07
Sep
07

QURAN: A Reformist Translation

Dear brothers and sisters:

The long-awaited book, after being abandoned by Palgrave/Macmillan from fear of controversy and perhaps political considerations (see below), is finally out. Its first print is now offered at:

www.brainbowpress.com

Let the world hear about the book, so that we can break the blockage of the corrupt establishment and reactionary forces.

QURAN

A Reformist Translation

 

Translated and Annotated by

Edip Yuksel

Layth Saleh al-Shaiban

Martha Schulte-Nafeh

  • The Reformist Translation of the Quran offers a non-sexist understanding of the divine text; it is the result of collaboration between three translators, two men and a woman.
  • It explicitly rejects the right of the clergy to determine the likely meaning of disputed passages.
  • It uses logic and the language of the Quran itself as the ultimate authority in determining likely meanings, rather than ancient scholarly interpretations rooted in patriarchal hierarchies.
  • It offers extensive cross-referencing to the Bible and provides arguments on numerous philosophical and scientific issues.
  • It is God’s message for those who prefer reason over blind faith, for those who seek peace and ultimate freedom by submitting themselves to the Truth alone.

“A bold and beautiful translation that serves as a timely reminder to all believers that the Qur’an is not a static scripture, but a living, breathing, ever-evolving text whose sacred words are as applicable today as when they were first uttered by the Prophet Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.” – Reza Aslan, CBS News Consultant; Author, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.

“A testament to the fact that faith need not suffocate reason. This is bound to be among the smartest of ‘smart bombs’ in the battle of ideas within Islam.”  – Irshad Manji, Fellow, Yale University and author, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith.

“Every conversation begins with a single voice. This Reformist Translation of the Quran and its ancillary materials should begin many conversations, between and among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In many parts of the Muslim world this is a dangerous discussion, and sometimes that danger can reach well into the West, as evidenced by the 1990 fatwa-inspired murder of Rashad Khalifa in Tucson, Arizona . It is an important discussion, however, and the editors of this book have assumed this risk to argue for a perspective that sets violence aside both in discourse and living. One can imagine that a broader adoption of their perspective across the Muslim world would reduce strife and invite greater examination of Islam by non-Muslims as something other than a threat. It would expand the conversation.” - Mark V Sykes Ph.D. J.D. Director, Planetary Science Institute.

“Very Interesting and Timely” - Riffat Hassan, Ph.D. Professor of Religious Studies and Humanities at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. A pioneer of feminist theology in the context of the Islamic tradition.

“I completely agree with you in your rejection of the right of any group to arrogate to themselves the sole interpretation of the Quran. The Quran, being a book containing divine knowledge and wisdom, can only be understood progressively. It has to be interpreted anew by every generation and through a scientific methodology…. Your effort is praiseworthy. Well done. Keep it up.” - Kassim Ahmad, former president of Malaysian Socialist Party and head of Malaysian Quranic Society who was declared “apostate” by religious authorities for his controversial work on the Prophetic Traditions.

“This translation is the best tool for those who want to understand the uncorrupted Message of Islam – justice and peace. This translation shows that the Quran is but the confirmation and continuation of God’s system memorialized through Abraham, demonstrated in Torah through numerous prophets, and in the Hebrew Gospel through Yeshu’a/Jesus, the righteous of God. This translation is a message of peace, justice and judgment. I pray that the Reformist translation of the Quran will replace all others not only because it is the best but also because it is the closest to the original Arabic text.” - Gershom Kibrisli, theologian and communal leader, The Karaim of the Early Hebrew Scriptures, Holy Land & Benelux.

