on 30 May 2004
Most of the translations of the Qur'an are very choppy; translating the Arabic text as prose. However, this edition is very good for English speakers because it allows one to follow the stories and the arguments therein. Therefore, instead of it being difficult to comprehend due to lingustic difficulties for English speaker, it is an excellent read allowing one to understand the meanings with better understanding. I would recommend this book as a strarting point for non-Muslims as an intorduction to the Qur'an and Islam in English.
on 16 September 2011
I am Christian and have never read any version of the Qur'an before so have no comparison,and I have only read the first 5 sura's(sections)so far, but I would highly recommend this version to anyone who (like me ) was curious to find out the truth about what exactly it did sanction. Non Muslims tend to believe that it sanctions violence against the rest of the non Muslim world. This is completely untrue. This is a misconception fuelled by terrorists to justify violence. i was surprised to find that it also tells Muslims that not only is this the word of Allah (God)but that the(Christian) Holy Bible and (Jewish) Torah are in fact ALSO the word of god. The word Islam explained IN context in the Arabic Holy Qur'an actually means "complete devotion/submission to God." Isn't this what the Holy Bible and the Torah say too? The Qur'an refers the Christians and Jews as "People of the book" and forbids arguments between Muslims and anyone who believes in the one true God. I know a few Muslim people and this book has given me a better insight into their beliefs. It has made me realise that we have much more in common than we have to differ about. I can hardly put this book down it is so interesting. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has any opinions on religion, negative or positive. It will open your eyes and make you ask questions but not in a bad way.
on 17 December 2006
Up until now, I've always had a problem with the Qur'an. Countless authorities have claimed it as the masterpiece of classical Arabic prose, in much the same way that the King James Bible is sometimes regarded in a similar light by fans of English. But I can't read Arabic, so I have to use a translation, and every translation of the Qur'an that I've ever tried to read has been in what seemed to my eye like a poor imitation of biblical English. The result was that I could never understand why so many Muslims hold the book in such esteem. Thanks to M.A. Abdel Haleem's extraordinary work, it's no longer quite such a mystery to me.
The language seems fresh and vivid and powerful. This is surely the most significant translation into English of a major religious text since the Jewish Publication Society's magisterial version of the Tanakh in the mid-80s. You don't have to be a religious person to admire and even enjoy the writing purely as literature; I'm not at all, but at last I can do both. The introduction is very interesting about the different historical layers of the text, indicating where the Prophet changed his mind about this and that, and also demonstrating how certain verses (about, for example, Muslims' right to defend themselves when attacked in certain holy places) have been taken out of context and used to justify murder. Nothing new about the word of god being used to justify human crimes - the other two great Religions of the Book have been doing it for millennia - but since so much writing about Islam in English is either apologetic (if it's by a Muslim) or ignorant (if it's by a non-Muslim), it's refreshing to have someone let the rest of us witness Islam arguing with itself in such a civilised, humane and intelligent way.
on 1 June 2015
This book turned my life around and gave me new found hope and faith in Islam. As a Muslim girl growing up in the UK, just a few pages of this book has taught me more than I ever learnt during all my years spent in the mosque till my teenage years. The introduction is invaluable. It explains the style of the Quran and how to understand it, which is fundamental, as since it is translated from Arabic, it is easy to misinterpret the Quran. This is due to linguistic differences. Also, it puts the Quran into context and has many references to history, and explains the meaning of certain statements at the bottom of each page. I have only read the first Sura so far, but I can honestly say that I enjoy reading it and I am captivated everytime.. I am grateful to the author... I also really like that the author has read all sources, researched well and compiled this book with very high quality. The book no doubt of excellent quality, in terms of the language and sources. Take a leap of faith and give it a chance.. This is the best translation out there.
on 24 June 2009
The Qur'an suffers from the same translation problems as the Bible, only more so: impossibility of conveying beauty of original language, cultural differences between time and place of writing and reading, human limitations of translators. While the Bible is now typically translated by committees, the Qur'anic translations available in English are by individuals, often not native English speakers, coming from quite different Muslim populations in south Asia, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Arabia. All this just to remind you that, just as any serious Bible reader would look at multiple translations, so should anyone trying to give the Qur'an a fair chance in English. I wish a parallel Qur'an existed like the parallel Bibles you can buy!
Having expended a fair amount of time and money buying most of the translations and poring through them, I'd list four worth your consideration. (1) Start with a straight reading copy in straight English: M.A.S. Abdel Haleem. The English is natural, the text is single-column without the Arabic on the right. But there are no notes, and even if you understand the words, the sentences make little sense to a non-Arabic non-7th-century reader without some explanation.
The notes, though, are where opinion starts to creep in from the various Muslim viewpoints around the world. I ended up with three more options: (2) Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The main text itself is almost unintelligible, because he had a misguided notion of conveying the beauty of classical Arabic with a kind of ersatz King James Version scrambled by Indian English, and you probably don't even understand the KJV of the Bible as well as you think. In this edition, the copious notes offer sometimes the historical background, sometimes a deeper analysis of the original Arabic, sometimes a pious kind of "Life Application." They are pretty good in a non-scholarly way and as a non-Muslim thoughtful reader, if I had to stick with one set of notes I'd go with these.
But if you want to read as if had grown up in a normal Muslim background, that is, to know the traditional interpretations and views of major commentators contained in the hadith, add (3) Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Muhammed Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali. Their notes quote chapter and verse verbatim from the most historically important commentators, Tabari, Qurtubi, and Ibn Kathir. But this doesn't really work as your main translation. Though the text itself is a lot better than Abdullah Yusuf Ali's, it wanders through a maze of parentheses and untranslated Arabic words. And there are not enough notes: you don't get "this came up when Muhammed was asked about the inheritance of women,'' or "compare with surah x: y."
That brings you to (4) Muhammad Asad, an Austrian convert, born Leopold Weiss. His translation itself is about on a par with (3): it more or less works in English, but you may get distracted by all the parentheses and there is a little too much flowery language. His notes are at least as numerous as in (2), but Asad/Weiss naturally had a better idea about what might confuse the average non-Muslim reader. He offers a reasonable combination of the scholar's hadith and the layman's history plus moral application. Unfortunately, the hadith are not identified with the name of their authors, the opinions of Asad himself are frequently seen by the Muslim mainstream as non-standard (read: incorrect), and you can't tell the difference. You don't know whether what any given note says is just Asad's individual, controversial opinion, or a point of view most Muslims are at least familiar with. What's more, this is a huge book, like volume M of the Encylopedia Britannica. You're not going to be carrying it to class or reading it in bed. That said, it is the only one of the four that gives a transliteration of the Arabic so that the Muslim convert can read it aloud without knowing Arabic.
You probably don't want to spend all this time, money, and shelf space, so I'd say: read (1) the Abdel Haleem translation and with (2) Abdullah Yusuf Ali's notes to hand. And lobby the next smart Muslim you meet to give us a reasonable all-in-one Study Qur'an!