Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Final Assignment Course Name: Tafseer 1 Course Code: TAF 301 Instructor: Shaykh Riaz Ansary Student Details Name: Hassan Basarally Student ID: 1120020 Batch: 3 Semester: 4-Spring 2013 Assignment Question Assignment B: Choose two English translations of the Qur‟an and write a 1200-word report (maximum length) comparing the two. Include the following points: Name of each author Methodology of each author Sample text, showing methodology Evaluation of each author‟s methodology Positive points Negative points Overall judgment
1

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Authors The translations discussed are Abdullah Yusuf Ali‟s The Holy Qur-an: English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary and Muhammad Taqi ud Deen Al Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan‟s Translation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur‟an in the English Language. Below is some brief biographical information about the authors: 1. Abdullah Yusuf Ali Birth: 14th April 1872 Death: 10th December 1953 Place of birth: India Education/Career: University of Leeds Publications: The Holy Qur-an: English Translation of the Meanings 2. Muhammad Taqi ud Deen Al Hilali Birth: 1893 Death: 22nd June 1987 Place of birth: Morocco Education/Career: University of Al Karaouine Baghdad University Humboldt University Publications: Translation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur‟an in the English Language Translation of Saheeh Bukharee Translation of Al Lulu Wal Marjan 3. Muhammad Muhsin Khan Birth: 1927
2

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Place of birth: Morocco Education/ Career: University of Punjab University of Wales Publications: Translation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur‟an in the English Language Translation of Saheeh Bukharee Translation of Al Lulu Wal Marjan Understanding Ramadan

3

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Methodology Abdullah Yusuf Ali‟s methodology of translation is not to rely on a purely literal translation. Instead he uses a poetic flow, characterised by run on lines and verses written in the form of stanzas. He utilises much commentary and footnotes, which accounts for the length of the work. In addition, he provides an introduction to each Surah explaining to some extent the lessons that it intends to impart. He also translates the majority of Arabic and Islamic terms in the Quran, many of these translated words are capitalised. There is an index at the end, listing the verses were different concepts are mentioned and an annotated table of contents. Muhammad Taqi ud Deen Al Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan‟s translation, on the other hand uses modern prose, the verses are written in a conversational discourse style. Like Abdullah Yusuf Ali, their translation is filled with many footnotes and contains an index. However, these footnotes are mainly Ahadeeth related to the particular verse being dealt with. Most times the Ahadeeth used speak about lessons, benefits and jurisprudential issues contained in the verse. There are no introductions to each Surah. Unlike Abdullah Yusuf Ali, they transliterate Arabic and Islamic terms, providing the reader with a lengthy glossary explaining the terms clearly. There is a heavy reliance in this translation on the use of parentheses to insert explanatory comments to compliment the literal translation. Also, there are appendices added dealing with topics such as Jesus in Islam, Tawheed, Shirk and Nifaq.

4

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Sample Text 1. Abdullah Yusuf Ali
Introduction To Sūra 1 (Fātiḥa) C. 42.—First comes that beautiful Sūra , The Opening Chapter
[2] [1]

of Seven Verses ,

[3]

Rightly called the Essence of the Book. It teaches us the perfect Prayer. For if we can pray aright, it means That we have some knowledge of God And His attributes, of His relations To us and His creation, which includes Ourselves; that we glimpse the source From which we come, and that final goal Which is our spiritual destiny Under God's true judgement: then We offer ourselves to God and seek His light. C. 43.—Prayer is the heart of Religion and Faith But how shall we pray? What words shall convey The yearnings of our miserable ignorant hearts To The Knower of all? Is it worthy of Him Or of our spiritual nature to ask For vanities, or even for such physical needs As our daily bread? The Inspired One Taught us a Prayer that sums up our faith, Our hope, and our aspiration in things that matter. We think in devotion of God's name and his Nature; We praise Him for His Creation and His Cherishing care; We call to mind the Realities, seen and unseen; We offer Him worship and ask for His guidance; And we know the straight from the crooked path By the light of His grace that illumines the righteous.

