Archive for October, 2006


October 22, 2006


October 17, 2006


By Dr Farrukh Saleem

Al Azhar Mosque was founded on the 14th day of Ramadan the year 359 H or 971 AD (after the name of Sayeda Fatima Al-Zahra). In 975 AD, Chief Justice Abdul Hasan Al-No’man of the Fatimid Caliphate gave his first lecture on Shiite Jurisprudence (the ruling elite of the Fatimid Caliphate belonged to the Ismaili branch of Sh’ism). So began Al Azhar University.

Al Azhar, 1,031 years old, is now the oldest operating university on the face of the planet. Question: How many universities have we built over the past 1,031 years?

In my part of the world, ‘The Great Mughal Empire’ began in 1526 AD and lasted for 181 years. Hamida Banu Begum, Emperor Nasiruddin Humayun’s widow, spent 8 years building Humayun’s tomb. Emperor Jalaluddin Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri, a walled capital encompassing palaces for each of Akbar’s senior queens. Emperor Jehangir built Hiran Minar in memory of his favourite antelope. Emperor Shahbuddin Mohammed Shah Jahan had 22,000 workers spend 23 years building a mausoleum for Arjumand Bano Begum (like his predecessors Shah Jahan’s court included a hundred wives, concubines and dancing girls). Arjumand was Shah Jahan’s favourite wife.

Taj Mahal, in essence, represents two things: First, the Mughal era’s artistic achievement and, second, Mughal Empire’s financial bankruptcy because of indulging in outrageously expensive buildings just when resources were shrinking (by the time Aurangzeb took over the Empire was heavily taxed and financially insolvent).

One hundred and eighty-one long years, not a single university. Did the Americans stop the Mughals from building universities?

Next. The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), dedicated “to serving the interests of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims”, has 57 Member States. Afghanistan, Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkey, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Syria, U.A.E., Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Iraq, Maldives, Djibouti, Benin, Brunei, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Mozambique, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Suriname, Togo, Guyana and Cote d’Ivoire all put together have less than 600 universities; a university for every 2 million Muslims. Israel has 25 institutes of higher learning for a total of 6.3 million Israelis; a university for every 250,000.

Of the 600 universities how many have produced a Nobel Laureate? Answer: Ahmed Zewail (1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) received his first degree from University of Alexandria but his Nobel Prize-winning work was done at the California Institute of Technology. Second, Abdus Salam (1979 Noble Prize in Physics) received his M A from Government College, University of the Punjab, but pursued his scientific work in Italy and the UK.

Of the 600 universities is there one — just one — responsible for a major technological breakthrough? The House of Saud, for instance, has taken in over a trillion US dollars. What have they to show for it? Has any one of their universities produced a medical breakthrough? Have the Israelis kept our universities from producing a major scientific or technological breakthrough?

When we were busy building palaces for Akbar’s senior queens, they were busy granting incorporation to the University of Oxford. When we were busy building for Jehangir’s favourite antelope, they were busy laying the foundation of Puteano College at the University of Pisa. When we were busy building a mausoleum for Shah Jahan’s favourite wife, they were busy establishing Harvard College (Harvard’s faculty has produced over 40 Nobel laureates). By the time we were finished with Mumtaz Mahal’s memory they had put up some four-dozen universities.

Look what we have done to Al Azhar. Government control over syllabus and the politics involved in the appointment of professors is dragging the oldest operating university down the drain.

9/11 can’t turn us into winners. Universities can.

The News International:

Wed 4 Oct 2006?

Translations & Tafseers – II

October 16, 2006

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Re: Different Translations of the meanings of the Quran.
« Reply #18 on: Today at 08:25:48 PM »

Assalaam AlaikumHere is a link to brief evaluations of the translation of the meanings of the Quran in English. Do visit and have a read. 

I will post that evaluation separately, insha`Allah.Initial translations were word by word, but one of the two early translations (by one of the sons of Shah Waliullah) is a “flowing” (ba-muhawara) one. The Sir Syed and Deputy Nazir Ahmed translations are also flowing type. Deputy Nazir Ahmed’s style of Urdu prose is also like that, but is quite distinct (and does not suit tafseer).One of the reasons for the popularity of the Mawdudi translation is that it is flowing and its idiom is still current.Now to answer jannah’s Qs: Mawdudi’s Tafhimul Quran provides both a translation and a tafseer – most tafaseer do. The way it is normally published is that there is some Arabic text of the Quran; under that is a ba-muhawara translation of the menaings, and under that is explanation or tafseer of what Syed Mawdudi thinks are points that need clarification. I forgot to mention Abul Kalam Azad’s tafseer of Surah Fatiha. It is a masterpiece. Abul Kalam was the heir of a large gaddi (Barelvi-type), but turned away from that towards Ahle Hadith thought.

