Translations of the Holy Qur'an into English

The Holy Qur'an has been translated into the English language
by many scholars of repute, and some of these have provided
detailed notes of commentary. They include: George Sale, J.N.
Rodwell, E.H. Palmer, M. Pickthal, Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, N.i
Dawood and M.H. Shakir.
Translation of the text alone is not sufficient unless each
revelation is put into its true context. The most recent
translation, by M.H. Shakir, contains some brief and useful notes
on selected verses, but these are too few and too brief Had he
lived longer, he might have provided a fuller commentary.
Earlier, Badhsa Husain of Lucknow attempted a detailed work
which was published in two volumes. But he too died before
completing his work However, he used the translation of J.N.
Rodwell, not his own, and his notes are based on the sermons of
some maulvi and lack any reference to modern-day problems
and do not attempt to answer anti-Islamic criticism. This fact the
author openly acknowledged in his introduction
The translations by Christian scholars such as Rodwell, Sale
and Palmer, etc. are clearly prejudiced. Any Islamic scholar
can easily see that these translators betray either a faulty
knowledge of Arabic or an intention to distort the truths of the
Holy Qur'an to serve their own purposes. Their purpose seems,
clearly, to prejudice the reader against the Qur'an rather than
help him to understand it. To expose these translations,
particularly those by Christian scholars, would require more time
and space than this work can provide. The following quotations
offer the opinions of some who were impartial in their attitude to
the Holy Qur'an. The great Christian scholar, Sir E. Dennison
Ross, in referring to the translation by Mr Sale, shows the full
extent of the ingenuity and the lies that those prejudiced against
Islam have resorted to.

It must, however be borne in mind that the Koran plays a
far greater role among the Muhammadans than does the
Bible in Christianity, in that it provides not only the
canon of their faith, but also the text-book of their ritual
and the principles of their civil law.
For many centuries the acquaintance which the
majority of Europeans possessed of Muhammadanism
was based almost entirely on distorted reports of
fanatical Christians which led to the dissemination of a
multitude of gross calumnies. what was good in
Muhammadanism was entirely ignored, and what was not
good, in the eyes of Europe, was exaggerated or
It must not, however, be forgotten that the central
doctrine preached by Muhammad to his contemporaries
in Arabia, who worshipped the star; to the Persians, who
acknowledged Ormuz and Ahriman; to the Indians who
worshipped idols; and to the Turks, who had no
particular worship, was the unity of God, and that the
simplicity of his creed was probably a more potent factor
in the spread of Islam than the sword of the Ghazis.
It is difficult to decide to what extent Mr sale's

citations in the notes represent first-hand use of Arabic
commentators, but I fear that the result of a close
inquiry only points to very little original research on his
part. His refutations, which swell the work to a large
volume, are of little (use) or none at all, being often
unsatisfactory, and sometimes impertinent
I do not wish to imply that Sale did not know Arabic,
but I do maintain that his work as it stands gives a
misleading estimate of his original researches, and that
his tribute to Marracci falls far short of his actual
(from Introduction to Sale's Qur'an,
by E. Dennison Ross, Frederick Warne,London)

The translation of tile Holy Qur'an by Mr sale is claimed by its
publishers to be the best and the most accurate. Such a claim is
regarded as false by another great Christian scholar, E.H.

From the large amount of exegetical matter which has
been incorporated in his (Sale's) text, and from the style
of language employed, which differs widely from the
nervous energy and the rugged simplicity of the
original. his (Sale's) work can scarcely by regarded as a
fair representation of the Qur'an.

In spite of his endeavour to distort the meaning of the Holy
Qur'an in order to help the missionaries and to divert the
attention of the world from the Holy Book, George Sale could not
help confessing its glorious and miraculous nature:

The Koran is universally allowed to be written with
utmost elegance and purity of language. It is confessedly
the standard of the Arabic tongue, inimitable by any
human pen and therefore insisted on as a permanent
(George sale, in the preliminary
discourse to his translation)

Every seeker of the truth will want to hear what the great
Western scholar Goethe says of the Holy Qur'an:
However often we turn to the Qur'an, it soon attracts,
astounds and In the end reinforces reverence. Thus this
Book will go on exercising through all ages its most
potent Influence.
Sarojini Naidu a great scholar and famous poetess in
India, aid in her lecture on The Ideals of Islam in Madras in

As I read the Qur'an, I find those dynamic principles of
life not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct
of life suited to the whole world

Dr A. Bertherand declared to the intellectuals of the world:

To seek knowledge is the duty of every Muslim man and
woman. Seek knowledge even though it be in China The
Savants are the heirs of the Prophet These profound
words of the Great Reformer are indisputable
contradiction to those who seek and exert themselves In
putting the responsibility of the intellectual degradation
of Muslims upon the spirit of the Qur'an. Let them read
and meditate upon this great Book and they will find it,
at every passage, a constant attack upon idolatry and
materialism; they will read that the Prophet incessantly
called the attention and the meditation of his people to
the splendid marvels, to the mysterious phenomenon of
creation. The incredulous, sceptical and unbelieving
may convince themselves that the importance of this
Book and its doctrine was not to throw back, eventually,
the intellectual and moral faculties of a whole people.
On the contrary, those who have followed its counsels
have been, as we have described in the course of this
study, the creators of a civilisation which is abounding
unto this day.

The claim that Islam was spread by the sword is a distortion of
the truth. What aggression could the lonely one, the Holy
Prophet, commit? What sword was in the hand of one who was
himself persecuted and whose followers were tortured and killed?
This vicious fabrication has been exposed by many great scholars
Of the West One of these, De Lacy O'Leary, writes:

History makes it clear, however, that the legend of
fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and
forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered
races is one of the most fantastic and absurd myths that
historians have ever repeated.
(De Lacy O'Leary: Islam at the Crossroads, 1923)
About the perfection of Islamic law, the great British politician,
Edmund Burke, wrote:

The Muhammadan law, which is binding on all from the
crowned head to the meanest subject, is a law interwoven
with a system of the wises4 the most learned and the
most enlightened jurisprudence that ever existed in the
(Edmund Burke in his
"Impeachment of Warren Hastings")

The Muslim scholars Maulvi Muhammad Ali of the Ahmedia
school and Allama Yousuf Ah have shown clear bias towards
their own school in their translations and commentaries.
Both have consistently avoided reference to the source of the
Ahlul-Bait, and even seem to object to making reference to the
holy ones when they are the direct concern of the revelations.
Also, when one compares Muhammad Ali's work with the great
commentary Majma'ul Byan of the Shia authority Shaikh-e-
Tabarsi, it is obvious that there has been a great deal of
borrowing without acknowledgement. Besides this, basic Shia
sources have been deliberately avoided.
Yousuf Ali's work, likewise, omits reference to the Ahlul-
Bait. This suggests that, either, this scholar has wilfully
using this most accredited and authentic source of Qur'anic
knowledge, or was totally ignorant of the holy ones and their
position in Islam. The Holy Prophet openly declared that the
Qur'an is with the Ahlul-Bait and that, in order to avoid going
astray, Muslims should attach themselves to these two (See the
Hadeethuth Thaqualain).
The interpretations offered by these scholars clearly suit the
bias of their own respective schools and, intentionally or
unintentionally, provide a faulty view of the Qur'an and of the
holy ones. The sources they have used reveal a bias against the
Holy Ahlul-Bait.
One conspicuous feature of the writings of the Ahmadi
scholar is the practical denial of the miraculous, by presenting
the miracles of the Apostles of God as non-spiritual events and
thus denying the special spiritual powers with which the Holy
Apostles were endowed.