“Quran: A Reformist Translation is distinct from other translations of the Qur’an in several important ways. First, to the best of my knowledge, it is only the second English translation of the Qur’an produced by Qur’anists–advocates of the concept of the Qur’an as the sole legitimate scriptural source of religious law and guidance in Islam. As Qur’anists, Yuksel and his colleagues reject the Hadith as sources of religious law and guidance and do not rely on them in this translation and commentary. The first Qur’anist English translation was done by the late Rashad Khalifa, a seminal figure in the late twentieth-century Qur’anist movement who directly influenced both Yuksel and Shulte-Nafeh. Quran: A Reformist Translation is also unique because it is the product of collaboration between two key figures in the present-day Qur’anist movement: Edip Yuksel and Layth Saleh al-Shaiban. The Qur’anist approach offers religious rather than secularist challenges to traditional understandings of Islam, whether Sunni, Shia, or academic, on a number of critical issues; so this translation and commentary have the potential to spark extreme controversy among Muslims and non-Muslims.” - Aisha Y. Musa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Florida International University; author of An Examination of Early and Contemporary Muslim Attitudes toward Hadith as Scripture (Doctoral Dissertation, Harvard University, 2004).

“With its lucid language, brilliant theological and philosophic arguments, Edip Yüksel removes the smoke of distortions and ignorance generated by clergymen that have concealed the light of the Quran from masses. Pulling our attention to numerous scientific evidences supporting the authenticity of the divine nature of the Quran, the Reformist Translation is destined to create a Copernican Revolution in the realm of religions. I highly recommend it to Agnostics, Skeptics, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or anyone who seeks truth about God without suppressing or compromising their brains.” – Caner Taslaman, PhDs in Theology and Political Science; Post doc fellow at Harvard University; author, The Quran: Unchallengeable Miracle; The Big Bang and God; The Theory of Evolution and God; and The Invented Religion ; www.mucizeler.com.

“Allah has gifted humanity with many signs for guidance. The Qur’an not only directs us towards these signs all over creation, but also in itself is a most miraculous sign. We can never know the full meaning of the Qur’an even as we exercise our minds and peacefully surrender our hearts to Allah so that we become able to read the signs and grow to know more. A Reformist Translation directs us to this miracle by offering an intense and challenging addition to the practice of sincere reading for knowing. I cannot accept its Qur’an only perspective, even as I support the efforts of these translators to engage, as they have, in reading and growing with knowledge while relaying to others some new possibilities of meaning for the sake of reflection and peacefully surrender. I hope many will examine their efforts to gain benefit and challenge.” - Dr. Amina Wadud, Author: Inside the Gender Jihad: Reform in Islam.

“A timely and stimulating contribution to scholarship on Islam that offers cogent testimony to the diversity of views within the Islamic community.  This new translation challenges those in East and West alike who see Islam as irreconcilably opposed to the scientific and democratic impulses of modernity.” – Germaine A. Hoston, Ph.D, Professor, University of California. San Diego, former Director of the Center for Democratization and Economic Development, and author of The State, Identity, and the National Question and Faith, Will, and Revolutionary Change (forthcoming), a comparative study of theologies of liberation.

“I have to say that this translation –following in the same spirit of Dr. Khalifa’s Quran: The Final Testament — not only is daring, brave and non-traditional in its approach, it will open a lot of eyes that the Quran is dynamic in nature and relevant for all times. The spirit of using the Quran to explain the Quran, namely trying to understand a certain word by searching for the meaning of the same word in many different contexts within the Quran, is very evident in this translation. This is a book that encourages the reader to use his/her intelligence faculty in order to understand the message, true to the key message of the Quran itself . - Gatut Adisoma, PhD, Indonesia .

“From the perspective of the academic study of the Qur’an, this book has very little to contribute. … To proclaim that the Qur’an contains 20th-century scientific discoveries renders meaningless the religious faith of Muslims of the past who could not possibly have been aware of such a concept. … Controversy may assist book sales, as happened in the case of The Satanic Verses, but it would be a cynical and questionable strategy to publish a book simply because it arouses the wrath of many people. Simply to publish this work as it is basically gives this religious group a platform to express their distinctive theology, which is highly polemical and dismissive of other perspectives…” – A anonymous Sunni Scholar who was described by the editor of Palgrave-Macmillan as “a very well-established professor.”

