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Gracious Qur'an: A Modern Phrased Interpretation (Arabic-English Parallel Edition - Leather Cover Paperback)

Dr. Ahmad Zaki Hammad

Lucent Interpretations (Universal Knowledge Institute) - USA
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Twenty years in the making, The Gracious Quran: A Modern-Phrased Interpretation of Its Meanings in English, is both highly reliable and powerfully expressed English translation of the Quran by Dr. Ahmad Zaki Hammad (Professor at Al-Azhar University). Where the Arabic of the Quran swells with important implication, that intent is conveyed in this rendering with a light hand in unobtrusive brackets, every effort having been expended to make its reading august, clear, accessible, and consistent while at the same time free of poetic pretension, philosophical complication, and lifeless literalisms. Its graceful layout and design augment the profound simplicity of the Quran’s message and give some semblance of resonance to its almost hypnotic power of literary expression.

The interpretation of The Gracious Quran, endorsed by Al-Azhar University, is thoroughly guided by wide and deep experience with the civilizations of both luminous Islam and the enlightened west, while not unmindful of the light that infuses the world’s brilliant traditions. Fully four decades of scholarly expertise in Quranic studies and related disciplines are in its service, and the latest advances in the art of translation conspicuously benefit it.

The Arabic-English Parallel edition comprises the complete text of the translation in a new layout parallel to the Arabic Text of the Quran together with concise introductory materials, annotated names and themes of the surahs, substantive indexes, and an elaborate study that presents the message-content of the Quran in the context of its form and style, a review of the history of the Quran’s translation, and a description of the approach and features of this translation.


Book Review by Dr. Abdur Raheem Kidwai

(Author of the book 'Translating the Untranslatable - A Critical Guide to 60 English Translations of Quran', and Professor at Aligarh Muslim University in India):

It is heartening to note the publication of this new English translation of the Qur’an in that it stands out above the existing ones on several counts. Its chief merit consists in its deep and sincere concern for meeting almost all the needs of the uninitiated English speaking readers of the Qur’an who want to find out what the Qur’an is, what is its message and how best it should be studied. Ahmad Zaki Hammad, who had his academic training at both al-Azhar and University of Chicago coupled with his decade-long stay in the US, has addressed effectively and competently these and other related issues. To begin with, he has provided extensive and helpful background material geared towards preparing readers better for grasping the meaning and message of the Qur’an. His opening note, “Before You Read” is characterized by his overflowing sincerity of purpose and his keen desire for making the study of the Qur’an highly rewarding for readers.

The same noble spirit permeates the seemingly innocuous table of contents listing titles of 114 Qur’anic Surahs. What makes his detailed “Annotated Contents for the Gracious Qur’an” unique is his elucidation of the meaning and significance of each Qur’anic Surah title. For example, Surah al-Anbiya’ is introduced as “the Surah that mentions the names of sixteen Prophets and Mary, illustrating the unity of divine message” and Surah al-Kafirun as “the Surah that instructs the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم to inform the Disbelievers that the worship of false deities and the worship of One God are not, and can never be, compatible”. Hammad often manages to capture the quintessence of the main subject matter of Surahs in his brief introduction at the contents page itself, which stands in a sharp contrast to all other English translations in which only Surah titles are listed, divorced from their context. As a result, some readers feel bewildered upon coming across such heterogeneous Surah headings on the contents page as “The Cow, The Table Spread, Cattle, Thunder, The Bee, The Ant, The Spider, Crouching, The Sand Hills, The Winnowing Winds, she that disputes, She that is to be examined, The Ascending Stairways, He Frowned, The Fig, Palm Fiber, etc”. This ingenious editorial innovation on Hammad’s part will go a long way in drawing readers closer to a more fruitful study of the Qur’an.

