It was a summer day in Toronto and I had just finished leading the Friday congregation at a downtown mosque. On the way home I had an unlikely encounter, since all my cab drivers in Toronto had been Muslims so far. That day my driver was non-Muslim, so he was able to identify me as Muslim simply because of my traditional Arab garb. Out of nowhere, he commented, “I think Muslims are good, but Islâm is evil!” Taken aback by this Fox News style rhetoric, I responded, “Well, first of all thanks for the compliment about Muslims, but why do you think Islâm is bad?” He replied, “Because your holy book calls me an animal.” In astonishment, I answered, “I know the whole Qurân by heart and I don’t think it says that anywhere!” He cited 8:55, and I responded by telling him that the word dâbbah in Arabic does not mean an animal but a living being. He persisted, saying that his translation says so. I later checked many popular translations by Muslims and non-Muslims and realized that the man was right. This fateful encounter opened my eyes to the rampant mistranslations and misrepresentations of the Qurân.
The Qurân was revealed to Prophet Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in the 7th century and was not translated into English by a Muslim until the 20th century. Many Muslims had long believed that the Qurân should only be read in Arabic, the original language of revelation. This led to many inaccurate, ill willed translations by missionaries and orientalists—which explains why we still see some words like ‘holy war’ and ‘infidels’ as well as many theological inaccuracies in some existing translations. All this leads to endless false assumptions about Islâm and Muslims. Some Muslim translators are no better off than their non-Muslim counterparts because they are not well-versed in Arabic, or English, or Islamic studies, or translation, or all of the above. Looking up words in an Arabic-English dictionary or copying earlier translations when frustrated does not always guarantee accuracy in translation. There are some noteworthy modern translations like that of Dr. Ahmad Zaki Hammad (2007) and Dr. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem (2004), but many are either over translated, making it difficult for laypeople to understand, or under translated, doing a great disservice to the Qurân. This is why I saw a need for an accurate, smooth, and clear translation.
To achieve accuracy, I have made use of the greatest and most celebrated works of old and modern tafsîr (Qurân commentaries), and shared the work with several Imams in North America for feedback and insight. For clarity, every effort has been made to select easy to understand words and phrases that reflect the beauty and power of the original text. Along with informative footnotes, verses have been grouped and titled based on their themes for a better understanding of the chapters, their main concepts, and internal coherence.
Thanks to our editing and proofreading teams, I believe that what you are holding in your hands now is the most accurate and eloquent translation of the Final Revelation:
The Clear Qurân.