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The Role Played by Quran Translations in Steering Public Opinion against Islam in NonMuslim Communit


In Israel, bookstores ran out of their Qur'an translation. stock. Problem Statement ... Along the same lines, in their book The Dark Side of Islam, Abdul ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Role Played by Quran Translations in Steering Public Opinion against Islam in NonMuslim Communit

The Role Played by Quran Translations in
Steering Public Opinion against Islam in
NonMuslim Communities Counteracting Antipathy
against Islam Insights Ironically Inspired by Two
Non-Muslims and More ..

The Qur'an Translated with a Critical
Rearrangement of the Surahs Richard Bell
In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, there was
a boom in the sales of Qur'an translations.
In this era, Qur'an translations have
become far more crucial than any time before.
Apart from their importance to non-Arabic
speaking Muslims, they represent the primary
source of information and the major recourse for
the non-Muslims who are curious to pursue
familiarity with Islam through first-hand
knowledge. The role of such translations is
gravely serious in formulating recipients'
opinion about the Muslims religion. Thomas
Cleary, one of the modern Quran translators,
states For non-Muslims, one special
advantage in reading the Qur'an is that
it provides an authentic point of reference from
which to examine the biased stereotypes of
Islam to which Westerners are habitually
exposed. Primary information is essential
to distinguish between opinion and fact in a
reasonable manner. This exercise may also enable
the thinking individual to understand the
inherently defective nature of prejudice
itself (1993, p. VIII). However, to
present "an authentic point of reference ",
Quran translations have to be an authentic
representation of what the original says. Has
this been the case?
  • About 6 000 000 translations were sold in
  • In Israel, bookstores ran out of their Qur'an
  • stock.

Problem Statement Islamophobia has been on the
rise in recent years even though it is deeply
rooted in the past. There are a lot of
misconceptions about Islam and Muslims propagated
by the media. In trying to analyze the reasons
for such phenomenon, it was found out that
translating the meanings of the holy Qur'an
offered an opportunity to distort and
misinterpret its meanings. This played a crucial
role in framing a negative and an inaccurate
image of Islam. The problem can be ascribed
mostly to translations by non-Muslims, however,
also partially to translations by Muslims.
Besides, the problem has also to do with western
education and some other factors.
(No Transcript)
  • A. Roots of Islamophobia in the early Orientalist
  • The first Qur'an translation was into Latin by
    Robert of Ketton in 1143. It was
  • made at the request of the Abbot of the
    monastery of Cluny. (abounds in
  • inaccuracies)
  • Another Latin translation by Ludovicus Marracci
    was published in 1698. It was supplemented with
    quotes from Qur'an commentaries "carefully
    juxtaposed and sufficiently garbled so as to
    portray Islam in the worst possible light" (Colin
    Turner,1997 p. xii). The title of the
    introductory volume of such translation was A
    Refutation of the Qur'an.
  • Such translations formed the foundation for a
    number of subsequent translations into English,
    French, Italian, German, etc.
  • The first English translation was that of
    Alexander Ross published in 1649. In his
    introduction, Ross says "I thought good to bring
    it to their colours, that so viewing thine
    enemies in their full body, thou must the better
    prepare to encounter his Alcoran" (p. A3).
  • Similarly, H. Reckendorf (1857) says in his
    Hebrew translation of the Qur'an, "I can now stop
    writing and ask God's pardon for the sin I
    committed when I profaned our sacred language and
    transferred to it the talk of lies and falsehood"
    (as cited in Abdul Aal, January 29, 2006, p. 78).
  • In 1734, George Sales translation came out
    based on Marraccis earlier notorious
  • work.
  • In 1861, J. M. Rodwells work provided a further
    example of a writer "gunning for
  • Islam" (Turner, 1997, p. xii).

