The Interfaith Dimension of Some Recent English Translations of the Quran: A Critical Analysis


Abdur Raheem Kidwai


This paper first provides a critical, historical survey of the English translations of the Quran, namely, those by Alexander Ross (1649), George Sale (1734), J. M. Rodwell (1861), E. H. Palmer (1880), Richard Bell (1937-1939), A. J. Arberry (1955), N. J. Dawood (1956), Alan Jones (2007) and A. J. Droge (2014). This paper draws attention to the unpalatable note of polemics under the pretext of comparative religion in the Orientalists’ English translations of the Quran. Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), however, set in motion a new trend in the field: interfaith understanding from the perspective of pluralism. This trend is reflected more sharply in the translations from Thomas Cleary (2004) and Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford (2016). Although in their fairly recent English renderings of the Quran, G. S. Reynolds (2018) and Jane McAuliffe (2017) promise to study the Quran from an interfaith dialogue perspective, they often revert to the polemical Orientalist stance of discrediting the Quran as a poor imitation of the Bible.

This paper examines the 21st century English translations of the Quran by Thomas Cleary (2004), Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford (2016), G. S. Reynolds (2018) and Jane McAuliffe in order to seek answers to the following research questions:

*Do the recent English translations mark a clean break from the polemical Orientalist variety?

*Do these works address the issue of interfaith understanding?

*How far are these works committed to the ideal of peaceful coexistence and respect for all religions?



English translations of the Quran
comparative religion

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