|Translation of the Scripture: Punishibale By Death?
(This is an article taken from the monthly newsletter "Submitters Perspective")
Sometimes in our Quran studies we argue over a certain word, whether this or that is the best way to translate it. Occasionally the discussions get heated. But through it all, the one thing we all agree on is how fortunate we are to have a translation that's easy for us to read and comprehend. No one argues the fact that we have the best translation easily accesible. Well, I think we need to be even more appreciative of that fact and thank God for the blessing.
I recently read an article in a periodical called Old News. It was about a man named William Tynedale who lived in England in the 1500's. His lifelong ambition was to translate the New and Old Testaments of the Bible from Latin into English. It seems like a reasonable thing to us, but at that time and place, just to have the idea was punishable by death! Yes, death.
There were lots of reasons given why it was heretical to translate the Bible, but the bottom line was that the religious leaders were terrified of losing their control over the people if any common person, even women, were able to read the Gospels for themselves. There was great fear that if people could read the book, they would discover not just what it said, but what it didn't say. There is no reference to celibacy of priests, no trinity, no intercession of a father confessor. Many of the very basic tenets of the Catholic faith would be questioned.
At that time, the Bible was like a treasure chest kept locked up for safekeeping. The preacher would take out a single gem of wisdom for his sermon but keep the whole treasure away from the common man.
William Tyndale was an ordained preacher, but he couldn't understand his attitude. He asked the unanswerable question: "Why may we not write in English the gospel?" And he said, "The truth of God standeth not in one language more than in another." He was arguing with one learned man who proclaimed that people would be better off without God's law than without the Popes'!
Tyndale realized he would never be able to achieve his goal in England. It was too dangerous. He had fallen under the scrutiny of Sir Thomas More, who would relentlessly pursue him for years, believing Tyndale to be a dangerous heretic who deserved to be burned at the stake. So Tyndale went to Germany in 1524. He lived in exile for the next 11 years, moving secretly from place to place, always knowing he was in danger of being betrayed.
By the spring of 1536, copies of his translation of the New Testament began arriving in England, smuggled in quietly and quite ingeniously. Anyone caught importing these books would be imprisoned at the very least. But the demand was high. They brought the books into England hidden in among cloth-making cargoes, with tools and cannon, glassware and foodstuff, stacked in barrels labeled wine or oil and hidden in sacks of flour. They would sell out as soon as they arrived, even though they had to be sold clandestinely. People were hungry for the word of God.
The first page of his translation fo the New Testament is an elaborate wood cut, a full page, a very intricate illustration. It shows St. Matthew dipping his pen in an inkpot held by a young angel. As the Quran says: Read, in the name of your Lord, who created. [96:1] NuN, the pen, and what they (the people) write. [68:1]
Tyndale then turned his attention to the Old Testament. An earlier translation of the verses of Genesis read: "In the first made God of nought heaven and earth. The earth forsooth was vain within and void, and darkness were upon the face of the sea and the Spirit of God was born upon the waters. And God said, Be made light, and made is light"
Tyndale chose to write in recognizable English: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the deeep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the water. Then God said: let there be light and there was light."
What a gift it must have been to not only be able to read the book in one's own language, but to have it clear and understandable. I feel the same way when I compare Rashad Khalifa's translation to all previous translations. It's very freeing to be able to study and learn from the scripture. Yet there are traditional Muslims who tell you that the Quran must be read in Arabic, and Friday (Juma's) services are conducted in Arabic even before an English speaking audience. Just as these early Catholics conducted all services in Latin--Mass, baptism, readings from the Bible--though the audience didn't speak or understand a word of Latin.
What does the Quran tell us about translation?
If we revealed this to people who do not know Arabic. And had him recite it (in Arabic), they could not possibly believe in it. We thus render it (like a foreign language) in the hearts of the guilty. [26:198-200]
So the Quran must be translated and the language is irrelevant:
If we made it a non-Arabic Quran they would have said, "Why did it come down in that language?"
Whether it is Arabic or non-Arabic, say, "For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for those who disbelieve, they will be deaf to it, as if they are being addressed from faraway." [41:44]
And verse 14:4 tells us that God means for us to be able to understand His messengers when they come:
We did not send any messengers except (to preach) in the tongue of his people, in order to clarify
things for them. God then sends astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills. He is the
Almighty, the Most Wise."
