Reformist Translation vs Sectarian Translations

On the following pages, you will find several comparisons between our translation and that of traditional orthodox English renditions of the Quran. By the word “tradition,” we refer to the works that heavily rely on hearsay reports such as hadith, sunna, and sectarian jurisprudence. We chose to compare our work primarily with the translation of Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, and Shakir, since they reflect most of the common errors and ­distortions, and because they are popular translations among the English-speaking Sunni population.

Fatwa against Islamic Reform

Apparently, they were convinced or intimidated by a review (more accurately, a fatwa) of “a very well-established professor,” who misleadingly likened our annotated translation of the Quran to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. This was akin to a medieval publishing house turning down Martin Luther’s 95 Theses after consulting “a very well-established” Catholic Bishop! It is telling that Palgrave’s “very well-established scholar” in his several-page review, had only one substantive criticism, which consisted of our usage of a word, yes a single word in the translation: progressive.

Theometer or Sectometer

Between November 3 and 10 of 2008, I traveled to UK and Turkey to deliver four lectures; first two at Oxford University, the third at Muslim Institute in London and the fourth one in Istanbul Book Fair. I had prepared a test containing 45 multiple choice questions just the night before my travel. I duplicated them on both sides of a single sheet and I distributed to the audience before the lecture… They were asked to write their name, age, occupation, email address, favorite authors, and their sectarian affiliation. It was a bit awkward to test an audience that consisted of students and professors at one of the world’s top universities. The multiple-choice test proved to be a powerful instrument to deliver the message of Islamic Reform under the light of the Quran. The correct answer for each multiple choice question was the E option, and for the Yes or No questions was the B option. So, it would take me a few seconds to evaluate the tests after they were returned to me.