The Qur'an withe an English Translation of M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, 2004

 The Qur’an A New Translation, by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. 512pp. ISBN: 0192805487.





A new English translation of the Qur’an by Mohammad Abde Haleem, professor of Islamic studies at the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies), was published by Oxford University Press. This work, which was released in summer 2004 in 512 pages, is not accompanied by the Arabic text. However, it is the result of seven years on the Holy Qur’an.


Muhammad Abdel Haleem was born in village of Kottab in Sharqiyyah province of Egypt. He memorized the Qur’an in his childhood and received primary and secondary education at one of schools in the city of Zagazig associated with Al-Azhar University. He received his bachelor’s degree in Arabic literature from the Cairo University and his doctorate from the University of Cambridge. He has been teaching Arabic literature at the Cambridge University and later at School of Oriental and African Studies (London), where he became a professor in 1995. Additionally, he is the director of the Centre of Islamic Studies (London University) and editor of the Journal of Quranic Studies which is published biannually in Arabic and English in London and Edinburgh (Scotland). In addition to his English translation of The Qur’an (Oxford, 2004), he has published a collection of articles, titled Understanding the Qur’an: Themes and Style (London, 1999). Abdel Haleem is currently collaborating with Elsaid Badawi on the Usage Dictionary of Quranic Terms in English.


According to the translator, from his early days of studying and teaching in western universities he has faced problems of translating Hadith and Qur’anic verses from Arabic into English, becoming aware of the difficulties of this task through his own experience and that of his colleagues and students. However, two things compelled him to take on the task of translation of the whole Qur’an. One was the need and demand by his students, who felt that the current translations were stylistically rather archaic, hard-to-understand, unfamiliar in vocabulary and unappealing to the reader. The other was his belief that the existing translations sometimes contained incorrect equivalents.


Abdel Haleem’s translation of the Qur’an is in fluent present-day English, free from undesired Arabic influences, and is based on three essential principles governing the interpretation and understanding the meaning of ancient texts and scriptures. These there principles, demonstrated in the translator’s introduction by examples from the Qur’an, consist of: 1) attention to context, which plays an important role in discovering and determining the true and accurate meaning of the Qur’anic verses. For a large part, the translator has borrowed this idea from discussions pertaining to the various meanings of some words in the Qur’an (wujuh al-Qur’an); 2) interpretation of Qur’anic terms based on their old meanings at the time of revelation and disregarding their newly-acquired and modern meanings; 3) taking into account cross-references in the Qur’an which are considered interpretations of the Qur’an by Qur’an.


محمد عبدالحلیم


In addition to Muhammad Abdel Haleem and his wife, many of his students also took part in the process of producing this translation. He presented his translation of the Qur’an to his undergraduate and postgraduate students over a seven-year period and received their feedback, applying their comments and views to his original translation. The translator has made an effort to produce a present-day English rendering of the Qur’an which while avoiding explanatory parentheses, has a fluent and straightforward text while aiming utmost accuracy and conformity. The translator’s historical, exegetical, and lexical comments appear in the footnotes.


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