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The Sublime Quran. I found, when the context is the same, if the same English word is not used for the same Arabic word throughout the translation, it becomes difficult for someone who wants to learn to correlate the English and the Arabic to be able to do so. In other words, the twenty or so English transla- tions put emphasis on inter- preting a Quranic verse without precisely representing the original Arabic word. The Arabic language is much more precise than present trans- lations would indicate and God used a different word in each case.

Therefore, a translation should do the same to the extent possible in order to give the English reader more of a sense of the depth to the Quran. This Arabic-English version of The Sublime Quran is the best way for a student of classical Quranic Arab to learn to read the Quran because of the internal consistence and reliability of the translation.

It is this Word of God that has inspired artists, artisans, poets, philoso- phers and writers, those who had been the exponents of Islamic cul- ture and civilization for almost years.

The method used by English translators of the Quran to date is to start at the beginning of the sacred text and work through trans- lating until the end.

I used the same method in translating twenty- five books before I earned a Ph. Armed with this science, I began this translation as a sci- entific study to see if it was possible to apply these principles to a translation by finding a different English equivalent for each Arabic verb or noun in order to achieve a translation of a sacred text that has internal consistency and reliability. As I am unlettered, so to speak, in modern Arabic, I relied upon my many years of private tutoring in classical Quranic Arabic grammar.

Each time a specific word appears, the relevant part of the verse containing that word is quoted with refer- ence to Chapter and Sign verse. They are listed under their three- letter or four-letter roots. As there was no Arabic program for the Macintosh computer when I began this great undertaking in CE, I transliterated the words according to the system of transliteration developed by the American Library Association, Library of Congress Roman- ization Tables in preparing the accompanying Concordance of the Sublime Quran.

This translation, then, is one of formal equivalence in order to be as close to the original as possible. This is the most objective type of transla- tion, as compared to a translation using dynamic equivalence, where the transla- tor attempts to translate the ideas or thoughts of a text, rather than the words, which results in a much more subjective trans- lation. In this translation, the translation of the active participle when used nom- inally and not as an adjective, differs from other transla- tions.

The English equivalents for these verbs and nouns are then studied in con- text and, where necessary for correct meaning, an al- ternative equivalent that has not been previously used elsewhere in the translation is used.

A dif- ferent English equiv- alent is used for a verbal noun, an active or passive participle, and a noun, again, adjusted according to its usage. It is important to remember as you read the Quran that it was revealed over time and the verses put together in the Chapters after the revelation by the Prophet. Therefore, there may be verb tense changes from verse to verse or even subject changes from one verse to another. Where the Quran has included both the sep- arate pronoun and repeated it at the end of the verb for emphasis, this is expressed in The Sublime Quran translation, giving the sentence the same emphatic expression as it appears in the Arabic.

With this as the beginning point, I arrived at six points that I felt was miss- ing in previous translations and which I aimed to attain in the trans- lation of The Sublime Quran. No commentary: Introducing the non- Arabic speaker to the words of the revelation without any commentary is as formal equivalence dictates.

Related to the eter- nality of the Quran, each reader of the translation would then be able to ask: As this is the eternal Word of God, what does it mean to me today? What does it say to me? How can I self-identity with it? How do I feel when I read it? Do I accept the arguments that the Quran presents for the Oneness of God? In writing about the Quran, al-Ghazzali says each person should read or recite it, not as a historical document, because then it loses its eternal quality, but as it relates to the person reading or recit- ing it.

To this end, there are no parenthetical phrases in The Sublime Quran further interpreting and elaborating a verse, thus al- lowing the translation, as the Quran itself is, to be free of any tran- sient political, denominational or doctrinal bias. Words not appearing in the Arabic, but necessary for under- standing in English, have been put in italics, in some cases to em- phasize the intent of the Quran.

When an English speaker reads the translation of the Quran, it is not clear which are the Names, Qualities or Attributes of God that he or she may be reciting. This present translation recognizes them by presenting the definite article The with a capital letter. In this way, one can make the connection between one of the Attributes of God they are reciting and a Quranic verse in which it appears.

None of this denies the reader the opportunity to seek out commentaries that describe the history or language of the Quran, but it gives him or her a chance to see how each and every Word reflects the Divine intention.

Universal: The blessed Prophet did not bring a new religion; he came to confirm what was right in the messages of the previous Prophets. Does this trans- lation speak to the universality of the Quran? The Quran tells the Prophet, the mercy to all of humanity, to speak to people in their own language. Following his example, in ad- dition to the translation being unbounded by time, in several sen- sitive cases, the word chosen to translate an Arabic word is also of a universal or inclusive rather than a particular or exclusive nature.

This opens up the study of who this Prophet actually and adds to the broadening of the perspective and scope of the Quran so that it becomes inclusive rather than exclusive to one particular group of people. In other words, in this way a larger audience can relate to its message. Inclusive language: Examples of this would be the translation of the derivatives of k f r, literally meaning: To hide, to deny the truth or cover over something.

