Customer Reviews: The Message of the Qur'an: The full account of the revealed Arabic text accompanied by parallel transliteration (English and Arabic Edition)
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on May 5, 2005
I have compared key passages of Surah 2,40,36 and other important intepretations like dealing with al-muqattat as well as dealing with root words in forming the meaning of various translations they include:

Professor Abdel Haleem (fatal mistakes in translating key words, which he does not reference to either explanations by the Prophet or any proper source).The text is good to introduce concepts to people unfamiliar with the Islamic context however it does significantly deviate from the Islamic context by incorporating the ideas of another religion in its translation. Haleem in another text (Understanding the themes of the Quran by Haleem) mentions and forwarns of comparative translations; an error that he is susceptible to himself. However considering this is the first edition I am referring to, I would think it would be somewhat lacking of intense revision.
I found lacking in the translation of the first 19 verse of Surah Gaffir/Mumin and also Key verses of Al-Baqarah such as the Aayat-Al-Kursi and even verses of Surah Al-Anaam. I like his explanations, his tranlsation is more about explaning key issues of the Quran in a very basic way to suite a person reading the Quran just to get an Idea of what the scripture teaches and what in means in "Plain English". However all generalizations are susceptible to serious error.

Al Amana version of Yusuf Ali and also Dar-Ul Furqan version
(OK but once again has a lot of lakings and errors). THese individuals are too arrogant in their tranlastion where they interpret certain surahs with absolutely no authentic basis. They claim that the Surah Ikhlas was to debase the Christian trinitarian beliefs... how they come to this conclusion is by mere speculation but they incorperate it in such a way that an individual is led to falsely believe it to be the truth. This and Fakhry are by far the worst translations and it is shameful to say that they come from so called "Muslim" sources. I am certain that even children can point out some of the serious mistakes in these two translations. Read Surah Ikhlas and read the footnotes in this translation, you will also find flaws. That was enough for me to be unsatisfied with this translation. And if you may compare it to the explanation of Asad, the relativity of eloquence and explanation is as extreme as the distance between heaven and hell.

Muhsin Khan (King Fahd's sanctioned and also Dar-us-salam).
(This is a precise book, renders the Quran properly especially the abridged version). I found this book to give adequate proof in its tranlsation of the meaning of the Quran. However there are points where the choice of words and explanations are too generalized and inarticulate. I had issues with how As-Samad was translated and the explanation given about it. I look for a translation of the Quran which has no flaw, nor is it subjective in any way. Khan's translation is very much true to the authentic creed of Islam and its translation is harmonious to what is taught about the scripture in most religious institutions. Therefore it is one of the more cost effective and precise renderings.

Majid Fakhry
(Has errors and lacks depth in explanation; I guess due to it being the first edition). Although Al-Azhar accredits this text, I fail to think it serves anyone but the author in generating royalties. I mean I was so dissapointed in buying this translation, it lacked thought, intelligence and at points I thought it was hebetudinous to such an extent that I was contemplating a refund. Fakhry's other writings suggest that he is completely deviated from what is the authentic Islamic school of thought regardless of his education. His other works are too philosophical and speculative whereas his translation of the Quran is open-ended without much explanations on key words of the Quran most of which have no english equivalents. How these were treated by him suggest a high level of inaccuaracy in the remaining body of the text. The translation obviously lacks explanation and justification, without either an individual can only assume the negative that the author/translater did not consider the various possiblities in translation. IT IS VERY CRUDE A TRANSLATION and is more directed towards Christian explanations than Islamic which robs the Quran of its authentic meaning. The Quran by nature is a scripture of Muslims and in saying so it has deliberations upon it by the Prophet Mohammad and also various Islamic scholars. Fakhry does not cite any (to my understanding) in his translation.

M. Shakir
(stay away from this book, dont even touch it with a stick.)
This is one of those fund raising translations where a devout individual shares thought of his religion. However who is to say whether or not "his" thoughts indeed reflect the authentic creed.

Usage of Archaic language and the original translation had errors almost on every page. After constant and consistent correction has it seen the light of day in a populace fashion. Both Ali and Pichthal are popular due to their mass circulation in countries such as Pakistan, India and Indonesia. This is because there are no real copyright issues and publishing companies can publish them however they wish. I have seen various textual differences in Pichkthal and Ali translations based on them coming from different publishing agents. Which is the real Pickthal and Ali is now beyond me. Even Al-Amana have added their 10 cents to Yusuf Ali's translation and to my understanding contaminating it further in various instances.

And finally to Asad:

I find Asad's interpretation to be the most bona-fide and coherent, it is scrupulously referenced so he does not give his opinion rather quotes some of the greatest scholars after the manifestation of the Quran such as Zamakshari, Ibn Kathir as well as Qurtubi to name a few.