Samples of Early Translations
Maurice Bucaille (1981), an eminent French
surgeon, stresses the existence of mainstream
inaccurate ideas that brainwash non-Muslims
stating As most people in the West have
been brought up on misconceptions
concerning Islam and the Qur'an for a large
part of my life, I myself was one such person
As I grew up, I was always taught that
'Mahomet was the author of the Qur'an. Besides,
at the International Seminar on Islam in Paris,
held under the auspices of the Organization of
the Islamic Conference, Bucaille (1985)
explains When I started my in-depth
research on the reality of Islam, for the
first time, I started to study its scripture, the
Qur'an and I was obliged to use translations
done by various Islamologues or
orientalists. Alas, I remember having found in
several translations of the same paragraph
such differences that it was evident that
these interpretations were due to translators and
their commentaries, often added to the
text. Later on, having acquired the
knowledge of the Arabic language, enabling me to
read the Qur'an in the original text, I
discerned the evident desire to camouflage
or to willfully change the meaning,
evidently in order to adapt the text to a
personal point of view. (p. 10)
Testifying to the deliberate mistranslation of
the Qur'an by some orientalists to confirm the
misconceptions about Islam taught to students at
schools, Hussain Rofe, a British convert to Islam
states Reading Rodwell's translation of the
Qur'an Al-Karim had specially fixed these
negative preconceptions into my subconscious.
Rodwell had purposely mistranslated some
parts of the Qur'an Al-Karim and distorted its
meanings, thus turning the holy book into a
mass of unintelligible words altogether
different from the original version. It was not
till after having contacted the 'Islamic
Society' in London and having read a true
translation of the Qur'an Al-Karim that I knew
the truth. (as cited in Why did they become
Muslims? 1995) Unfortunately, as Sir Edward
Denson Ross (1940) asserts in his introduction to
George Sales' translation for many
centuries the acquaintance which the majority of
Europeans possessed of Mohammedanism was
based almost entirely on distorted reports of
fanatics which led to dissemination of a
multitude of gross calumnies. What was good
in Mohammedanism was entirely ignored, and
what was not good, in the eyes of Europe, was
exaggerated or misinterpreted. (as cited in
Sales, 1940, p. 7)
B. Decontextualization A major trend that
helped in spreading the misconception that Islam
is a religion of terrorism is that the western
media decontextualize ayat of Qur'an translations
dealing with war and use them to criticize Islam.
Along the same lines, in their book The
Dark Side of Islam, Abdul Saleeb and R. C. Sproul
(2003) decontextualize some ayat to prove that
Islam is a religion that instigates violence. One
of the examples they mention is ayat 190-193 of
sura 2. This is how they cite them Fight in the
cause of Allah those who fight you, and slay
them wherever you catch them, ... and fight them
on until there is no more tumult or oppression,
and there prevail justice and faith in Allah" (p.
87) However, the full ayat read "Fight in the
cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not
attack them first. God does not love the
aggressors, and slay them wherever you catch them
those who fight against you drive them out of
the places from which they drove you, for
persecution is worse than killing. But do not
fight them at the Sacred Mosque until they first
attack you there, but if they attack you there,
then kill them. Such is the retribution of the
disbelievers. But if they desist, then know
that God is Forgiving, Compassionate, and fight
them on until there is no more tumult or
oppression, and there prevail justice and faith
in Allah. But if they desist, then let there be
no hostility except against the transgressors."
that many Quran translations by Muslims reflect
ideas that drift away from the mainstream Muslim
beliefs. A. Sectarian Translations Some
translations, even though good in many respects,
are influenced by scientific rationalism like
those of Ahmad and Dina Zidan (1979), Muhammad
Asad (1980), and Ahmad Ali (1984). They intend to
interpret any references to miracles in the
Qur'an on rational or figurative basis as they
reject the idea of miracles. For example, Asad
(1980), whose translation is praised by many,
believes that Jesus Christ's miraculous talk in
his cradle is "a metaphorical allusion to the
prophetic wisdom which was to inspire Jesus from
a very early age" (p. 73). Unfortunately, these
views reflect obvious refutation of basic
mainstream beliefs of the majority of Muslims who
fully acknowledge these miracles. Shi'ite
