The Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohammed

By George Sale

First Edition (1734)

The Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohammed

George Sale, C. Ackers in St. John’s-Street, for J. Wilcon at Virgil’s Head overagainst the New Church in the Strand., 1734
“To the right honourable John Lord Carteret, One of...


George Sale (1697–1736) was a British oriental, anglican and lawyer by profession, and became with his translation “The Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohamed” a landmark in the history of the Quran translations in English. Although the translation was popular, it is claimed that Sale based his translation on a Latin translation by Catholic priest Ludovico Maracci (1612–1700), and not from original Arabic. For many years this was one of the most successful translations, in both the UK and the USA, and it continued to be printed throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Until 1975 there had been more than 120 editions. Subsequently, many other attempts to translate the Quran into English have been published by English writers who largely depended on Sale’s English Quran translation or other non-Arabic sources. There is widespread claim that it is the same Quran translation that 3rd US President, Thomas Jefferson bought in 1765.

About the author

George Sale

  • Born: Canterbury, Kent, England, 1697
  • Died: The Strand, London, England (buried at St. Clement Danes), 13 November 1736
  • Full name: George Sale
  • Other names: Sale, George
  • Creed: Christian
  • Influences: Ludovico Maracci


For over 200 years between 1734 and up to 1975, George Sales translation persisted as the longest lasting, most popular, and influential English translation, having gone through at least 123 editions in both Britain and the United States.

Listed below are some of the most popular editions, reprints:

  • 1734 Sale, George. The Koran, commonly called The Alcoran of Mohammad, Translated into English immediately from the Original Arabic; with Explanatory Notes, taken from the most approved Commentators. To which is prefixed A Preliminary Discourse. By George Sale, Gent. London: C. Ackers for J. Wilcox. Pages ix, 187, 508, [15]
  • 1764 ——— 2 Vols. Printed for L. Hawes, W. Clarke and R. Collins; and T. Wilcox. Pages xviii, 248, 266 + [3], 519.
  • 1774 ——— London *Chauvin 148).
  • 1795 ——— 2 vols. A new edition. Bath: S. Hazard printed [for several persons].
  • 1801 ——— 2 vols. A new edition. London: printed by T. Maiden [for 11 persons or companies]. Pages xv, 248, [12] + [vi], 519, [vi].
  • 1812 ——— 2 vols. London: J. Walker [and others]. Pages xvi, 256 + 523.
  • 1821 ——— 2 vols. A new edition. London: printed for Scatcherd and Letterman [and 11 others]. Pages xiv, 248, 256 + 523.
  • 1824 ——— To which is prefixed a brief memoir of Mahomet … London: Scatcherd and Letterman [etc.] 2 vols. (LC 35-35763).
  • 1825 ——— 2 vols. London: for T. Tegg; Dublin: R. Milliken; Glasgow: Griffin & Co,; Paris: M. Baudry. Pages xxiv, 255, 213 + iv, 535.
  • 1826 ——— The Holy Koran; commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammad, translated from the original Arabic, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised. London: for the Koran Society by R. Carlile. Pages iv, 386. This edition does not carry the Preliminary Discourse and George Sale is not mentioned anywhere in the book.
  • 1836 ——— The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed: translated from the original Arabic. With explanatory notes, taken from the most approved commentators. To which is prefixed, A preliminary discourse. By George Sale. A new edition, in which the surats, or verses, are, for the first time, marked. 2 vols. London: Longman, Rees & Co. [and 11 others]. Pages 218, 219 + 468.
  • 1838 ——— A new edition.
  • 1844 ——— A new edition, with a memoir of the translator (by R. A. Davenport), including various readings and illustrative notes from Savary’s version of the Koran. London” T. Tegg. Pages xx, 132, 516. There were many reprints of this edition, some undated. Sir John Lubbock includes it as #22 of his “Hundred books” (1892). Several American editions appeared in Philadelphia and New York up until 1975. E. M. Wherry used it as the basis for his edition published between 1882-6.
  • 1882-6 Wherry, Elwood Morris. A comprehensive commentary on the Quran: comprising Sale’s translation and preliminary disrouce, with additional notes and emendations, together with a complete index to the text, preliminary discourse and notes, by E. M. Wherry. 4 vols. London: Kagan Paul, Trench and Trubner, and Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Reprinted in 1896, 1900, 1917. In 1921 the work was republished with an introduction by Sir Denison Ross, and remains in print, having been reissued as recently as 1973 by Zeller in Osnabruck.
  • 1876 ——— 2nd revised and emended edition.
  • 1909 ——— With an introduction by the Rev. G. Margoliouth. (Everyman’s library). London: Dent; New York: Dutton. Pages xi, 506. Reprinted some twenty times up until 1963.---