When reading translations, we have to be circumspect about the translations themselves.
All traditional translations use hadiths, seerah, asbabul nuzul (circumstances of revelation), and refer to existing interpretations (for example by ibn Kathir). So even if you think you are following the Qur’an only, that Qur’an you’re reading may have already been influenced by hadith etc.
For example, the image below is the Introduction in the famous Sahih International translation – which states that the primary objective of the translation is to present the meaning in accordance with the aqeedah of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (Sunni Islam)!!!
This seems to say that if there were two options in presenting the translation of a particular passage, the Qur’anic context would be secondary to the beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah. Makes me wonder if Shiites also read this translation.
In summary, instead of taking the embedded context and words defined by the Qur’an itself, these translations and interpretations impose external context and meanings onto the translation.
As a result, the translation of verse 17:1, for example, is built around the context of the hadith about Isra’ Miraj – making the verse about Prophet Muhammad instead of the actual Quranic context of verses 17:1-8, which is about Prophet Moses. This is explored in greater detail in our article about Al-Isra.
What can we do?
To avoid this we must seek translations and expositions that are quran-bil-quran; because the Qur’an is perfected, sufficiently detailed, and explains itself from many angles.
That having said, some “traditional” translations prove useful, if only to communicate with those not on the same path and find quran-bil-quran translations alien to them.
The following resources are listed in no particular order.
Malaysians may need to change their DNS servers and use Google Public DNS to access some of the links on this page (for example, e-bacaan). Here’s how.
Translations & Interpretations
- Dr Shabbir Ahmed – The Qur’an as it Explains Itself
- Paigham Mustafa – The Qur’an a New Millennium Exposition
- The Monotheist Group – The Great Qur’an
- Edip Yuksel – A Reformist Translation
- Worldwide Qur’an Thinkers – Translation (work in progress)
- Aurangzaib Yousofzai – Qur’an’s True Light (work in progress)
- Shuaib Abdullahi – The Great Koran
- Dr Kashif Khan – The Quran Guide
- Safi Kaskas – The Qur’an: A Contemporary Understanding
- Wahiduddin Khan – The Translation of the Qur’an
- Comparisons at IslamAwakened contain traditional, modern, and quran-bil-quran translations
- Othman Ali – E-Bacaan (Malay Quranist translation, DNS change required for Malaysians)
Lexicons & Dictionaries
- Quran Study (short daily reminders and longer expositions)
- Quran Centric (definitions of words and concepts from Qur’an only)
- Quranic Islam (many videos of Shaykh Hassan Farhan al-Maliki)
- Refer to Quran
- Shuaib Abdullahi “The Correctional Officer“
Pages, Blogs & Articles
- International Quranic Center
- Oxford Institute for British Islam
- Farooque Shaikh – Ahle Aqal
- Siraj Islam – Lamp of Islam
- Adam Sayid – Quranology
- James Ada – Organised Quran
- Joseph Islam – The Qur’an and its Message
- The Fatal Feminist
- Tolue Islam Trust (Repository of Ghulam Ahmed Parvez’s work)
- Articles from the original Signs Magazine