Asad's translation is the the best, undoutedly this version supercedes all others. I have read this particular version and as I know there are various in circulation (esp with Yusuf Ali) I suggest you get this version.

If you are interested in the Quran, or anyone for that matter even one who understands proper Arabic I still suggest you get this book. It is a key in understanding the Quran. Regardless of whether you know or are oblivious to the Arabic tongue. THe Quran is a legacy of humanity. Regardless of whether you are a Muslim or not it has impacted on Human thought and has changed social norms as we once knew it.
It is a piece of history and very much an inlay in the fabric of humanity. The final text of the semetic religions which is said to be the synergy of all that preceeded it.

I have personally read various scriptures and I find that the Quran has its valid standing. People often claim it is a copy of the Torah/Tanakh or the Bible however I feel although that it has inherent qualities from the preceeding scriptures it does have a nature and spirit of its own. Regardless of how others see it or portray it, it is your own opinion that should matter to you. So instead of finding and agreeing to the opinions of others of whether or not it is a valid scripture or a militant propaganda I suggest that you, yourselves have a read and read that which does infact reflect the authentic creed.

I personally found this scripture to be inspiring, to increase the level of human consciousness inside of me and finally understand that the Quran is a source of divine inspiration as opposed to a tool of destruction (as I, prior to reading it so percieved).

My perception has changed, and I carried a study of the Quran as I did with the Bhagawad Gita. Both these books are beautiful in their composition and their message. I would strongly recommend any individual to give this book a read.