As to his translation of the Qur’anic text, it is both elegant and reader friendly. His “modern-phrased interpretation” is in lucid, idiomatic English, which is a delight to read. His rhythmic division and sub-divisions of the text of each verse into smaller chunks of chaste English has enhanced the presentation quality of the work, rendering it more readily comprehensible. Here are some instances in point, by way of juxtaposing Pickthall’s and Hammad’s translations:

1. And We rained a rain upon them. See now the nature of the consequence for evil doers.
(Surah Al-'Araf  7:84, Pickthall’s translation)

And we rained down upon them a devastating rain of marked stones! See how dreadful was the end of the defiant Unbelievers. (Hammad’s rendering of the above)

2. Nay, I swear by the city- and thou art an in-dweller of this city- and the begetter and that which he begat. We verily have created man in an atmosphere.
(Surah Al-Balad 90:1-4 , Pickthall’s translation)

No, indeed! I do swear by this Sacred City of Makkah, while you, O Prophet, are a free dweller in this Sacred City of Makkah Moreover, I swear by all that beget and all that is begotten! Very truly We created man in a life of travail. (Hammad’s translation of the above)

As is clear from the above samples, in his rendering Hammad has opted for paraphrasing, rather than literal translation of the Qur’anic text. This device is no doubt, reader-friendly and conveys more effectively the tenor of the Qur’anic text, in comparison to the cryptic, enigmatic and, at times, incomprehensible English renderings in almost all other translations. However, utmost caution should be exercised while interpolating extra-Qur’anic material in the body of the translation of the Qur’anic text. Such material, no matter how useful it might be, should better appear within parenthesis, distinct from the translated version of the Word of God. This norm is regretfully not observed in Hammad’s work. As a result, his rendering, though faithful to the spirit of the text, contains abundant material for filling gaps for the sake of a coherent narration, which is not supported by the wording of the text. As already indicated, Hammad’s work is truly a treasure-house of sound Qur’anic scholarship which is reflected in his comprehensive explanatory notes, which apart from embodying a wealth of his own perceptive comments, draw also upon the rich tafsir corpus, referred to in his: A Library of Principal Sources of Islam and Bibliography.

Hammad’s thorough familiarity with the English translations of the Qur’an comes out sharply in his judicious critique, Representing the Qur’an in English: The Western Tradition. His invaluable knowledge of the existing translations has indeed helped him in avoiding the errors marring these. In all, this is a monumental English translation which is destined to meet many needs for the years to come. Remarkably it delivers what the translator rises to deliver: to convey an understanding of the intent of the words and verses of the Arabic Qur’an ... according to how the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) explained them and how his Companions understood his elucidation; to allow the new reader and non-specialist to understand the references and connections that an Arabic reader well-studied in the Qur’an would grasp; and to present this reading of the Qur’an’s verses in clear language.

Title: Gracious Qur'an: A Modern Phrased Interpretation (Arabic-English Parallel Edition)
Author: Dr. Ahmad Zaki Hammad
Publisher: Universal Knowledge Institute (Illinois, USA)
Pages: 1444
Binding: Paperback (Soft Leather Cover)
Weight: 1.06 kg


Dr. Ahmad Zaki Hammad is an internationally known authority on Quran and Islamic Studies. He teaches Islamic Civilization and the Primary Disciplines of Quran Commentary, the Prophetic Traditions, and the Principles of Islamic Law at the foremost center of Islamic and Arabic learning in the Muslim world, Al-Azhar University (Faculty of Languages and Translations, Department of English). He is also a member of the Faculty of Shari’ah, Department of Juristic Studies.

He received his early Islamic and Arabic training at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, and was awarded the graduate degree of Alamiyyah from the Faculty of Theology. He holds a Ph.D, in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago and is the author of a study of translation of Abu Hamid al-Ghazalis’s Al-Mustasfa min Ilm al-Usul, The Quintessence of the Science of the Principles of Islamic Law; and also Islamic Law: Understanding Juristic Differences, a Primer on the Science of al-Khulaf al Fiqhi in Light of the Shari ah Sources.

He lived for many years in the United States, where he founded and served in numerous national and community Islamic institutions for American Muslims.



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