Not Lost In Translation

Sakina Yusuf Khan | The Speaking Tree | May 16, 2010

There are about 50 English translations of the Quran, but most readers complain that they fail to understand its message. Incidentally, the first translation of the Quran in Latin was compiled in 1153 AD.

If Pickthall’s translation can be called the most lyrical and Yusuf Ali’s the most accurate, this one by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is the most readable. The Maulana, who has spent his life studying the Quran in its original language, has done away with ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ so what you have is a free flowing prose in modern English, easy to follow.

Sample this: “O Prophet! When any of you divorce your wives…. Do not drive them out of their homes…. Unless they become openly guilty of immoral conduct. These are the bounds set by God. He who transgresses God’s bounds wrongs his own soul.” The Quran’s message on divorce could not be clearer than this.

Khan’s work is more of a transliteration than a literal translation which makes it extremely readable. Explaining the purpose of this compilation Khan’s writes, “The Quran is the word of God and it is the duty of believers to communicate the message of the Quran to all human beings so that they may the know reality of life.”

Simple and direct, the book reaches out to a large audience, Muslims as well as non Muslim. Its USP is its small size and light weight. Unlike bulky translations difficult to reach out for, this is one you can carry with you even while traveling. Another feature is a chronological table detailing all the important events in the Prophet’s life.