Qur'an translations

Qur'an translations

Translations of the Qur'an are interpretations of the holy book of Islam in languages other than Arabic. Even though translating the Qur'an has been a difficult concept, both theologically and linguistically, Islam's scriptures have been translated into most African, Asian and European languages.

Islamic theology

Translation of the Quran has always been a problematic and difficult issue in Islamic theology. Since Muslims revere the Qur'an as miraculous and inimitable ("i'jaz al-Qur'an"), they argue that the Qur'anic text can not be reproduced in another language or form. Furthermore, an Arabic word may have a range of meanings depending on the context, making an accurate translation even more difficult.Citation
last = Fatani
first = Afnan
contribution = Translation and the Qur'an
year = 2006
title = The Qur'an: an encyclopedia
editor-last = Leaman
editor-first = Oliver
pages = 657-669
place = Great Britain
publisher = Routeledge
id =

According to modern Islamic theology, the Qur'an is a revelation very specifically in Arabic, and so it should only be recited in the Arabic language. Translations into other languages are necessarily the work of humans and so, according to Muslims, no longer possess the uniquely sacred character of the Arabic original. Since these translations necessarily subtly change the meaning, they are often called "interpretations." For instance, Pickthall called his translation "The Meaning of the Glorious Koran" rather than simply "The Koran".

The task of translation is not an easy one; some native Arab-speakers will confirm that some Qur'anic passages are difficult to understand even in the original Arabic. A part of this is the innate difficulty of any translation; in Arabic, as in other languages, a single word can have a variety of meanings. There is always an element of human judgment involved in understanding and translating a text. This factor is made more complex by the fact that the usage of words has changed a great deal between classical and modern Arabic. As a result, even Qur'anic verses which seem perfectly clear to native speakers accustomed to modern vocabulary and usage may not represent the original meaning of the verse.

The original meaning of a Qur'anic passage will also be dependent on the historical circumstances of the prophet Muhammad's life and early community in which it originated. Investigating that context usually requires a detailed knowledge of Hadith and Sirah, which are themselves vast and complex texts. This introduces an additional element of uncertainty which can not be eliminated by any linguistic rules of translation.


The first translator of the Qur'ān was Salman the Persian, who translated Fatihah in Persian during the 7th century. [An-Nawawi, Al-Majmu', (Cairo, Matbacat at-'Tadamun n.d.), 380. ] Other early translations were made for Emperor Negus of Abyssinia and Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, as both received letters by Muhammad containing verses from the Qur'an.

The idea that the Qur'an and prayers must always be in Arabic was not firmly established in early Islamic theology. After the initial Muslim conquests, converts in some non-Arabic speaking areas established their own translations of the suras to use for "salat". This was especially true in Persia. However, this idea later fell from favor in the inter-Muslim political struggles, and by the 1400s, the idea that only the original Arabic was truly the Qur'an was strongly agreed upon.

In 1936, translations in 102 languages were known.

European languages

Robertus Ketenensis produced the first Latin translation of the Qur'an, in 1143. His version was entitled "Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete" or "The law of Mahomet, the pseudo-prophet". The translation was made at the behest of Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, and currently exists in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris. According to modern scholarsFact|date=March 2008, the translation tended to "exaggerate harmless text to give it a nasty or licentious sting" and preferred improbable and unpleaseant meanings over likely and decent ones. Ketenensis' work was republished in 1543 in three editions by Theodor Bibliander (Buchmann) at Basel along with Cluni corpus and other Christian propaganda. All editions contained a preface by Martin Luther. Many later European "translations" of the Qur'an merely translated Ketenensis' Latin version in their own language, as opposed to translating the Qur'an directly from Arabic. As a result early European translations of the Qur'an were erroneous and distorted.

A second Latin translation was issued in 1698 by Ludovico Marracci, [S. M. Zwemer: [http://www.muhammadanism.org/Quran/translations_koran.pdf Translations of the Koran] , The Moslem World, 1915] a confessor to Pope Innocent XI. The introductory volume contained an essay titled "Refutation of the Qur'an". This version selectively quoted commentaries to the Qur'an to give the most negative image possible. Marraci's self-stated goal was to discredit Islam. Marraci's translation too was the source of other European translation (one in France by Savory, and one in German by Nerreter). These later translations were quite unauthentic, and one even claimed to be published in Mecca in 1165 AH.

The first translation in a modern European language was in Italian, by Adrea Arrivabene, derived from Ketenensis'. The Italian translation was used to derive the first German translation Solomon Schweigger in 1616 in Nuremberg, which in turn was used to derive the first Dutch translation in 1641.

The first French translation came out in 1647, and again in 1775, issued by André du Ryer. The Ryer translation also fathered many retranslations, most notably an English version by Alexander Ross in 1649. Ross' version was used to derive several others: a Dutch version by Glazemaker, a German version by Lange and two Russian versions by Postnikov and Veryovkin.

In 1734, George Sale produced the first scholarly translation of the Qur'ān direct from Arabic into English. Since then, there have been important English translations by John Rodwell in 1861, E.H. Palmer in 1880, Richard Bell in 1937, and Arthur John Arberry in 1955. All these translators were non-Muslims. There have been numerous translations by Muslims; the most popular of these are the translations by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al Hilali, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Mohammed Habib Shakir, Muhammad Asad, and Marmaduke Pickthall.


See also

* Online Quran Project
* Origin and development of the Qur'an

External links

* www.hadiths.eu : The islamic encyclopedia
* [http://quran-online.net Online Quran Project] includes over 60+ translation in 20 different languages.
* [http://www.thekoraninterpreted.org The Koran Interpreted Audiobook]
* [http://www.searchtruth.com/list.php Accurate Qur'an Translation ] in Urdu, Transliteration (Simple, Color), English (Yusuf Ali, Shakir, Pickthal, Mohsin Khan), French, Spanish, Indonesian, Russian, Melayu, & German.
* [http://www.guidedways.com/list.php Qur'an Translation in various languages, including English, French, German, Urdu, Persian, Indonesian and Melayu]
* [http://www.qurancomplex.com/Quran/Targama/Targama.asp?nSora=1&l=eng&nAya=1#1_1 The King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur'an]
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/htq/index.htm Sacred-Texts.com] , the Quran in Arabic, and the Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, Palmer, and Rodwell translations.
* [http://majalla.org/books/quran Three Translations of the Qur'ān] , a site with Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, and Shakir side-by-side on a per-verse basis
* [http://www.meforum.org/article/717 Khaleel Mohammed: Assessing English Translation of the Qur'an] , "Middle East Quarterly", an article on bias and political agenda in translation of the Qur'an.
* [http://translation.wikiz.info/Quran Open Translation of Quran by Wikiz.info]
* [http://quran.al-islam.com/ Saudi Arabian government sponsored translation of the Quran] , a Wahhabi translation
* [http://www.GlobalQuran.com GlobalQuran.com] , the Qur'an in 30 different languages
* Open Quran [http://www.openquran.org] offers more than 30 forign languages beside the original Arabic quran which is in 2 different variations (with or without diacritics), 10 defferent quran reciter as mp3-player under every vers and a whole explanation of the Arabic root of every quranic word in Arabic, English and German.
* [http://www.qurandownload.com QuranDownload.com] , There are more than 50 Translations of the Quran. Mostly in PDF format. And also great for developers. There is Database files of the Quran Translations in more than 60 languages.
* [http://arthursclassicnovels.com/arthurs/koran/koran-asad10.html Translation (Muhammad Asad) with commentry]
* [http://arthursclassicnovels.com/arthurs/koran/koran-asad-nocom.html Translation (Muhammad Asad) without commentry]

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