Translation of Quran in English by Mohammed Marmaduke William Pickthall
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The translation of the Qurʻan into modern languages has always been a difficult issue in Islamic theology. Because Muslims revere the Qurʻan as miraculous and inimitable (iʻjaz al-Qurʻan), they argue that the Qurʻanic text should not be isolated from its true form to another language or written form, at least not without keeping the Arabic text with it. Furthermore, an Arabic word, like a Hebrew or Aramaic word, may have a range of meanings depending on the context – a feature present in all Semitic languages, when compared to English, Latin, and Romance languages – making an accurate translation even more difficult
According to Islamic theology, the Qurʻan is a revelation very specifically in Arabic, and so it should only be recited in Quranic Arabic. Translations into other languages are necessarily the work of humans and so, according to Muslims, no longer possess the uniquely sacred character of the Arabic original. .
The task of translation of the Qurʻan is not an easy one; some native Arab speakers will confirm that some Qurʻanic passages are difficult to understand even in the original Arabic script. A part of this is the innate difficulty of any translation; in Arabic, as in other languages, a single word can have a variety of meanings. There is always an element of human judgement involved in understanding and translating a text. This factor is made more complex by the fact that the usage of words has changed a great deal between classical and modern Arabic. As a result, even Qurʻanic verses which seem perfectly clear to native Arab speakers accustomed to modern vocabulary and usage may not represent the original meaning of the verse.
The original meaning of a Qurʻanic passage will also be dependent on the historical circumstances of the prophet Muhammad's life and early community in which it originated. Investigating that context usually requires a detailed knowledge of hadith and sirah, which are themselves vast and complex texts. This introduces an additional element of uncertainty which cannot be eliminated by any linguistic rules of translation.