translations differ in some respects from the
mainstream understanding of certain ayat (verses)
to reflect their own doctrinal biases rather than
give an accurate presentation of the Muslims
Scripture. B. Translations to Suite ones
personal needs Qadiyani and Ahmadiyya
Translations To serve their own needs, they
marred their translations with modifications to
certain ayat (verses), thus disseminating ideas
that contradict with basic Muslim beliefs.
Mistranslations or Inadequate Translations
The mistranslation of certain words or the poor
translation of certain ayat lead to
misunderstandings. One issue is related to the
translation of the Arabic words "????? ", Islam,
and "??????", Muslimun in Qur'anic ayat. For many
non-Muslims who do not understand the original
meaning of these words, describing the disciples
or Prophets who came long before Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh) as Muslims is an anachronism.
Examples of these ayat are "Or where you
present when death came to Jacob? When he said to
his sons 'what will you worship when I
am gone?' They answered 'We shall worship your
God and the God of your fathers Abraham, Ishmael
and Isaac, the One God, and to Him we are
Muslims' " 2 133) "When Jesus found
Unbelief on their part He said "Who will be my
helpers to God?" The disciples said, 'we are
God's helpers We believe in God, and
do thou bear witness that we are Muslims' " 3
52 An example of a poor translation giving a
wrong meaning is the first translation below. The
second translation is a better one And in
retaliation there is life for you, O men endowed
with intellect, that possibly you would be pious
(2 179). Fair retribution saves life for
you, people of understanding, so that you may
guard off against what is wrong/further
TRANSLATIONS Non-inclusion of the occasions of
revelation of the ayat Many
Qur'an translations do not include any footnotes
explaining allusions and ambiguous pronominal
references or giving the cultural background and
brief explanation of the occasions of revelation
- at least of the ayat that may be controversial
or misunderstood. One problematic example is aya
216 of sura 2 which reads "Fighting is
prescribed upon you, and ye dislike it. But is
possible that ye dislike a thing which is good
for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad
for you. But Allah knoweth and ye know not" (p.
87) It is very important to understand the
occasion of revelation of this ayah and its
background, which is never given in translations,
and to indicate the first ayat giving permission
to fight are those below. These ayat clearly
specified the reasons for fighting. "Permission
to fight is given to those who have been fought
against because they have been done injustice,
and God is well able to help them .. those who
have been unjustly driven from their homes only
for saying, 'our Lord is God'. If God did not
drive back some people by means of others,
monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques,
where God's name is mentioned much, would be
surely be demolished " 22 39-40. It
should be noted that the Quran was not revealed
to the Prophet at one shot but rather piecemeal
over the 23 years of his Prophetic mission.
  • The Partial Coverage of the Media
  • The following ayah is among those often cited in
    the media
  • Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last
    Day, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth,
    from among the People of the Book Jews and
  • However, the following ones are often ignored
  • "God does not forbid you to be benevolent and
    equitable to those who have neither made war on
    your religion or driven you from your homes. God
    loves the equitable. God only forbids you to make
    friends with those who have fought against you on
    account of your religion and driven you from your
    homes, or abetted others to do so. Those who make
    friends with them are unjust." 608-9
  • "The believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the
    Sabians any who believes in God and the Last
    Day and does good will have their reward with
    their Lord. There is nothing for them to fear nor
    will they grieve" 2 62.
  • Wrong Information by Schools and Family Members
    in the Non-Muslim Communities
  • Mumin Abd-Ur Razaq Selliah, a Sri Lankan convert
    to Islam, explains
  • Formerly, I was an arch enemy of Islam. For,
    all the members of my family and all my friends
    were telling me that Islam was an absurd and
    concocted religion that would lead man to Hell,
    and they were even preventing me from talking
    with Muslims. As soon as I saw a Muslim I would
    turn and walk away, and I would curse them behind
    their back (as cited in Why did they become
    Muslims?, 1995).

