The Koran Interpreted is a translation of the Qur’an (the Islamic religious text) by Arthur John Arberry. The translation is from the original Arabic into English. Arthur John Arberry, as Head of the Department of Classics at Cairo University, acquired a firsthand knowledge of literary and social conditions in the Islamic. The Koran Interpreted [Arthur J. Arberry] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Koran was revealed from about A>D> to
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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Etext was prepared by volunteers. See source text for details. Arberry, taken from the original etext koran-arberryl0. Arberry Volume 1 Preface for Part One The first rendering of the Koran into a western language was made by the English scholar Robertus Retenensis in the twelfth century, at the instance of Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny; it was completed inand enjoyed a considerable circulation in manuscript.
Exactly four centuries later this mediaeval Latin version was punished at Basle, the editor being Theodor Bibliander Buchmann of Zurich.
It abounds in inaccuracies and misunderstandings, and was inspired by hostile intention; nevertheless it served as the foundation of the earliest translations into modem European idioms. In Andre du Ryer, a gentleman of France trading in the Levant, published a French translation which took matters little aberry.
Two years later an Kiran version of this appeared, with the following curious title-page ‘The Alcoran of Mahomet, Translated out of Arabick into French.
ARBERRY, ARTHUR JOHN – Encyclopaedia Iranica
And Newly Englished, for the satisfaction of all that desire to look into the Turkish Vanities. A quotation or two from the translator’s address to the Christian Reader will help to illustrate the spirit in which this version was offered: It may happily startle thee, to find him so to speak English, as if he had made some Conquest on the Nation; but thou wilt soon reject that fear, if thou consider that this his Alcoran the Ground-work of the Turkish Religionhath been already translated into almost all Languages in Christendom at least, the most general, as the Latin, Italian, French, etc.
Thou shalt find it of so rude, and incongruous a composure, so farced with contradictions, blasphemies, obscene speeches, and ridiculous fables, that some modest, and more rational Mahometans have joh excused it; that their Prophet wrote an hundred and twenty thousand sayings, whereof three thousand only are good, the residue as the impossibility of the Moons falling into his sleeve, the Conversion and Salvation of the Devils, and the like are koram and ridiculous. Yet is the whole esteemed so sacred, that upon the Cover thereof is inscribed – Let none touch it but he who is clean.
Nor are the vulgar permitted to read it, but live and die in an implicite faith of what their Priests deliver.
Therefore Christian Reader though some, conscious of their own instability in Religion, and of theirs too like Turks in this whose prosperity and opinions they follow, were unwilling this johm see the Press, yet am I confident, if thou hast been so true a votary to orthodox Religion, as to keep thy self untainted of their follies, this shall not hurt thee; And as for those of that Batch, having once abandoned the Sun of the Gospel, I believe they will wander as far into utter darkness, by following strange lights, as by this Ignis Fatuus of the Alcoran.
Such as it is, I present it to thee, having taken the pains only to translate it out of French, not doubting, though it hath been a poyson, that hath infected a very great, but most unsound part of the Universe, it may prove an Antidote, to confirm in thee the health of Christianity.
For instance, this is what he made of the passage Sura XII, telling of the temptation of Joseph by Potiphar’s wife: She met her Husband behind the Door, to whom she said, what other thing doth he merit, who would dishonour thine house, than to be imprisoned, and severely chastised? Lord, said Joseph, she sollicited me, that Infant which is in the Cradle, and of thy Parentage shall be witness: Then the Infant in the Cradle said, if Joseph’s Shirt be torn before, she hath spoken truth, and Joseph is a lyar; if the Shirt be rent behind, Joseph hath delivered the truth, and she a lyar: I arthu the Messenger of God thy Lord, who shall give thee a Son, active, and prudent: She answered, How shall I have a Son without the touch of man?
I desire not to be unchaste; he said, The thing shall be as I have told thee, it is facile to thy Lord; thy Son shall be a token of the Omnipotency of God, and of his special grace towards such as shall believe in his Arberryy Majesty; she became with Child, and arbsrry some time into a place remote from People, where she sustained the dolours of Child-birth, at the foot of a Date-tree, and said, Why am I not dead?
Wherefore am I not in the number of persons forgotten? The Angel said to her, Afflict not thy self; God hath placed a brook under thee, shake the foot of this Palm, and the Dates shall fall, gather them up, eat and drink, and wash thine eyes; say unto them that thou shall meet, that thou fastest, and hast made a Vow not to speak to any one, until the fast be accomplished. Her Parents met her while she bare the Infant, and said unto her, Oh Mary! Then her infant spake, and said, I am the Servant of God, he hath taught me the Scripture, hath jlhn me a Prophet, blessed me in all places, and commanded me to pray unto him; he hath recommended to me purity through the whole course of my life, and to honour my Father and Mother; he hath not made me either violent or malicious, praised shall be the day of my birth, the day that I shall die, and the day of my resurrection.
