The clarion call of our most sacred holy books share one common cause; the tantamount task of reconciling the world to God, and men and women to each other. These scriptures serve to remind of us of man’s fallen nature throughout history, and our unquenchable necessity of a merciful and gracious God. Unfortunate to humankind, both past and present, is the obfuscation of the poetic power and reconciling work of the Qur’an. Current geopolitical events and radical extremists mar the Qur’an, giving rise to further misunderstandings and bloodshed. The path of peace, portrayed by the Prophet; further lost in translation.
It gives me pleasure, as I continue working in the struggle for peace, to write the forward to this new and vastly improved English translation of the Qur’an. I believe that as the world cries out for peace; we who promote faith, are obligated to provide the most accurate and understandable text possible. The time has come for Christians to read the Qur’an. And equally, the time has come for Muslims to understand their holy book through the lens of peace and it’s power for good in this tragic violent world.
The first English translation of the Qur’an emerged in the 17th century, and present translation number in the dozens. “So,” you may ask, “Why the need for another translation?” English like all translations, is a living language, changing and evolving. English translations of the Qur’an are stiff, archaic and fail to communicate common current verbiage. Interpretations complicate simple renderings and mystify meanings of the original text. And some translations emerged for specific purposes, not altogether “pure and holy”, but with intentional bias for political or religious influence.
The Qur’an was one of the first major books compiled using 7th century classical Arabic. Its unique poetic style is highly praised and admired and the focal point of essays and elaborate study. Most of the estimated 1.5 billion Muslims live outside the Arabic-speaking Middle East and at least 90 percent cannot read and/or understand this ancient Semitic writing. The original text might be likened to Shakespeare’s old English, recognizable, yet barely understood in the 21st century. In contrast, 700 million Muslims have a working knowledge of English, with estimates of 2 billion English speakers worldwide. The significance of this translation is intentional: provide a 21st century Qur’an for a predominately English-speaking world.
In addition, meanings of ancient words and idioms are often lost or change over me. The Western linguistic mindset limits the meanings of words, while Semitic words relish their diverse and variable meanings. For example, salaam, commonly known as “peace.” also means “to turn, submit, surrender, complete, and security.” This challenge demands scrupulous translation techniques and scholarly review.
This translation is the culmination of years of laborious effort on the part of two accomplished professionals: Dr. Sa Kaskas, PhD, a Muslim from the Middle East, and Dr. David Hungerford, an orthopedic surgeon and Christian from the United States. Each contributed an amazing blend of culture, experience and faith traditions; while passionately pouring their lives and fortunes into an incomparable translation.
Moreover, the translation contains a critical element that makes it a standout publication. Years of painstaking scholarly research are presented in over 3,000 footnotes that stunningly reference hundreds of similar Bible verses. These footnotes explain commonly misunderstood and abused verses of the Qur’an, and awakens Christians and Muslims to vast areas of common ground existent within the Qur’an and Bible.
Drs. Kaskas’ and Hungerford’s underlying motivation for the translation and inclusion of the extensive footnotes are not intended to promote a particular school of Islam or Christian apologetics. These exist in abundance. Their goal is to build bridges of better understanding, undermine radicalism and enlighten ignorance. This powerful instrument offers Muslims and Christians a fresh insight on the “straight path” to reconciling with God and man; sorely needed and missing from other translations.
Having sojourned with them during this exciting process, I can attest that this publication offers an excellent and overdue tool for study and reflection for the academic and the curious, regardless of education, background, age, or faith tradition. It is me the world had an accurate and understandable rendition of Islam’s Holy Book for the modern English reader, accomplished by both a Christian and Muslims that incorporates thousands of heretofore missing links to the Bible.
A word of caution! Do not skip the Biblical footnotes that coincide with the Qur’an! You will appreciate the scriptural overlap, and their usefulness for reconciling peace!