EDIP YUKSEL is an American-Turkish-Kurdish author and activist who spent four years in Turkish prisons in the 1980’s for his political writings and activities promoting an Islamic revolution in Turkey. He experienced a paradigm change in 1986 transforming him from a Sunni Muslim leader to a reformed muslim or rational monotheist. Edip Yuksel has written more than twenty books and hundreds of articles on religion, politics, philosophy and law in Turkish, and numerous articles and booklets in English. Edip is the founder of 19.org, and the Islamic Reform organization. His personal site is yuksel.org. After receiving his bachelor degrees from the University of Arizona in Philosophy and Near Eastern Studies, Edip received his law degree from the same university. Edip is an Adjunct Philosophy professor at Pima Community College , and teaches various classes at his children’s school. He is fluent in Turkish, English and Classic Arabic; proficient in Persian, and barely conversant in Kurdish, his mother tongue.

LAYTH SALEH AL-SHAIBAN is an author of various books and articles on Islam, founder of Progressive Muslims, and co-founder of Islamic Reform. Layth works in a financial institution as a financial adviser, and lives in Saudi Arabia.

MARTHA SCHULTE-NAFEH is Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Arizona and Language Coordinator of Middle Eastern Languages at the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Martha received her B.S. from Wharton School , University of Pennsylvania in Economics, received her M.A., in Linguistics from the University of Arizona in 1990, and her Ph.D. from the same university in Near Eastern Studies – Arabic Language and Linguistics 2004. In 1982, she taught English as a Foreign Language at American University in Cairo, Egypt .

Following a Fatwa-Review of Establishment,
Palgrave/Macmillan Abandoned the Publication of this Book

In 2004, my colleagues and I signed a contract with Palgrave/Macmillan publishing house for the publication of Quran: a Reformist Translation. The editor and other staff of the publishing house were very encouraging and enthusiastic, and during the summer of 2006, I was personally introduced to the director of the publishing company at its New York headquarters. Palgrave even published an announcement about the upcoming Reformist Translation in their 2006 Fall/Winter Catalogue, which was later postponed to the summer of 2007. The publishing house posted information about the Reformist Translation for pre-orders at Amazon.com and other online bookstores. However , in December 2006, the editor informed me that the board had determined that my manuscript was not acceptable for publication.

Apparently, they were convinced or intimidated by a review (more accurately, a fatwa) of “a very well-established professor,” who misleadingly likened our annotated translation of the Quran to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. This was akin to a medieval publishing house turning down Martin Luther’s 95 Theses after consulting “a very well-established” Catholic Bishop! It is telling that Palgrave’s “very well-established scholar” in his several-page review, had only one substantive criticism, which consisted of our usage of a word, yes a single word in the translation: progressive.

I believe that without hearing my defense against this Sunni version of excommunication in the guise of a “scholarly review,” the publishing house committed an injustice against my person and our work. I called the publishing house and asked them to give me the chance to respond to the reviewer and defend myself and work against his disparagement and distortions; I was told he remain anonymous.

We were not surprised to hear negative remarks, insults, or false associations from a reviewer who considers a rejection of backward and bankrupt sectarian dogmas “heresy.” However, we were surprised to learn that the board of the publishing house cancelled the publication of a potentially controversial yet crucial book that would introduce the message of the Quran ¾the message of peace, justice, reason, and progress ¾without the distortion of sectarian teachings. Any scholar who can see beyond his or her office can see the growing reform movement, open or clandestine, particularly in Turkey, Malaysia , Iran, Egypt and Kazakhstan where people take great risks to question the popular sectarian dogmas.

You may visit the following websites for the full text of the letter of the Sunni scholar whose advice was taken at face value by Palgrave/Macmillan, and for our response to the letter. You may also find in the following websites, recent updates, reactions, and feedback from reviewers, our responses, related news in the media, and the activities of the global reformist movement:

www.19.org

www.islamicreform.org

www.progressivemuslims.org

www.free-minds.org

Let the world hear the message. Let the West hear the voice of monotheism, the voice of reason, peace, justice and progress. Let the East and the Middle East hear the clear message of the book that they have abandoned for centuries, despite efforts by their leaders to repress it.

9:32      They want to extinguish God‘s light with their mouths, but God refuses such and lets His light continue, even if the ingrates hate it.

9:33      He is the One who sent His messenger with guidance and the system of truth, to make it manifest above all other systems, even if those who set up partners hate it.

 

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