In Surah 5:73 we read
|They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no Allah save the One Allah. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve.||They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.||Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah is the third (person) of the three; and there is no god but the one Allah, and if they desist not from what they say, a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve.|
A similar observation can be made in in Surah 4:171:
|O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One Allah. ...||O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: ...||O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only a messenger of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His messengers, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one....|
Can you see the phrase "in a Trinity" in Yusuf Ali's translation of Surah 5:73? It is not in the Arabic text, neither did he put it in parentheses in his translation to indicate the interpolation. Neither is the word for "trinity" found in 4:171. This is a anti-Christian propaganda translation. In the Qur'an, the verse is directed against polytheism, particularly tritheism, but this version is produced and distributed to indoctrinate Muslims against the Trinity through this deliberate mistranslation. By this way they hope Muslims will not even consider learning about the Trinity, "since Allah has already rejected it".
The Arabic word for the "Holy Trinity" is "al-thaaluuth al-aqdas", pronounced ath-thaaluuth al-aqdas.
Yusuf Ali's translation, indeed, is a translation "in view of Christians and Westerners": sometimes sharpening polemics against the Christian creed (see above) and sometimes softening issues which could be embarrassing in a Western environment.
The above passage is to be read in Arabic:
"wa-laa taqooloo thalaathatun" (Surah an-Nisa' 4:171)
And this certainly has to be translated as:
"And don't say three!"
The word "thalaathatun" is the usual cardinal number "three" referring to three things at least one which is of masculine gender. Remember that the Qur'an has the view that the Christian Trinity consists of God (Father), Jesus and Mary.
A similar phrase is in Surah al-Maa'ida 5:73
"alladhina qaaloo inna llaaha thaalithu thalaathatin" "those who speak: look, God is the third of three"
where we have the ordinal number "thaalithu" "the third" together with the cardinal number "thalaathat" "three".
There is no idea that "thalaathat" "three" would also have the specific meaning of a trinity or even the Holy Trinity.
Seemingly with same motivation as above we find regarding the validity of the earlier scriptures various distorted translations.
Surah 5:44 and 5:46 are presented as:
|5:44||Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of Allah's Scripture as they were bidden to observe, and thereunto were they witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers.||It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers.||Surely We revealed the Taurat in which was guidance and light; with it the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged (matters) for those who were Jews, and the masters of Divine knowledge and the doctors, because they were required to guard (part) of the Book of Allah, and they were witnesses thereof; therefore fear not the people and fear Me, and do not take a small price for My communications; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unbelievers.|
|5:46||And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah - a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil).||And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.||And We sent after them in their footsteps Isa, son of Marium, verifying what was before him of the Taurat and We gave him the Injeel in which was guidance and light, and verifying what was before it of Taurat and a guidance and an admonition for those who guard (against evil).|
What is wrong in the above? This time only Pickthall has it right.
... the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, ...
... the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, ...
In the Arabic there is no indication of past tense. Yusuf Ali makes this to be past tense, so it is easier to use for the accusation of Bible corruption and the claim that the Bible is no longer the Word of God. But the Arabic is timeless and must be translated "is" to be faithful to the intention.
For Shakir, this might be a blunder as he is usually not translating for hiding and/or propaganda sake. But I don't believe it is oversight for Yusuf Ali. These are just a few; there are many such "tendentious translations" in Yusuf Ali.
For Sura 4:47 we are given the meaning:
|O ye unto whom the Scripture hath been given! Believe in what We have revealed confirming that which you possess...||O ye People of the Book! believe in what We have (now) revealed, confirming what was (already) with you, ...||O you who have been given the Book! believe that which We have revealed, verifying what you have....||You who have been given the Book, believe in what We have sent down, confirming what is with you...|
Again, the three other translations translate it in present tense, and Ali converts it into past tense for Muslim propaganda sake.