Among the Deobandi translations and tafaseer are to be counted: Ashraful Bayan (I think) by Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Nure Hidayat (Fateh Muhammad Jallandhri, a disciple of Ashraf Ali Thanwi), and tafseere Uthmaani. The latter is by Shabbir Ahmed Uthmani, who too was a Khalifa of Ashraf Ali Thanwi, and whose tafseer is actually a completion of the work by Mahmudul Hasan). For a while it was printed and distributed officially by the Saudi authorities, I think because they were taken in by the misnomer Wahhabi applied to the Deobandis. There is also tafseere Majidi by Abdul Majid Daryabadi, another Ashraf Ali Thanwi disciple and Khalifa?

Incidentally there is still a living Khalifa (probably the last one) of Ashraf Ali Thanwi. He is old – more than ninety, I believe. I have seen him in Islamabad, but he spends Ramadan in Karachi.

Diaul Quran is by Pir Syed Karam Ali Shah al-Azhari. He had some education at alAzhar University. He died a couple of years or so ago.

There are also translations and tafaseer from South India. I have one volume called tafseere Latifi by “Shamsul Mufassereen Behrul Uloom Khadimul Quran Hadrat Allama Muhammad Abdul Qadeer Siddiqui Qadri Hasrat Hyderabadi“. What a mouthful of alqaab.

Unfortunately we Muslims have become famous for such alqaab. The Hadrat has authored tafseere Siddiqui of the Quran. This tafseere Latifi is for a few Surahs in the last juzz, and appears to be for women, using the construction for females.

There have been efforts to bring the message and the language of the Quran to larger and larger number of people. Hafiz Nazir Ahmed separately and also together with a board, has produced non-sectarian word as well as flowing translations. This has become one of the most non-sectarian translations ever. Darse Quran in seven volumes – one page a day dars, very nice and easy, published by Idarae Islah and Tabligh, Lahore). I recommend it highly. Try to read a little of the Quran its meanings and a little explanation every day (one page) with the family.

There are Easy Quran books (lughaat) by  Abdul Karim Parekh (see for a download in many languages). I have downloaded and printed and bought the lugaat, and what a work the honorable scholar has produced.Quran Asan Tehrik ( was the first I believe to use two colors (red and blue) to alternatively distinguish phrases and their meanings, and uses phrase translations, based on accepted modern translations. I found it useful when I memorised Surah Yaseen with meanings. It is good and based on accepted translations, but still has that occassional bit of words not respecful enough that leave people dissatisfied. For those familiar with Urdu, I would advise going there and joining up for an email of the 2-color coded translation – one page a day. Set up a separate or account for the emails. The latter has more space: 2 GB, and you can attach larger files with it. Eventually it will become your online Asan Quran. You can save the pages, too. For a gmail account, if anyone needs it, I believe I still have some offers left for joining. Let me know if you need a gmail account.Then there is quranclub ( It uses three colors – one for alamaat, one for words with some commonality in Arabic and Urdu, and the third color shows words exclusive to Arabic.This is based on a color code scheme and the Nazir Ahmed word-by-word method. I strongly endorse visiting this site and looking at their efforts. To benefit one will have to download or buy some of their books. They have so far worked up to five juzz. And I think it is wonderful work. It makes Arabic Grammar easy for Urdu-ites.


Ramadan Witness
Madina Siddique
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English Translation of the Meanings of the Quran
« Reply #19 on: Today at 08:44:05 PM »

Assalaam Alaikum well, what do you know, the article I am reproducing here is originally and probably from Bhaloo’s cool site: Arshad’s Cool Site, although I found it elsewhere:

Bismillah arRahman arRahim
Anti Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam
October 2000
Ahmadiyya and the Holy Quran
distorting translations to support their claims

We present to our readers a reproduction of an article evaluating the English translations of the Holy Quran. Of particular interest is the section about Ahmadiyya/Qadiani translations . This section explains how Ahmadiyya even distorts the translation of the Holy Quran to support the Ahmadiyya claims.



An Annotated Bibliography
by A.R. Kidwai

Before the fairly recent publication of the massive World Bibliography of The Translations of The Meanings of The Holy Qur’an (Istanbul, OIC Research Center, 1986), it was hard to even track down the material on the translations of the Holy Qur’an in various languages. Nonetheless, since the Bibliography is not annotated, the reader gets no idea about the translations make-up, his dogmatic presuppositions and his approach to the Qur’an, as well as the quality of the translation. The present annotated bibliography, taking into account only complete English translations to date, attempts to answer some of the above questions. In preparing the bibliography I received all possible help from the Islamic Foundation, Leicester (UK), which is thankfully acknowledged.

