Interpreting the Meanings of the Holy Qur’aan

It is Islamically unlawful to translate the ayahs of the Qur’an word for word into other languages. Allah said: {وَكَذَلِكَأَنْزَلْنَاهُقُرْءَانًاعَرَبِيًّا} (Surah Taha, 113). This ayah means: [We have revealed the Qur’an in the Arabic language.] In another ayah, Allah informed us that the Qur’an was revealed in an explicit Arabic mother tongue. This meaning is explicit in the saying of Allah: {بِلِسَانٍعَرَبِيٍّمُبِينٍ} (Surah ash-Shu^ara’, 195). Moreover, the richness contained in the vocabulary of the Arabic language is non-existent in other languages. For instance, the Arabic word qura’ may refer to the menstrual period and/or to the cleanliness period of the woman.

Allah revealed many Holy Books to His Prophets. Shaykh Shamsud-Din ar-Ramliyy mentioned in his book, Nihayat Al-Muhtaj Fi Sharhil-Minhaj, that these Books numbered one hundred and four (104). Fifty (50) of these were revealed to Prophet Shith (Seth), thirty (30) to Prophet Idris (Enoch), ten (10) to Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), and ten (10), other than the Torah, to Prophet Musa (Moses). The last four (4) revealed Holy Books were:

  1. The Torah, revealed in the Hebrew language to Prophet Musa (Moses)
  2. The Zabur, revealed in the Hebrew language to Prophet Dawud (David)
  3. The Injil, revealed in the Syriac language to Prophet ^Isa (Jesus)
  4. The Qur’an, revealed in the Arabic language to Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam.

Of these books, the Qur’an is the only Holy Book which remains intact and unchanged to this day. It is the lasting miracle revealed to Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, which Allah protected from being perverted.

The complaints of non-Arabic speaking Muslims at large emanate mainly from the absence of reliable interpretations of the Qur’an in their own respective mother tongues. Sadly, most of the available translations are unsatisfactory and dangerous, because the methodologies used in producing these translations deviate from what is permissible under the rules of the Religion.

Because the Qur’an was specifically revealed in the Arabic language does not mean it is meant only for Arabic speaking people to read and understand. On the contrary, Islam, the Religion of all the Prophets, is pronounced the only true religion for all people1; therefore its terms and teachings must also be attainable by non-Arabic speaking people. The religious prohibition is in translating the verses of the Qur’an word for word and claiming these are the expressions revealed by Allah to Prophet Muhammad , sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. What is permissible, however, is to explain the meanings of the verses of the Qur’an in other languages.

Interpreting the meanings of the Qur’an require qualified scholars who have the necessary scholastic tools. Many renowned scholars of interpretation have authored precious books. Ibn Hayyan Al-Andalusiyy, for example, authored Al-Bahr Al-Muhit, a text that Muslim scholars hold as highly reputable and credible. Translating similar works constitutes a proper methodology of spreading the meanings of the Glorious Qur’an into other languages.

1 Islam is the religion of all the Prophets from Adam to Muhammad. The most honored prophets are Muhammad, Ibrahim, Musa, ^Isa and Nuh.

Back to top button