Friday, September 21, 2007

Reading Islam's holy book

by Eric Walberg from Al-Ahram Weekly

In 1989, Saudi Arabia's Ar-Rajhi banking company financed the US-based Amana Corporation's project to revise the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation to reflect an interpretation more in line with Wahhabi thought. Ar-Rahji offered the resulting version free to mosques, schools, and libraries throughout the world. The footnoted commentary about Jews raised hackles in Zionist circles, and in April 2002 the Los Angeles school district banned its use at local schools; however, Yusuf Ali's translation has not suffered and is still #8321 at Amazon. In Pakistan, India and Indonesia, where copyright laws are ignored and cheap editions are snapped up by the huge English-reading Muslim population...

...Muhammad Taqiyuddin Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan published their Explanatory English Translation of the Holy Quran in Chicago in 1977. Now the most widely disseminated Quran in Islamic bookstores and Sunni mosques throughout the English-speaking world, again with Saudi backing (approved by both the University of Medina and the Saudi Dar al-Ifta), this new translation is meant to replace the Abdullah Yusuf Ali edition. In the Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2005), Mohammed Khaleel dismisses the commentaries of Ibn Kathir and Al-Bukhari as being "medievalists who knew nothing of modern concepts of pluralism", and also blasts Hilali's translation as "a supremacist Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian polemic."

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