The Message of the Qur'an : 6 Volume Softcover Edition with Display Holding Box : Authorized Edition (Muhammad Asad)IsabelleDecember 14, 2011Great colorful design, easy to read, nice explanations, good to learn how to read Quran in Arabic with translation and transliteration. Love that it's split up in 6 parts to read, makes it easier to carry with you and read. Also nice big size and glossy thick paper. Would recommend.
The Message of the Qur'an : 6 Volume Softcover Edition with Display Holding Box : Authorized Edition (Muhammad Asad)Dr laieeq ishtiyaqAugust 12, 2010Qur’an regarded by millions of Muslims across the world as the ultimate message of God to man, remains the most vital source of understanding Islam. The importance of translating Qur’an into other languages, especially English, can hardly be overstated. Amongst many such attempts the one by Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss) remains unique for a multitude of reasons. Asad’s far ranging and exhaustive exploration of Quran began even before his entry into Islam and continued all through out his remarkable life culminating into his Magnum opus, The Message of Quran …fruit of a lifetime study and years spent in Arabia and other parts of the Muslim world. Asad was well qualified for the stupendous and almost overwhelming job; his knowledge and grasp of Arabic was incredibly profound, born largely out of the years he spent in intimate association with Bedouins of Arabia- whose language has remained undiluted and hence represents very closely the idiom of pristine Arabic spoken at the prophet’s time; a condition most essential for the intimate understanding of the diction of Quran. Asad digs deeper and deeper into the pre-Islamic usage of words, their syntactic arrangements and classical lexicographic sources to arrive at an understanding of the divine text in its timeless spirit. Asad was well versed with the Hadith (sayings of prophet) literature, a condition essential for any endeavor at interpreting the Quran. In fact he was the first to translate Sahih Bukhari, (regarded to be the most authentic collection of the sayings of prophet), into English. Alas! Most of the translation “was barbarically destroyed during the partition troubles”, recalls Asad. For Asad, Qur’an and ahadiths form one organic whole, and therefore cannot be understood independent of one another; in cases were Quranic text can be interpreted variously, the relevant ahadiths, provided their authenticity is established beyond doubt, remain the most useful source for arriving at the most valid interpretation. Asad rejects many popularly accepted interpretations on the basis of lack of evidence from authentic ahadiths. Asad’s translation is perhaps the first attempt at an idiomatic rendering of Qur’an in English. The language of Qur’an being parabolic at many instances makes literal rendering not only lifeless but at times obscures the very purport of Qur’an. However, Asad is careful in providing the literal translations in his foot notes and explains adequately the choice of his renderings with extensive cross references to lexicographical sources. Asad like Abdullah Yousuf Ali, (another outstanding translator of Qur’an) uses interpolations between brackets to account for the inimitable ellipticism of the Qur’anic language. Asad backs his translation with an extensive commentary, supporting his views with references to the giants of classic commentaries like Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Razi, Tabari, Zamashkari, Suyuti, and Ibn Kathir and so on. Asad’s approach to Qur’an can be seen as a quintessence of the rational interpretations of Quran, this is reflected in his preference for authorities like Razi and Zamashkari, who used more or less similar approach in interpretation. However Asad is not a blind rationalist, he approaches Quran as a believer, which is reflected in his interpretation of word ‘Al-ghayb’ in Surah al-Baqarah (chapter 2 verses 2-3) This Divine Writ - let there be no doubt about it –is [meant to be] a guidance for all the God-conscious who believe in [the existence of] that which is beyond the reach of human perception, and are constant in prayer, and spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance…”. “Al-ghayb (commonly, and erroneously, translated as "the Unseen") is used in the Quran to denote all those sectors or phases of reality which lie beyond the range of human perception and cannot, therefore, be proved or disproved by scientific observation or even adequately comprised within the accepted categories of speculative thought: as, for instance, the existence of God and of a definite purpose underlying the universe, life after death, the real nature of time, the existence of spiritual forces and their inter-action, and so forth. Only a person who is convinced that the ultimate reality comprises far more than our observable environment can attain to belief in God and, thus, to a belief that life has meaning and purpose. By pointing out that it is guidance for those who believe in the existence of that which is beyond human perception", the Qur'an says, in effect, that it will - of necessity - remain a closed book to all whose minds cannot accept this fundamental premise.” Asad seeks to explore the depths of Qur’an to bring out its message in its historical as well as the timeless spirit. He often moves beyond the immediate historical reasons for the revelation of a particular verse, to reach out to its timeless purport, a condition necessary for the application of Qur’an as the guide of human life in ever changing social conditions - this approach forms one of the main distinctions of his commentary and here he is deeply influenced by the great Egyptian scholar Muhammad Abduh whose path breaking commentary ‘Tafsir Almanar’, Asad quotes quite extensively. Asad