And in Surah 5:15 Yusuf Ali goes even further:
|O People of the Scripture! Now hath Our messenger come unto you, expounding unto you much of that which ye used to hide in the Scripture, and forgiving much. now hath come unto you light from Allah and plain Scripture,||O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book, -||O followers of the Book! indeed Our Messenger has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book and passing over much; indeed, there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah;|
Who inspired or authorized Yusuf Ali to add to the Qur'an the words "that is now unnecessary"? There is nothing in the text that justifies this addition. Woe to those who currupt for a small gain.
Usually it is the translation by Yusuf Ali that is distributed for free to many non-Muslims. I am glad I got one, it is still a helpful edition because of the many footnotes (which are to be taken with many grains of salt just as well) giving helpful insights in passages which I would find totally obscure otherwise, but I wonder why it is Yusuf Ali that is chosen to be given to inquiring Christians? Based on the above observations, would it be wrong to get the impression that it was written with Christians "in mind" and particularly to support Muslim attack on their faith and scriptures?
I hope you can understand that this is approach not finding much favor with me, nor other more knowledgable Christians.
Further examples of twisted translation using formulations that lend itself better for attack on the Christian faith than what the text in the Qur'an actually says, be it on a factual or an emotional level.
In Surah al-Ma'idah 5:17 we find
|Pickthall||Yusuf Ali||Shakir||Sher Ali||Rashad Khalifa|
|5:17||They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. ...||In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary. ...||Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely, Allah-- He is the Messiah, son of Marium. ...||They indeed have disbelieved who say, `Surely ALLAH - He is the Messiah, son of Mary.' ....||Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, the son of Mary. ...|
|5:72||They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. ...||They do blaspheme who say: "God is Christ the son of Mary." ...||Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Marium; ...||Indeed, they are disbelievers who say, `ALLAH, HE is the Messiah, son of Mary,' ...||Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, son of Mary. ...|
There is no justification in the Arabic to translate "blaspheme" instead of "disbelieve".* The only reason to do so is to build up stronger anti-Christian emotions in the reader. Khalifa is also off with his unjustified choice of the word "pagans". In addition, these above two verses are interesting for a theological problem they create.
Yusuf Ali is quite consistent in his preference for the term "blasphemy". One more example should suffice:
|Pickthall||Yusuf Ali||Shakir||Sher Ali||Rashad Khalifa|
|2:88||And they say: Our hearts are hardened. Nay, but Allah hath cursed them for their unbelief. Little is that which they believe.||They say, "Our hearts are the wrappings (which preserve God's Word: we need no more)." Nay, God's curse is on them for their blasphemy: Little is it they believe.||And they say: Our hearts are covered. Nay, Allah has cursed them on account of their unbelief; so little it is that they believe.||They said `Our hearts are wrapped up in covers.' Nay, ALLAH has cursed them for their disbelief. Little is that which they believe.||Some would say, "Our minds are made up!" Instead, it is a curse from GOD, as a consequence of their disbelief, that keeps them from believing, except for a few of them.|
Not believing a certain claim is not the same as blaspheming. This is deliberate and maybe even malicious mistranslation in order to create anti-Christian sentiment in the Muslims. The same unique choice of words against all other translators can be observed in 3:55, 4:155, 5:68, 5:103, 8:35, 10:70, 11:9, 14:28, 21:36, 39:8, 39:32, 40:42, 43:15, 43:33 ... (not all of these verses are directed against Jews and Christians, but several are). Furthermore, blasphemy is a deliberate act of insulting God. No Christian intentionally does so. If unintentional wrong statements about God are counted, then Muslims constantly blaspheme by claiming that Jesus (God incarnate) is a mere man.
However, Yusuf Ali knows that the word actually means disbelieve, and not blaspheme, since he translates it correctly for example at the end of Surah 5:44 "... they are unbelievers" (humu alkafiroona).
Another serious mistranslation: Did Allah forget the wives? (Surah 52:21).
Answering Islam Home Page