Monday, February 29, 2016

Quran - a new American Translation by Nasr

Quran - A new American Translation |

Indeed there are nearly 300 English translations in the market now, and each one reflects the experiences of the translator, as it should.
 Each translation slightly differs from the other, fulfilling what Prophet Muhammad wanted, to paraphrase him, " I am leaving this book for you to read and understand." The emphasis was “YOU,” Mind you, he did not assign an interpreter to refer to, and instead he expected each one will use his personal reference to understand the book while maintaining the central theme – building cohesive societies– Islam is also called the religion of human nature. 

Mike Ghouse 
# # # 

The American Quran Pissing Off the Saudis
The Study Quran
 puts this great religious work in historical perspective.
A new translation of the Quran, with commentary, is causing a stir—and maybe something of a revolution—in the world of English-speaking Muslims.
Why’s that? Because Salafists—adherents of a very conservative brand of Islam—have dominated the world market for Qurans for decades.
Funded by the oil-rich royal family in Saudi Arabia, which has an especially rigid Wahhabi branch of Islam, the Salafis have exported their teachers, their mosques, their audio and video productions, and religious texts across the Arab world and into Pakistan, Europe, and North America, quashing alternate interpretations that don’t fit their narrow views.
Seeing this new translation as a challenge to their orthodoxy in English-speaking countries, Salafis are none too pleased. In online discussions and reviews, influential Salafis are panning the volume, called The Study Quran,  as a soft-bellied facsimile that might be fine for academia, but not fit for following.
In fact, this no mere academic debate. Followers of the Saudi-Wahhabi-Salafi version of Islam in Europe and the United States are increasingly seen by law enforcement as a pool from which radical jihadis can draw recruits.
Some strains of this Salafi interpretation have popularized takfirism—the practice by which some Muslims declare that others are not true believers. The aftereffects are clear in fringe jihadi groups like the self-declared caliphate that calls itself the Islamic State, where those who believe differently are deemed apostates who can be, and are, slaughtered en masse. The vast majority of Salafis are not jihadis and not takfiris. But those who are use their understanding of their Quran to justify killing Shia Muslims, Yazidis, adulterers, gays, and anyone else who runs afoul of their zealotry.
Generations of the world’s Muslims have, now, grown up in the shadow of this Saudi religious empire, ignoring previous centuries of rigorous religious discourse, debate, and dissent.
The Study Quran, setting the record straight, may come as something of a revelation to Muslims and anyone else interested in Islam who speaks English. It is a formidable academic endeavor, and since it was published in November it has been flying off the shelves in a massive hardback edition. (It is also available now on Kindle.
The  editors have compiled a new translation, new commentary, and drawn on dozens of the most prominentmufassirs (interpreters or exegetes), many of whom have never before been accessible to an English-speaking audience. Indeed, “very few” of the sources cited in The Study Quran are available in English translation, head editor Seyyed Hossein Nasr told The Daily Beast.One soon comes across nuances that are unmentioned or ignored by extremists. The Study Quran notes, for instance, that verse 47:4—used by ISIS to justify beheadings—focuses on “the brevity of the act, as it is confined to battle and not a continuous command.” This interpretation would seem to challenge extremists who attempt to carry out such acts on civilians, whether on the streets of London or in Syria.
The Salafi scholars who have monopolized English-language Muslim resources are disturbed and even frightened by this textual revolution that puts them back in their place.
Salafism “was not in the mainstream of the Muslim tradition,” said Nasr. “It rejected centuries of Islamic thought.” The scholars contributing to The Study Quran, who are both Sunni and Shia, also break with the ultra-Orthodox animus against Shiism.
The Study Quran’s rich commentary, crowding around a few verses on any given onion-paper page of the hardback edition, seeks to remedy the previous absence of solid historical discourse. After all, Nasr said, even centuries ago the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca meant that exegetes, or interpreters of holy texts, were able to have a much richer exchange of ideas—and much more knowledge of one another—than European thinkers of the time.
It’s no surprise then, that Abu Eesa Niamatullah—a British Salafi with a large social media presence—cautioned followers tempted by The Study Quran to “avoid it. Like the plague.”
By clicking "Subscribe," you agree to have read theTerms of Use and Privacy Policy
“It doesn't just have mistakes, it's actually dangerous,” Niamatullah said. “This is advice to the 99 percent of people here, those who don't have the detailed tools necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff.”
Though Sunni Islam formally lacks a clerical class, Niamatullah expressed concern that those who lack proper religious or academic training might be swayed from the orthodox path by the new edition. 
“My point being that I see it as absolutely a threat to orthodox Sunni creed that such translations and commentaries, but more importantly, such deviated individuals such as Nasr being given a prominent platform to the hearts and minds of the basic masses who can't filter through the nonsense like you can,” he added in a comment.
A more moderate review, recommended by prominent cleric Yasir Qadhi to hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, acknowledges that the rigor of The Study Quran“is apparent after even a cursory reading,” but nonetheless it “is an academic and educational work, and as such includes commentaries from sources that may not be considered orthodox depending on one’s denominational orientation.” (Qadhi recentlydistanced himself from the Salafi label and critiqued some aspects of the movement.)
“Some of the Sufi commentaries can come off as uncomfortably esoteric,” the author Mobeen Vaid writes. “Khārijite positions are occasionally expounded upon, and not for the purpose of refutation.” (Kharijites were a rebel sect in the first century of of Islam.)
The differences that make it suitable for academia but not practice go all the way down to the understanding of the very nature of the Quran. “For believers,” says Vaid. “the Quran doesn't say anything, God does.”
And yet, The Study Quran fills part of what some scholars see as a perpetual hole in the study of Islam. Quranic translations abound, but centuries of commentary, debate, and context have long been the exclusive domain of those with a strong command of Arabic.
"We appear to be amidst a deluge of English translations of the Quran," Scott Lucas, a professor at the University of Arizona, wrote in 2014, reflecting on the proliferation of translations in the prior decade.


