Can the Qur'an Be Translated?
Over the centuries, much debate has been raised about whether the Qur'an can or should be translated into other languages.
Arguments Against Translation
Muslims may argue that the Qur'an was revealed in Arabic, and thus that language preserves God's exact words. At the time of its revelation, and even now, the Qur'an is considered to be the perfection of the Arabic language. It would be impossible to render the depth of meaning, allegory, and poetry into any other language. Those who hold this opinion argue that translation causes something to be missed; therefore it is the responsibility of each Muslim to try to learn Arabic in order to fully grasp the meaning of the Qur'an.
Arguments for Translation
From the earliest days of Islam, there were non-Arabic speakers among the Muslim community. The Qur'an brings a universal message to all of mankind, not only to those who can read its text in Arabic. Therefore, there have always been some who promote the translation of the meaning of the Qur'an into languages understood by a wider audience.
Even those who advocate for Qur'an translation admit that no translation can fully do justice to the richness of the original. Most Qur'an translations published today call themselves “interpretations of the meaning” of the Qur'an rather than pure translations. They are recognized as human attempts to capture the essence of the meaning, but they are not considered equal to the Arabic original. Muslims who do not speak Arabic often try to learn at least the basics of the Arabic alphabet in order to become more familiar with the original text. Expressions and phrases from the Qur'an, in Arabic, are used by both Arabic and non-Arabic-speaking Muslims around the world. Resources for reading the Qur'an in translation are listed in Appendix C.