Do We Really Need
ISLAM NEWSROOM: "What Yusuf Estes REALLY Says About Quran"
"It is a BIG MISTAKE to think a translation into English will solve the problem of understanding Quran" -- Yusuf Estes
PLAIN ENGLISH QURAN - A New American English Translation of Meaning of the Quran for non-Arabs Cause of Discussions
Why do we need "another translation"?
What is the big difference with this PLAIN ENGLISH QURAN? (is it right to say "English Quran"?) Come on - help us rate this thing and tell others why it is "such a big deal".
Read . .
Complaints about Quran translations to English language continue to be at the top of the list for discussions amongst scholars of Islam and even among the non-Muslim experts in tarjama (translation).
"It is not possible to duplicate or even come close to the RECITATION of QURAN" -- Yusuf Estes
Style and eloquence are not the prime issues, although these are usually included when talking about the difficulties in trying to imitate or replicate the Recitation of Almighty God (Quran - means Recitation).
Translation from the classical Arabic to any other language is by far, the most difficult of all challanges for those who attempt to duplicate God's Words in speech or writing.
No matter how expert or skilled in the art of translations, nor how many people come together attempting to duplicate the Quran in any language, they will never be able to do it. This is the promise of the Quran itself:
"Say, 'If the mankind and the Jinn were together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could never produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another.'"
Suran Al Isra' 17:88
Not a "book like it" - not even a "Chapter like it":
"And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah (chapter) the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful.But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire (Hell)"
Surah Baqarah 2:24
Although we readily admit, it is impossible to make a "book like it" - All the same, there are those who work day and night to at least try to bring the meanings or essence of the meanings across the language barriers.
To make matters worse, today's English may be one of the toughest languages of all to translate Arabic of Quran into and try to understand what was communicated in Arabic to humans living over 14 centuries ago. English, by comparison to any of the Semetic languages is definitely aimed in another direction - literally. [August 2, 2014 - this paragraph was re-written for clairification]
English reads from left to right - while Hebrew, Aramaic (the language of Jesus, peace be upon him) and Arabic all read from right to left. Meanings of words, terms and idioms are difficult to express into English do to the differences in structures.
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate some of the many translations over the last hundred years or so and, hopefully - to offer a much better way to represent what Arab scholars have understood from the Quran into today's English.
Let's take as an example, three (3) different translations of one of the most discussed and often misunderstood verses in surah Baqarah (chapter 2 - The Cow).
The first one is a current and very popular translation of these controversial verses. However, you willl note some of the words are still in the Arabic language without explanation. Therefore, it is not a complete translation.
The second is very rough and almost a word for word translation without the understanding of circumstances prevalent at the the time of revelation and the main cause of concern for those in the west who imagine Islam to be barabaric or war like.
The last one is a current work in progress from a man of Arab descent, born in America and educated in universities here in the U.S. and very well versed in both the scholarlly Arabic tafsir (detailed explanations) and the modern day usage of English:
Consider the translators using words like "kill" or "slay" or "slaughter" out of context here. Scholars of Arabic tell us, a better representation to modern day English would be the word "combat" or "mortal combat" because this is reference to fighting in open combat, not slaughter or outright killing.
We invite our readers and visitors to read, study and compare to the tafsir (explanations by prophet Muhammad and his followers) and then make comments here (bottom of the page) please.
All proper replies are most welcome and will be published below in comments. All unrelated or improper comments will be discarded.
For more information and sources of comparisons please consider the following (translated from tafsir 'Ibn Kathir') on www.QTafsir.com
Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi said that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that Abu Al-`Aliyah commented on what Allah said:
﴿وَقَـتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَـتِلُونَكُمْ﴾
(And fight (in combat) the way of Allah those who fight (in combat) you,)
Abu Al-`Aliyah said, "This was the first Ayah about fighting (in combat) that was revealed in Al-Madinah. Ever since it was revealed, Allah's Messenger used to fight only those who fought him and avoid non-combatants.
Later, Surat Bara'ah (chapter 9 in the Qur'an) was revealed.'' `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said similarly, then he said that this was later abrogated by the Ayah:
﴿فَاقْتُلُواْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ﴾
(then kill them wherever you find them) (9:5).
However, this statement is not plausible, because Allah's statement:
(...those who fight you) applies only to fighting the enemies who are engaged in fighting (in combat against) Islam and its people.
So the Ayah (verse) means, `Fight those who fight you', just as Allah said (in another Ayah):
﴿وَقَاتِلُواْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَآفَّةً كَمَا يُقَـتِلُونَكُمْ كَآفَّةً﴾
(...and fight against the Mushrikin collectively as they fight against you collectively.) (9:36)
This is why Allah said later in the Ayah:
وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُمْ مِّنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ
(And kill (in combat) them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out.) And meaning, `Your energy should be spent on fighting them, just as their energy is spent on fighting you, and on expelling them from the areas from which they have expelled you, as a law of equality in punishment.
For more details and better understanding of this and other verses of the Quran, visit:
And remember to comment below to share your own conclusions of these translations, thank you.
Yusuf Estes is not a scholar of Arabic or Islam for that matter. However, anyone who makes correct statements about the Quran should be listened to whether they are quoting scholars or is they are scholars themselves.
The material presented is what should be discussed not people.
Make dua for him to learn and share more.
The word is correct. Read again:
"To make matters worse, English (not Arabic) may be one of the toughest languages of all to understand what was communicated to humans over 14 centuries ago"
Meaning - English is a tough language to bring Arabic into due to its poor construction and strange syntax.
We are talking about translations here.
Thank you for the good reminder about following blindly.
Actually, your statements do not exactly match what we have learned from our scholars.
What we have from the Quran itself telling us Quran is in Arabic.
To understand - you must really learn Arabic. But Allah also says in Quran, He will make it easy to learn, as He Wills.
Just try to learn - here's a great website for that: www.ArabicInEnglish.com
Yes. We agree with you on that. No doubt it is best to learn the Arabic and many of us work on that every day. Problem is for the non-Muslims.
Whether we translate it or not - THEY WILL. And they could give wrong or distorted meanings.
This is why Muslims began translating Quran many years ago, when enemies of Islam were distributing their own version to attack Islam.
My native language is Bosnian, and I am fluent in English. When I compare the translations of the interpretation of the meaning of the Holy Qur'an, I think English lacks a lot, it causes more confusion than clarity, etc. I think any translation of the interpretation of the meaning of the Holy Qur'an that is closest to the Arabic original is helpful to English-only audience (Muslim and non-Muslim). I think that sheikh Estes is fully competent to help with this as he is native English speaker and has studied Arabic for a while now.
You have made mistakes in writing verses of Holy Quran above. First correct them.
1. these are the verses which inspire Muslims to get rid of occupiers in the history. Who are you to change meaning of these verses. You can only explain the background of these verses in the light of commentary of Al-Sahaba and no more.
3. Holy Quran is always living Book. It has repeatedly given help to the Muslims in the difficult days. Islam had been saving Muslims and not Muslims are saving to Islam in the violatory eras of history. So please do not think against these verses because Holy Quran lives with his words and not with his meanings.
Hafiz Muhammad Haroon
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