Translating the Miracle


Let’s try to translate this pantun into English:

Kalau ada jarum yang patah,
Jangan disimpan di dalam peti,
Kalau ada silap dan salah,
Jangan disimpan didalam hati,

If there’s a broken needle,
Don’t keep it in a box,
If there’s a mistake,
Don’t keep it in heart.

We might be able to translate the ‘pantun’ into English, but are we able to translate the beauty of the language as well?


Same goes to the Quran. When somebody translates the Quran, even with their best effort, the most that they are able to capture is merely some parts of the messages. It is impossible to capture the miracle unless we approach it in its original form.

The miracle of the Quran presents itself through the words of Allah. The words that are used are of His own choice. That is what makes the verses so miraculous.

If I try to describe the meaning of an aayah in English, I may be able to give an idea that is close to the meaning of the aayah. But I cannot deliver to you its beauty, which is another miracle of the aayah.

Once such example could be seen from Surat Muddaththir [74:3]

Take a look at how the letters in this verse are spelt the same way backward and forward. As an English tafseer reader, we are able to capture the meaning “Declare the greatness only of your lord.” but we would have missed the palindrome if we are not familiar with Arabic letters.


This begs the question: Are we able to express “Declare the greatness only of your lord,” in the same style using  other languages like English, French, German, Japanese, Urdu, Malay, etc. ?

We can translate the ayah, but can we translate the miracle?



Nouman Ali Khan – Why and How to Learn Arabic for Comprehension of the Quran


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