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An English translation of the Quran that is as close as possible to the Arabic sacred text
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 Post subject: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2009, 07:57 
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Suggested translation1,2:


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1This translation may have been updated from the original suggested translation as a result of the discussions that follow.
2Click on the {verse number} of a translation to see other good translations of the verse.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 20 Aug 2009, 19:26 
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Quote:
{3:7} It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the foundation of the Book - and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except God. But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.

If there was ever an argument against interpreting verses before translating them, this verse provides the best such argument! We are actually warned in this verse against forcing an interpretation of some verses of the Quran.

Three of the four alternative translations used "allegorical" to translate متشابهات. I'll go along with that. Sarwar's translation is the most precise but is verbose. Asad's translation of تأويله is the most precise.

I'd like to suggest this translation,

{3:7} It is He who has sent down to you [, O Muhammad,] the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise - they are the mother of the Book - and others allegorical. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they will follow that of it which is allegorical, seeking discord and seeking its precise interpretation. And no one knows its precise interpretation except God. But those established in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one remembers [that] except those of understanding minds.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 21 Aug 2009, 02:42 
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Linguistic wrote:
If there was ever an argument against interpreting verses before translating them, this verse provides the best such argument! We are actually warned in this verse against forcing an interpretation of some verses of the Quran.

Good point!

Linguistic wrote:
Three of the four alternative translations used "allegorical" to translate متشابهات. I'll go along with that.

I do not have an independent feel for the word "allegorical" so I looked it up in a number of dictionaries, and I don't think it captures the meaning. Also, "precise" is not precise enough :D to capture the Arabic word. I suggest "ambiguous" and "definitive."

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 21 Aug 2009, 03:34 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I do not have an independent feel for the word "allegorical" so I looked it up in a number of dictionaries, and I don't think it captures the meaning. Also, "precise" is not precise enough :D to capture the Arabic word. I suggest "ambiguous" and "definitive."

I like "definitive" a lot, but not "ambiguous." "Ambiguous" leaves a negative impression. I consulted the thesaurus and found among its synonyms "cryptic", "doubtful" and "dubious!" The word is the exact opposite of محكمات which literally means controlled or perfectly designed thus they have one indisputable meaning. Since we're choosing "definitive" for that one, maybe we can use "indefinite" for متشابهات? The word literally means "carry multiple meanings", which Sarwar used in his translation.

Let's try to find a word or a short phrase that means the same thing. One such word is "equivocal" which the dictionary defines as ambiguous by design, which is what we have here, except that it is mostly used in a negative context as in deception. I just don't know of any word that means "carry multiple meanings" but in a positive light where the intent is that all the meanings are intended and valid, not meant to confuse of deceive.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 30 Jan 2010, 18:24 
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Member Physician brought up the point that the correct translation of زيغ is "bias." I therefore would like to modify my suggested translation of 3:7 as follows,

{3:7} It is He who has sent down to you [, O Muhammad,] the Book; in it are definitive verses - they are the mother of the Book - and others carry multiple meanings. As for those in whose hearts is a bias, they follow what carries multiple meanings of it, seeking discord and seeking its ultimate meaning. And no one knows its ultimate meaning except God. And those established in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And none remember [that] except those with intellects.

Indeed, this is supported by the very next verse,

Where we are instructed by God to pray to Him that He doesn't let our hearts be biased! So, I suggest this for its translation,
{3:8} [Who say,] "Our Lord, do not bias our hearts after such You guided us and bestow on us from Your Own a mercy; Verily, You are the plenty Bestowing."

This is mentioned also in


And finally, for 3:9,
Quote:
{3:9} Our Lord, surely You will gather the people for a Day about which there is no doubt. Indeed, God does not fail in His promise."

I suggest,
{3:9} "Our Lord, verily You are assembling mankind for a Day no doubt is there about it. Verily, God would not shirk the Appointment."

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 30 Jan 2010, 19:56 
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Linguistic wrote:
Member Physician brought up the point that the correct translation of زيغ is "bias."

I couldn't find the post, so this must have been done by private communication. :)

I just needed to find something to say to make my 500th post. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 30 Jan 2010, 20:25 
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Pragmatic wrote:
I just needed to find something to say to make my 500th post. :D

Congratulations, Pragmatic, for this milestone! :) Your contributions have been very focused, thoughtful, helpful and much appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 30 Jan 2010, 22:05 
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Linguistic wrote:
Your contributions have been very focused, thoughtful, helpful and much appreciated.

Thank you kindly. My posts are just a small contribution to the significant, quality effort that you have put in the creation and maintenance of this forum and in your thoughtful, prolific contributions to it.

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 31 Jan 2010, 21:17 
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Linguistic wrote:
Member Physician brought up the point that the correct translation of زيغ is "bias." I therefore would like to modify my suggested translation of 3:7 as follows,

{3:7} It is He who has sent down to you [, O Muhammad,] the Book; in it are definitive verses - they are the mother of the Book - and others carry multiple meanings. As for those in whose hearts is a bias, they follow what carries multiple meanings of it, seeking discord and seeking its ultimate meaning. And no one knows its ultimate meaning except God. And those established in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And none remember [that] except those with intellects.

Two points:

1. I would think "drift" may be more accurate than "bias." At least it conveys the meaning of the Arabic word more faithfully to me.

2. It is rather interesting that the subject matter of the verse applies to the verse itself since there is ambiguity about the phrase "and those established in knowledge" which could be the start of a new sentence (the more likely interpretation) or could be part of the previous sentence. The challenge is how to punctuate the verse in English without biasing the interpretation one way or the other (or at least not too much, as the Arabic punctuation slightly favors the first interpretation).

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 Post subject: Re: Verses 3:7-9
PostPosted: 01 Feb 2010, 06:39 
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Quite an observation about the verse having in itself an example of what it warns against!

You wrote,
Pragmatic wrote:
1. I would think "drift" may be more accurate than "bias." At least it conveys the meaning of the Arabic word more faithfully to me.

"Drift" seems good but doesn't it have the connotation of passivity or helplessness? "Bias", on the other hand, is a deliberate, conscious decision.

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