Translation of the Qur'an means translation of its meanings

Q: I read an article in Al-‘Araby magazine - issue no. 237, published in Sha‘ban 1398 A.H. The article was about one of the Qur’anic studies which offered a new presentation of opposing views. This article was written by Prof. Muhammad Ahmad Khalaf Allah. (Part No. 4; Page No. 166) I hope that you read the above-mentioned article, especially the one about the translation of the Qur’an, by which he intended literal translation, according to what he said. What is your opinion about the reasons he provided in his article as a justification for translating the Qur’an?Please enlighten us, may Allah reward you well and make you from among those who defend His Law and the Sunnah of His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).


A: It is evident from the article written by the Professor concerned that he means translation of the meanings of the Qur’an into many other languages. Translating the meanings of the Qur’an is permissible if the person translating has a sound understanding of the meanings of the Qur’an and good knowledge of the language into which he is translating in order to render the exact meanings into the target language. Doing so is one of the duties of conveying the Message of Islam to those who do not know the Arabic language.The Shaykh of Islam Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Talking to people in their languages is not Makruh (disliked), if there is a need for it, and the meanings are correct, such as talking to non-Arabs like Romans, Persians and Turks in their languages and according to their customs. This is permissible and good if there is a need for it. Imams disliked doing so if there is no need for it. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to the mother of Khalid ibn Sa‘id ibn Al-‘As when she was a little girl born in Abyssinia (Ethiopia): O Um Khalid, this is Sana. The word 'Sana' is an Abyssinian word which means good. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said this to her because the Abyssinian language was her mother tongue. Her father was among those who immigrated to that land. Therefore, we have to translate the meanings of the Qur’an and the Hadith to those who are in need of understanding them through translation. Muslims are also permitted to read what they need from the books of other nations and learn their language to translate into Arabic. (Part No. 4; Page No. 167) The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Zayd ibn Thabit to learn the language of the Jews in order to read and write for him what he wanted, for he did not trust the Jews to do this." But the transliteration of the Qur’an is not permissible.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

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