‘The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary’ by Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Author), Caner Karacay Dagli (Author), Maria Massi Dakake (Author), Joseph E.B. Lumbard (Author), Mohammed Rustom (Author). 2048 p. HarperOne. $37.27

Pretty much any Quran given out in a da’wa, or religious outreach, program almost anywhere in the world has its roots in Saudi Arabia. Most of them use a translation completed by Yusuf Ali, an Indian-born, British-educated scholar who died in the mid-20th century. Published in 1938, it included not only Ali’s translation, but also parenthetical commentary on meaning—much of which has been stripped out by its Salafi adapters.
The first Quran ever owned by this reporter was an Ali translation, distributed through a Chelsea-based da’wa program to a bank teller, who unloaded it to this student of religion when she was still a teen. The thick hardcover has the scripture in two varieties: the original Arabic, as well as an English translation.
(Significantly, The Study Quran, already voluminous, does not include the original Arabic, the language in which Allah delivered his message to Muhammad. But the Arabic text is now readily available online and in many smaller volumes for comparison.)
Ali wasn’t the first translator of the Quran into English, of course. One of the earliest widely available translations was by George Sale, and it served as the standard for nearly two centuries. It’s rife with annotations that point to Sale’s Christian understanding of the “Mohammedan’s” holy scripture. More recent translations have come from feminists and creative translations that assign each Arabic word one—and only one—English equivalent.
And The Study Quran surely won’t be the last. The authors’ main goal, after all, is not a definitive translation—but a demonstration that different interpretations were “established, well known, and rigorously discussed over the centuries,” Nasr said.
This article has been updated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quran Translation by Safi Kaskas

Quran Translation by Safi Kaskas | 

I welcome this new translation of Quran by Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford among the multitudes of translations. Indeed there are nearly 300 English translations in the market now, and each one reflects the experiences of the translator, as it should.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) understood human nature, and believed in freedom, an inalienable rights of individuals.  He has repeatedly said, there is no compulsion in religion and that you cannot push any one to believe against his or her will.  Thus, in his last sermon, he said (paraphrase), ‘I am leaving this book to you to read and understand it, hang on to it, and you cannot go wrong with it.’

Mind you, he did not assign the interpretation of the book (Quran) to anyone. He did not say, ‘look, from here on if you have questions about the book, check with So and So Shaikh.’ He know each person will read and understand through his own prism and that is why Islam is also called a Deen of fitra (human nature). I would say don't judge Islam, Christianity or any faith by the actions of the individuals, religion stands on its own - a pristine system to create peaceful societies,  most people get that right and a few don't. 

