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Translations of the Holy Qur’an into English

The Holy Qur’an has been translated into the English language by many scholars of repute, and some of these have provided detailed notes of commentary. They include: George Sale, J.N.
Rodwell, E.H. Palmer, M. Pickthal, Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, N.i Dawood and M.H. Shakir.
Translation of the text alone is not sufficient unless each revelation is put into its true context. The most recent translation, by M.H. Shakir, contains some brief and useful notes on selected verses, but these are too few and too brief Had he lived longer, he might have provided a fuller commentary.
Earlier, Badhsa Husain of Lucknow attempted a detailed work which was published in two volumes. But he too died before completing his work However, he used the translation of J.N.
Rodwell, not his own, and his notes are based on the sermons of some maulvi and lack any reference to modern-day problems and do not attempt to answer anti-Islamic criticism. This fact the author openly acknowledged in his introduction The translations by Christian scholars such as Rodwell, Sale and Palmer, etc. are clearly prejudiced. Any Islamic scholar can easily see that these translators betray either a faulty knowledge of Arabic or an intention to distort the truths of the Holy Qur’an to serve their own purposes. Their purpose seems, clearly, to prejudice the reader against the Qur’an rather than help him to understand it. To expose these translations, particularly those by Christian scholars, would require more time and space than this work can provide. The following quotations offer the opinions of some who were impartial in their attitude to the Holy Qur’an. The great Christian scholar, Sir E. Dennison Ross, in referring to the translation by Mr Sale, shows the full extent of the ingenuity and the lies that those prejudiced against Islam have resorted to.
It must, however be borne in mind that the Koran plays a far greater role among the Muhammadans than does the Bible in Christianity, in that it provides not only the canon of their faith, but also the text-book of their ritual and the principles of their civil law.
For many centuries the acquaintance which the majority of Europeans possessed of Muhammadanism was based almost entirely on distorted reports of fanatical Christians which led to the dissemination of a multitude of gross calumnies. what was good in Muhammadanism was entirely ignored, and what was not good, in the eyes of Europe, was exaggerated or misinterpreted.
It must not, however, be forgotten that the central doctrine preached by Muhammad to his contemporaries in Arabia, who worshipped the star; to the Persians, who acknowledged Ormuz and Ahriman; to the Indians who worshipped idols; and to the Turks, who had no particular worship, was the unity of God, and that the simplicity of his creed was probably a more potent factor in the spread of Islam than the sword of the Ghazis.
It is difficult to decide to what extent Mr sale’s citations in the notes represent first-hand use of Arabic commentators, but I fear that the result of a close inquiry only points to very little original research on his part. His refutations, which swell the work to a large volume, are of little (use) or none at all, being often unsatisfactory, and sometimes impertinent I do not wish to imply that Sale did not know Arabic, but I do maintain that his work as it stands gives a misleading estimate of his original researches, and that his tribute to Marracci falls far short of his actual indebtedness.
(from Introduction to Sale’s Qur’an, by E. Dennison Ross, Frederick Warne,London)
The translation of tile Holy Qur’an by Mr sale is claimed by its publishers to be the best and the most accurate. Such a claim is regarded as false by another great Christian scholar, E.H.
From the large amount of exegetical matter which has been incorporated in his (Sale’s) text, and from the style of language employed, which differs widely from the nervous energy and the rugged simplicity of the original. his (Sale’s) work can scarcely by regarded as a fair representation of the Qur’an.
In spite of his endeavour to distort the meaning of the Holy Qur’an in order to help the missionaries and to divert the attention of the world from the Holy Book, George Sale could not help confessing its glorious and miraculous nature:
The Koran is universally allowed to be written with utmost elegance and purity of language. It is confessedly the standard of the Arabic tongue, inimitable by any human pen and therefore insisted on as a permanent miracle.
(George sale, in the preliminary discourse to his translation)
Every seeker of the truth will want to hear what the great Western scholar Goethe says of the Holy Qur’an:
However often we turn to the Qur’an, it soon attracts, astounds and In the end reinforces reverence. Thus this Book will go on exercising through all ages its most potent Influence.
Sarojini Naidu a great scholar and famous poetess in India, aid in her lecture on The Ideals of Islam in Madras in 1918’s As I read the Qur’an, I find those dynamic principles of life not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world Dr A. Bertherand declared to the intellectuals of the world:
To seek knowledge is the duty of every Muslim man and woman. Seek knowledge even though it be in China The Savants are the heirs of the Prophet These profound words of the Great Reformer are indisputable contradiction to those who seek and exert themselves In putting the responsibility of the intellectual degradation of Muslims upon the spirit of the Qur’an. Let them read and meditate upon this great Book and they will find it, at every passage, a constant attack upon idolatry and materialism; they will read that the Prophet incessantly called the attention and the meditation of his people to the splendid marvels, to the mysterious phenomenon of creation. The incredulous, sceptical and unbelieving may convince themselves that the importance of this Book and its doctrine was not to throw back, eventually, the intellectual and moral faculties of a whole people.
On the contrary, those who have followed its counsels have been, as we have described in the course of this study, the creators of a civilisation which is abounding unto this day.
The claim that Islam was spread by the sword is a distortion of the truth. What aggression could the lonely one, the Holy Prophet, commit? What sword was in the hand of one who was himself persecuted and whose followers were tortured and killed? This vicious fabrication has been exposed by many great scholars Of the West One of these, De Lacy O’Leary, writes:
History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastic and absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.
(De Lacy O’Leary: Islam at the Crossroads, 1923)
About the perfection of Islamic law, the great British politician, Edmund Burke, wrote:
The Muhammadan law, which is binding on all from the crowned head to the meanest subject, is a law interwoven with a system of the wises4 the most learned and the most enlightened jurisprudence that ever existed in the world.
(Edmund Burke in his “Impeachment of Warren Hastings”)
The Muslim scholars Maulvi Muhammad Ali of the Ahmedia school and Allama Yousuf Ah have shown clear bias towards their own school in their translations and commentaries.
Both have consistently avoided reference to the source of the Ahlul-Bait, and even seem to object to making reference to the holy ones when they are the direct concern of the revelations.
Also, when one compares Muhammad Ali’s work with the great commentary Majma’ul Byan of the Shia authority Shaikh-e- Tabarsi, it is obvious that there has been a great deal of borrowing without acknowledgement. Besides this, basic Shia sources have been deliberately avoided.
Yousuf Ali’s work, likewise, omits reference to the Ahlul- Bait. This suggests that, either, this scholar has wilfully avoided using this most accredited and authentic source of Qur’anic knowledge, or was totally ignorant of the holy ones and their position in Islam. The Holy Prophet openly declared that the Qur’an is with the Ahlul-Bait and that, in order to avoid going astray, Muslims should attach themselves to these two (See the Hadeethuth Thaqualain).
The interpretations offered by these scholars clearly suit the bias of their own respective schools and, intentionally or unintentionally, provide a faulty view of the Qur’an and of the holy ones. The sources they have used reveal a bias against the Holy Ahlul-Bait.
One conspicuous feature of the writings of the Ahmadi scholar is the practical denial of the miraculous, by presenting the miracles of the Apostles of God as non-spiritual events and thus denying the special spiritual powers with which the Holy Apostles were endowed.

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