By Muslims 1905-59
By Muslims 1960-86
By Non-Muslims, Qadiyanis, 1917-70
By Other Non-Muslims, 1649-1956
BY MUSLIMS, 1905-59


Khan, Mohammad Abul Hakim, The Holy Qur’an, (Patiala, 1905), 2 edns. Subtitle: ‘With short notes based on the Holy Qur’an or the authentic traditions of the Prophet (pbuh), or/and New Testaments or scientific truth. All fictitious romance, questionable history, and disputed theories have been carefully avoided. A physician by profession, Abul Hakim Khan was not thoroughly versed in Islam. Initially he had Qadyani leanings which he later recanted. His translation is more of a rejoinder to the anti-Islam missionary propaganda rife in the day than a piece of sound Qur’anic scholarship. Contains scant notes. His translation is badly marred by literalism. 1912
Dehlawi, Mirza Hairat (ed.), The Koran: Prepared by Various Oriental Learned Scholars and Edited by Mirza Hairat (Delhi, 1912). 2 edns. Though intended as ‘a complete and exhaustive reply to the manifold criticisms of the Koran by various Christian authors such as Drs. Sale, Rodwell, Palmer and Sir W. Muir’, it contains little material to justify this claim. Verses numbered part-wise instead of Sura-wise. The language used in the translation is quite weak.

Abu’l Fadl, Mirza, The Qur’an Translated into English from the Original Arabic (Allahabad, 1912). 3 edns. Dedicated to Sultan Jahan Begum, [Lady] ruler of Bhopal [India]. References to the Bible with a view to bringing out the superiority of the Qur’an. Refutation of the missionary views in a casual manner. Includes few notes.

Pickthall, Muhammad Marmaduke William, The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an (London, 1930). At least 27 edns. One of the most widely used translations done by an English man of letters who accepted Islam. Faithfully represents the sense of the original. His use of the Biblical English, however, tends to be a stumbling block for an average reader. Too brief notes on the circumstantial setting of the Suras and the Qur’anic allusions hence not very helpful for an uninitiated reader of the Qur’an.

Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an: Translation and Commentary (Lahore, 1934-37). At least 35 edns. Another extremely popular translation. Written in style and couched in chaste English, it stands out above other translations as a highly readable rendering of the Qur’an into English. Copious notes are reflective of Yusuf Ali’s vast learning. Nonetheless, some of his notes, particularly, on the Qur’anic eschatology and angelology smack of apologia and pseudo-rationalism. Sufistic bias is also quite marked in his notes. (For a detailed discussion on Yusuf Ali’s unorthodox views, please see Kidwai, A.R., ‘Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s Views on the Qur’anic Eschatology’, Muslim World League Journal 12 (5) February 1985, pp. 14-17).

Daryabadi, Abdul Majid, The Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary (Lahore, 1941-57). At least 4 edns. A faithful, though largely unacknowledged, translation.

by Muslims, 1960-86

Jullundri, Ali Ahmad Khan, Translation of the Glorious Holy Qur’an with Commentary (Lahore, 1962). 3 edns. The translator boastfully entitles his work as ‘After few centuries a True and Easy translation of the Glorious Holy Qur’an’. Marred by numerous mistakes of translation. Appended to the translation is a lengthy appendix dealing with diverse topics in a bizarre way, heaps abuses in the Saudi rulers and slights the role of Sunna. A simply unreadable work.

Ali, S.V. Ahmad, The Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary according to the version of the Holy Ahlul Bait. With special notes from Ayatullah Agha Haji Mirza Mahdi Pooya Yazdi (Karachi, 1964). 3 edns. Vindicates on the authority of the Qur’an itself such sectarian doctrines of Shias as Imamat, Muta’a (temporary marriage), the nomination of Ali as the Prophet’s successor, Taqqiyya (hiding the faith), Tabarra (cursing), and mourning in the month of Muharram. Invectives used against both the Umayyad and Abbasid rulers. Strongly refutes the view that the Shias believe in the alteration (Tahreef) of the Qur’an.

Tariq, Abdur Rahman and Gilani, Ziauddin, The Holy Qur’an: Rendered into English (Lahore, 1966). l edn. An explanatory translation supplemented by brief notes, without the Arabic text. Though this translation is in consonance with the orthodox Muslim viewpoint, its language and presentation leave a lot to be desired.

Latif, Syed Abdul, al-Qur’an: Rendered into English (Hyderabad, 1969). 1 edn. Apart from the translation of the Qur’an, Syed Abdul Latif also rendered Abul Kalam Azad’s incomplete Urdu tafsir The Tarjuman al-Allah into English. Devoid of notes and the text, this translation does not advance much one’s understanding of the Qur’an. At best, it represents the author’s pious enthusiasm to undertake a noble enterprise.