  • Muslims Negativity
  • Muslims are so passive towards what is going on.
    They do not seriously attempt to counteract the
    campaigns discrediting Islam through explaining
    its true principles. Husain Rofe testifies to
  • One thing I would regret to say at this point is
    that Muslims are doing very little to
  • advertise this lovely religion of theirs
    to the world. If they try to spread the true
  • essence of Islam over the entire
    world with due attention and knowledge, I am sure
  • that they will achieve very
    positive results. In the near East, people are
    still reserved
  • towards foreigners.
  • Instead of coming into contact with them
    and illuminating them, they prefer to
  • keep as far away as possible
    from them. This is an exceedingly wrong attitude.
    I am
  • the most concrete example. For I
    was somehow hindered from being interested in
  • the Islamic religion.
    Fortunately, one day I met a very respectable and
  • cultured Muslim. He was very
    friendly with me. He listened to me with
  • He presented me an English
    version of the Qur'an al-Karim translated by a
  • He gave beautiful and logical
    answers to all my questions. (as cited in Why did
  • become Muslims?, 1995)

  • A reliable translation of the Qur'an,
    encompassing comprehensive information, should be
  • prepared as a team work with both language
    specialists and specialists in religion, who have
    a good
  • command of the target foreign language, to be
  • Muslims should attempt to make people acquainted
    with their religion and to clear the
  • misconceptions related to issues like the
    status of women in Islam, polygamy, Jihad etc.
    This can
  • be done on two different levels
  • More explanatory programs in the media should
    be devoted to addressing such issues in a
  • scientific documented way.
  • On another level, lay Muslims can engage in
    such tasks making use of the Internet technology
  • and chat talks, that are used only for
    nonsensical activities, through the notion of
  • diplomacy ". The following are comments of
    some students who were involved in the Connect
  • Project at the American University in Cairo.
    Such program involves students from so many Arab
  • and American Universities in
    videoconferencing where they discuss several
    crucial issues to bridge
  • the communication gap and clear
  • "I learned that the American media is the
    main reason why there are many stereotypes
  • and false ideas on Islam and the Arab
    World." (Female, Qatari, University of Qatar).

  • The media should give more weight to explaining
    sides of Islam that that are ignored by
    Non-Muslims. Indeed, some of these issues
    captured western scholars and converts to Islam.
    Among these issues are
  • 1.Islams Rationality
  • It is based on rational thinking. It does not ask
    Muslims to act against reason nor to accept
    things they do not understand but to work their
    minds and seek knowledge. Thomas Cleary argues
    that Islam "does not demand unreasoned belief.
    Rather it invites intelligent faith, growing from
    observation, reflection, and contemplation" (p.
  • Many of those who converted to Islam state in the
    book entitled Why did they become Muslims? that
    this is one of the major issues that attracted
    them to this religion.
  • 2. Acknowledgment of all the previous Books and
  • 3. The conformity between science and religion in
  • Thomas Cleary (1993) states that Islam
    finds a solution to the dilemma of the
  • "Post-Christian West". He explains that
    the Qur'an
  • offers a way to explore an attitude
    that fully embraces the quest for knowledge
  • and understanding that is the essence
    of science, while at the same time, and
  • indeed for the same reasons, fully
    embraces the awe humility, reverence, and
  • conscience'. (p.viii)
  • Besides, in his book The Bible, Quran and
    Science The Holy Scriptures Examined
  • in the Light of Modern Knowledge, Maurice
    Bucaille acknowledges the total

Examples of the Scientific Facts in the Quran
??? ???? ????? ?????? ??????? ??????(?????
6-7) "Did not We make the earth an expanse and
the mountains as pegs?" (78 6-7)

