compared translations of the Qur’an, I came to remember the old
American poet with his “Let your eyes not the skies to scan, the proper
study of man is man.” It became: “Let your eyes not other books
to scan. The proper reading of the Qur’an is in the
Qur’an.” To be sure, not all of the translators of the Qur’an and
its exegetes were ill-intentioned or negatively prejudiced.
Some had all the good intentions in the world and some were, as in the
case of the Indians and Pakistanis, positively prejudiced towards it.
But they all seemed, in one way or another, reductionists. The
Qur’anic word was stripped of its light, colors and music and was
reduced to a linear meaning in another language. The word of God
lost its many dimensions and became linear flat like the word of
man. One would therefore read some nonsense like the following in
Arberry’s translation :
“As for those who disbelieve in God’s signs, for them awaits a terrible chastisement: God is All-Mighty, Vengeful”!
|Many have described my
rendition as being “inspired” and that “it sparkles with
insight”. They said that it had “preserved the beauty of the
original Arabic and its music.” If so, I must admit that I have
had no will in it of my own. It came from God according to His
Will. From that remarkable day of 21 March 1978, when I was
awakened to do it, I have grown in consciousness and humility to
believe in the Qur’an whole, it being from God who is the Consciousness
of the Universe. I have since reflected on all the questions that
I had and found their convincing answers in the Qur’an.
Scientific Islam became for me more scientific and encompassing than
the so-called scientific Marxism, Freudian psychology or Darwinian evolutionism.
As you read this rendition of the Qur’an, my only prayer is that it provides you with a sparkle that inflames your love for Him. My prayer is that you find your own key that unlocks the jewels of compassion and understanding of this universe. I pray that this work maybe the beginning of a new renaissance in interpreting the Qur’an and translating it into our daily lives. The only reward I seek is forgiveness from God and His gardens of bliss, after serving my time on this earth.
As I was contemplating the first Ayah of the Qur’an, God came through as the Limitless Consciousness of the limitless Universe. I could not in any way conceive of God as being separate from the Universe or the Universe as being dead without consciousness. For death, as we know it, is not absolute, but is a created experience in relativity:
“We have instituted death amongst You where none had done it before. It was to replace your kind and Recreate you in other forms which ye do not know.”
By the use of the “Most”, God the Absolute is reduced to relativity. It is as if there were many gods, and this one is the most merciful among them. And by the use of the word “All”, God is rendered absolute only without His exercise of creation. The rendition is deprived of that delicate balance between the absolute and the relative, the visible and the invisible and their indivisibility in Him. Though my rendition is far from perfect, it may be said that it is the most painstaking human attempt yet to come close to conveying the spirit of the Qur’an in English.
|Ibrahim AbuNab (1931-1991)|
Public Education Project.
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