Meanwhile in the Arabic text of the Koran was at last printed and published in full at Hamburg under the careful editorship of Abraham Hinckelmann. This edition was available to the worthy lawyer George Sale, when he set himself the task of replacing Alexander Ross’s translation of Du Ryer; he also had at his disposal a new Latin rendering made by Father Maracci, which appeared at Padua in Though Sale approached his labour better qualified and better supplied than his predecessor, he was not troubled by motives of scholarly impartiality.
He states his position clearly enough in arerry first pages of his justly celebrated version, first published arthkr and reprinted many times since: They must have a mean opinion of the Christian religion, or be but ill grounded therein, who can apprehend any danger from so manifest a forgery. I shall arberyr here inquire into the reasons why the law of Mohammed has met with so unexampled a reception in the world for they are greatly deceived who imagine it to have been propagated by the sword aloneor by what means it came to be embraced by nations which never felt the force of the Mohammedan arms, and even by those which stripped the Arabians of their conquests, and put an end to the sovereignty and very being of their Khalifs: But whatever use an impartial version of the Koran may be of in other respects, it is absolutely necessary to undeceive those who, from wrthur ignorant or unfair translations which have appeared; have entertained too favourable an opinion of the original, and also to enable us effectually to expose the imposture.
The writers of the Romish communion; in particular, are so far from having done any service in their refutations of Mohammedanism, that by endeavouring to defend their idolatry and other superstitions, they have rather contributed to the increase of that aversion which the Mohammedans in general have to the Christian religion, and given them great advantages in the dispute.
The Protestants alone are able to attack the Koran with success; and for them, I trust, Providence has reserved the glory of its overthrow.
The Koran Interpreted: A Translation: A. J. Arberry: : Books
Sale’s translation was not supplanted for some years. Its influence was thus enormous; this was the Koran for all English readers almost to the end of the nineteenth century; many even now living have never looked into any other version. No other rendering was in the hands of Edward Gibbon when he wrote: This argument is most powerfully addressed to a devout Arabian, whose mind is attuned to faith and rapture; whose ear is delighted by the music of sounds; and whose ignorance is incapable of comparing the productions of human genius.
The harmony and copiousness of style will not reach, in a version, the European infidel: The divine attributes exalt the fancy of the Arabian missionary; but his loftiest strains must yield to the sublime simplicity of the book of Job, composed in a remote age, in the same country, and in the same language. If the composition of the Koran exceeds the faculties of a man, to what superior intelligence should we ascribe the Iliad of Homer, or the Philippics of Demosthenes?
Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran. Yet the superiority of Sale to Ross is evident in every line; not only had he a good grasp of the Arabic language, which his forerunner lacked totally, but his English style is more elegant and mature.
The incident of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife is rendered thus by Sale: And she, in whose house artuhr was, desired him to lie with her; and she shut the doors and said, Come hither.
He answered, God forbid! But she resolved within herself to enjoy him, and he would have resolved to enjoy her, had he not seen the arverry demonstration of his Lord. So we turned away evil and filthiness from him, korab he was one of our sincere servants. And they ran to get one before the artyur to the door; arberru she rent his inner garment behind.
And they met her lord at the door. She said, What shall be the reward of him who seeketh to commit evil in thy family, but imprisonment, and a painful punishment? And Joseph said, She asked me to lie with her.
And a witness of her family bore witness; saying, If his garment be rent before, she speaketh truth, and he is a liar; but if his garment be rent behind, she lieth, and he is a speaker of truth.
And when her husband saw that his garment was torn behind, afthur said, This is a cunning contrivance of your sex; for surely your cunning is great. O Joseph, take no farther notice of this affair: This is how Sale translates the story of the Nativity, his carefully italicized ‘supplies’ being intentionally reminiscent of the Authorized Version of the Bible: And remember in the book of the Koran the story of Mary; when she retired from her family to a place towards the east, and took a veil to conceal herself from them; and we sent our spirit Gabriel unto arbergy, and he appeared unto her in the shape of a perfect man.
She said, I fly for refuge unto the merciful God, that he may defend me from thee: He answered, Verily I am the messenger of thy Lord, and am sent to give thee a holy son. She said, How shall I have a son, seeing a man hath not touched me, and I am no harlot?
Gabriel replied, So shall it be: Wherefore she conceived him: She said, Would to God I had died before this, and had become a thing forgotten, and lost in oblivion! And he who was beneath her called to her, saying, Be not grieved: And eat, and drink, and calm thy mind. Moreover if thou see any man, and he question thee, say, Verily, I have vowed a fast unto the Merciful; ,oran I will by no means speak to a man this day. So she brought the child to her people, carrying him in her arms.
And they said unto her, O Mary, now hast thou done a strange kpran O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a bad man, neither was thy mother a harlot.
But she made signs unto the child to answer them; and they said, How shall we speak to him, who is an infant in the cradle? Whereupon the child said, Verily I am the servant of God; he hath given me the book of the gospel, and hath appointed me a prophet.
Arthur John Arberry
And he hath made me blessed, wheresoever I shall be; and hath commanded me to observe prayer, and to give alms, so long as I shall live; and he hath made me dutiful towards my mother, and hath not made me proud, or unhappy. And peace be on me the day whereon I was born, and the day whereon I shall die, and the day whereon I shall be raised to life.
