Translation of Qur’ān


Introduction

Translation is unique to humans and two other species of Physical realm who also enjoy freedom of freewill, the Angels and Jinn. Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias define translation as the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. It is rendering, conversion or transference of something written in one language in the words of another language. It is transmission of texts over linguistic boundaries.

Translation is an old activity that man has practiced since ancient times. Its necessity was felt because of  variation and diversity in the languages of the peoples which in itself is a pointer-thought provoking existential for the knowledgeable people:

  • The creation of the Skies and the Earth are the existents of the physical realm of Him the Exalted

  • And so are the the mutual variation in the languages and in skin colours of you people;

  • It is a fact that pointers which can evoke thought process are manifest in aforementioned tangibles for the knowledgeable: people equipped with information. [30:22]

 

Another concept that collocates with translation is interpretation. It is defined as transference of meaning of spoken and heard words in the language of second person. The difference between the two is of real time versus delayed. Interpreting occurs in real time. It happens in person. An interpreter transfers the meanings in both directions, on the spot, without any reference material. Interpreter is thus fluent in both the languages.

Translation is a delayed activity because it takes place long after a text is created. It gives the translator time to access resources, like lexicons, glossaries, grammar books, and these days Google to access any subject. Therefore, it is obviously an easier and less taxing task than the job of an interpreter.

Spoken words produce sound and we know sounds are nothing but are air molecules squeezed closer together than usual. Thereby the spoken words decay the moment they are heard. But we the believers must not be misled by this scientific fact, we must be very cautious before throwing a statement in air because:

 

  • He (Man) emits not a segment of an expression - syllables of a word in the open air but a smartly alert guard is nearby him to record it in writing. [Refer 50:18]

Writing, on the other hand, produces visible marks that persist through time on the page or the screen. Thus visible words exist in space.

The physical and sensory modalities of speech and writing are distinct. They are distinctly different as the physical processes of speaking and writing. Similarly the physical and sensory modalities of interpretation and translation are different. For interpretation, sound - voice is the medium and the organ used is ears while in translation the medium is the vision through the organ of eyes.

In real world experience the end product of both is communication. Both aim at explanation or establishment of the meaning or significance of something stated orally or in writing. It is also the case when the speaker and listener and author and the reader have the same one language. The listener and reader interprets the spoken and written words of his own language and saves as perception what he thought or comprehended the speaker or writer intended to convey him.

Except being one directional, the translation is in fact interpretation. For translation the first requirement is the skill for reading. Reading involves translating text into sounds or spoken words. And comprehension involves deriving meanings from those sounds.

It is believed that reading with voice increases the speed and level of comprehension as compared to sub-vocally reading.

Whenever we read from the Hard copy of Qur’ān we should read it with voice following the practice of our guide Lord Muhammad Sal'lallaa'hoalaih'wa'salam.

Qur’ān is unique in all respects in the family of books. It is described as: the Speech, the Parlanceverbal Message, the Discourse which is the intellectual property of Allah the Exalted; and as: the Book of Allah the Exalted. It is the reason that it is alive in time and space and its persistence is guaranteed not by the first Publisher but by its Author:

  • Indeed Our Majesty have sent in piecemeal the Memoir-Reference Book: Grand Qur’ān.

 

  • And know it Our Majesty are certainly the protector and guard for it. [15:09]

Therefore, the translation of Qur’ān is but one directional interpretation. Thereby, it is not necessary that the translator be a linguist. It is also so because translation and interpretation of a book is merely a skill.