My objectives and methodology
I have under taken this translation because I owe so much to the Quran; it has given me meaning and purpose in life. I feel indebted; this translation is labour of love. Perhaps you also feel the same. I believe that my translation will offer fresh insights and understanding for readers living in a global village in exciting age of science and information technology.
The purpose of this translation is to convey the meanings of glorious Quran clearly and concisely with the necessary impact and the appropriate tone of voice. I simply want to make it accessible, readable and appealing translation in plain English.
I have been a serious student of the glorious Quran for more than 50 years, during this time I have memorised the Quran, studied Arabic language, the science of Tafsir and Hadith at Al Azhar University Cairo. Prior to this I was a research scientist for more than 10 years.
The six outstanding features of this translation are explained below:
1. The topical headings
A special feature of this translation is that I have added section headings for the sake of clarity. These headings correspond to major themes and subject matter presented in the text. The headings of each section are not just attention grabbing but reflect its contents, themes and specific topics that will help the reader to understand the “bursts of revelation” the Quran was revealed according to the need of the time. However, this is only an attempt at clarity for the sake of understanding the divine text. The headings are not to dictate the interpretation of these verses, although they may possibly guide him to a particular interpretation, they are a means of joining together ideas in the sections, helping to contextualise the passages. This allows the Quran to speak for itself. I believe this is a very powerful way that allows the reader to have a true taste of the Quran, to see and to read Allah’s message. The surah’s of Quran can be divided into sections based on the subject at various places or themes, they act as hinge passages which are separate units that can be attached to the preceding or following narrative block. These narrative blocks can be very fluid, particularly the hinge passages that act as buffer zones which allowed the previous passage to merge into the next.
2. Plain and contemporary English
My goal has been to translate the meaning of the divine message, by being faithful and accurate in expressing the exact meaning of Quranic words, by using the root meanings of the words rather than freer interpretation. I have used Plain English, Simple words and avoided archaic words. Instead of translating Arabic idioms I have used English idioms. I have aimed for an accurate translation by relying on classical Arabic dictionaries and commentaries of Quran. My task has been made easier by eminent teachers, the previous prominent translators and the illustrious commentators. How successful I have been in providing a meaning that is clear, plain and contemporary is for the reader to judge.
3. Introduction to surah’s
This highlights the period of revelation, the merits of reciting the surah, the major themes and the intra-and inter-surah coherence. An introduction to each surah also sheds light on the socio-economic, political, historical and cultural environment of the seventh century Makkah Hijaz in particular and the Arabian peninsula in general at the time of revelation.
4. The footnotes
I have used footnotes to add value to the communicative process of translation, their absence could lead to misunderstandings, I have used them for; explaining metaphors, the figurative language of the Quran and circumstances of revelation can help to understand the background and the context of events.
5. Lessons for life
This heading in the margin of the Arabic page is to encourage the reader to reflect on Quranic teachings; think deeply about the section/ verse; contemplate on its meanings, using reason, emotion and spiritual insights. Intense focusing is going on, this is a great spiritual activity, worship brings closeness to the Lord and it’s purpose is to gain inspiration from the Quranic reading. The Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him) said “a moment’s reflection is better than 60 years of worship.” This makes the Quran reader more certain of the revelation, s/he will experience the revelation, as one focuses on single-point whether an object or an idea.
Presentation and layout
- The Quran is full of dialogue with the Messenger (Peace Be Upon him), the Quraish of Makkah, people of the book and sometimes with entire humanity etc. By using quotation marks i have endeavoured to convey this conversation in the original text, this has also been useful for identifying start and end of sections.
- I paid special attention to verses concerned with Majesty of Allah and honour of the Messenger so as to avoid using irreverent words. This also applies to anthropomorphic terms used for Allah in the Quran, these include references to Allah’s face, eyes, hands and expressions of Allah’s response to human folly like mocking, deception, etc. In places these have been in interpreted and in others I have used English equivalents.
- Arabic names of the prophets have been used instead of the biblical, like Ibrahim not Abraham and Musa not Moses. I have also kept some Arabic and Islamic words for their accuracy and emotional charge.
- Capitalisation has been used when reference is made to Allah, the pronouns, titles, the 99 names of Allah, the major concepts and terms in Islamic studies.
- I have used italics rather than parenthesis for any extra word (s) that I add for explanation or to clarify ellipsis, a common feature of Quranic style where things are left unsaid.
- Ayah numbers are mentioned at start on the English translation but are noted at the end of the Arabic.
The review panel will include:
- Shaykh el Sharkawy Al Azhari
- Dr Ahmed Meliberry
- Ustadh Yasrab Shah
- Maulana Asif Ali
- Mufti Muhammad Ismael
- Hafiz Naveed Iqbal
- Maulana Ghulam Jilani
- And the Imams of Karimia Institute
The translation will be approved by the University of Al Azhar (Egypt) insha-allah.
January 2016 – Dr Musharraf Hussain