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About this translation of the Quran

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The Muhammad Asad translation offered through CAIR's Share the Quran campaign is produced by the Book Foundation.  This beautiful new edition designed by Ahmed Moustafa includes completely new typography, art and a complete transliteration of the Arabic text. Muhammad Asad's translation and commentary is widely considered among the best in the English language, renowned for its intellectual insight and frequent reference to classical commentaries such as Zamakhshari.

Muhammad Asad, Austrian-Polish convert to Islam, had profound knowledge of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Asad ranks highly among the select group of well-known 20th century converts to Islam who subsequently took up scholarship. After his conversion, he traveled widely in the Gulf region during the tumultuous 1930s and 1940s. He later settled in Pakistan in 1947, and was Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations during the 1960s. His variety of experience, in the Gulf during its still unadulterated pre-WWII Bedouin lifestyle, to his presence in the high civilization of America in the 1960s, makes him a unique individual to understand both the environment the Quran originally flourished in, as well as its relevancy to modern times.

His translation uses expressions that a Western reader will find very familiar. Muhammad Asad states in the foreword of the book:

As regards the style of my translation, I have consciously avoided using unnecessary archaisms, which would only tend to obscure the meaning of the Quran to the contemporary reader. On the other hand, I did not see any necessity of rendering Quranic phrases into a deliberately "modern" idiom, which would conflict with the spirit of the Arabic original and jar upon any ear attuned to the solemnity inherent in the concept of the revelation.

...although it is impossible to 'reproduce' the Qur'an as such in any other language, it is none the less possible to render its message comprehensible to people who, like most Westerners, do not know Arabic...well enough to find their way through it unaided…And I am fully aware that my rendering does not and could not really 'do justice' to the Qur'an and the layers upon layers of its meaning: for, 'if all the sea were ink for my Sustainer's words, the sea would indeed be exhausted ere my Sustainer's words are exhausted.' (Qur'an 18:109).

Gai Eaton, a leading British Muslim thinker who wrote the foreword to this translation comments: "…the most helpful and instructive version of the Qur'an that we have in English. This remarkable man has done what he set out to do, and it may be doubted whether his achievement will ever be surpassed."

At 80, after 17 years of effort, he completed the work that had been his life's dream, and for which he felt all his life till then had been an apprenticeship: a translation and exegesis, or tafsir, of the Quran in English. He continued to serve Islam till his death in Spain at the age of 92 on February 23, 1992.

 

 

 

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