Ali, Hashim Amir, The Message of the Qur’an Presented in Perspective (Tokyo, 1974). 1 edn. In his zeal to bring out the thematic unity of the Qur’an, the translator has devised a new Sura order, re-arranging the Suras under the following five sections which he calls as the five ‘books’ of the Qur’an: Book I – The Portal, al-Fatihah; Book II – The Enlightenment, ar-Ruh, 18 earliest Meccan Suras; Book III – The Guidance, al-Huda, 36 early Meccan Suras; Book IV -The Book, al-Kitab, 36 late Meccan Suras; and Book V – The Balance, al-Mizan, 24 Medinite Suras. Going a step further, he has made up 600 sections of the Text, in place of the standard 558 sections, for, what he calls, perspective purposes. In making a mess of the Sura and ruku order of the Qur’an, it does not occur to Hashim Amir Ali that the thematic unity of the Qur’an has been quite remarkably demonstrated by some exegetes without disturbing the traditional arrangements of the Qur’an. The level of translation is, however, fairly good.

al-Hilali, Taquiuddin and Khan, Muhammad Muhsin, Explanatory English Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Qur’an (Chicago, 1977). 2 edns. It is, in fact, a summarized English version of Ibn Kathir’s exegesis, supplemented by al-Tabri’s, with comments from Sahih al-Bukhari. Both the translators have been introduced as Salafi (traditional followers of the way of the prophet). The translation is intended to ‘present the meanings of the Qur’an which the early Muslims had known’.

Ahmad, Muhammad Mofassir, The Koran: The First Tafsir in English (London, 1979). 1 edn. Explanatory notes have been interpolated into the translated text. It marks a serious deviation from the norms of the Qur’anic exegesis in that it would open the floodgate for presenting any material as the translation of the Text itself. Grossly misinterprets several Qur’anic terms. For example, al-Ghayb (the Unseen) is rendered as the ‘consequence of one’s action’.

Muhammad Asad, The Message of The Qur’an (Gibraltar, 1980). l edn. Translated in chaste, idiomatic English by a convert from Judaism to Islam. However, it contains some serious departures from the orthodox viewpoint on a number of Qur’anic statements. Asad appears to be reluctant to accept the literal meaning of some Qur’anic verses. For example, he doubts the throwing of Ibrahim into fire, Jesus speaking in the cradle; refers to Khidr and Dhulqarnain as mythical figures and expresses unconventional views on abrogation (Naskh) theory. (For details please see Arfaque Malik’s review in the Muslim World Book Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1980), pp. 5-7

Zayid, Mahmud Y. (checked and revised) in collaboration with a committee of Muslim scholars, The Qur’an: An English Translation of the Meaning of the Qur’an (Beirut, 1980). Based mainly on a Jew, N.J. Daud’s English translation of the Qur’an hence repeats the mistakes of mistranslation that mar Daud’s translations. In the supplement on Muslim religious practices and law both the Sunni and Shia doctrines have been presented.

Sarwar, Sheikh Muhammad, The Holy Qur’an: Arabic Text and English Translation (Elmhurst, 1981). l edn. Without any notes this explanatory translation paraphrases the contents of the Qur’an in a lucid style.

Shakir, M.M., Holy Qur’an (New York 1982). An example of blatant plagiarism in that about 90% of this English translation has been verbatim copied from Muhammad Ali Lahori’s English translation of the Qur’an. Though it does not contain any notes, the Shia doctrines have been indicated in the Subject index of the Qur’an with pointed reference to the Qur’anic verses in order to give the impression that such Shia doctrines as Imamat, Ali as the chosen one, martyrdom of Hussain, khums, Masoom (the infallible ones) and Vali occur in the Qur’an itself.

Ali Ahmad, al-Qur’an: A Contemporary Translation (Karachi, 1984), 2 edns. Devoid of explanatory notes or background information about Suras, this translation rendered in fluent idiomatic English is vitiated by several instances of mistranslation. Contains unorthodox, apologetic and pseudo-rationalistic views on the hell, stoning of Abraha’s army, the Tree, the Verses II:73, 248 and 282, III:49 and IV:01.

Irving, T.B., The Qur’an: the First American Version (Vermont, 1985). 1 edn. Apart from the obnoxious title this translation is not al-together free from mistakes of translation and loose expressions, such as in al-Baqarah II:37 and 157. Assigns theme(s) to each Qur’anic ruku (section). Contains neither the Text nor explanatory notes. Uses American English expressions.

Khatib, M.M., The bounteous Koran: A Translation of Meaning and Commentary (London, 1986). 1 edn. An authentic and faithful translation of the Qur’an in readable, fluent English. Free from irksome use of archaic Biblical English as in Pickthall, Yusuf Ali and Daryabadi. Contains a historically based ‘Introduction’ discussing Islam, the Qur’an and Sirah, and brief yet insightful notes on the circumstantial setting and the meaning of certain Qura’nic allusions and expressions. Suffers from a few inaccuracies in translation. For example al-Furqan XXV:16, 29, 46 and 62, al-Maidah V:67 and Maryam X1X:26 and 34, etc. (For details see A.R. Kidwai’s review on it in Muslim World Book Review (Spring 1988), Vol. 8, No.3, pp. 11-13.