5

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Sūra 1. Fātiḥa, or the Opening Chapter.
1 [4]

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgement. Thee do we worship , and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way,
[8] [7] [6]

[5]

2

of the worlds;

3

4

5

6

7

The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath , and
[10]

[9]

who go not astray

.

Translator's Notes

1.

↑ 15. Each chapter or portion of the Qur'ān is called a Sūra, which means a Degree or Step, by which we mount up. Sometimes whole Sūras were revealed, and sometimes portions, which were arranged together according to subject-matter under the Apostle's directions. Some Sūras are long, and some are short, but a logical thread runs through them all. Each verse of the Sūra is called an Āyat (plural Āyāt) which means also a sign. A verse of revelation is a Sign of God's wisdom and goodness just as much as God's beautiful handiwork in the material creation of His dealings in history are signs to us, if we would understand. Some Āyats are long, and some short. The Āyat is the true unit of the Qur'ān.

2. 3.

↑ 16. Fātiḥa=Opening Chapter ↑ 17. These seven verses form a complete unit by themselves and are recited in every prayer and on many other occasions. Cf. 15:87

4.

↑ 18. By universal consent it is rightly placed at the beginning of the Qur'ān, as summing up, in marvellously terse and comprehensive words, man's relation to God in contemplation and prayer. In our spiritual contemplation the first words should be those of praise. If the praise is from our inmost being, it brings us into union with God's will. Then our eyes see all good, peace, and harmony. Evil, rebellion, and conflict are purged out. They do not exist for us, for our eyes are lifted up above them in praise. Then we see God's attributes better (verses 2-4). This leads us to the attitude of worship and acknowledgement (verse 5). And finally comes prayer for guidance, and a contemplation of what guidance means (verses 6-7).

5.

↑ 19. The Arabic words “Raḥmān” and “Raḥīm,” translated “Most Gracious” and “Most Merciful” are both intensive forms referring to different aspects of God’s attribute of Mercy. The Arabic intensive is more suited to express God’s attributes than the superlative degree in English. The latter implies a comparison with other beings, or with

6

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

other times or places, while there is no being like unto God, and He is independent of Time and Place. Mercy may imply pity, long-suffering, patience, and forgiveness, all of which the sinner needs and God Most Merciful bestows in abundant measure. But there is a Mercy that goes before even the need arises, the Grace which is ever watchful, and flows from God Most Gracious to all His creatures, protecting them, preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to clearer light and higher life. For this reason the attribute Raḥmān (Most Gracious) is not applied to any but God, but the attribute Raḥīm (Merciful), is a general term, and may also be applied to Men. To make us contemplate these boundless gifts of God, the formula: “In the name of God Most Gracious, Most Merciful”: is placed before every Sūra of the Qur’ān (except the ninth), and repeated at the beginning of every act by the Muslim who dedicates his life to God, and whose hope is in His Mercy. Opinion is divided whether the Bismillāh should be numbered as a separate verse or not. It is unanimously agreed that it is a part of the Qur’ān. Therefore it is better to give it an independent number in the first Sūra. For subsequent Sūras it is treated as an introduction or headline, and therefore not numbered. 6. ↑ 20. The Arabic word Rabb, usually translated Lord, has also the meaning of cherishing, sustaining, bringing to maturity. God cares for all the worlds He has created. There are many worlds,— astronomical and physical worlds, worlds of thought, spiritual world, and so on. In every one of them, God is all in all. We express only one aspect of it when we say: “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” The mystical division between (1) Nāsūt, the human world knowable by the senses, (2) Malakūt, the invisible world of angels, and (3) Lāhūt, the divine world of Reality, requires a whole volume to explain it. 7. ↑ 21. On realizing in our souls God’s love and care, His grace and mercy, and His power and justice (as Ruler of the Day of Judgment), the immediate result is that we bend in the act of worship, and see both our shortcomings and His all-sufficient power. The emphatic form means that not only do we reach the position of worshipping God and asking for His help, but we worship Him alone and ask for His aid only. For there is none other than He worthy of our devotion and able to help us. Then plural “we” indicates that we associate ourselves with all who seek God, thus strengthening ourselves and strengthening them in a fellowship of faith. 8. ↑ 22. If we translate by the English word “guide,” we shall have to say: “Guide us to and in the straight Way.” For we may be wandering aimlessly, and the first step is to find the Way; and the second need is to keep in the Way: our own wisdom may fail in either case. The straight Way is often the narrow Way, or the steep Way, which many people shun (90:11). By the world’s perversity the straight Way is sometimes stigmatized and the crooked Way praised. How are we to judge? We must ask for God’s guidance. With a little spiritual insight we shall see which are the people who walk in the light of God’s grace, and which are those that walk in the darkness of Wrath. This also would help our judgment. 9. ↑ 23. Note that the words relating to Grace are connected actively with God; those relating to Wrath are impersonal. In the one case God’s Mercy encompasses us beyond our dese rts. In the other case our own actions are responsible for the Wrath,—the negative of Grace, Peace, or Harmony.

