so little about. I think it was the
 best way to learn about the Middle East and Islam that a student could experience"
 (female, Virginia Commonwealth University).
• The media should give more weight to explaining sides of Islam that that are ignored by Non-
Muslims. Indeed, some of these issues captured western scholars and converts to Islam. Among these
issues are:
1.Islam’s Rationality
It is based on rational thinking. It does not ask Muslims to act against reason nor to accept things they
do not understand but to work their minds and seek knowledge. Thomas Cleary argues that Islam
"does not demand unreasoned belief. Rather it invites intelligent faith, growing from observation,
reflection, and contemplation" (p. vii).
Many of those who converted to Islam state in the book entitled Why did they become Muslims? that
this is one of the major issues that attracted them to this religion.
2. Acknowledgment of all the previous Books and Messengers.
3. The conformity between science and religion in Islam
    Thomas Cleary (1993) states that Islam finds a solution to the dilemma of the
    "Post-Christian West". He explains that the Qur'an:
     offers a way to explore an attitude that fully embraces the quest for knowledge
     and understanding that is the essence of science, while at the same time, and
     indeed for the same reasons, fully embraces the awe humility, reverence, and
     conscience'. (p.viii)
    Besides, in his book The Bible, Qur’an and Science: The Holy Scriptures Examined
     in the Light of Modern Knowledge, Maurice Bucaille acknowledges the total
    conformity between the facts mentioned in the Qur'an and modern science.
Examples of the Scientific Facts in the Qur’an
  :‫”ألم نجعل األرض مهادا، والجبال أوتادا“(النبأ‬
"Did not We make the earth an expanse
and the mountains as pegs?" (78: 6-7)
 Mountains have deep roots under the surface of the
 ground. (Earth, Press and Siever, p. 413.)

 The mountains, like pegs, have deep roots embedded
 in the ground. (Anatomy of the Earth, Cailleux, p.


               Another illustration shows how the mountains
               are peg-like in shape, due to their deep roots.
               (Earth Science, Tarbuck and Lutgens, p. 158.)
“He has loosed the two seas meeting together without overflowing a barrier
between them” (55: 19-20)

 Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between
 them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity, and
 density.1 For example, Mediterranean sea water is warmer, more saline, and less dense, compared to
 Atlantic ocean water. When Mediterranean sea water enters the Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill, it moves
 several hundred kilometers into the Atlantic at a depth of about 1000 meters with its own warm, saline,
 and less dense characteristics. The Mediterranean water stabilizes at this depth2 Although there are
 large waves, strong currents, and tides in these seas, they do not mix or transgress this barrier.
  (1) Principles of Oceanography, Davis, pp. 92-93.
  (2) Principles of Oceanography, Davis, p. 93.    
In support of Bucaille's and Cleary's argument, Captain Jacques Cousteau, a French famous undersea
explorer, explains that what made him believe that the Qur'an is the true word of God, was the discovery that
the water of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean do not mix. Following is what he says:
  In 1962 German scientists said that the waters of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean did not mix with
  each other in the Strait of Bab-ul-Mandab where the Aden Bay and the Red Sea join. So we began to
  examine this. First we analyzed the water in the Mediterranean to find out its natural salinity and
  density, and the life it contained. We repeated the same procedure in the Atlantic Ocean. We found
  that, even at places where the two seas were closest to each other, each mass of water preserved its
  properties. In other words, at the point where the two seas met, a curtain of water prevented the
  waters belonging to the two seas from mixing. When I told Professor Maurice Bucaille about this
  phenomenon, he said that it was no surprise and that it was written clearly in Islam's Holy Book, the
  Qur'an al-Karim. When I knew this, I believed in the fact that the Qur'an al-Karim was the 'Word
  of Allah'.
                                                                                                          . •
            Dr. T. V. N. Persaud, a Professor of Anatomy, Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health, and
            Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Manitoba,
            Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Chairman of the Department of Anatomy states:
   “The way it was explained to me is that Muhammad was a very ordinary man. He could not read,
   didn’t know [how] to write. In fact, he was an illiterate. And we’re talking about twelve [actually
   about14 00] years ago. You have someone illiterate making profound pronouncements and
   statements and that are amazingly accurate about scientific nature. And I personally can’t see how
   this could be a mere chance. There are too many accuracies and, like Dr. Moore, I have no difficulty
   in my mind that this is a divine inspiration or revelation which led him to these statements.”
 Other scientists testify to the same issue. Please click the link below:
         This page is added by Mike Ghouse, to the previous
                                            pages prepared
                by Ibrahim Saleh & Dahlia Sabry from Egypt.
How do I know that the Qur’aan translation I am reading is the right one or
  the wrong one?

The test is simple – whether you are a theist or an atheist, it is the word of
   God, or wisdom for a world of equilibrium. Neither Injustice nor
   imbalance is included in God’s Plan. God simply will not be un-just. If a
   verse offends the reader, then the issue is not the Verse, but it is the
   understanding the verse in its right context. Even if an expert
   translates it for you, it still should mean justice. Finding the truth is
   one’s own responsibility.

Mistakes are made intentionally and innocently. That is life, we come and
   Go, the creator is always around.

It is not the word of God, nor the religion that is the problem, it is our
     intent and our interpretation.

Let’s hope all of us genuinely seek the truth and work for a better world.

Please visit : and check out APOLOGY.

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