Those who wish to understand the specific and broader meaning of the verses of the Qur’an, it is recommended that they should also read commentary on the subjects and verses of the Qur’an. The English readers will find either Yusuf Ali’s or Maududi’s commentaries a good source. Allama Yususf Ali presents the meaning Ayah (verse) by Ayah with detailed footnotes for relevant words in each verse and includes a detailed index of the topics mentioned in the Qur’an. Maulana Maududi’s work covers commentary for each Surah (chapter) of the Holy Qur’an.

Pickthall writes in his foreward of 1930: “… The Qur’an cannot be translated. …The book is here rendered almost literally and every effort has been made to choose befitting language. But the result is not the Glorious Qur’an, that inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy. It is only an attempt to present the meaning of the Qur’an-and peradventure something of the charm in English. It can never take the place of the Qur’an in Arabic, nor is it meant to do so…”

“The Holy Qur’an,” Text, Translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, 1934. (Latest Publisher: Amana Publications, Beltsville, MD, USA; Title: “The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an,” 1992). A pocket edition of Yusuf Ali’s translation is also available in contemporary English.

“The Meaning of the Glorious Koran,” An Explanatory Translation by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, a Mentor Book Publication. (Also available as: “The Meaning of the Glorious Koran,” by Marmaduke Pickthall, Dorset Press, N.Y. and several Islamic book publishers; Published by several publishers since 1930). Note: The Mentor publication (451 MJ1529 195) contains a few errors/omissions, e.g., in Surah 72: the last part of Verse 2 should read “we ascribe no partner unto our Lord”, and Surah 68: Verse 22 should read “straight” road instead of “beaten” road. In case of any doubt, the reader is advised to check with a copy from an Islamic publisher and also check with an Islamic scholar for the meaning directly from the Arabic original.


Article reproduced courtesy to Arshad’s Cool Site (


Ramadan Witness
Madina Siddique
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Translations by non-Muslims
« Reply #20 on: Today at 08:46:04 PM »

Assalaam AlaikumI think the following by non-Muslims should also be included, so that if one comes across these, one is forewarned that there is an inherent defect.BY Non-Muslims, Qadiyanis, 1917-1970
Ali, Muhammad, The Holy Qur’an: English Translation (Lahore 1917). At least 10 edns. The translation supplemented by exhaustive notes betrays the translator’s Qadiyani beliefs. Grossly twists and misinterprets the Qur’anic verses related to the Promised Messiah and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the seal of prophethood. Swayed by pseudo-rationalism, Muhammad Ali denies the occurrence of some miracles such as the gushing forth of twelve springs as a result of the Prophet Moses’ striking his staff (al-Baqarah II:60), angelhood of Harut and Marut (al-Baqarah II:102), Jinns listening to the Qur’an (al-Jinn LXXII:01) and the stoning of Abraha’s army to death by the birds (al-Fil CV:3). The language used in his translation is not also up to the mark.
Sarwar, Ghulam, Translations of the Holy Qur’an (Singapore, 1920). 8 edns. The introduction constitutes a brilliant critique of the English translations of the Qur’an by Sale, Rodwell, Palmer and Muhammad Ali. Devoid of the Text and notes. Lavishes a gushing eulogy on both the translation and approach of Muhammad Ali. The only defect Sarwar discovers in Muhammad Ali’s translation is the ‘very poor construction of a great many passages in the body of the translation’ hence his new translation.
Ali, Sher, The Holy Qur’an (Lahore, 1955). 13 edns. The official Qadyani translation of the Qur’an. Apart from retaining the unpardonable faults of misinterpretation and mistranslation found in Muhammad Ali’s translation, Sher Ali interpolated more blatantly the Qadyani doctrines into his translation.
Peer, Salahuddin, The Wonderful Koran (Aminabad, 1960). 2 edns. Another Qadyani translation of the Qur’an.

Nuri, Khadim Rahman, The Running Commentary of the Holy Qur’anwith under- bracket comments (Shillong 1964) 1 edn. Sufistic leanings of the translator characterize this Qadyani translation of the Qur’an.

Farid, Malik Gulam (ed.), The Holy Qur’an: English Translation and Commentary (Rabwah, 1969). 2 edns. The commentary is based on Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad’s Urdu Translation of the Qur’an. Published under the auspices of Hadrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Third Successor of the Promised Messiah and Head of the Ahmadiyyah Movement in Islam’.

