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The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 15, 2008
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"One of the best [translations] to have appeared in recent times."--Muslim News
"Accessible and compelling... a remarkable achievement."--New Statesman
About the Author
HM. A. S. Abdel Haleem was born in Egypt, and learned the Qur'an by heart from childhood. Educated at al-Azhar, Cairo, and Cambridge Universities, he has taught Arabic and Islamic Studies at Cambridge and London Universities since 1966, including courses in advanced translation and the Qur'an. He is now Professor of Islamic Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is also working on An Introduction to the Qur'an and English TranslationLondon Qur'an Studies series.
Top Customer Reviews
So why another one? I picked it up from my local library and was moved. It is the easiest reading Qur'an I've seen yet but it does not take away from the impact of what it says. It really flows nicely and I find it reads so much more quickly than some others. I found no struggles to understand old English terms (Pickthall's) and no fighting with bracketed words (Asad and the Riyadh version) whose purpose is to help explain the deeper elements of the original Arabic. While in a few places, I longed for some of the more grand terms found in some of the other translations, on the whole this is a refreshing new translation in plain English.
A few footnotes in some pivotal places keep certain verses in context and help explain certain terms whose force may otherwise be missed. The introduction is brief but informative as the author goes into some detail about the difficulties in translating. My guess is that this is accurate and top notch as it is issued by Oxford and in his acknowledgments it is clear he has had many people ensure his accuracy. This is one to keep and should be one against which others should be measured.
The translation also has very useful introductory sections that help non-Muslims understand how the Qur'an is structured. It's not a linear narrative like the Bible, but intentionally jumps around in time and space, like flashes from the facets of a diamond held up to the light.
I believe that this translation will be held as the new standard in Qur'an studies for the 21st century.
16:67 And of the fruits of the palms and the vines, you take therefrom an intoxicant and a provision fair. Surely in that is a sign for a people who understand.
4:43 O believers, draw not near to prayer when you are drunken until you know what you are saying
2:219 They will question thee concerning wine, and arrow-shuffling. Say: `In both is a heinous sin, and uses for men, but the sin in them is more heinous than the usefulness.'
5:90-91 O believers, wine and arrow shuffling, idols and divining arrows are an abomination, some of Satan's work; so avoid it; haply so you will prosper. Satan only desires to precipitate enmity and hatred between you in regard to wine and arrow-shuffling, and to bar you from the remembrance of God, and from your prayer. Will you then desist?
As we all know, Islamic law forbids drinking alcohol. Verse 5:90-91 is taken to be the final word on the subject and is understood to have abrogated (annulled) previous verses that are more permissive. Clearly the most permissive is 16:67, which unambiguously calls intoxicants derived from grapes and dates one of God's signs. This unambiguously calls alcohol a blessing. Abdel Haleem translates this verse as:
From the fruits of the date palms and grapes you take a *sweet juice* and wholesome provisions. There truly is a sign in this for people who use their reason.
Arberry, Asad, and Qara'i all translate sakar-an as "wine" or "intoxicant." Why "sweet juice" in Abdel Haleem? This strikes me as an editorial intervention out of embarrassment at the clearly positive depiction of alcohol in the verse.
Over all it is a fine translation, but if you are looking for the greatest degree of accuracy without knowing Arabic, stick to Arberry or Asad.
p.s. And why is "`ahd" (2:40 and elsewhere) translated as "pledge" and not "covenant" since it is plainly describing the Biblical Covenant with the Jews? Granted Asad renders it as "promise" (Arberry and Qara'i use "covenant"), and of course no translator should Biblicize the references to Biblical narratives in the Qur'an at the expense of accuracy, but I think using the word "covenant" here would be an accurate rendering and emphasize the fact that, in Sura 2, the Qur'an is declaring that the Covenant with the Jews still stands in a way that would be plain to Jewish and Christian readers, who are probably the main audience for this translation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
And it makes a great fire starter.
Not bad fiction.