Translations of the Quran
The Holy Quran's Translation in English by Abdullah Yousuf Ali
Almost all languages spoken by Muslims have translations of the Quran in them. Usually the Text is printed with the Translation. If the language is undeveloped many of the Arabic woords of the Quran are taken over bodily into it for want of corresponding words in the language. Even in cultivated languages like Persian or Turkish, the introduction of religious terms from Arabic gave a body of words which were common to the whole Islamic world, and thus cemented that unity of the Muslim Brotherhood which is typified by the Qibla. Where the notion itself is new to the speakers of polished languages, they are glad to borrow the Arabic word expressing that notion and all the associations connected with it. Such a word is Qibla. Where the language is undeveloped, the translation is nothing more than a rough explanation of the Arabic Text. The translation has nither grammatical finish nor a form which can stand independently by itself. That is what happened with the earlier Urdu translations. They were really rough explanations. The ambition of every learned Muslim is to read the Quran in Arabic. The ambition of every Muslim is to read the sounds of the Arabic Text. I wish that his or her ambition were also to understand the Quran, either in Arabic or in the mother tongue or some well developed tongue which he or she understands. Hence the need for good and accurate translations.
The translations into non-European languages known to me are : Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Tamil (used by Moplas), Pashto (for Afghans) , Bengali, Malay, some of the languages of the Eastern Archipelago, and some of the African languages. I believe there is also a Chinese (dialectical translation.
The earliest Urdu translation was by Shah 'Abdul Qadir of Delhi (d 1826) He has already been mentioned among the indian Commentators. Since then numerous Urdu translations have followed, some of which have been left incomplete. Among the complete ones, much used at the present day, may be mentioned those of Shah Rafi'-ud-din of Delhi, Shah Ashraf 'Ali Thanawi and Maulvi Nazir Ahmad (d. 1912). Personally I prefer the last. The projected Urdu translation by Hakim
Ahmad Shuja' has not yet been published.
Before the development of the modern European vernaculars, the cultivated language of Europe was Latin. A Latin translation was made for the Monastery of Clugny about 1143 (in the sixth century of the Hijra') but not published till 1543. The place of publication was BasIe and the publisher Bibliander. This was translated into Italian, German, and Dutch. Schweigger's German translation was published at Nurenburg (Bavaria) in 1616. A French translation by Du Ryer was published at Paris in 1647, and a Russian one at St. Petersburg in 1776. Savary's French translation appeared in 1783, and Kasimirski's French translation (which has passed through several editions) first appeared in 1840, the French interest in islam having been stimulated by French conquests in Algeria and North Africa. The Germans have followed up Schweigger with Boysen's translation in 1773, WahI's in 1828, and Ullmann's (first edition in 1840). I believe the Ahmad-iya Association of Lahore have in hand a fresh translation into German and Dutch.
Meanwhile Maracci had produced in 1689 a Latin version of the Quran with the Arabic Text and quotations from various Arabic Commentaries, carefully selected and garbled, so as to give the worst possible impression of Islam to Europe. Maracci was a learned man, and there is no pretence about the object he had in view viz.. to discredit Islam by an elaborate show of quotations from Muslim authorities themselves. Maracci was himself a Confessor to Pope Innocent XI; his work is dedicated to the holy Roman Emperor Leopold I; and he introduces it by an introductory volume containing what he calls a Refutation of the Quran.
The first English translation by
Aros was but a translation of the first French translation of Du Ryer of 1647, and was
published a few years after Du Ryer's. George Sale's translation (l734) was based on
Maracci's Latin version, and even his notes and, his Preliminary Discorse are based mainly
on Maracci. Considering that Maracci's object was to discredit Islam in the eyes of
Europe, it is remarkable that Sale's translation should be looked upon as a standard
translation in the English speaking world, and should pass through edition after edition,
being even included in 'the series called the Chandos Classics and receiving the
benediction of Sir E. Denison Ross. The Rev. J M. Rodwell arranged the Surahs in a rough
chronological order. His translation was first published in 1861. Though he tries to
render the idiom fairly, his notes show the mind of a Christian clergyman, who was more
concerned to show up "the book than to appreciate or expound its beauties".
Prof. E. H. Palmer's translation (first published in 1876) suffers from the idea that the
Quran ought to be
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