Love and Regards,
a little voice.
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on January 15, 2002
...from a western point of view. I was astounded upon reading this translation. I continue to revisit. Rather than doing a literal translation as many author translators do (Pickthall, Ali, etc.), Asad seeks the true 'spirit' of the Quran. This is not to say he strays from the letter (at least not that I am aware of) but to say that he wants the deeper and truer meaning of the words to come through.
It is said that there are seven layers of meaning to every verse of the Quran. Asad is seeking this depth in his translation.
The extensive commentaries are remarkable and the insight he provides as a scholar on some of the verses do differ quite a bit from the more 'common' understandings but I firmly believe they are more in the 'spirit' of Islam and less influenced from the outside than many translations and subsequent commentaries such as Ali's.
While Pickthall and Ali are quite literal in their interpretation, by remaining so close to the text, something is often missed. And unless one knows Arabic and is familiar with how the various verses, as a whole, are understood in the light of the Sunnah of the Prophet, the Quran, in English, can be a challenging text, especially from a Western point of view.
Asad's translation bridges this gap quite well and continued to leave me baffled as the Islam I thought I had come to know appeared much brighter in his translation.
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on June 14, 2003
I have read the translations by Yusuf Ali, Arberry, and Dawood. Muhammad Asad's translation and interpretations stands above all. It is the Quran translation I reccomend to non-Muslims to get a true (in my view) understanding of Islam.
I am an American born Muslim (Pakistani descent). I have been raised here, and schooled here, and so have a western perspective of events and history. What I like about Asad's translation is that it is written by a "westerner," who was formerly a Viennese Jew. As such, he carries the gestalt of the West (rationalism, the Enlightenment, evolution, etc.).
In contrast, Yusuf Ali, carries a certain cultural baggage derived from his experiences in India. The effects of British colonialism probably colored his world view, and my recollection (I read his translation many years ago) is that this coloring displays itself in his translation. I guess I would characterize his translation and commentary consistent with liberation theology-which is fine, but is of a certain view that many in the West may not identify.
Asad's translation and commentary, on the other hand, incorporates many of our modern understandings of the world into his explanation. So for example, evolution is considered a natural process operating as part of the ordered universe just as the laws of gravity, electricity, etc. These are the signs of God, that Muslims are required to believe. Many Muslims who are not from the West, cannot reconcile modern understandings of science with faith. Just like the fundamentalist Christian community, they cannot integrate evolution (and its theological ramifications) into their faith (as a corollary, it is worthy to note that many scientists-call them darwinian fundamentalist- cannot integrate religion into science). In Islam, there is no separation between science and religion. All of your actions in physical reality are part of your Islam, and an expression of your religious faith. Obtaining knowledge through science is also part of your submission to God's will-your Islam. Asad's interpretation repeatedly affirms this.
Asad's explanations and commentary are illuminating. He explains phenomenon, like miracles, in a way that don't require the reader to suspend his belief in the normal physical laws of daily experience. You are not required to believe in phenomenon that run contrary to objective experience. For example, in the Bible, Jesus is said to have healed the blind and raised the dead to the living. Ordinary experience tells us that physically these things are impossible, but you are required to have faith that these suspended laws of physical reality actually occurred. Asad's explanation is that in Islam, people who are closed to the God's spiritual message as relayed through the prophets, are blind to the obvious truth of God. They are spiritually dead. Jesus's miracle, was to pass his grace onto his followers, and make those whose hearts were hardened against God (blind and spiritually dead), to see the truth and to become spiritually alive. I find this explanation much more satisfactory than having to believe in a miracle. The explanation is far more simple and straightforward.
I highly recommend reading the Asad translation in conjunction with William Chittick's book Visions of Islam, and the Self-Disclosure of God, to really appreciate the sublime spirituality inhering to Islam. To my mind, it bestows on the reader how your conduct today carries with it spiritual and metaphysical dimensions.
In this post 9/11 world, where every "expert" on Islam opines on the violent nature of Islam as revealed through Quran, Asad's translation dispels these absurdities. Extremists in the Islamic world and the Western world would do well to read this, as well. For all reasonable people seeking to truly understand what Islam is about, read Asad's translation over any other.
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on November 5, 2006
If you're sincerely after an understanding of the Qu'ran, either learn Arabic and read it (translations are not technically "The Qu'ran"), or buy this book! Like many of the translators of the Qu'ran, Asad was not born into the religion and was not a native speaker, but unlike the rest, he spent many years living among the Bedouin who are the only ones still speaking the Arabic in which the Qu'ran was written down. Modern Arabic is taught in schools and spoken by millions, but many of the words in the Qu'ran have fallen out of common usage, so even the best of scholars may almost be forgiven for not always getting it quite right. But in translatin the Qu'ran, it HAS to be right. The multiple meanings of the original words of the Qu'ran make faulty translations and confusion altogether too prevalent for Western readers. Asad was born a Polish Jew who discovered Islam and spent most of his life researching Qu'ranic language. He became a highly respected scholar, even in the Islamic world. He was a close friend of King Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud), a confidant of the Indian poet Iqbal, and was appointed to represent Pakistan to the United Nations after India's partition. His translation and abundant footnotes are invaluable to anyone who is really looking to penetrate this 1400 year-old text. The Prologue by the English Islamic scholar Charles Le Gai Eaton is fascinating, the footnotes are a joy to read and extremely helpful in understanding the nuances of the words and context in which the verses were brought forth, and the book itself, with its gorgeous insertions of calligraphic art, is beautiful to look at. In many footnotes, Asad compares his own translations to that of Pickthall and several other translators and explains his choices and leaves the decision to the reader to accept or reject them. I never enjoyed reading introductions or footnotes until I got Asad's book. It's not exactly portable, since the original Arabic, as well as transliterations are presented along with the English, but it's worth its weight in gold. If you're trying to get an idea of what the Qu'ran is all about, this is the one for you.
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on October 22, 2005
Wow!! I just finished reading The Message of The Qur'an and am blown away by the amazing quality of this translation. It took Muhammad Asad 17 years to produce this work, and it shows in the depth of the translation, notes and appendices. He has an incredible talent for taking any obscure passage and explaining its meaning and significance in a plausible, logical, and moderate way. This edition contains extensive footnotes, with liberal alternative explanations of key passages from other leading Islamic scholars. Every surah also has a brief introduction into the historical context and/or the significance of the revelation. This is BY FAR the best translation I've read, and has given me a greater depth and understanding of the Qur'an than I've ever had. If you want to learn more about the Qur'an, I'd highly recommend this edition to anyone.
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on December 22, 1999
I have read the 'Message of the Qur'an' by Muhammad Asad from beginning to end. I have also read translations of Islam's sacred text by other translators, including the great Maulana Muhammad `Ali (Lahori Scholar), Dr. TB Irving (Ta`lim `Ali), Allama Yusuf `Ali, Ahmed `Ali, Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, NJ Dawood, AJ Arberry, Professor Majid Fakhry, and Drs. Muhammad Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan, among others.
In my view, Muhammad Asad in his greatest work, Message of the Qur'an, has undoubtedly presented the most encyclopedic interpretation of Islam's Holy Book in print, supported by the most comprehensive footnotes to date. The author obviously carried out massive historical research of the classical scholars, and his interpretation brought a freshness to an ancient text that compels the reader to read on, and on, and on ....!
As a true scholar, whenever and wherever he differed from traditional orthodoxy, he clearly articulated his reasons for doing so. And this, in my view, has added authenticity to his magnus opus.
A word of caution to unwary: Unlike Pickthall, Asad's Translation is not literal but interpretative, a literary technique that explains the text to the reader from the translator's point of view, as is generally the case. Asad's English is also decidedly tough (unlike Dawood's). When reading Asad, one must master his complex construction.
One clear weakness in this book, however, is the absence of an index of any kind, which when added, would make the Message truly complete and encyclopedic in scope. Another point to be noted here is that Asad has studied the writings of the late Lahori Scholar, Maulana Muhammad Ali; hence, it is no surprise that the two hold almost identical views on many of the polemic issues associated with the Noble Qur'an, including the so-called theory of Abrogation (al nasikh wal mansukh), Jesus' Second Coming, Dress Code, Sexual Relations with those whom the right hand possessed, penalty for adultery, equality between men and women, immaculate conception of Jesus, among others.
This book should be bought and kept as a collector's item by the layman as well as the serious student of the faith. I sincerely recommend it.
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Of all of the english translations and interpetations of the Holy Quran that I have personally read or examined M. Asad has done the best overall job. His background as a western 20th century educated Jew who later 're-verted' to the true faith of Islam and aquired the lingual skills necessary to understand the classical arabic of the Holy Quran gives this work a fresh and accurate interpretation uncluttered by cultural misunderstandings and bias in a clear modern presentation. Highly recommended for novices and scholars alike.
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on February 18, 1999
I have read many translations of the Quran, including Yusuf Ali, Ahmed Ali, Ling, Pickthal to name just a few. All being great accomplishments in their own right, only Pickthal and Asad provide the most clear and uncorrupted interpretations (most likely related to the fact that both were converts who accepted faith through an understanding reached at adulthood). Not being conditioned at an early age to understand certain verses in particular ways, they had a more direct approach to the true meaning then most muslims are capable of attaining, resulting in two translations which closely resemble each other. But Pickthal provided only a translation, and one which did little in attempting to recreate the tone, rythm, and overall feel which is present in the original Arabic. Herein lies the special contribution of Asad; a translation which draws equally upon Asad's mastery of English as much as it does of Arabic. From the form of the Quran to the placement of verses to the basic differences between the two languages, Asad does an excellent job of pooling together the information contained in authentic traditions, classical commentaries,and classical arabic dictionaries to give the most complete and direct approach to the english speaking individual. May God bless him for his contribution.
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VINE VOICEon August 20, 2006
Muhammad Asad's classic translation of the Qur'an is presented here in a beautiful form similar to that of the 'coffee table Bible' concept. This book is large and heavy! Inside the endpapers are magnificently ornamented and the pages themselves are of high quality glossy stock. At various points within the volume, the editors have inserted large calligraphaic pages of the original Arabic text in full color. In short: this is the best presentation of the Qur'an available.

