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The Koran (Penguin Classics) Revised Edition
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Although I cannot comment on the other reviewers' differing views on the accuracy of this translation, I can write that this translation does convey something of the thunderous power that Muhammad's earliest listeners must have heard and experienced when these suras (speeches - the Koran is a collection of 114 speeches given by Muhammad, which Muslims believe were revelations given to him by God) were first delivered.
There are a number of things that one could mention content-wise, as each sura deals with something slightly different. God, women, human relationships, one's relationship to the non-believing world, Judaism, Christianity, and Arabic paganism are all touched upon in the Koran (along with other topics). It reads much like the Bible at points, and many of the more familiar Biblical stories are here, along with extra-Biblical legends. The Koran really isn't a bizarre religious text, but very much belongs to the genealogy of monotheistic, prophetic writings.
One of the things that I really liked about this particular translation was the way that Dawood cross-referenced relevant Biblical texts from both the Tanak/Old Testament and the New Testament. The footnotes detailing Arabic pagan practice were also helpful, as were the footnotes giving basic historical information. One certainly gets a feel for where the Koran was coming from and who it was going to when it was first delivered.
In reading this, it is worth reflecting on how a passage can lend itself to multiple interpretations.Read more ›
However, a key point missed by some who run across this book in the store is this: Dawood has heavily edited and OMITTED portions of the Koran that he felt were repetitious or unnecessarily lengthy. While that's fine for a general audience, completists and orthodox Muslims will be irked by the omission of parts of the text. In short, this is NOT a complete Koran.
That being said, the language and diction of this translation is certainly to be admired. Dawood's offering is clear and eminently readable. Although this book is inappropriate for any serious study of the Koran, it is more than adequate as a first Koran for the non-Muslim taking an interest in Islam.
Dawood's knowledge of Qur'anic Arabic is deep and subtle. As another reviewer has noted, a remarkable feature of his translation is how much it has improved over time (over the successive reeditions put out by Penguin). For this reason, definitely buy this book new. Usually, when translators go back and fiddle with their work, they make it worse. But Dawood's labor of love is evident in the gradual progress he has made towards the clearest and most accurate phrases and rhythms to capture the original.
Dawood does not put on a show by dressing his text with long, technical, or argumentative footnotes (as do many editions of the Qur'an). But his knowledge of traditional comment on the sacred text (and of philology) is the equal of any other translator's. Add to this, the fact that Dawood's English is graceful and limpid (moreso than the work of Arberry, Pickthall, et al.).
Why only four stars? I await the day that a philologically astute translation appears with proper annotations. Look at the study edition of the New Jerusalem Bible, or at the New Oxford Annotated Bible, and you will see what readers of the Qur'an (in English) are sorely lacking.
As one who knows next to nothing about Islam, I was struck by three things: The moral teachings; the martial teachings; and the figure of Jesus.
First the moral teachings: They are quite similar to the moral teachings of the Christian Bible. Indeed, the Koran explicitly recognizes the scriptural nature of the "Torah" and the "Gospel." The moral teachings don't seem to be as plentiful in the Koran as in the New Testament, but I think there's a very good explanation. Mohammed was at war most of his prophetic career, therefore quite a lot of the Koran deals with warfare.
Second, the martial teachings: They are quite prevalent, and one could easily read the martial teachings to the exclusion of all else in the Koran. Something that struck me about the martial teachings was that they stressed non-aggression. The good believer is to fight only in self defense, and only enough to accomplish the defense. After defeating the enemy, then the good believer must be forgiving and merciful.
Martial teachings prevail in number over moral teachings in the Koran because Mohammed was persecuted in his lifetime, driven out of Mecca, attacked in Medina, and forced to defend himself in a bloody war.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What can I say, the verbal tale of God's will as Gabriel told it to Mohammed. The book has over a billion adherents, even though most of them haven't and couldn't read it if they... Read morePublished 9 days ago by M. J.
Still in process of reading ,but some of the translations have been softened for Western non muslim readers so as to not be so violent which makes them become an errant... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Ronald Joseph Lorette
Easy reading for the most part. I was surprised how much Islam was based upon Judaism and Christianity. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R.L.D.
Bought this as a gift for someone, they like the version as it was cost efficient and gave them the information they needed.Published 1 month ago by Jessica
After reading the penguin classic "The Koran" and then reading the full version it is obvious to me that the Draconian murderous doctrine of the Islamic scriptures have... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This edition of the Qu'ran has been edited and controversial hateful verses are deleted. Unacceptable.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
It's a far better translation than some I've looked at. I was able to get through the entire book, despite th repetition.Published 4 months ago by Philip W Kenny