Louis Palme / Oct 30, 2011

Whenever a new translation of the Quran is published I obtain it in hopes that, finally, someone has discovered that Islam’s sacred text was misunderstood, that it is really about equality, civil rights, and brotherly love.  It was with this same anticipation that I opened the new English translation by Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, written “in easy American English.”  The author acknowledges that “every Word of Qur’an has forty thousand meanings. Each word is like a diamond that shines different colors under different wavelengths.”  Not to pour cold water on Dr. Ahmed’s eloquence, but the venerable Occam’s Razor posits with regard to translations that the most straightforward interpretation usually reflects the author’s true intentions. As readers will observe below, this new English translation actually labors to obscure the meaning of the texts by finding far-fetched interpretations rather than owning up to the evil content of the original Quran.  It seems that the translator’s own conscience wouldn’t allow him to flesh out in plain words the brutal passages, so he equivocates and obscures instead.


The true test of the word of God is not whether it is sparkles like a diamond, but rather whether it is worthy of the all-knowing Creator of the world and all humanity.  The Quran contains numerous commands by Allah which are not only evil but are actually outlawed by national and international laws.  The selected texts below are some of the most offensive passages in the Quran. For comparison, I have posted the 1956 translation of these verses by N.J. Dawood first, and then below are Dr. Ahmed’s new interpretations.  The translator’s glosses are in parentheses ( ), while my own inserts are in brackets [ ].



Allah’s deputy [khalifah] will make mischief and shed blood:


Dawood: When your Lord said to the angels: “I am placing on the earth one that shall rule as My deputy,” they replied, “Will You put there one that will do evil and shed blood, when we have so long sung Your praises and sanctified Your name?” He said: “I know what you know not.” (Surah 2:30)


Ahmed: When your Rabb said to the Angels: “I shall indeed place on earth a Trustee,” they submitted: “Will You create one who will make mischief and shed blood, while we glorify You, praise You, and sanctify You?” Said (the Creator): “I know what you know not!” (Surah 2:30)


Law of bloody retaliation (lex talionis):

Dawood: Believers, retaliation is decreed for you in bloodshed: a free man for a free man, a slave for a slave, and a female for a female. . .  In retaliation you have a safeguard for your lives; perchance you will guard yourselves against evil. (Surah 2:178-9. See also Surahs 2:194 and 5:45)

Ahmed: O you who believe! Prescribed for you is the principle of qisas (equitable recompense) in the case of murder: a free man for a free man, a slave for a slave, a woman for a woman. . .  Know tha there is (preservation of) life in the principle of qisas so that you may learn consciousness of Divine presence. [A long footnote explains without support that the Quran emphasizes forgiveness and reconciliation.]  (Surah 2:178-9)


Obligation to engage in jihad:

Dawood: Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. (Surah 2:216)  [See also Surah 9:111]

Ahmed: Fighting (to preserve your faith) is prescribed for you but you detest it. [Why would a personal effort to improve one’s faith be detestable?]  (Surah 2:216)


Rape of captives:

Dawood:  Also [forbidden are] married women, except those whom you own as slaves. (Surah 4:24)

Ahmed:  (Forbidden) are married women except those your right hand possesses (who are prisoners of war). (Surah 4:24)


Physical abuse of wives:

Dawood:  As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. (Surah 4:34)

Ahmed: As for those about whom you fear lewdness, (first) counsel them, then stay from them in bed, and then (if that fails) bring them out (before the judicial process (please see note at the end of the Surah), and then if they follow your counsel (and desist from lewd conduct), do not seek to make their path (of rehabilitation) difficult. (Surah 4:34) [The end note explains that the Arabic word daraba has many meanings, so the translator chose “bring out” as opposed to the more common meaning, “beat.” See also 20:18 and 38:44 where daraba is correctly translated as “beat” and “strike,” respectively. Reader should also observe that Ahmed has introduced a “judicial process” which is never a precursor to Islamic wife beating. The male is the absolute authority over women in his charge.]


Murder of Apostates:

Dawood:  [Hypocrites] would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes for the cause of God. If they desert you, seize them and put them to death wherever you find them. (Surah 4:89)

Ahmed: [Hypocrites] would love to see you disbelieve as they disbelieve so that you become like them. Therefore do not take them as your protectors unless they move toward the path of Allah. Then if they turn against you (if they fight you) surround them and fight them wherever you find their presence . .   (Surah 4:89)


Cruel and inhumane punishment:


Dawood: As for the man or woman who is guilty of theft, cut off their hands to punish them for their crimes. That is the punishment enjoined by God. (Surah 5:38)

Ahmed:  And the man who is a thief, and the woman who is a thief – in consequence whereof, (after due process) cut off the means of their theft – a recompense for what they have earned – (an ordinance) from Allah to eradicate the evil of thievery). [A footnote explains, “Most translations use ‘[cut off] their hands’ for aidee huma. In modern times, there are thieves who steal millions, perhaps billions of dollars without ever using their hands, by means of computers and electronic devices. Therefore, we have translated the term in its broadest sense as ‘means of thievery.’ Such a translation also gives the maximum latitude to the jurist in disposing of cases of modern thievery, including the possibility of repentance and rehabilitation.”] (Surah 5:38)