The translation contained within this beautiful volume is also of a generally high quality. However, Asad's work, though the product of an extraordinary life (he was originally a European Jew) and deeply committed labor, is nonetheless in the vein of A. Yusuf Ali's very Victorian, ornate work. Asad opts for the use of occasionally obscure English, and he is not 'contemporary' in any sense of the word. Like the 'Riyadh' or 'Official' edition of the Qur'an published in Sa'udi Arabia, Asad inserts thousands of small parenthetical entries into the text. While this is helpful in clearing up obscure sentences, these entries are often a distraction and serve to confuse readers unfamiliar with Qur'anic interpretation. Asad's translation does not flow as easily as those of Dawood and Haleem, though according to other reviewers, he is a great deal more accurate.

The inclusion of a transliteration of the original Arabic, along with the original Arabic, makes this a very versatile volume, and the transliteration is especially helpful when following along with a recording of the Koran being recited.

A very high point of this offering is the inclusion of Asad's thousands of footnotes--enough notes to create an entirely separate volume of Qur'anic commentary! His notes are clear and in many cases geared towards the Christian/Jewish reader. Asad also includes four appendices that address such concepts as the existence of 'jinn' and the 'unknown letters' that preface some chapters.

In short, Asad's work is highly useful, especially for the Qur'anic student or Islamic scholar, and the presentation of this volume has never been bettered.
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on January 22, 2002
I have five different translations of the Qur'an at home, and this is the best in conveying the meaning of the Qur'an. The poetry and rhythm of the Qur'an is absent here, and Asad himself says that he makes no attempt to try to capture that at all. So in reading this, realize that the real Qur'an is in unmetered verse, often rhyming, and thrilling in its accents. But if you want the meaning of the verses, this is excellent. It's modern, easy to read, reasonable and scholarly in its explanatory footnotes, and it makes more sense to the modern Western mind than any other translation. In contrast to Dawood's translation (by far the worst), Asad tells you not only the meaning of the words, but the context, and the way the verse should be read against the background of the entire Qur'an. It's expensive, but really really worth getting.
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