On Early Translations of Qur’an into English

Regarding the discovery of an 18th century English translation of the Qur’an by a Massachusetts church, The Islamic Society of North America has distributed the following e-mail advisory:

“Now and then we get news about ancient copies of the ‘Quran’ being discovered. We proudly announced that first Muslim congressman had used one from Jefferson’s collection. However, most of the ancient copies are really George Sale translation which most of us knows is a terrible product. I would suggest that we add this information when we report such discoveries.”

My response is that while I agree that Sale’s translation is unacceptably poor, we should also point out hat it was the only scholarly translation available at the time and that no Muslim translated the complete text into English until Mirza Abul Fazl‘s chronological arrangement in 1910. Not until Muhammad Ali’s 1917 translation was there a Muslim translation into English in canonical order.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute






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