7

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

10. ↑ 24. Are there two categories?—those who are in the darkness of Wrath and those who stray? The first are those who deliberately break God’s law; the second those who stray out of carelessness or negligence. Both are responsible for their own acts or omissions. In opposition to both are the people who are in the lig ht of God’s Grace: for His Grace not only protects them from active wrong (if they will only submit their will to Him) but also from straying into paths of temptation or carelessness. The negative gair should be construed as applying not to the way, but as describing men protected from two dangers by God’s Grace.

Methodology seen in this extract: 1. The presence of an introduction mentioning the spiritual purpose and benefits of the Surah. For example: “First comes that beautiful Sūra, The Opening Chapter of Seven Verses, Rightly called the Essence of the Book. It teaches us the perfect Prayer.” 2. Translation of Arabic and Islamic terms. For example: “Prayer is the heart of Religion and Faith” Prayer here could mean Salah or Dua, Religion could mean Deen and Faith could mean Iman. 3. Heavy reliance on capitalisation: For example: “Prayer is the heart of Religion and Faith” 4. The poetic flow is seen in the way the introduction is written in the form of a stanza and the run on lines in verses. For example: “Prayer is the heart of Religion and Faith But how shall we pray? What words shall convey The yearnings of our miserable ignorant hearts”
8

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

and “The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.” 5. Archaic English. For example: “Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.”

9

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

2. Muhammad Taqi ud Deen Al Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan

10

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

11

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Methodology seen in this extract: 1. Use of transliteration. For example: “All praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the „Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).” 2. Use of parentheses for explanation. For example: “The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Judgement).” 3. Simple prose form: For example: “You (Alone) we worship and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).” 4. Footnotes based heavily on Ahadeeth: For example regarding the verse “The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace , not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray.”, the footnote reads:

12

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

Evaluation of each author’s methodology Positive points The Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation is in a poetic form, it is almost of a literary style reflecting the author‟s academic background. This form will be easy reading for the native speaker. An example in seen in Surah Baqarah 2:2-3, “This is the Book In it is guidance sure, without doubt, To those who fear Allah; Who believe in the Unseen, Are steadfast in prayer, And spend out of what we Have provided for them;” Though the verse itself is clear, its translation makes it easy to understand and break down. It is easy to understand for a non-Muslim as many Arabic terms are translated, as seen in the previously quoted verses where Ghaib is translated as “Unseen” Muttaqun to “those who fear Allah” and Salah to “prayer.” The flow of the translation is not interrupted by parentheses. The extensive footnotes and commentary provide valuable explanation for the reader on Islamic belief and values. For example in Surah Ikhlas 112:3, “He begetteth not, Nor is He begotten;” Abdullah Yusuf Ali gives an important lesson on the Muslim belief about Allah. He writes “This is to negative the Christian idea of the godhead, “the Father,” “the only-begotten Son” etc.” The Muhammad Hilali and Muhsin Khan translation utilises Ahadeeth in the footnotes. For example in Surah Baqarah 2:4 “And who believe in (the Qur'an and the Sunnah) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (Muhammad Peace be upon him) and in [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), etc.] which were sent down before you and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Resurrection, recompense of their good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell, etc.).” it is written about belief “Narrated Ibn Umar, ‫رضى هللا عنهما‬: Allah's Messenger, ‫صلى هللا عليه وسلم‬ said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):1. To testify that “La ilaha illallah wa anna muhammad-ur-Rasul Allah” (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad, ‫ صلى هللا عليه وسلم‬is the Messenger of Allah). 2. Iqamat-as-Salat: to perform the five compulsory congregational Salat (prayers) 3. To pay Zakat 4. To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Makkah) 5. To observe Saum (fasting) during the month of Ramadan. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Hadith No.7).” The Ahadeeth used are relevant to the verse being dealt with. It is basically an attempt to summarise the Tafsir of great scholars like Ibn Katheer, Al Qurtubi and At Tabari and incorporates them in the translation. There are also notes incorporated in the translation of the verses in parentheses. This allows the reader to see the intended meaning of the text. For example, in Surah Baqarah 2:1, the use of letters to begin particular Surahs are explained, “AlifLam-Mim. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur'an and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings].” It has an extensive glossary so that a non-Muslim reader will have a very good understanding of many Islamic terms. Negative points Abdullah Yusuf Ali‟s translation is written in archaic English. English does not have fixed standard, so the language used, though grammatically English, was not the standard spoken
13

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

or written at the time of publishing. For example the verse, “Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.” (Surah Fatihah1: 5), contains a writing style that has not been used since the Middle English or Early Modern English periods. The poetic form actually takes from meaning. Another feature of the archaic language is the excessive use of capitalisation. For example, “(He is) Lord of the East And the West: there is No god but He: Take Him therefore For (thy) Disposer of Affairs” (Surah Muzzamil 73:9). One reason for the amount of capitals is that the translation is written in a stanza form, however since capitalisation in English is reserved for proper nouns there is no need to capitalise so many words. Another aspect of the archaic language is use of present or past continuous when the simple past would suffice. For example, “But we do think That no man or jinn Should say aught that is Untrue against Allah” (Surah Jinn 72:5). In addition the vocabulary choice used provides the average English reader with much difficulty. Abdullah Yusuf Ali is an academic of a high calibre, hence his language choice, but unfamiliar vocabulary does not help the reader understand the Quran. For example, “Verily those who plight Their fealty to thee plight Their fealty in truth to Allah” (Surah Fath 48:10) simply means “Those who pledge to you (Muhammad), pledge to Allah.” The translation of the Arabic and Islamic terms does not always convey its Shariah meaning. By this translation, the English equivalent does not always given the intended and specific meaning that exists. For example, in the introduction to Surah Fatihah, he writes, “It teaches us the perfect Prayer. For if we can pray aright, it means, That we have some knowledge of God, And His attributes”. The word “Prayer” is used here and in many other places in the translation. Most likely the intended meaning for “prayer” here is Dua as Surah Fatihah is considered a supplication as well. However in numerous places where “prayer” refers to Salah the same word is used providing no distinction. For example “And establish regular Prayer” (Surah Muzzamil 73:20). The translation of some proper nouns also results in some events and lessons to be overlooked. For example Abdullah Yusuf Ali translates “Perish the hands Of the Father of the Flame! Perish he!” (Surah Masad 111:1) in this case the name Abu Lahab should be retained to draw the reader‟s attention to this individual in history and his fate. Another example can be seen in “To thee have We Granted the Abundance.” (Surah Kawthar 108:1), again the word Kawthar should be retained as it refers to a specific river in Paradise. The linguistic elements of Abdullah Yusuf Ali are not of as much serious concern as the errors concerning issues in Islamic belief and jurisprudence. It must be noted that many of the errors identified by scholars have been corrected by The Presidency of Islamic Researches, Ifta, Call and Guidance. For example the use of the term Zodiacal Signs, which Islam rejects, in Surah Hijr 15:16 has been changed to “It is We who have set out Constellations in the heavens And made them fair-seeming To (all) beholders.” However the term is still present ion the index and footnote. Other mistakes that have been corrected include unsubstantiated to the grandsons of the Prophet, Hassan and Hussain. There is some confusion when he writes about the virgins of Paradise. In Surah Waqiah 56: 22, he writes “And (there will be) Companions With beautiful, big, And lustrous eyes”. In
14

