Monday, November 20, 2017 - 2 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439
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There are many translations of the Qur`an and I don't know which one is correct?

There are many translations of the Qur`an and I don't know which one is correct?

Answer

1.This is not a problem of translation alone, and your problem is neither one of accuracy nor of translation. To start with, it is part of the unique nature of the Qur`an since many of its verses allow more than one interpretation. I think it was Ali (may God be pleased with him) who described the Qur`an as "allowing different meanings."

When we read the Qur`an in Arabic, we are aware of at least some of these differences and accept them all as being intended in the overall meaning of the Qur`an. Since we acknowledge that the Qur`an is God's word, we cannot say that a correct meaning of what He has revealed is not intended. However, a study of the Qur`an itself and the ahadith explain a great deal of what is meant by each Qur`anic statement.

Some people may say that they do not have time for this and so they need to ask those who devote much of their time and energy to studying the Qur`an, the ahadith, and Islamic studies in general. This is nothing new. Even in the very early days after the Prophet’s death, some of the Companions were known for their scholarly knowledge and they were asked for rulings on different matters.

When it comes to translation, a translator has the difficult task of producing in his language what someone else has expressed in a different language. There are methods of expression, nuances, words, phrases connotations, and other subtleties, which cannot be reproduced in another language. These have much to do with the culture of the two languages used. This applies to the translation of any written text. The more literary the style, the more difficult it is to reproduce it in another language. When it comes to the Qur`an, the word of God, the difficulty is even greater. The Qur`anic style is so refined that it surpasses that of any other language. The challenge to the non-believers to produce anything similar has been stated at the time of its revelation and still stands today.

What do we expect then from the poor translator, as competent as he may be? At the end of his work, Muhammad Asad who produced one of the best translations of the Qur`an in English, says, "In all humility and sincere submission ends the attempt of a powerless servant of God in interpreting the immortal word of his Lord."

So we do not blame translators provided they make an honest attempt to produce a good translation. We take all meanings that are within a reasonable interpretation of the text. We study the Qur`an and Hadith to acquire a good insight into the message of God.

If we cannot undertake such a study, we ask scholars to explain what we need to know. Then we turn to God in true submission and worship Him as best as we can. We cherish the hope that He will accept our humble endeavors and reward us as He is the most generous and will overlook our mistakes as He is the most merciful.
May God reward you for your honest desire to understand the Qur`an.
 

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