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The Quran translated

Reader comment on item: Study the Koran?

Submitted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim (United States), Feb 6, 2005 at 14:48

The Quran is a text which goes back to the seventh century. People especially from the Arab world have translated the Quran into different languages especially into English. The big problem with these translations is that the translators forget when Quran was written down, what happened before it was collected and transcribed, what does it mean when a text is written using a writing system which ignores vowels in the script and the distortion which could have resulted from that. In addition the translations are superficial and do not take into consideration language change, unless Arabic is a dead or a static langauge for every living language is dynamic and subject to change. They approach the Quran as if it was written yesterday, often tend to make black and white statements and give no room for debate. Muslims in the 21st century (even in 2005) recite some verses and intepret them the way it pleases them. The time difference seems to play no role and scholarly work accomplished so far has no relevance. This has indeed some manipulatory purposes to serve their needs. Only some translations by neutral and objective scholars are to recommend. Unfortunately such scholars are unlikely to be found among the Muslims. They tend to go to extremes and create some legendary explanations.

On the other hand Quran is a text to be recited as the word Quran itself suggests. The word is very likely to be a loan word from Aramiac "to recite" and the Arabic word "qara'a: to read" is probably also a loan word. The melody and language of the short verses of the Meccan period is indeed impressive wheras those labelled Medinan verses are a bit boring and verbose. Hence any translation cannot capture the music and the readers consequently do not understand why such verses drive people to ecstacy. This means that Quran should not be translated but heard or recited. However, non-Arabs (or even Arabs themselves) then do not understand what it is all about. It bestows on the language a complete mystery.

Another problem is that any debate on, or criticism to Quran is strictly forbidden and those people especially Muslims who do so, subject their lives to danger. I believe it is time now to start a debate and give freedom and room to people to praise, criticize or even attack the Quran. Even European scholars are still careful and fear attack so that they often try to make some concessive statements and cannot speak their minds without risking their lives as Salman Rushdi did.

Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
Bremen - Germany

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