I recently listened to your message on Islam. You mentioned that if we email you, then you would point us in the best direction for getting a translation of the Koran. I also have a Muslim coworker so I need this as he recently engaged me in conversation to disagree with your message. Thanks so much.


My favorite translation of the Qur’an is the one by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Wordsworth Classics). There are a number of translations, of course. Let me confess that I am not an expert on these translations. To the best of my memory, I have only used three translations. From what I have heard, it is rather hard to give a good translation of the Qur’an by comparison to translation, for example, of the New Testament. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we have a good amount of Greek literature from ancient times. By comparison, we do not have a lot of Arabic literature from the time of the writing of the Qur’an. Because words change meaning over time and because words are gained and lost from a language over time, this puts us at a disadvantage in translating the Qur’an. Another reason the Qur’an is hard to translate appears to be the somewhat quirky writing style of Muhammed. Add to this the fact that Muslims have tended to resist having the Qur’an translated. They have a stronger belief in the need to read their scripture in the original language that is the tradition in Christianity. For this reason, we do not have as many early translations of the Qur’an as we do with the New Testament and even the Old Testament. Early translations are a help to knowing the meaning of the original writings. To be honest, I am not aware of a reason that discussions of Islam depends all that much on the translation used, but this is the extent of my knowledge on the subject.

John Oakes

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