A Wonderful Translation of The Holy Qur'an
The Qur’an with an English Paraphrase,
Translator. Sayyid Ali Quli Qarai
The Centre for Translation of the Holy Qur’an is pleased to announce the publication of its much-awaited English translation (released Ramazan 1424/ Nov. 2003).
Although much experience has accumulated in the field of Qur’an translation into English, and several noteworthy works have been produced, the need had been generally felt for a translation possessing a higher degree of soundness and free from the inadequacies of existing translations.
With the aim of answering this need, the Centre for Translation of the Holy Qur’an began work on a new English translation seven years ago. This translation, published by the Centre in collaboration with the Islamic College for Advanced Studies, London, is a product of more than five years of full-time effort by the translator.
Highlights of the New Translation
1. The phrase-by-phrase approach—a unique feature of this translation—is intended to bring some of the advantage of the interlinear translations to English-speaking readers of the Holy Qur’an. “Mirror-paraphrasing” is a new approach to translation of sacred Islamic texts. In this approach, the translation— which appears opposite the corresponding phrase in Arabic—develops phrase by phrase, and mirrors the semantic import of the phrase in the source text.
This approach is meant to enable readers possessing an elementary knowledge of Arabic to follow the meaning of the Arabic text of the Qur’an.
2. The translation has been carried out according to the most probable among the interpretations mentioned by the commentators. Alternate interpretations have been occasionally mentioned in the footnotes. Extensive reference was made to various classical commentaries of the Qur’an, such those of Tabari, Razi, Zamakhshari, and Suyuti among Sunni works, and Tabataba’i’s al-Mizan, Tabrisi’s Majma‘ al-Bayan, and Bahrani’s Tafsir al-Burhan among Shi‘i works. Exegetical traditions of the Imams of the Prophet’s family have been given special attention due to their unparalleled importance for Qur’anic hermeneutics.
3. Contemporary theories of translation as well as critical reviews and writings pertaining to Qur’an translations have been kept in view by the translator.
4. An effort has been made to keep the translation free from sectarian bias, so that it may be used profitably by readers of all Islamic sects.
5. Despite the constraints imposed by phrase-for-phrase translation, the criteria of clarity, intelligibility and naturalness of the translated text have been given a high priority.
6. Brief explanations, cross references, alternate readings, and instances of ellipses have been given in footnotes. Although the translation is based on Hafs’ version of the reading of ‘Asim, some alternate readings, where they appeared to be significant, have been noted in footnotes.
7. An extensive index of subjects, names and terms has been provided.
8. A key to signs of waqf and other signs used in the Arabic text is placed at the end of the book.
Sayyid Ali Quli Qarai (b. 1947) studied at the Osmania University,Hyderabad City,India and the University of Wisconsin,U.S.A.
For fourteen years (1982-96) he has edited Al-Tawhid, a quarterly journal of Islamic thought established in 1982.
His translations include
‘Allamah Tabatabai’s Bidayat al-Hikmah (The Elements of Islamic Metaphysics),
Ayatullah Khomeini’s Sharh-e Chihil Hadith (An exposition of forty traditions on topics related to ethics, philosophy and mysticism),
‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husain Tehrani’s Lubb al-Lubab and Ruh-e Mujarrad,
The Risaleh-ye Sayr-o Suluk attributed to Bahr al-‘Ulum and Nasir al-Din Tusi’s Awsaf al-Ashraf.
He is working on a translation of the Mafatih al-Jinan, a manual of Islamic piety based on the Imamiyyah tradition. He is presently associated with the Centre for Translation of the Holy Qur’an as a translation consultant.
This is a wonderful translation. It is both faithful and fluent. [The translator has] struck a nice balance here. It is a real improvement over existing translations.
—Dr Muhammad Legenhausen
What Ali Quli Qarai has accomplished in his deliberately entitled The Qur’an with an English Paraphrase is a revival of the art of translation as an adjunct to the understanding of the original, skillfully adapted to the needs of the English-speaking (or English-reading) student of the Qur’an. The translation is coordinated with the original, in terms both of arrangement and of idiom. He has opted always for the maximum degree of closeness to the Arabic compatible with comprehensibility, thereby coordinating translation with original in the most substantial of ways.
Although Qarai envisions his translation as a paraphrase of the Qur’anic meanings, as a tool for gaining access to the original, it must be stressed that his translation reads extremely well even if regular cross-reference to the Arabic not be the purpose of the reader. As a result, any student of the Qur’an may consult his rendering with pleasure and profit, even if he does not intend to use it as a bridge to the sublime Arabic original.
The language Qarai has chosen is clear, chaste, straightforward and dignified, distant from both the archaisms and the modernisms that have been affected by other English translators of the Qur’an.
It is…incumbent on the translator always to subordinate interpretation to the primary task of translation; not to impose on the text any personal views he might hold; and, insofar as he draws on sources for interpretation beyond the text itself, to choose those that are most authoritative and to identify them. Qarai has been successful in all three respects.
Qarai precedes his paraphrase of the Qur’anic meanings with a preface in which he describes not only the method of translation he has used but also—more importantly—that universal and existential motive which ought to impel man to the study of the Qur’an: the primordial need to learn of one’s origin, nature, purpose of being and destination. It is plain, indeed, that a serious and profound appreciation of the Qur’anic message has animated the whole of Qarai’s successful labours. We warmly recommend his translation to all with a serious interest in the Qur’an.
Prof. Hamid Algar
To obtain the copy of this translation in Iran please write to its publisher:
The Centre for Translation of the Holy Qur'an
No. 12, Kuche 39,
P. O. Box No. 37185-3984
Tel: (+98-251) 7737368-7733389-7741411
Fax: (+98-251) 7737094
To obtain the copy of this translation in the Rest of the World please write to:
Islamic College for Advanced Studies,London
High Road, NW10 2SW
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