Friday, May 07, 2010

My Favourite Qur'an Interpretation...

When I left Dubai way back in 1997, my parents gifted me a travel-sized paperback Qur'an Sharif. I loved it,was smitten with it from the beginning, and this has been the book I've read and reread most often in my life. It was Abdullah Yusuf Ali's 'The Meaning of The Holy Qur'an', and it was smart, practical, pretty on the outside and utterly fantastic on the inside. The Meaning Of The Holy QuranUnlike the other bland translations of the Qur'an I'd been reading all my life, this interpretation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali was completely satisfying. A pure translation of Arabic into English is impossible - the attempts are frustrating to say the least (this holds true for Farsi or Urdu to English as well).

So, we're talking:
a. The Arabic language - beautiful, poetic, melodious, complex
b. At its most perfect (since it is the Word of God Himself)
c. In a cover-to-cover text that has remained entirely unchanged since the 6th Century A.D.
d. Which is one of the most integral pillars of the Islamic faith and all Muslims
e. And a guide book for Life, from 6 A.D. on till forever and ever, Amen.

That there is no real translation of the Holy Qur'an, that it cannot be done, is understood. Man can only attempt an interpretation of the God's Own Words, and literally changing Arabic words into English ones just isn't going to cut it.
Which is why Abdullah Yusuf Ali, with his poetry, his grace and his intelligence, has done the impossible and rendered a 'meaning' of the Holy Qur'an which feels right. In reading and understanding this interpretation, Ali's beautiful, lyrical explanation of the verses fits in very nicely with the accompanying Arabic original. The original Qur'anic verses have an incomparable beauty, rhythm and feel which are inbuilt. To translate this into a language like English, and to do it so well, is a piece of mastery that has millions of readers like me thanking God for one Mr A.Yusuf Ali and his hard work and his big scholarly brain.
I love Ali's Introduction in verse, his preface, the conclusion, the fantastic footnotes (with quotes from Shakespeare etc. :). In short, it is a wonderful!
If you want a proper English 'translations' or rather 'interpretation' of the Qur'an, this is the one to have. That's all.


Anonymous said...

Yousuf Abdulla Ali Really worked hard for translating the Holy Quran. But one cannot follow his commentary and his interpretations just because his interpretations are easy to understand doesn't make him right. Yousuf Abdulla was born to a Dawoodi Bohra which makes one suspicious about his upbringing. anyways may Allah guide you and the ummah cause he knows better.

longblackveil said...

^^Are. You. Serious?^^ 'which makes one suspicious about his upbringing.' Ye gods!