was born and raised as a Jew; he learned Hebrew, the Old Testament and immersed himself in scriptural studies - text and commentaries of Talmud and Biblical exegesis. Thus Asad’s knowledge of Biblical sources was first hand, unlike most of the commentators present and past. This remarkable grasp of Bible and Biblical sources as well as Jewish history and civilizations, made Asad, more successful than most, in communicating the essence of Quranic dialogue with ahle kitaab (people who believe in revelation, regarded by most commentators as Jews and Christians) to Muslims and non Muslims alike. Asad’s indisputable command over both Arabic and English helped him define certain terms in Qur’an with utmost precision. For example he translates words Islam and Muslim as “self surrender to God” and “one who surrenders himself to God” thereby doing justice to the wide connotations implied by these terms. The word muttaqi is translated as “God conscious” rather than conventional “God fearing” thus bringing out the “positive content of the expression – namely the awareness of His all – enveloping presence”. Similarly the word kufr and kaafir as “denial of truth” and “one who denies the truth” respectively, therefore preserving the wide spiritual meanings these terms carry. It is the numerous instances of such lucid and comprehensive translations which makes his work more helpful than rest in arriving at a deeper understanding of Quran. Asad is not ready to accept the literal interpretations of various verses which he believes obscures and sometimes contradicts the very purport of Quran. Since the language of Quran is allegorical at many times, Asad seeks explanation in pre-Islamic usage of words for idiomatic purposes, especially so, while explaining various legends, and miracles of prophets. Asad sees the legendary accounts in the Qur’an, as a vehicle for parabolic exposition of certain eternal truths, thus he interprets the legends beyond their historical context to reach at their eternal purport. This approach towards the legends in the Qur’an is highly refreshing and represents rare and stimulating insights into the Quran. Here Asad is in line with Muhammad Iqbal, the great poet philosopher of Islam, and Asad’s “immortal spiritual father.” Asad finds the key for understanding the Quran in verse 3 of surah al imran …which he translates as: “He it is Who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves - and these are the essence of the divine writ - as well as others that are allegorical.” This verse according to Asad is “the key phrase of all its key phrases.” Asad adds few extremely useful appendices explaining AlMuqattat (the abbreviated letters), the symbolism and allegory in Quran, the term and concept of Jinn (the invisible beings) and Isra (the night journey of prophet): all reflecting his careful scholarship and balanced approach. Asad’s commentary didn’t go un-criticized, especially his interpretation of various miracles and his various disagreements with classical commentators. Asad doesn’t reject miracles but applies rational interpretations which do at times seem belabored and hence not convincing in their entirety. As far as his disagreements with classical commentators are concerned, Asad is careful to present their views side by side with his own and explains his interpretations with extensive cross references to other verses of Quran, syntactic arrangement of words and derivation of meanings from the root words. Asad seems aware of the objections that he would face! “Whether one agrees or does not agree with my interpretations of this or that point, we should remember that even great classical commentators disagreed in many details, thus increasingly deepening and widening our understanding of the holy Quran so it will continue, inshallah, till the end of time. This is and will always remain the spirit in which I approach the message of holy Qur’an, the eternal heritage of the last prophet. May God judge us all in his infinite wisdom and mercy”, Asad remarked. Asad never accepted finality of thought of any authority below prophet and as such never claimed same for himself, after his lifelong efforts and extraordinary contributions to Islam, Asad remained independent, but humble, while accepting, “neither my own approach to it nor the commentaries produced by the greatest scholars of Muslim past could ever claim to have exhausted something that is utterly inexhaustible by virtue of the fact that it represents the God’s ultimate message to man.” Asad was a strong advocate of ijtihad (individual reasoning in matters not clearly specified in Quran and authentic ahadith), he applied this principle throughout his writings including ‘the Message of Qur’an’. He always desired that Muslims develop an intimate relationship with the Qur’an “every Muslim ought to be able to say the Qur’an has been revealed for me.” he said in an interview few years before his death; echoing the oft repeated call of Qur’an to human reason for arriving at truth and explaining his choice of dedicating the translation to “those who think”…..! It is a regrettable fact that Asad’s extraordinarily brilliant, thought provoking and monumental work did not receive the readership it deserved, however its circulation is on a steady rise especially among the Muslims in the West, for whom this work is potentially an unrivalled aid to understand the Qur’an. Fortunately, after a long hiatus Asad’s translation is now available in our part of the world as well. Time doesn’t seem to be too far when this great work will be regarded as a classic of its own kind, and Asad’s name will be mentioned along with the great authorities of Quranic exegesis, of whom he was extremely fond of….. “I am immeasurably indebted to their learning and impetus it has given to my own search after truth.”