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3.8 out of 5 stars49
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 10 February 2001
This translation of the Quran is reasonably accurate and the English is not too bad. The book however does not place the English alongside the original Arabic as is the normal custom and therefore cannot give the true feel of the Quran as it was originally written. It is however a good version of the Quran for none Muslim students of Islam as the meaning of the Quran can easily be obtained from it whilst at the same time it is cheap
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on 18 March 2016
Islam is the most misunderstood and often-cruelly misrepresented religion in the Western world. In order to have a clearer understanding of this important religion, and to dispel the myths that surround it, one must to go to the source and read the Holy Qur'an for oneself. I cannot read the original Arabic but feel assured that this beautiful translation is as close to it as English can be. No, not an easy read but one worthy of the effort in order to reach an understanding of the broad-sweeping beauty of Islam and its clear message of love, compassion, righteous deeds, self-control, firmness, justic and patience. Highly recommended for those wishing to come from a place of Truth and understanding.
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on 27 May 2011
I got it to analyze and I found it very hard to do so as the language of the book is very old. I know it is a perfect translation but it was such maybe 80 years ago. Such words as YOU YOURS etc could be used as they are now, not as they were back then. For nowadays user I would advise to look for any modern version.
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on 13 January 2007
First of all, I am not a Muslim and neither do I read Arabic, so I am not qualified to look at this translation from an academic point of view. I have also not compared this with other translations, but Abdullah Yusuf Ali appears to have a creditable rendition, however inferior to the original classic text.

The briefest surah are at the back, so this is a good place to start, before the more detailed surah such as number two [the Cow.] It is interesting to compare the koranic account of biblical events and characters. To me, much of the quran appears to be symbolic and it is a great pity that with the decline of mystical Islam [Sufism], which interpreted the Koran allegorically, a literalist fundamentalism has arisen. There is an internal inconsistency in that some passages are pro-Christian and pro-Jewish, whereas some are anti. One cannont deny that there is an unpleasant colouring to certain passages, which stem to Muhammad's disillusion when the Jewish people failed to convert en masse; contrasting with earlier in the prophet's career. From a secular point of view, we must remember that not everything attributed to God in the Quran is necessarily what Mohammed preached, but may be later interpolations by the Caliph.

I think that it is important, more than ever, to try to understand Muslims and Islam. If you approach this book with an open mind, you should be able to see that there is much in the Koran that is ambiguous, as with all religious texts, and liable to literalist interpretation, being taken out of context, etc. I don't agree with everything in it, but dismissing a core religious text out of hand does no one any favours. Whatever the exact details of Muhammad's life were, [we will probably never know,] this is a remarkable book and worth examing.
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on 12 January 2015
This is far better than the Penguin Classic's version of The Koran, which has been censored with many verses being deleted. I have been letting friends know that The Holy Kur'an (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) is available from Amazon UK and that all verses are intact. I would not be surprised if you have several sales from Australia from this recommendation
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on 13 June 2009
I read this book cover to cover; ok, I speeded up in places when the text became overly repetitive and tedious. My review is not based on whether this is a good or bad translation - I don't know Arabic and can make no comment on the fidelity of the translation to the original. I remain puzzled why it is claimed that the Koran is not really translatable. This is in itself curious as it is odd that God would chose to communicate Himself through a people whose language was incapable of proper translation. Is the literary form of the text more important than the content of the text? It should be noted that the translation is old fashioned.

There is a mixture of styles - the shorter verses are cryptic and soothsayerish/prophetic (and more satisfying poetically) whilst the largest (older?) verses tend to be more labored and repetitive. The book is highly referential and does not really stand on its own. The numerous repeats of the Moses and Noah stories, Abraham and Isaac, Sodom and Gomorrah are in my view frustratingly incomplete unless one knows the comparator texts in the Bible. Thus, as narratives, the Koranic texts can be unsatisfactory and are often baffling. In fact, because there is no real sequential narrative, one often ends a sura thinking what was the point of that. Typically, the story will begin: "has this story come to you" and the the tale will be narrated. It does not really matter what order you read the suras.

Hell and its accompanying graphic punishments appear in practically every sura and are told with a kind of relish. The text is replete with violence and aggression and goes so far as to prescribe violence against the unbelievers. I know this is controversial as there is another sura which prescribes no compulsion in religion. As with all religions, the text needs to be interpreted. But, it seems to me that, to say that that Islam is a religion of peace requires considerable nuancing and explaining and disregarding of key texts and perhaps even the tone/gist of the text as a whole. The text also engages in considerable anti-Jewish/Christian polemics - God has no son, there is no Trinity, Jesus was not crucified, the Jews broke their covenant etc etc etc.

Textually, there are contradictions for which Muslim scholars prescribe the rule of abrogation. Because, for muslims, the text came direct from God through Gabriel and through the messenger, such rules are needed to explain the inconsistencies. The apparent tendency of God to contradict himself (i.e. abrogating earlier verses), manifesting His absolute transcendence, means that rational discourse with followers of Islam may be difficult. For muslims, God is not Logos - the Word did not become flesh. God can do as He pleases. Nevertheless, respectful dialogue must be actively pursued in the interests of peace.