Khan, Zafrullah, The Qur’an: Arabic Text and English Translation (London, 1970). 4 edns. A notable Qadyani translation. Marred by unaccountable liberties in that Zafrullah Khan, following the footsteps of other Qadyanis, does not recognize the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the last Prophet.    

by other non-Muslims, 1649-1956

Ross, Alexander, The Alcoran of Mahomet translated out of Arabique into French, by the Sieur Du Ryer…And newly Englished, for the satisfaction of all that desire to look into the Turkish vanities (London, 1649). 8 edns. The latest edition came out in 1856. A very crude specimen of the Orientalist-missionary approach to the Qur’an. In his ‘Introductory Note to the Christian Reader’ Ross specifies his purpose: ‘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’. In the same rabidly anti-Islamic vein is the Appendix to the work entitled as ‘A needful caveat or Admonition, for them who desire to know what use may be made of or if there be danger in reading the al-Coran’. As to the quality of the translation itself, Zwemer’s remark is quite illuminating: ‘He (Ross) was utterly unacquainted with Arabic, and not a thorough French scholar; therefore his translation is faulty in the extreme’. Zwemer, S.M., Muslim World, V, (1915), p.250.
Sale, G., The Koran: Commonly called the Alkoran of Mohammed (London, 1734). At least 123 edns. The latest edition appeared in 1975. Contains an exhaustive Preliminary discourse on Sira and the Qur’an. In translating the Qur’an Sale’s missionary intent is quite marked. For in the note to the reader he suggests the rules to be observed for ‘the conversion of Mohammedans’ (p. v); evaluates the Prophet thus: ‘For how criminal soever Mohammed may have been in imposing a fake religion on mankind, the praises due to his real virtues ought not to be denied him’ (p. vii), talks of different editions of the Qur’an which, for him, vary in contents (p. 45), points out the borrowings in the Qur’an, (pp. 49 and 50) and refers to the piecemeal revelation of the Qur’an as a ‘contrivance’ (p.50). Full of instances of omission and mistranslation. For example, Ar-Rahman nir Raheem, is simply rendered as ‘Most Merciful’. The recurrent Qur’anic address, Ya aayuhan nas is translated as ‘O people of Mecca’. Renders as ‘Substitute’ and as ‘Secret History’. Parts of some verses have been altogether omitted, as for example, in Ale-Imran III:98 is not translated.
Rodwell, J.M., The Koran (London, 1861). 32 edns. Question the authenticity of the traditional Sura order and invents a new so called chronological Sura order. In the Introduction he refers to the prophet as the crafty author of the Qur’an; indicates the Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian and other sources of the Qur’an; advises missionary activists how to carry out their work and hold the prophet a victim of self-deception, a cataleptic subject from his early youth…liable to morbid and fantastic hallucinations (p.14). Suffers from a number of mistakes of mistranslation and misinterpretation. For example, (al-Mudathir LXXIV:39) is translated as ‘they of God’s right hand’, (al-Kauthar CVIII:2) as ‘Pray therefore to the Lord and slay the victims’. Explains the use of the word abd (al-Alaq XCVI:10) in the Qur’an thus: ‘Since it was the slaves who had embraced Islam, the Qur’an uses this expression’.
Palmer, E.H., The Koran (London 1880). 15 edns. A Cambridge scholar entrusted with the preparation of a new translation of the Qur’an for Max Muller ‘Sacred Books of the East Series’. Nykl notes no less than 70 instances of omissions and mistranslation in his translation. Nykl, A.R., ‘Notes on E.M. Palmer’s The Qur’an in the Journal of the American Oriental Society 56 (1936), pp. 77-84.

Bell, Richard, The Qur’an translated with a crucial rearrangement of Surahs (London 1937). 4 edns. His aim in translating the Qur’an is to ‘understand the deliverances of Muhammad afresh’ (p. v). Apart from describing the Prophet as the author of the Qur’an, Bell believes that the Qur’an in its written form was ‘actually written by Muhammad himself’ (p vi). Illustrates ‘alteration, substitutions and derangements in the text’. For example, II:209 is a later addition, 206-208 are unconnected scraps and 210 is the original continuation of the verse No. 205. On each page he indicates his peculiar arrangement of verses.

Arberry, A.J., The Koran Interpreted (London, 1955). 12 edns. Contains no explanatory notes or background information about Suras. Not altogether free from omissions and mistranslations. For example al-Anfal VIII:59 is rendered as: ‘And thou are not supposed that they who disbelieve have outstripped Me’ whereas the correct translation would be: ‘Let not those who disbelieve deem that they have escaped Me’. An-nabi-ul Ummi is mistranslated as ‘the Prophet of the common folk’. Other instances of mistranslation are: Ale-Imran III:43; Nisaa IV:72, 147 and 157; Maida V:55; Araf VII:157; al-Sajdah XXXII:23; al-Anfal VIII:59 and Yunus X:88, etc.

Dawood, N.J., The Koran (London, 1956). 11 edns. An Iraqi Jew. Speaks of the influence of Jewish and Christian teachings on the Prophet and condemning the traditional Sura order follows the chronological Sura order. Marred by serious mistakes of translation ‘bani Adam” (al-Araf VII:31) is rendered as children of Allah [correct translation is ‘children of Adam’], in Al-Baqarah II:191 ‘al fitnatu asyaddu minal qatl(i)’ is mistranslated as ‘idolatry is worse than carnage’ [correct translation is ‘oppression is worse than slaughter’].


