into thirty portions; so that the whole may (like the Psalms), by the use of a
daily portion, be read through in the month.
Their intense veneration for the Corân induced among Mahometans a
superstitious aversion to its being printed and sold as a common book. There is
also a very prevalent unwillingness to desecrate the sacred text, and incur the
danger of erroneous rendering, by a translation into other languages. Such
scruples are on the decrease; and printed copies, with interlineal versions in
Persian and Urdoo, are now commonly used in India. But the translations are so
literal as often to be unintelligible, slavish adherence to the letter proving,
as usual, a greater irreverence than an attempt to give the sense and spirit in
a free translation.
The translation of Sale, published A.D. 1734, is still the standard English
version. Though paraphrastic, perhaps to an excess, it deserves our admiration,
not only for its faithfulness, but for the wonderful transfusion of the spirit
of the original into a foreign tongue.*