Quran cannot be more clearer than this, it repeats endlessly that no one is responsible for your actions but you, and it is your responsibility to get the book right before you act. Police will give you a ticket if you violate the traffic rules, your claim that you did not know does not release you from the mistake you made.

Quran is a book of guidance to find peace within and peace with others, if you don’t get that right, go back and read it. God cannot be wrong; it is your understanding that is wrong. By the way no one owns God, he, she or it is not any one's property either.

There is a simple test to determine the authenticity of the translation (or your understanding of it); and that is, God is not a villain of his own creation. Quran respects all creation, and respects all traditions and calls for accountability, justice and mercy to build a cohesive society where no one has to live in fear of the other.

The second test is based on the individual, the more an individual interacts with people of different faiths, the greater the understanding of Islam he or she would have, indeed Prophet Muhammad grew up in such an environment and he was pluralistic to the core like Jesus and all the great spiritual masters of the world. He respected the otherness of of the others and it is summarized in this video:

Religion is not about arrogant claims that you have a superior product. Arrogance creates conflicts with others right off the bat.  No matter what religion it is, it teaches humility that builds bridges and harmony between different people. 

Take a look at Safi’s translation, it's available at Amazon, “The Qur’an with references to the Bible” by Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford. You owe it to yourselves to find the truth.

Safi is an interfaith activist and he clearly grasps the essence of Quran, that is to create cohesive societies. He passes in both the tests I have mentioned earlier. I have promised him to read his translation write a review, and I shall soon do that, after I complete my book, "the Mistakes Muslims have made".

Video Interview of Safi Kaskas -

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Copy of Quran only book saved from Union’s 1865 burning of UA

1865 Quran |

The Libraries are a treasure! 

Published: Friday, September 10, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.
his copy of the Quran was saved from the 1853 burning of the UA campus.
The book is housed in the William S. Hoole Special Collections Library.
TUSCALOOSA | A copy of the Quran dating from 1853, its spine missing, its pages browning and its front cover almost detached, sits today in a library at the University of Alabama.
While Islam’s holy book now appears safe from a Florida pastor’s plan for a bonfire, the Quran at UA had its own dramatic rescue from the flames. It was the only book saved from burning of the university library at the hands of Union troops in 1865.
“We don’t know who chose it, why they chose it or how it got back to the university. All we know is that for a long, long time, we’ve had this book,” said Clark Center, W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library curator.
The order to burn the University of Alabama had been given long before federal troops arrived in Tuscaloosa on April 3, 1865. They believed that the university, along with a local textile factory and hat factory, provided materials to the Confederate army.
On the morning of April 4, 200 Union soldiers led by Col. Thomas M. Johnston approached the center of campus, the Rotunda, which held the university’s collection of books and natural history.
As the troops marched down the long, gravel street lined with cedar trees, they were met by a group of university faculty that included Andre Deloffre, the university’s librarian, and William Wyman, professor of Latin and Greek.
Deloffre begged Johnston to spare the library, one of the finest of its time. Johnston responded by sending a courier to headquarters, asking if the library could remain unscathed, but he was instructed by his general to burn the Rotunda as planned.
According to Center, what happened next has become part of University of Alabama lore. Legend has it that before Union troops set the building on fire, either Johnston, one of his aides, Deloffre or someone else went into the Rotunda to save one book — a copy of “The Koran: Commonly Called The Alcoran Of Mohammed.”
The book was an English translation of the Quran and had been published in Philadelphia in 1853. Soon after it was removed from the library, the building, along with much of the rest of campus, was engulfed in flames.
“Maybe he took it home and sent it back, maybe he went in, chose something and handed it to the librarian,” Center said. “I think, for a long time, the story was just verbal; it was just accepted that the book was here. The first time I’d seen it in writing was 1931 in the Centennial issue of The Crimson White. ”
Center said that he had no doubt the book was an original from the Rotunda and that it had probably been purchased by the library to help them cover the topic of religion as broadly as possible, since the university’s students had never been exposed to the Quran before.
“The stamps inside of it are consistent to those from other pre-Civil War books. It had definitely been here since before the war,” he said. “Religion was a big part of life back then. Most of the university’s students were Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and even Catholics, and most had never seen something like that.”
The book now sits in the university’s W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.
Center said the book helped modern-day historians better understand the university’s past.
“It shows that the university, in the antebellum period, was attempting to give its students a broad education to enable them to learn points of view that were not necessarily their own,” he said.