Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Qur’an Surah 41: [Verses] Made Clear

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Qur'an: a Book Report, in which I read each surah of the Qur'an and write about what I learn.

This surah describes the Qur’an as a text given to Arab people, in Arabic, so that its message is clear.  It begins: “A revelation from the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, a Scripture whose verses are made clear as a Qur’an in Arabic for people who understand, giving good news and warning,” and a bit later, “If we had made it a foreign Qur’an, they would have said, ‘If only its verses were made clear!  What!  Foreign speech to an Arab?”  What these verses hi-light is the belief that God sends messengers to different people who speak in words they understand.  References are made to previous prophets like Moses and Thamud, who gave messages from God to their different communities.  

This raises the issue of translation.  If the original Qur’an was given in Arabic, should the text be translated?  Different opinions exist on this question.  What is generally agreed upon by Muslims is that the original Arabic text is the purest form of God’s word.  If translations are made, they are of a lower standing than the original text.  Thus, my English translation pales in comparison to the power and poetry of the original Arabic text.  I suppose the same could be said for the BIble, which was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.  Most modern Christians do not read these languages, so we must content ourselves with a translation.  Inevitably, as with any translation, we lose a good deal of meaning in this process.  I suppose the lesson is this: If you want to really understand the meaning of a text, you must first learn the language in which it was written.

Arabic is a beautiful language.

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