English

Qur’an translation of the week #130: ‘To every age its book’: An Exiled Post-Ottoman’s The Wisdom of the Qur’an (La sagesse coranique)

In 1935, the Orientalist publishing house Paul Geuthner in Paris published posthumously the last oeuvre of an exiled Turkish Muslim who had only just died of a heart attack en route from Alexandria to Europe. This work, a partial Qur’an translation titled La sagesse coranique (‘The Wisdom of the Qur’an’), was printed at the behest …

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Qur’an translation of the week #127: The First Ahmadi English Qur’an translation

In 1915, the Ahmadiyya Movement published the first part of The Holy Qur-ān with English Translation and Explanatory Notes, the first Ahmadi translation to be published in a European language. The Ahmadiyya Movement was the first Islamic group to begin translating the Qur’an into European languages, a project they initiated at the beginning of the …

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Qur’an translation of the week #126: Global publishers of Qur’an translations: The World Islamic Call Society of Tripoli, Libya

The World Islamic Call Society (WICS, est. 1972) is one of the most active institutions engaged in global Muslim missionary activities. Part of the ideological strategy developed by Muammar al-Gaddafi (1942–2011) to use the Islamic religious network as a tool of leadership in Africa and beyond, WICS continues to operate even after the Libyan revolution …

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Qur’an translation of the week #122: In defence of miracles- Badshah Husain’s Shi’i English Qur’an translation

In 1931, the Indian Shi’i activist A.F. Badshah Husain started publishing an English Qur’an translation ‘according to Shia traditions and principles.’ In this translation, which has to the best of our knowledge never been completed, Husain aimed to defend both the Qur’an and Imami Shi’i doctrines against British Orientalists, Islamic modernists and, in particular, the …

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Qur’an translation of the week #117: ‘The teaching of Islam in verses from the Koran’ by Jakub Szynkiewicz

While the issue of Qur’anic translatability was still a subject of debate during the 1930s in the Middle East, some European Muslims did not regard this as a problem to be discussed at all (even for the English language). Jakub Szynkiewicz (1884–1966), a Muslim and Orientalist scholar who served as mufti of Poland is a …

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Qur’an translation of the week #114: Pioneering or “well-meaning but incompetent”?- Mirza Hairat Dihlavi’s 1916 English Qur’an translation

In 1916, Mirza Hairat Dihlavi (d. 1928), an intellectual and journalist from British India, printed an English Qur’an translation in three volumes. At the time, this was a pioneering endeavor. Mirza Hairat was the editor of a newspaper and had published on a wide range of subjects in Urdu before, including an introduction to Qur’anic …

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Qur’an translation of the week #104: Doing away with King James Style- N. J. Dawood’s The Koran

In 1956, Penguin Classics published The Koran by N. J. Dawood (1927–2014), an Iraqi Jew. It stood out by dint of being the very first Qur’an translation into contemporary English, a fact which means it has had a big impact on many later Muslim and non-Muslim translators, whether or not they approved of Dawood’s endeavour. …

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Qur’an translation of the week #103: ‘Interpretation of the meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English language‘ by al-Hilālī and Khān- the story behind the first translation of the Qur’an in Saudi Arabia (2/2)

How does the early 1977 edition of the Hilali-Khan translation differs from later revisions? First of all, the English text of 1977 is almost completely free from the inclusion of Arabic glosses, i.e. transliterated Arabic words inserted in brackets, with only very few exceptions. Consider, for example, Q 2:43. In both the 1977 and 1978 …

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Qur’an translation of the week #102: ‘Interpretation of the meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English language‘ by al-Hilālī and Khān- the story behind the first Saudi translation (1/2)

This popular translation of the Qur’an into English, widely known as ‘Hilali-Khan,’ is one of the most influential Islamic texts in the world. Published in numerous editions, it gained much of its fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s, while recently it has been criticized on various grounds, some more controversial than others. Criticisms …

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Qur’an translation of the week #101: Global da’wa in French and the gender question- Shahnaz Saïdi Benbetka’s French Qur’an translation, published by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s Goodword Books

The Indian scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan (1925–2021) was the founder of a global da’wah enterprise that focuses on the distribution of Qur’an translations. We discussed his English Qur’an translation (which was co-authored with, and probably mostly produced by, his daughter Farida Khanam on the basis of his Urdu translation) last week. Khan was a madrasa-trained …

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