📘 قراءة كتاب Reference Works on the Qur’an in English: A Survey أونلاين
espite the historical fact that the early Muslim community's stand on
the translation of the Arabic text of the Quran was ambivalent, as indeed, the general Muslim attitude remains so to this day, the act of translation may be logically viewed as a natural part of the Muslim exegetical effort. However, whereas the idea of interpreting the Quran has not been so controversial, the emotional motives behind rendering the Quranic text into languages other than Arabic have always been looked upon with suspicion.
This is obvious as the need for translating the Quran arose in those historic circumstances when a large number of non-Arabic speaking people had embraced Islam, and giving new linguistic orientations to the contents of the revelation - as, for instance, happened in the case of the 'New Testament' - could have led to unforeseeable, and undesirable, developments within the body of the Islamic religion itself. (For a brief, though highly useful, survey of the Muslim attitudes towards the permissibility of translating the text of the revelation to non-Arabic tongues, see M. Ayoub, 'Translating the Meaning of the Quran: Traditional Opinions and Modern Debates', in Afkar Inquiry, Vol. 3, No. 5 (Ramadan 1406/May 1986), pp.34 9).
The Muslim need for translating the Quran into English arose mainly out of the desire to combat the missionary effort. Following a long polemical tradition, part of whose goal was also the production of a - usually erroneous and confounding - European version of the Muslim scripture, Christian missionaries started their offensive against a politically humiliated Islam in the eighteenth century by advancing their own translations of the Quran.
Obviously, Muslims could not allow the missionary effort - invariably confounding the authenticity of the text with a hostile commentary of its own - to go unopposed and unchecked. Hence, the Muslim decision to present a faithful translation of the Quranic text as well as an authentic summary of its teaching to the European world. Later, the Muslim translations were meant to serve even those Muslims whose only access to the Quranic revelation was through the medium of the European languages. Naturally, English was deemed the most important language for the Muslim purpose, not least because of the existence of the British Empire which after the Ottomans had the largest number of Muslim subjects.
The same rationale, however, applies to sectarian movements within Islam or even to renegade groups outside the fold of Islam, such as the Qadiyanis. Their considerable translational activities are motivated by the urge to proclaim their ideological uniqueness.
Although there is a spate of volumes on the multi-faceted dimensions of the Quran, no substantial work has so far been done to critically examine the mass of existing English translations of the Quran.
Even bibliographical material on this subject was quite scant before the fairly recent appearance of World Bibliography of the Translations of the Meanings of the Holy Quran (Istanbul, OIC Research Centre, 1986), which provides authoritative publication details of the translations of the Quran in sixty-five languages.
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