So matters remained for well over a hundred years. But with the nineteenth century came the rise of oriental studies in the scientific meaning of the term; and the interpretation of the Koran inevitably engaged the interest of scholars eager to apply the methods of the higher criticism to this as yet virgin field of research.
Thus it came to pass that in the next translation of the Koran to appear, the work of the Rev J. Rodwell, the order of the Suras — the chapters of which the Koran is composed — was completely changed, with the object of reconstituting the historical sequence of its original composition.
Rodwell gives the following justification of this somewhat arbitrary procedure: Great attention has been paid to this subject by Dr Weil in the work just mentioned; by Mr Muir in his Life of Mahomet, who also publishes a chronological list of Suras, 21 however of which he admits have “not yet been carefully fixed”; and especially by Noeldeke, korna his Geschichte des Qorans, a work to which public honours were awarded in by the Paris Academy of Inscriptions.
From the arrangement of this author I see no reason to depart in regard to the later Suras. It is based upon a searching criticism and minute analysis of the component verses of each, and may be safely taken as a standard, which ought not to be departed from without weighty reasons. The result is that in order to find a particular Sura in Rodwell’s version, first published in and taken up by Everyman’s Library init is necessary first to consult a comparative table of contents, a laborious and irritating preliminary.
Since this translation has enjoyed a very wide circulation indeed, and has been regarded by many as the standard English version, it is interesting to consider the spirit that animated its author. It is a far cry indeed arhtur the intolerant hostility of the seventeenth century, the urbane superiority of the eighteenth. Certainly Rodwell does not doubt that the Koran was the product of Muhammad’s own imagination; but his estimate of Muhammad’s character is johhn lacking in charity and even admiration: For if he was indeed the illiterate person the Muslims represent him to have been, then it will be hard to escape their inference that the Koran is, as they assert it to be, a standing miracle.
But if; on the other hand, it klran a Book carefully concocted from various sources, and with much extraneous aid, and published as a divine oracle, then it would seem that the author is at once open to the charge of the grossest imposture, and even of impious blasphemy. The evidence rather shews, that in all he did and wrote, Muhammed was actuated by a sincere desire to deliver his countrymen from the grossness of its debasing idolatries — that he was urged on by an intense desire to proclaim that great truth of the Unity of the Godhead which had taken full possession of his own soul — that the end to be attained justified to his mind the means he adopted in the production of his Suras — that he worked himself up into a belief that he had arberdy a divine call — and that he was carried on by the force of circumstances, and by gradually increasing successes, to believe himself the accredited messenger of Heaven.
The earnestness of those convictions which at Mecca sustained him under persecution, and which koan led him, at any price as it were, and by any means, not even excluding deceit and’ falsehood, to endeavour to rescue his countrymen from idolatry, — naturally stiffened at Medina into tyranny and unscrupulous violence. At the same time, he was probably, more or less, throughout his whole career, the victim of a certain amount of self-deception.
A cataleptic subject from his early youth, born — according to the traditions — of a highly nervous and excitable mother, he would be peculiarly liable to morbid and fantastic hallucinations, and alternations of excitement and depression, which would win for him, in the eyes of his ignorant countrymen, the credit of being inspired.
Still, Muhammad’s career is a wonderful instance of the force and life that resides in him who possesses an intense Faith in God and in the unseen world; and whatever deductions may be made — and they are many and serious — from the noble and truthful in his character, he will always be regarded as one of those who have zrthur that influence over the faith, morals, and whole earthly life of their fellow-men, which none but a really great man ever did, or can, exercise; and as one of those, whose efforts to propagate some great verity will prosper, in spite of manifold personal errors and defects, both of principle and character.
Arberrh more insight we obtain, from undoubted historical sources, into the actual character of Muhammad, the less reason do we find to justify the strong vituperative language poured out upon his head by ‘Maracci, Prideaux, and others, in recent days, one of whom has found, in the Byzantine “Maometis”, the number of the Beast!
It is nearer to the truth to say that he was a great though imperfect character, an earnest though mistaken teacher, and that many of his mistakes and imperfections were the result of circumstances, of temperament, and constitution; and that there must be elements both of truth and goodness in the system of which he was the main author, to account for the world-wide phenomenon, that whatever may be the intellectual inferiority if such is, indeed, the fact of the Muslim races, the influence of his teaching, aided, it is true, by the vast impulse given to it by the victorious arms of his followers, has now lasted for nearly thirteen centuries, and embraces more than one hundred millions of our race — more than one-tenth part of the inhabitants of the globe.
In the interval the further spread of Islam has been so considerable, and the growth in the world’s population has been so rapid, artgur the figures generally accepted nowadays are between three and four times those he estimated, and the proportion of Muslims is thought to have reached one- seventh; though such statistics are surely unreal, seeing that they embrace men, women and children and assume a hundred per cent allegiance to Islam in the communities claimed for that faith.
He criticized Sale for having followed Maracci too closely, ‘especially by introducing his paraphrastic comments into the body of the text’; he followed the mohn fashion of his mid- Victorian times by deploring ‘his constant use of Latinized instead of Saxon words’.