07 July 2015

Quran: A Reformist Translation by Edip Yüksel

I am a firm believer in the need for all religious systems to be open to changing (their interpretations and explanations) with the times, for people to be free to choose the religion they want to follow and to choose their level of commitment to that religion. I also believe that as long as one sticks to some basic rules most of humanity shares, we should all be free to live our lives as we please.

I wasn't born into a religious family, have never been formally accepted by any religion as 'theirs' and have never converted to any religion. Simply put: I do not officially belong to any religion. If one must label me by religion, it is fair to call me someone who believes what Noahides believe. That is to say that I believe in the God of the Torah, the Bible and the Qur'an - The God of Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammad and many, many people around the world today. To find out what God wants from me, I turn to the source, to the Jewish Bible. While I most certainly believe in God, I do not believe that the Christian view of Jesus as God / son of God is accurate. This means that I do not acknowledge Christianity as true and do not (nor have I ever) self-identify as Christian. While I respect all peoples' beliefs and find studying religions of the world to be very interesting and worthwhile, there are aspects of Islam that do not appeal to me, just as there are aspects of Christianity and other religions that don't appeal to me either. Thus: I am not a Muslim either, nor am I a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Wiccan or a member of any other religion. Yet that doesn't mean that I can't read books about Christianity or Islam or any other religion.

In fact - I would say that my conviction that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in the same God makes me more open-minded than many others might be. Thus, when I learnt about a version of the Qur'an that was different from the translations I had read so far, I was intrigued. The Reformist Translation of the Qur'an by Edip Yüksel is available in book-form as well as online. From Goodreads comes the following description:

The Reformist Translation of the Quran offers a non-sexist and non-sectarian understanding of the divine text; it is the result of collaboration between three translators, two men and a woman. It explicitly rejects the authority of the clergy to determine the likely meaning of disputed passages. It uses logic and the language of the Quran itself as the ultimate authority in determining likely meanings, rather than ancient scholarly interpretations rooted in patriarchal hierarchies. It offers extensive cross-referencing to the Bible and provides arguments on numerous philosophical and scientific issues. It is God's message for those who prefer reason over blind faith, for those who seek peace and ultimate freedom by submitting themselves to the Truth alone.

Source: Quran: A Reformist Translation by Edip Yüksel | Goodreads

A translation of the Qur'an that is non-sexist, non-sectarian and translated by a team that includes a woman to boot. Yes, I am most certainly intrigued. Perhaps it is just that the prospect of "extensive cross-referencing to the Bible" intrigues me (not a joke; I quite enjoy footnotes and references as they add much to the understanding of a text, especially when reading a translation)... Or maybe it's really that I am looking forward to actually reading about how this particular translation / interpretation of the Qur'an deals with the business of "provid[ing] arguments on numerous philosophical and scientific issues." Either way, I've only gotten through the very lengthy, detailed and informative introduction and am already mighty intrigued. If this book is truly as interesting as the introduction promises, then this version of the holy book of one of the world's largest reigions should be on every human's Reading List. Don't just take my word for it, check out what others have said (all quotes come from the book description - link as above - as found on Goodreads):

"A bold and beautiful translation that serves as a timely reminder to all believers that the Qur'an is not a static scripture, but a living, breathing, ever-evolving text whose sacred words are as applicable today as when they were first uttered by the Prophet Muhammad fourteen centuries ago."
- Reza Aslan, PhD., CBS News Consult-ant; Author, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.

"A testament to the fact that faith need not suffocate reason. This is bound to be among the smartest of 'smart bombs' in the battle of ideas within Islam."
- Irshad Manji, Fellow, Yale University and author, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith.

"I completely agree with you in your rejection of the right of any group to arrogate to themselves the sole interpretation of the Quran.... Your effort is praiseworthy. Well done. Keep it up."
- Kassim Ahmad, former president of Malaysian Socialist Party and head of Malaysian Quranic Society who was declared "apostate" by religious authorities for his controversial work on the Prophetic Traditions.

"This translation is the best tool for those who want to understand the uncorrupted Message of Islam - justice and peace. This translation shows that the Quran is but the confirmation and continuation of God's system memorialized through Abraham, demonstrated in Torah through numerous prophets, and in the Hebrew Gospel through Ye-shu'a/Jesus, the righteous of God. This translation is a message of peace, justice and judgment..."
- Gershom Kibrisli, theologian and communal leader, The Karaim of the Early Hebrew Scriptures, Holy Land & Benelux.

"This Reformist Translation of the Quran and its ancillary materials should begin many conversations, between and among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In many parts of the Muslim world this is a dangerous discussion, and sometimes that danger can reach well into the West, as evidenced by the 1990 fatwa-inspired murder of Rashad Khalifa in Tucson, Arizona. It is an important discussion, however, and the editors of this book have assumed this risk to argue for a perspective that sets violence aside both in discourse and living. One can imagine that a broader adoption of their perspective across the Muslim world would reduce strife and invite greater examination of Islam by non-Muslims as something other than a threat. It would expand the conversation."
- Mark V Sykes Ph.D. J.D. Director, Planetary Science Institute.

"Very Interesting and Timely"
- Riffat Hassan, Ph.D. Professor of Religious Studies and Humanities at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. A pioneer of feminist theology in the context of the Islamic tradition.

"Quran: A Reformist Translation is also unique because it is the product of collaboration between two key figures in the pre-sent-day Qur'anist movement: Edip Yuksel and Layth Saleh al-Shaiban."

- Aisha Y. Musa, PhD, Professor of Islamic Studies, Florida International University; author of An Examination of Early and Contemporary Muslim Attitudes toward Hadith as Scripture (Doctoral Dissertation, Harvard University, 2004).(less)