Inciting racial/religious hatred by calling Jews apes and swine:

Dawood: People of the Book, . . most of you are evil-doers. . . Those whom God has cursed and with whom He has been angry, transforming them into apes and swine, and those who serve the devil. (Surah 5:59-60)

Ahmed: O people of the Book! . . Indeed, most among you are rebellious. . . [You are] rejected by Allah and upon whom is His Ire; some among them He causes to act like monkeys and swine and (become) slaves of the devil. (Surah 5:59-60)


Beheading captives:

Dawood: When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. (Surah 47:3)  God revealed,  . . . “I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!” (Surah 8:12)

Ahmed:  So, if you meet the disbelievers (in a defensive battle), smite their necks, until you have subdued them, then reinforce their chains. (Surah 47:3)  (Remember) when Revelation came to you . . . “Soon shall I install awe in the hearts of the disbelievers. So, strike them on their necks, and strike them on each fingertip.” (Surah 8:12)


Allah slays (lakinnal) people:

Dawood: It was not you, but Allah, who slew them.  (Surah 8:17)

Ahmed: So, it was not you who fought them; but it was Allah who fought them. (Surah 8:17)


Quran sanctions taking of hostages and booty:

Dawood:  A prophet may not take captives until he has fought and triumphed in his land [other translations say “widespread slaughter”] . . . Enjoy therefore the good and lawful things which you have gained in war, and fear God. (Surah 8:70)

Ahmed: It is not befitting a Prophet to have prisoners of war, unless he (has stopped) bloodshed in the land. . . Therefore, use what you have secured as booty that is permitted and pure. (Surah 8:70)


Subjugation of Christians and Jews:

Dawood: Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His apostle have forbidden, who do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued. (Surah 9:29)

Ahmed: Struggle against those who do not believe in Allah, and the Last Day, and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and those from among the people of the Book who do not embrace the path of Justice (Truth), until they humbly pay the tribute with their own hands. (Surah 9:29)


Quran recommends suicide for doubters:

Dawood:  If anyone thinks that God will not give victory to His apostle in this world and in the world to come, let him tie a rope to the ceiling of his house and hang himself. Then let him see if his device has done away with that which has enraged him. (Surah 22:15)

Ahmed: If anyone doubts that Allah will not help him in this world and in the hereafter, let him throw up a scheme towards the heavens, and (try to) cut (the distance between heaven and earth), then see if his plan will remove what distresses him. (Surah 22:15)


Allah honors animal cruelty:

Dawood: We gave Solomon to David; and he was a good and faithful servant. When, one evening, his prancing steeds were ranged before him, he said: “My love for good things has distracted me from the remembrance of my Lord; for now the sun has vanished behind the veil of darkness. Bring me back my chargers!” And with this he fell to hacking their legs and necks. . . In the world to come he shall be honored and well received. (Surah 38:33-40)  [This animal cruelty is also reflected in the Pickthal, Shakir, Saheeh, Qaribullah, Sale, and Rodwell translations.]

Ahmed: And We granted Solomon (as a son) to David, a Divine gift, a servant (of Allah). Indeed, he was among those who turned to Us. When, one evening, high bred horses were presented to him, he said, “Indeed, I have come to love, with a higher love, because of the dhikr (remembrance) of my Lord; until it (the sun) disappeared in the curtain (of darkness).” (He said): “Bring them back to me!” Then he started to stroke their feet and their mane (out of his love for them). . . And indeed there is for him closeness with Us and a station of excellence. (Surah 38:33-40)


Rape of Children:

Dawood:  Prophet (and you believers) if you divorce your wives, divorce them at the end of their waiting period. . . If you are in doubt concerning those of your wives who have ceased menstruating, know that their waiting period shall be three months.  The same shall apply to those who have not yet menstruated.  (Surah 65:1, 4)

Ahmed: O Prophet! When you divorce women, divorce them keeping in mind their measured terms, and keep track of their measured terms, and be conscious of your Rabb [Creator]. . . And the women, those among your wives who are not hopeful of their menses (in menopause), if you are doubtful, then their period is three months, and (also) the women, who have not yet had their menses. (Surah 65:1, 4)


Allah brands on the nose those who doubt the Quran:

Dawood: [When someone says,] “They are but fables of the ancients,” on the nose We will brand him! (Surah 68:15-16)

Ahmed: [When someone says,] “(These are) tales of the ancients!” Soon We shall smite him on his nose. (Surah 68:15-16)


No punishment for those who rape captives:

Dawood: [Punishment is spared for those] who restrain their carnal desire (save with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them). (Surah 70:29-30)

Ahmed: [Punishment is spared for] those who guard their chastity, except with their spouses and whose their right hands possess, in which case, they are free from blame. (Surah 70:29-30)

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