Translations & Tafseers

October 15, 2006

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Different Translation of the meanings of the Quran  

Assalaam AlaikumMaududi (rehmatullah aleh) could and did not (to my knowledge) make any changes to the Quran. On reading his translation and tafsir, you come across a little arrogance, or use of words for the prophets [peace be upon them] not befitting them, or taking in tafsir an explanation that is somewhat belittling of the prophets. If one is aware of this, and avoids that attitude oneself, there is much of benefit in that tafsir.Some scholars have fallen in this trap because the prophets are human, after all. Secondly some leaders of such movements find themselves doing what they think the prophets had done. Although they stay clear of claims of prophethood, their scholarship and piety makes their followers praise them too highly. Then they themselves sometimes  come very close to seeing the prophets in a lesser light than is the due of the prophets. Other great scholars sometimes fall in opposite traps. We mus remember that these scholars are human too, although very much ahead of us in their closeness to Allah (swt).

May Allah (swt) forgive me and the scholars and all Muslimeen and Muslimaat Smiley.

The time of Syed Maududi coincided with a tremendous feeling in the Ummah of getting rid of colonialists. Hence his emphasis on the political side. At the same time, there is emphasis also on implementing the Shariah. His period corresponds with that of Syed Qutb, and follows similar line of thought. Shia thought had independently come to the same view – in the writings of Khomeini.

I have problems with Ma`arif as well, but in all these tafaseer, while seeing the problems so as to avoid pitfalls, let us also see the benefits, and try to avoid the excesses that occur occassionally in these tafaseer.

I would suggest read as many translations and tafaseer as possible, amd see what other ulema have to criticise. This is not to belittle the efforts of the works of the scholars. There are good points in all these translations (including the Barelvi ones Smiley), and problems too with all of them.

After all, in the end it is only Allah’s Rehmah that will see everyone through, even the greatest of scholars and shuyukh.>


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Different Translation of the meanings of the Quran  

Assalaam AlaikumI have often toyed with the idea of writing my ideas on the Islamic movements that I have observed or read about – I say observed, because I have not joined any movement, yet as a Muslim I consider myself as a part of the movement (of Islam) which has continued the struggle throughout the history of mankind to be in the good books of Allah (swt) and to combat Shaytan.I see most of the Islamic movements as genuine. The individuals leading them have had their own understanding of what is wrong, and how to go about correcting deviations. We may disagree with their emphasis now, but this is what they genuinely believed at the time of their analyses.The rise of the East India Company in India was resisted at first militarily, and we can see defeat of the Muslims at Hoogly, Sringapatam and Delhi, to name a few. Why did the Muslims fail to hold on to power, and how to free them, were the difficult questions our past leaders have faced. These Qs are difficult, because knowledge of the enemy in those days was scarce. Knowledge and true learning, had indeed been lacking for a long time in the Muslim world. We are fortunate; there are numerous takes and  analysis of history and culture and scientific endeavours to guide us now. Our leaders in those times did not have such facilities. All the more wonderful that they were able to found and nurture far-reaching movements.

Let us start with Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlvi. Born in a typical Hanafi Sufi pir family, he gradually moved towards a non-madhab view, or at least its acceptance. His sons was the pioneers in Indian translations of the meanings of the Quran in Persian and Urdu. These works are still the standards on which latter scholars have based their translations. Shah Waliullah’s contribution is in his calls and writings to wake the Muslims up to the evil and wasteful ways of ALL their classes – the Royal family, the chiefs (umera), the shopkeepers, the artisans, the labour  ALL of them. He saw the rise of the Marhattas at the expense of Muslims, and invited Ahmed Shah Abdali, who decicively defeated the Marhattas at Panipat.

His sons and grandson had to deal with the rising power of the Sikhs and the British. His son Shah Abdul Aziz refused to condemn the Shia as non-Muslim. His Jumma Khutbas are remarkable for their eloquence, and the great poet Zauq Dehlvi (who was Poet Laureatte at the court of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar), said that he learnt his Urdu from these khutbas. His nephew, Shah Ismail Shaheed, used to give khutabs in his own right, and his book “Taqwiatul Eemaan”, is almost like the book “Kitabut-Tawheed” by Sheikh Muhammd bin Abdul Wahhab. The times of the two Sheikhs are also concurrent. Shah Ismail went out to deliver khutbas in the most unorthodox places. His brother-in-law has reported that one night he followed Shah Ismail who was dressed as a faqir. He went to the redlight area of Delhi asking aloud that he be heard. The Naika (madamme) asked her servant to give some money to the faqir, who refused saying that he only wanted to be heard. People in the redlight areas are very supersticious, so the Naika agreed to have him brought into the house. There Shah Ismail gave a khutba telling how this life was shortlived, and the everlasting life, and what the Quan says about it. It is said that many from the neighbourhood joined to listen to his khutba, cried and made tauba, giving up their sinful life, many of them settling into marriage afterwards. Shah Ismail joined Shah Aziz’s disciple Syed Ahmed Shaheed Barelvi (no relation to Raza Khan Barelvi) and they set up an Islamic Emirate in and around Peshawar. However, this Emirate was betrayed by some Sardars of Peshawar, and the two leaders of this movement were martyred at Balakot in a battle with the Sikhs.

