The Majestic Quran, Making Quran accessible

The Majestic Quran is an updated Quran translation, with the aim of  making Quran easier to access for the English speaking world, update the Shakespearian language used in previous translations, and encouraging more to engage and interact with the Quran.

Dr Dr Musharraf Hussain of the Karimia Institute was interviewed about his new translation of the Quran. Below he discusses the process of putting together a new translation of the Quran and the main themes of the Majestic Quran.

Question: What is the importance of Quran?

The glorious Quran is the book that contains the Divine Will, the mind of God, it describes the state of man. It presents the loss of the sinners, and the success of the believers. It is a light that directs people on to the straight path, a food to nourish the spiritual hunger, and a comfort for the weary heart, a clear road map for the sincere seeker of paradise. A mine of divine wisdom, and a sea full of pearls that teaches a belief system that is natural and rational. Its rulings are binding, the stories true, and wise in judgement. The beloved messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) is its central subject.

Question: You have taken on a difficult task; do you think the Quran is difficult to understand?

The fact is that the Quran is a very accessible book, easy to understand, it’s thought is complete and understandable. I didn’t have much difficulty in capturing the meaning of the Arabic and put it into plain English. However, this does not mean that I have fully captured the meanings of the Divine words that is an impossible task. However, I believe what the Quran says “We have made the Quran easy for understanding and learning.”

The Quran uses vivid language that occasionally shocks us, at other times it fills us with the horror of the scenes of hell and its punishments. This may make us unhappy and fearful. People who love the world will be upset by intrusion of the reality that the Quran presents. At other times it delights us by describing the luxuries of paradise; the believers in the cool shades of gardens, relaxing on comfortable couches, enjoying each other’s company, radiant with beauty and charm.

Question: Is your translation ‘word for word’ or a ‘thought for thought’ translation?

Before I answer this question, let me take you through the process of translation. I have been translating books from Arabic and Urdu into English for the past 40 years. Quran translation has been very challenging and perhaps the most fruitful of all the works that I have ever done. I am very grateful to Allah for that. Every time I revised or corrected my translation I felt like crafting and reshaping a great guidebook. My translation has undergone several revisions, so it has been thoroughly examined with my review and revision committee for faithfulness to the Quranic text. We wanted to make sure that the language was accurate and the message clear, fit for reading, teaching, and preaching.

To answer your question, is my translation ‘word-for-word’ or ‘thought for thought’ translation? Let me explain, I focused on each word of the glorious Quran, made sense of the Arabic words, paying attention to their meanings, then combined them together to form a thought that made a sentence. This way I have preserved the integrity of the Divine text. My aim has been to be faithful to the Quranic text.

Extra words have been inserted in some places to achieve clarity, where it was necessary to improve both sentence structure and meaning as required in some places by the context. I decided to use italics for these extra words rather than conventional brackets. Arabic idioms were replaced with English idioms as far as possible for clarity.

We checked the readability of the translation with several groups of people; professionals, University and College students and School pupils. Their comments and feedback helped to improve the language of the translation.

Question: What are the special features of your translation?

My aim in translating the Quran into plain English has been to produce a translation that is:

  1. Clear, therefore easy to understand.
  2. A joy to read so that the reader says “I get most of it, if not all of it!”
  3. Bring the word of Allah alive and make it relevant in everyday language.
  4. A reader friendly Quran that reaches into the readers’ minds and hearts.
  5. Useful for the sincere seekers so that they can find the life enhancing truths in its pages.
  6. The section headings break up the message into bite size chunks, making it easy to understand. The headings are a guide for the reader, to clarify the text, and make links between different parts of a Surah. These are at times simple description of what is coming next, and at other times are more thought provoking and questioning.

Our aim was to produce a translation that is reader friendly, free-flowing, eloquent and accurate. I hope this will give the readers an opportunity to benefit from the inspiration of this vast and boundless treasure house of wisdom. We want Quran readers to understand its meanings as the blessed Messenger (peace be upon him) and his companions understood it and felt it. In some ways it is a creative interpretation of the Quran, and that is what will give readers direct access to the Divine words.

 Question: Since you have spent so much time studying and teaching the Quran, What are the key concepts of the glorious Quran?

I believe there are six key concepts of the glorious Quran:

  1. Allah is the supreme Lord and Creator of the universe.
  2. The beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) is the perfect role model for humanity.
  3. The life of the hereafter is the final destination of humanity.
  4. Clarification of moral values; the science of human relationships.
  5. Connecting humanity with Allah through spiritual ideals.
  6. Human beings are blessed with huge potential to be Allah’s representatives.

Question: How does the Quran motivate and appeal to the human heart and mind?

As a book of guidance it motivates people to serve Allah, stand up for justice and fight cruelty. It inspires the readers to raise their voices against falsehood and to struggle against injustice. Furthermore it teaches how to overcome the ego, the self-centredness that leads us into temptations. It instils the love of Allah, his beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) and of the righteous people.

Question: You have translated the Basmala as “In the name of Allah the most kind, the most caring” this is different from other translations, why?

Most translators have used mercy for Rahman and Rahim, but I have used “the most kind, the most caring.” Mercy has the idea of being forgiven whilst the Arabic verb ‘Rahm’ from which these two words are derived has the meaning of kindness, feeling other people’s sufferings as one’s own experience, a feeling of closeness and connection with the other person. Kindness brings people together and its absence splits them apart. The warm kindness of a mother can be seen when she sacrifices her personal needs and interests for her child. Kindness is often expressed in the form of friendliness, generosity, and gentleness. For Rahim, I used most caring, this is more accurate since care means; to pay serious attention to someone or to something, regard for and interest in someone, to provide for and to look after them. Therefore it is a special type of kindness. It is this special care and kindness that Allah has for the believers.

Here are some samples of the Quran:

The Majestic Quran can be bought at: https://majesticquran.co.uk/order/

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