The Quran – A Plain English Translation
By Dr Musharraf Hussain
Dr Musharraf Hussain has completed the translation of the glorious Quran into plain English with 1500 sections each separated by a topical heading. It will be published in October 2017, In Sha Allah.
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 an exciting age of science and information technology.
The purpose of this translation is to convey the meanings of the gGlorious Quran clearly and concisely with the necessary impact and the appropriate tone of voice. I simply want to make it an accessible, readable and appealing translation in plain English.
I have been a serious student of the Glorious Quran for more than fifty years; during this time I have memorised the Quran, studied the Arabic language, and the science of Tafsir and Hadith at Al-Azhar University, Cairo. Prior to this I was a research scientist for more than ten 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 to will help the reader to understand the “bursts of revelation” the Quran was revealed in, according to the needs 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 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 of allowing the reader to have a true taste of the Quran: to see and to read the Message of Allah تَعَالَى وَ سُبْحَانَهُ . The surahs of the Quran can be divided into sections, based on the subject at various places or themes. These can 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 allowing 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 and 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, previous prominent translators and 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 surahs
This highlights the period of revelation, the merits of reciting the surah, the major themes and 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 Makkan 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 that can facilitate understanding 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, to think deeply about the section or verse, and to contemplate on its meanings employing reason, emotion and spiritual insights. This is a great spiritual activity; worship brings closeness to the Lord. The purpose of this heading is to gain inspiration from Quranic readings. The Messenger ﷺ said, “A moment’s reflection is better than sixty years of worship.” This helps to make the Quran reader more certain of the Revelation. She or he will experience the Revelation, as one focuses on individual points, whether objects or ideas.
6. Presentation and layout
- The Quran is full of dialogue with the Messenger ﷺ, the Quraish of Makkah, People of the Book and sometimes with all of humanity. By using quotation marks i have endeavoured to convey the conversation in the original text; this practice 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 ﷺ, so as to avoid using irreverent words. This also applies to anthropomorphic terms used for Allah تَعَالَى وَ سُبْحَانَهُ in the Quran, including references to His Face, Eyes, Hands and expressions of His Response to human folly, like mocking, deception, etc. In places these have been interpreted, and in others I have used English equivalents.
- Arabic names of prophets have been used instead of Biblical, such Ibrahim السلام عليه, not Abraham, and Musa السلام عليه, not Moses. I have also retained some Arabic and Islamic words for their accuracy and emotional charge.
- Capitalisation has been used when reference is made to Allah تَعَالَى وَ سُبْحَانَهُ, His pronouns, titles, and ninety-nine Names, and 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 the start in 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
- The Imams of Karimia Institute
I wish to pay special thanks to the Research Academy of the University of Al-Azhar, Cairo, Egypt, and to Dar Al-Iftaa, the Premier Institution for Islamic Legal Interpretation in the Muslim World, for approving the translation.
For more details & extracts see: www.thequran.org.uk