T. B. Irving, The Qur’an: The First American Version; Translated and Commentary (1985)

Arabic is clear (16:xiv, 26:xi), then why does it need to be worried over so intensely?

Most renditions have been so antiquated that they make the Qurʾān and Islam appear to have little connection with living circumstances. Thus I have tried to avoid strictly Christian terms like “infidel,” “piety,” “sin,” etc., except where such are unavoidable. The Qurʾān possesses a definite language and style which becomes clearer as one works along with it. One English word if possible should be chosen in all of its range of meaning for each Arabic concept, using roots that can be turned into adjectives, verbs, nouns or other grammatical forms based on it. This in fact is not a translation but a version, a modest tafsīr for the English-speaking Muslim who has not been able to rely on Arabic for his meanings, and for sincere enquirers, those modern Ḥanīfs who are tired of the trinity, or of chaos and confusion in matters religious. The carper should look elsewhere.

Let us hope therefore that this enterprise will lead us on into the triumphant fifteenth century of Islam, which is now upon us. Our religion is once more resurgent, and its message can be stated with full clarity. Muslims everywhere hold their fate in their own hands now, and it is their will that in the end will prevail. Once we have trained our children.

I would like to thank Professor Thomas A. Lathrop of the University of Delaware for his work in typesetting the book. And lastly, I wish to thank my wife, Dr. Evelyn Uhrhan Irving, for her support in this project over more than twenty-three years, including typing of the final manuscript, and proof reading at many stages of the document.

October, 1985
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

1 For the order of the chapters, one should consult Dr. S. Abid Ahmad Ali’s excellent pamphlet on “The Qurʾān, an Exposition of its Position” from The Dawn (Sargodha, Dec. 1961, pp. 23-55), where he discusses Arberry’s original attempt at an anthology.

2 This Noble Reading or al-Qurʾān al-Karīm as it is called in 56:iii; in 50:i and 85:i. It is called the Majīd or ‘Glorious’, ‘Majestic’, in 15:vi; it is also the ‘Mighty’, ʿAḍhīm. see R. A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, p. 141, n. 1 and p. 159 on the word Qurʾān itself.

3 A detailed discussion on Bible translation can be found in Barry Huberman’s recent article, “Translating the Bible: an Endless Task” (The Atlantic, February 1985, pp. 43-58).

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T. B. Irving, The Qur’an: The First American Version; Translated and Commentary, Amana Books, Brattleboro, Vermont, United States, Consulted online at “Quran Archive - Texts and Studies on the Quran” on 02 Dec. 2022: http://quran-archive.org/explorer/thomas-ballantyne-irving/1985?page=41