Therefore, its understanding or interpretation must also be eternal and for all time, inclusive of all of humanity rather than exclusive to one group of people. Another example of the use of inclusive language in an at- tempt to speak to people in their own language, is the use of God in- stead of Allah.

Many English speaking Muslims as well as many of the English translations of the Quran to date, use Allah when speak- ing English instead of God. The intention on the part of the speaker is to maintain a sense of piety. They feel that using Allah in English moves them in that direction.

Many even claim that the word Allah cannot be translated. However well intentioned a person may be, the use of the word Allah instead of God when speaking English, first of all, does not follow the Quranic verse that tells the Prophet to speak to people in their own language. Subsequently, it does not follow the Sunnah of the Prophet who did speak to peo- ple in their own language. In addition, it creates a divide between Muslims who use the word and the English speaking people of various faiths to whom they are speaking.

In effect, it creates the illusion that there is more than One God—Allah and God. The response of the English speaking per- son of another faith is to say: I do not under- stand your religion; you have a different God than I do and you call Him Allah.

It needs to be clearly explained to English speaking Muslims that, unlike what they may feel, they do not have a monopoly on the word Allah. In addition, the Prophet did not bring a new religion but confirmed what was correct in the messages of previous Prophets, name- ly, that God is One.

Finally, they need to follow the example of the Prophet, as the Quran says he is the model or example to be followed, by speaking to people in their own language. Thou vs You: In regard to the second person singular thou as opposed to the second person plural you in English, in the Arabic language is very specific.

There are fourteen personal pronouns in Arabic as opposed to six in English. As this is the bi-lingual edition, the exact equivalent of the Arabic pronoun is used. The distinction between using the second per- son singular Thou, Thee, Thy refers to the Oneness of God, the sin- gular God.

This is the only sin that the Quran says is unforgivable. In addition, whenever the Prophets are spoken to directly, the pronoun used is thou or thee. This is also the way that the Quran ad- dresses Mary.

Verse Another distinction between this translation and other present English translations arises from the fact that this is the first critical English trans- lation of the Quran by a woman. The Sublime Quran is the translation of a person who practices spiritual integrity futuwwa or spiritual chivalry as it is sometimes called.

It should also be noted that none of the reasons given as to how this translation differs from all other English translations has anything to do with my being a woman. They are all indications of gender-free intellectual reasoning. To them, I and other Muslim women are eternally grate- ful. They relate to women as the Quran and Hadith intended. Clearly the intention of the Quran is to see man and woman as complements of one another, not as su- perior-inferior.

Consequently, in the following Introduction and translation, I address a main criticism of Islam made in regard to a human rights issue, namely, that a husband can beat his wife after two stages of trying to discipline her.

In addition, when words in a verse refer directly to a woman or women or wife or wives and the correspon- ding pronouns such as they, them, those , I have placed an f after the word to indicate the word refers to the feminine gender specifi- cally. At this point I should say that there will be those who see me as a person having a particular Muslim point of view. Let me assure the reader that I am most certainly a Muslim woman. As an adult, I lived nine years in a Jafari community in Iran and have been living in a Hanafi community in Chicago for the past fifteen years with Maliki and Shafii friends.

While I understand the positions of each group, I do not represent any specific one as I find living in America makes it difficult enough to be a Muslim, much less to choose to follow one sect or another. However in this transla- tion I have not added any indication of differences in recitation be- tween the sects so that it does represent the majority view.

This is the beginning stage of the Sufi path including murruwa or moral reasonableness leading to futuwwa or spiritual chivalry and I cannot even claim that I have moved beyond that. God knows best. I grew up in the United States with a single par- ent, a Christian, American mother.

My father, an Iranian, lived in Iran. I was an adult before I came to know him. He was not religious, but spiritual, devoting his life as a physician to help to heal the suf- fering of people. My mother was not a Catholic, but she sent me to a Catholic school. At the age of eight I wanted to become a Catholic, to which she had no objection. When I was twenty-four, I went to Iran for the first time as an adult, with my former husband and our children.

I began taking classes in Islamic culture and civilization taught by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. One day he asked me what religion I followed, and I said that I had been brought up as a Christian. He said: Well, now that you are in Iran and your father is Muslim, every- one will expect you to be Muslim. He said: Well, learn! And that was the beginning of my jour- ney culminating in this translation.


Currently Reading: The Sublime Quran Translated By Laleh Bakhtiar

At the age of 24, moved to Iran with her Iranian husband, an architect, and their three children, where she began to study Islam under her teacher and mentor, Dr. She divorced her husband in [3] and returned to the U. She is also a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has translated and written a combination of 25 books about Islam, many dealing with Sufism. Her translation of the Qur'an , published in and called The Sublime Quran , is the first translation of the Qur'an into English by an American woman.


Laleh Bakhtiar

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