When the British won Delhi in 1857, they killed many Muslims, particularly the Ulema. The movement mentioned above established subsequent Emirates, but now the British had taken over, and they extinguished these, too. The leaders of Emirates or the movement were exiled to the Andaman Islands called kala paani in those days, because once there, it would be ages before anyone heard from the exiles, and chances of survival in those islands were slim indeed. The British abolished Persian as the language of the courts, so the ulema and the Muslim intellengtsia suddenly became unlettered in the eyes of the Raaj.

Syed Ahmed Khan, better known as Sir Syed, had saved some British women and children from being killed by the Sepoys, and hence enjoyed some protection and say in the British administration. He was of the view that the Muslims had degenerated, and must learn modern sciences and philosophy etc. to gain back their place in the world. Unfortunately, the translation he wrote denied miracles and any supernatural occurrence. He founded the Aligarh College, later University. The Pervaizi or Ahle Quran movement clims to follow him, and Sir Syed is deriled by other movements for his translation,  although his contribution to the awakening of Indian Muslims is great indeed.

Other Muslim leaders had different ideas. The followers of Shah Ahmed Shaheed and Shah Ismail Shaheed founded the Deoband Madrassah, and the Ahle Hadith movements, both of which can thus be traced to the Wali Ilahi movement. The Deobandi movement turned its back on the British, and among the Deobandis two trends are distinct – a peaceful Dawah effort (symbolised by the Tableeghi Jamaat and traces its roots from Ashraf Ali Thanwi), and the militant response to foreign occupation and rule by the Taleban (can be traced from Mahmudul Hasan). Both these latter persons are disciples of Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki. The modern Ahle Hadith Movement in India can be traced to another Wali Ilahi product, Syed Nazrul Islam Dehlvi.

Syed Maududi looked at the failure of the Islamic Emirate to protect itself, the rejection of Sir Syed’s interpetation by other Muslim leaders and the Muslim population, and the status of Muslims in his times, and came up with some ideas of his own. He launched his movement, started his translation and tafseer, and I think his movement (Jamaate Islami) has had an awakening effect on the Muslims, not just of India-Pak subcontinent, but the world. The Students’ Islamic Societies in UK and Ireland were started and sustained by mainly adherents of Jamaate Islami. I think the North American Societies are also indebted to the Jamaate Islami to a great extent. Both the tafseer – “fi Zilalel Quran ” by Syed Qutb and “Tafheemul Quran ” by Syed Maududi have contributed to the awakened interest and turning to islam of youth.

The Preface or Introduction to Syed Maududi’s tafseer is a wonderful read. It is carried on may sites. Maybe I will try to find and post its link alter.

There are other tafaseer, “Tadabburl Quran” by Amin Ahsan Islahi, “Tayyassurul Quran” by Shykh Abdur Rehman Keilani. Darusslaam Publications has an authentic tafseer “Ahsanul Bayan” by Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf with translation by Muhammad Junagarhi.

Mufti Muhammad Shafi is a disciple of Maulana Thanwai, and his translation and tafseer “Ma`ariful Quran” will reflect that Sufi, no physical resistance dawah viewpoint, and bias towards the Hanafi fiqh.

There have been other movements e.g. the Khaksaars of Syed Ataullah Shah Bukhari.

If one reads the translations and tafaseer from these various sources, the differences will be found to be due to different approaches and personal preferences of the respective translators and interpretators.

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Different Translation of the meanings of the Quran Reply with quote 

Assalaam AlaikumI forgot to mention two Barelvi tafaseer: Tafseere Naeemi and Diaul Quran.The translation in the former is from Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi.All translations by Barelvi, Deobandi, Ahle Hadith and Jamaate Islami lead to the same core concepts, so translations are not a problem. It is the tafaseer where the interpretator’s own understanding and bias leads to differences. Personally I don’t find these differences disturbing, as I am able to filter out the excesses, except that there bcan be no excess where shirk’s denial is concerned. p.s.: Many of the above are in Urdu, so no use to non-Urdu-ites. The Saheeh Translation is the best in that case.

Introductions to Study of the Quran

October 15, 2006
OK, here are Introductions to Quran Study and translation of the meanings:Maududi:- Translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari:

introduction to Study the Quran – Maudoodi
intro study koran
introduction to the study of the quran

Khurram Murad:

Athar Hussain: