Reading the Qur’an in English

When I was 18, the summer before I left for St. John’s College, I FORCED myself to read each and every page of Mohammad Marmaduke Pickthall’s “The MEANING of the Glorious Koran” (Penguin paperback, $0.75.) I did this because I was fascinated by Laurence Durrell’s “Alexandrian Quartet: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive and Clea” which described some scenes from Islamic life, including a scene in which some businessmen hire a blind Muzzin to recite some passages during which the all weep from the beauty. I decided that since I was about to become educated, I should read such a thing from cover to cover and look up each word I did not know. I still have that copy with notes and underlines on every page. I found the book somewhat dry and repetitive. There are some on-line translations of the Qur’an in English which go verse by verse, showing three different translations by Pickthall, Usuf Ali and Shakir. Muslims frequently argue that it is IMPOSSIBLE to understand the exact meaning of the Qur’an in translation but only in the original Arabic.


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