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

the footnote he writes “In this bodily life it takes a bodily form. In the higher life it takes a higher form.” This statement goes against the agreed position in Islam that though there are descript ions of Paradise given, once cannot limit the type or extent of reward given. In his comments on Surah Baqarah 2: 275, “Those who devour usury Will not stand except As stands one whom The Satan by his touch Hath driven to madness”, he opens the door for the acceptability of Riba. He writes “When we come to the definition of Usury there is room for difference of opinion.” The Muhammad Hilali and Muhsin Khan translation uses parentheses which makes it difficult for the reader to distinguish the notes from the actual translation of the verse. The parentheses disrupt the sentence flow even though they provide explanation. For example in Surah Baqarah 2:2 it reads “The is the Book (the Qur‟an) whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al Muttaqun [the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)].” This makes it more of an extended explanation rather than a translation in the traditional sense. Another criticism of Muhammad Taqi ud Deen Al Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan‟s work is that it confines itself to one opinion in case of differing amongst the scholars. For example in the footnote for Surah Fatihah 1:7, they quote the Hadeeth, “Narrated Abu Huraira, ‫ رضى هللا عنه‬Allah's Messenger, ‫ صلى هللا عليه وسلم‬said, "When the Imam says: 'Ghair-il-Maghdubi `alaihim Walad-Dallin (i.e. not the path of those who earn Your Anger, nor the path of those who went astray (1.7)), then you must say, 'Ameen', for if one's utterance of 'Ameen' coincides with that of the angels, then his past sins will be forgiven."” There are some scholars, especially of the Hanafi Madhab that do not allow this act. However, it is still an authentic Hadeeth that has bearing on the jurisprudential aspects of the verse. A more serious complaint is that it is extremist and promotes hatred of Jews and Christians. However these allegations are unfounded. For example, in Surah Baqarah 2:190 they translate it as “And fight in the Way of Allah those who fight you…” Some say that what is being referred to is normal fighting in battle not physical Jihad. However to fight in the way of Allah is Jihad so there is no misinterpretation there. The same can be said for Surah Fatihah 1:7, where the footnote mentions the Jews as those who have earned Allah‟s anger and the Christians as those who are astray. This note is not based on personal interpretation but authentic Ahadeeth. So in fact these Ahadeeth quoted in the footnotes on Jihad or the misguidance of the Christians and Jews, the only accepted religion being Islam etc. are all authentic and part of the message of the Quran, so a desire to remove them would be remove a part of the Quran‟s message. Overall judgment Overall the Abdullah Yusuf Ali is a flowing translation. However, its main drawback is the archaic language, numerous capitalisation, and stanza arrangement of the verses. Also, the translation of most of the Arabic and Islamic terms take away much meaning from the reader. The problems in the commentary have mostly been removed with revision; however, his focus
15

Hassan Basarally

1120020

TAF301

on long winded spiritual comments opens the door of individual interpretation. This could have been avoided with the inclusion of Ahadeeth in the footnotes and commentary. The Muhammad Taqi ud Deen Al Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan translation has many merits to it. The prose style is easy to understand and the inclusion of so many Ahadeeth in the footnotes have elevated the work to somewhat of a summarised Tafsir as well as translation. However, the main flaw in writing is the excessive parentheses which in fact give similar explanation as the footnotes themselves. The accusations of promoting extremism and bigotry have been shown to be unfounded as they are backed up with well researched footnotes.

16

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful