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Al-Qur'an: A Contemporary Translation. Paperback – July 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


"In one of the most popular English versions of the Qur'?n, Ahmed Ali has succeeded in bringing all of the subtlety, depth, and spiritual power of Islam into his translation of this peerless scripture. Without distorting the English, Ali, a highly regarded author in his own right, renders the poetry of the original Arabic into lines of elegance and rhythm. . . . For the curious, the convert, or the devout, Ahmed Ali's Al-Qur'?n will bring all readers closer to the glory of God."--Brian Bruya,

From the Back Cover

"This translation of the Qur'?n aims at doing something new--it seeks to bring out the original rhythms of the Quranic language and the cadences. It also departs from traditional translations in that it gives more refined and differentiated shades of important concepts."--Fazlur Rahman, University of Chicago

"Ahmed Ali's work is clear, direct, and elegant--a combination of stylistic virtues almost never found in translations of the Qur'?n. His is the best I have read."--F. E. Peters, New York University


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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Bilingual edition (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691074992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691074993
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Kubtan on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
If there is an English translation to recommend, this would be it. I have researched and searched many English translations of the Quran and became dissapointed in how the translation effort was presented. In some cases, I identified at least 5 different translations of the same verse!! As a Muslim Arab, I have to stress that the Arabic language of the Quran that was revealed 1400 years ago is different from contemporary Arabic. Suffice to say that many Arabs themselves don't understand the Quran accurately. Consequently, many Arabs fall into the pitfall of interpreting the verses in reference to todays Arabic. The words in the language, like any other, have gone through an evolution in syntax, structure, and context. I studied Arabic literature throughout my formal education. Moreover, I am fluent in reading, writing, and speaking it. The author has relied on an extensive research of ancient Arabic by referring to great literary works such as "Lisan Al-Arab", an 18 volume dictionary, thesaurus, and grammer set that mentions every Arabic word root and all its derivatives and how they were used in varying contexts and meanings, as well as "Al-Muheet". For those who doubted the translation, criticized what the book offered, and accused it of being contradictory, I say this:
First, If read correctly and studied thoroughly, one will discover that the Quran is not contradictory. Attention must be paid to whether a chapter is Makki or Medini, what were the circumstances surounding its revelation, what other verses in other chapters does it tie into, and finally what did the Prophet Muhammad himself relate to these verses in his life (Hadeeth and Seerah). Only through that analysis and cohesion of concepts can the accurate meaning and context of an Arabic word (with many meanings) be pin-pointed.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kamran Pasha on August 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ahmed Ali has done a wonderful job attempting to present the initimable beauty of the Qur'an in English. His command of modern English idiom makes this translation easier to read for contemporary audiences. The only area where there is a notable weakness is the lack of extensive commentary which can place the verses in historical context and expalin issues such as jihad, women's rights etc. as they have been analyzed over 1400 years.
I have found that non-Muslims who read a translation which lacks such historical analysis can end up being misled as to true Islamic teachings. The reader below, who is "appalled" by the Qur'an seems to be ignorant of the historical context of verses on war etc. Any reading of the Bible, and yes of the Buddhist or Hindu scriptures, without such historical analysis will also portray these texts in a negative, brutal and primitive light. Reading about the terrible wars and massacres that God commands in the biblical stories of Moses, Joshua, David, etc. without historical context will convince you that Judaism and Christianity are barbaric religions. If you have no historical context in which to place these Bible stories, or understand how these religions evolved from such violent births, you have really no understanding of either faith. And uncritical study of some early Buddhist texts which held that women do not have souls would unfairly protray Buddhism as a primitive religion without historical understanding of how these ideas have evolved and changed over hundreds of years.
I suggest to the reader below, and to all who wish to learn about the loving tradition of Islam, to actually read books on Sufism, the heart of Islam which is indeed based on the Qu'ran and the example of Prophet Muhammad. Approaching a text like Ahmed Ali's translation without this basic knowledge and with an attitude of preconceived hostility will only reinforce your ignorance.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Dougal on December 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
This translation of the Koran by Ahmed Ali is about as good as it gets for the English-speaking reader. Out of all the translations available locally, (and I compared many, side by side, passage to passage), this is IT. True, Ali does hang on to a generally archaic tone, but no more so than 'Lord of the Rings' does. 'Haply' and 'verily' are peppered throughout the text very much like the 'hark's and 'lo's of the JPS Tanakh. 'Compeer' is a regularly occuring word (has any contemporary English speaker used THAT in a sentence lately?). My favorite is 'obliquities'. Nonetheless, these things do not interfere with the basic clarity and readability of the translation. And unlike a couple of readable versions done by non-Muslims, Ali communicates a great deal of cultural and literary information sensitively and with style. Other reviews give me the idea many Christians are reading this for indications of the barbarity of Islam. I guess the savagery of the Hebrew Bible is insufficient for them. Christians might be better served by reading the Koran for its statements about Jesus, Mary and the Trinity. Mohammed's views do not represent his personal, idiosyncratic views. They represent sectarian Christian traditions that were alive and well in his time: that Jesus did not rise from the dead, nor was he the son of God. Read your books carefully!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Shakira Stephens on August 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the first translation of the Qur'an in English that I have not found labourous to read. I finished reading it in a short time - often stopping to re-read verses - enjoying the eloquence of the language and the amazing retention of the rythms of the original Arabic. The text is poetic and the meanings come across gracefully - reading this translation leaves a spiritual impact . The translation is a pleasure and a joy to read. I strongly recommend it to all who wish to know the Qur'an and its true meaning. I find it to be the best of all the available translations.
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