Gazette:News:The Qur’an - A New Translation

Quality Requirement

La Gazette

Review by Manazir Ahsan

The Qur’an: A New Translation

By Tarif Khalidi

Penguin Classics £25, 560 pages

FT Bookshop price: £20

There was a time when an attempt to translate the Qur’an into any language was regarded as blasphemy. As the direct word of God, revealed to the Prophet Mohammed through the archangel Gabriel, the Qur’an was considered untranslatable. No matter how capable and sincere the scholar, it was thought that no translation could capture the grandeur and beauty of the original Arabic.

The Indian scholar and reformer Shah Waliullah (1703-1762) was the first Muslim to defy this tradition when he translated the Qur’an into Persian. He was roundly criticised for his efforts; some religious scholars pronounced a fatwa against him. But Shah Waliullah’s courageous enterprise paved the way for the Qur’an’s translation by Muslims into all languages. Alexander Ross (1649) did the first complete English version. More than 60 English translations have appeared. Since its revelation to the Prophet Mohammed in 7th-century Arabia, the Qur’an has moulded the lives of millions. Even today, it is regarded as a book of guidance par excellence by more than 1bn Muslims the world over. Little wonder that it has been at the centre of scholarly attention by both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. However, with so many English translations, is a new one really justifiable?


Financial Times



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