William Tyndale was finally betrayed and captured in Antwerp in 1535. He was charged with heresay and kept in prison for over a year before being formally condemned as a heretic and sentenced to die. As a nobleman he was spared the horrible punishment of being burned alive at the stake. He was strangled and then his dead body was burned, as a warning to others.
But by then the tide was turning. For his own personal reasons, King Henry VIII had turned away from the Catholic Church. It was losing influence and power. The demand continued to have the scripture available in English, so several translations were undertaken. Most translations relied heavily on the work Tyndale had begun.
I think it's most interesting that the thing the Catholic leaders feared the most--that people would realize the discrepancy between the way the Bible preached the faith and the way it was practiced--never materialized. Reforms were made, but not in the major areas of the divinity and idolization of Jesus, celibacy of priests, the trinity, and the concept of intercession. In the end, it's only God who guides. It's clearly His command that the religion should be made easily available to everyone.
God tells us not to conceal His revelations and preach to the people. But regardless of their language, only those with understanding will take heed.
He bestows wisdom upon whomever He chooses, and whoever attains wisdom, has attained a great bounty. Only those who possess intelligence will take heed. [2:269]
This is a scripture that we sent down to you, that is sacred - perhaps they reflect on its verses. Those who possess intelligence will take heed. [38:29]
Indeed, this is a reminder. For those who wish to take heed. They cannot take heed against God's will. He is the source of righteousness; He is the source of forgiveness. [74:54-6]
Daniell, David. William Tyndale,
a Biography. Yale University
Pressw, New Haven & London, 1994
Moynahan, Brian. God's Bestseller
St. Martin's Press, New York, 2002
Old News, Vol. 16, No. 4, December
2004 & January 2005
Lydia is a former Christian, submitter.
|read sura 4, al-nesa (women)
it seems to me that many people are still confused about how submission itself is so different from the mainstream islam. i do not call myself a muslim for the reason that i do not want to be associated with all of the backward traditions of todays corrupted islam. i call myself a submitter because the true submission condemns all of those backward traditions, it is hadith and sunna, not quran, that these people follow. they continue the traditions of their ancestors and do not follow the actual quran. it says nowhere in quran, for instance, that women should wear hijab (covering their bodies from head to toe) or that we have the right to kill anyone who is a 'non-muslim' (or infidels, as osama bin laden calls them.. who is not actually a muslim!!) these are all practices that were man-taught, they took the words of the quran extremely out of context and also follow a book which is called 'hearsay' which is not mentioned in quran or any previous scripture and is very backwards and perverse. this has nothing to do with islam. these people are mentioned in the quran as hypocrites.
here is an article written by a fellow submitter which clears the confusion about womens dresscode:
please read this if you have ignorant biases towards muslims because they wear hijab. it is not a law in quran to do this and those who possess intelligence and read the quran properly know this; we are told to dress modestly, not
abstrusely. but the arabs and even many western muslims have exaggerated this and taken it to an unnecessary extreme.
here are more articles in support of womens rights in the quran and clarification regarding the misconceptions in these matters:
i find it sad how such a small fraction of so called muslims even follow the quran, and how people who are ignorant about the real islam and have never read a proper translation of the quran have all these horrible pre-conceived notions of what this religion is about.
i have chosen the religion of Abraham, monotheism. i feel this is the only religion that should be followed, if people believe in God. monotheism means to worship God alone, this means that if you set up any idols, at all, be it Mohammed, Jesus, Moses, Jehovah, or Buddah, you are considered an idol worshipper and you are following the religion of satan, which is polytheism. no one directly worships satan as a god, but they are worshipping him vicariously through the idols they set up beside God. this can come in many, many different forms.
but most people do not know.
|the human condition... (rambling)
if everyone believed in one God.
one unseen God.
and did not associate any idols, humans, messengers, prophets, religious titles
or what-have-you with Him or next to Him. but just accepted that there is this One
that we can't see or touch
or even hear
but we can feel it in our hearts and our souls
and we can see His signs in the horizon..
well if everyone agreed upon this fact, we wouldn't be here in the first place would we?.
( Read more...Collapse )
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal or website along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.
"I have lived among you a whole life before this (and you have known me as a sane, truthful person)."
yes, the quran really was the closest book to me, and the entire verse read:
"Say, 'Had God willed, I would not have recited it to you, nor would you have known anything about it. I have lived among you a whole life before this (and you have known me as a sane, truthful person). Do you not understand?'"
-sura 10:16..page 123, (rashad khalifa translation).
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