The impression one gets from reading the book is: well there are some good bits (the names of God for one, encouraging people to be virtuous etc, poetic bits about God's transcendence) and there are some bad bits: prescribing the slaying of people. The granting of privileges (not accorded to other believers) to the messenger is puzzling and is in contrast to other religions where the religious founders/prophets, far from giving themselves special privileges, set themselves up as paragons of virtue by denying themselves. The latter makes one inclined to consider that some verses have been specifically designed to satisfy the messenger's needs at a particular point in his career. Western readers will have difficulty with such things as prescribing violence, laxity in marriage laws, polygamy, and permitting sexual relations with one's female slaves (never mind having slaves in the first place!) Aside from the fact that the messenger is granted privileges, it is disturbing that in one sura it is said that those who annoy God and his messenger will be cursed and punished!

One comes away baffled by the lack of clarity as to how Islam stands on the Old and New Testaments - the messenger borrows heavily from the Torah and seems to respect it - likewise he respects Jesus, Mary etc but their function in the Koranic text is simply not explained. Thus, one is left with the question: why are they in the text? The references waft in and out without any explanation - the story of Zachariah is a case in point. He just appears and disappears without any meaning to his appearance in the text. Jesus is born of a virgin and he will come at the end of time. But, what was Jesus' message and why is it not the messenger who was born of a virgin and who comes at the end of the time? Leaving aside, of course, that the tone and content of the Koran contradicts the tone and content of the gospels, what is the purpose of these other religious figures in the Koran? They appear like stage props.

The overall impression that this is a derivative text (reference to the Torah, echoes of the gospels/Gnostic writings etc)) for the Arabic peoples to give them a religious foundation in believing that God is One, to get them away from polytheism and to give them a sense of unity. They are thus given a foundational story, heavily leaning on the stories of the Jews but at the same time distancing themselves from Jews and Christians with much polemic. The question is why do Arabs need a new text at all - what is wrong with the Torah? (their leaning towards a rules based approach makes them, at first sight, more inclined to follow the Law than the gospel?) The answer given in the text is: schism of the Jews and Christians (and misinterpretation by the Jews) but given that Islam immediately enters into schism itself following the death of the messenger, this is hardly credible.

A possible problem with the text is that it is the work of one man with his limitations and frailties (note, this is not what the muslims believe) and with his own style of communicating. Whilst there is a big difference between the earlier and later suras, that difference is not so sufficient as to remove the monochrome nature of the work. There is a metaphor, the Oneness of God is so absolute in Islam that He gives his message through One man in One historical context. In the Bible, God is One but he is also constituted in relationships of community, thus He gives his message through many persons in a multiplicity of literal forms (history/facts/mythic tories/love poetry/prayers/gospels/letters/apocalyptic literature/wisdom literature) in different historical conditions and finally reveals Himself in his Son. In other words, the Bible is a work immersed in relationships.

I write this review, as a believing Christian, conscious that in my own scriptures (the Old Testament), violence abounds. But, as a Christian, I profess that the Bible is inspired, not that every single word is the exact word of God. Our explanation of the violence in the Old Testament is not to propose a rule of abrogation but the the violence reflects that God is being mediated through man complete with real historical warts and all. This inevitably leads (as in the Torah where violence is plentiful) to man spinning sacred myths (God's wrath) to justify man's propensity towards evil and sacred violence. For Christians, this myth of God's sacred violence is dispelled by Christ.

Would I recommend this book to anyone? Yes, I would recommend it to anyone of good will who wishes to know what muslims believe. I would specially recommend it to a a religious person of whatever persuasion, so that any tendency to relativise religious beliefs is dispelled.
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on 1 May 2015
Good size, nice layout, good for someone who wants to read the translation only without any footnotes or additional commentary which sometimes peddles a certain school of thought, which someone new to the religion could do without in all honesty. Just focuses on the actual verses without adding any extra baggage which a newcomer would find overwhelming
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on 28 January 2013
I bought this to learn more about the Islamic faith. It's quite intense for someone who doesnt understand the religion but I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
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on 10 February 2016
difficult reading but good value and speedy delivery
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on 10 March 2014
There is nothing like it in this universe. I recommend all mankind to read it, for the following reason: Imagine someone who's claiming to have created the universe, and created you both for special purposes, and wants to inform you of them, so that you are guided in your life in this universe, and better, your guidance leads you to an ultimate special abode in your next life - say you are skeptical - say you don't believe all that - say you are of a different persuasion or religion - say you couldn't care less of religions - but and this is a big but; Don't you at least want to find out? Don't you at least want to see what 'GOD' wants to say to you? Well, if you believe in reason, discussion and tolerance, I believe you will be interested in what the Quran (the literal words of the Creator) has to say about the universe, nature, life, and after life. Pick up one today, for as a small price as; £2-£5. I am sure you spend more than that on non-sense everyday. This 'believe me' will the most sensical spending you will ever do in your life, and don't even thank me, but I am sure you will thank yourself for reading this book.
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