Mountains have deep roots under the surface of
the ground. (Earth, Press and Siever, p. 413.)
The mountains, like pegs, have deep roots
embedded in the ground. (Anatomy of the
Earth, Cailleux, p. 220.) 
Another illustration shows how the mountains are
peg-like in shape, due to their deep roots.
(Earth Science, Tarbuck and Lutgens, p. 158.) 
He has loosed the two seas meeting together
without overflowing a barrier between them
(55 19-20)
Modern Science has discovered that in the places
where two different seas meet, there is a barrier
between them.  This barrier divides the two seas
so that each sea has its own temperature,
salinity, and density.1  For example,
Mediterranean sea water is warmer, more saline,
and less dense, compared to Atlantic ocean
water.  When Mediterranean sea water enters the
Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill, it moves
several hundred kilometers into the Atlantic at a
depth of about 1000 meters with its own warm,
saline, and less dense characteristics. The
Mediterranean water stabilizes at this depth2
Although there are large waves, strong currents,
and tides in these seas, they do not mix or
transgress this barrier.
(1) Principles of Oceanography, Davis, pp. 92-93.
(2) Principles of Oceanography, Davis, p. 93.
In support of Bucaille's and Cleary's argument,
Captain Jacques Cousteau, a French famous
undersea explorer, explains that what made him
believe that the Qur'an is the true word of God,
was the discovery that the water of the Red Sea
and Indian Ocean do not mix. Following is what he
says In 1962 German scientists said that
the waters of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean
did not mix with each other in the Strait
of Bab-ul-Mandab where the Aden Bay and the Red
Sea join. So we began to examine this.
First we analyzed the water in the Mediterranean
to find out its natural salinity and
density, and the life it contained. We repeated
the same procedure in the Atlantic Ocean. We
found that, even at places where the two
seas were closest to each other, each mass of
water preserved its properties. In other
words, at the point where the two seas met, a
curtain of water prevented the waters
belonging to the two seas from mixing. When I
told Professor Maurice Bucaille about this
phenomenon, he said that it was no surprise and
that it was written clearly in Islam's Holy Book,
the Qur'an al-Karim. When I knew this, I
believed in the fact that the Qur'an al-Karim was
the 'Word of Allah'. Dr. T. V. N.
Persaud, a Professor of Anatomy, Professor of
Pediatrics and Child Health, and Professor of
Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg,
Manitoba, Canada, Chairman of the Department of
Anatomy states The way it was explained to
me is that Muhammad was a very ordinary man.  He
could not read, didnt know how to
write. In fact, he was an illiterate.  And were
talking about twelve actually about14
00 years ago.  You have someone illiterate
making profound pronouncements and
statements and that are amazingly accurate about
scientific nature.  And I personally cant see
how this could be a mere chance.  There are
too many accuracies and, like Dr. Moore, I have
no difficulty in my mind that this is a
divine inspiration or revelation which led him to
these statements.   Other scientists testify to
the same issue. Please click the link below
  • .

  • This page is added by Mike Ghouse, to the
    previous pages prepared
  • by Ibrahim Saleh Dahlia Sabry from Egypt.
  • How do I know that the Quraan translation I am
    reading is the right one or the wrong one?
  • The test is simple whether you are a theist or
    an atheist, it is the word of God, or wisdom for
    a world of equilibrium. Neither Injustice nor
    imbalance is included in Gods Plan. God simply
    will not be un-just. If a verse offends the
    reader, then the issue is not the Verse, but it
    is the understanding the verse in its right
    context. Even if an expert translates it for you,
    it still should mean justice. Finding the truth
    is ones own responsibility.
  • Mistakes are made intentionally and innocently.
    That is life, we come and Go, the creator is
    always around.
  • It is not the word of God, nor the religion that
    is the problem, it is our intent and our
  • Lets hope all of us genuinely seek the truth and
    work for a better world.
  • Please visit and
    check out APOLOGY.
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