Trouble with translations

Javed Ahmad


The person who gave me Moulana Rahim’s Kalema Taiyeba book also gave me the following book to read:


অধিকাংশ লোক আল্লাহ্‌র প্রতি ঈমান আনা সত্ত্বেও মুশরিক। খলিলুর রহমান বিন ফযলুর রহমান (রহঃ)। তাওহীদ পাবলিকেশন্স, বংশাল, ঢাকা। ফোনঃ ৭১১২৭৬২, ০১১৯০৩৬৮২৭২, ০১৭১১৬৪৬৩৯৬, ০১৯১৯৬৪৬৩৯৬।


The title of the book is actually the verse 106 of chapter Yusuf (or Joseph). When I saw the title I said to myself, “Humm, I have read the Qur’an so many times but how come I have missed such an important verse?” So, I went back to see how the verse have been translated into English by different translators.


Sura Yusuf (#12), verse 106


وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُم بِاللَّهِ إِلَّا وَهُم مُّشْرِكُونَ (Original Arabic verse)


Transliteration: Wama yuminu aktharuhum biAllahi illa wahum mushrikoona


Translations in English by:


Abdullah Yusuf Ali: And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him!


Muhammad Habib Shakir: And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him).


Muhammad Pickthal: And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners (unto Him).


Mohsin Khan: And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners unto Him [i.e. they are Mushrikun i.e. polytheists. See Verse 6: 121].


Mohsin Khan advised to see 6:121, so I went there to see what is says:


Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allah's Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal), for sure it is Fisq (a sin and disobedience of Allah). And certainly, the Shayatin (devils) do inspire their friends (from mankind) to dispute with you, and if you obey them [by making Al-Maitah (a dead animal) legal by eating it], then you would indeed be Mushrikun (polytheists); [because they (devils and their friends) made lawful to you to eat that which Allah has made unlawful to eat and you obeyed them by considering it lawful to eat, and by doing so you worshipped them; and to worship others besides Allah is polytheism]. (6: 121)


Then I went to see how other Bangla translators have translated the verse.


Translation in Bangla:


অনেক মানুষ আল্লাহর প্রতি বিশ্বাস স্থাপন করে, কিন্তু সাথে সাথে শিরকও করে


I did not stop there. I went further to see how Google Arabic to English translator translates the verse: And most believe in God but they are polytheists


Then I said to myself, “Ok, since I have come this far, let’s also see what the Tafsir by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi says about it:


[105-107] And74 many are the Signs in the heavens and the earth; yet they pass by and pay no heed to them.75 So, most of them who believe in Allah join other deities also with Him.76 Do they feel secure that Allah's scourge shall not overwhelm them, or that the hour of Doom will not come upon them suddenly when they are unaware?77




অধিকাংশ লোক আল্লাহ্‌র প্রতি ঈমান আনা সত্ত্বেও মুশরিক।


Is probably more accurate translation done by Khalilur Rahman Bin Fazlur Rahman (rah.); but look at the trouble I had to take to decipher this riddle! Had I known Arabic I could have judged the matter instantly. Now one may ask why I have bothered to verify the verse; well, here is why.


Just think about it. If we believe in Allah as the only God then why Allah is drawing our attention saying “And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him!”? Is that what we really do? Are we aware of this association (shirk) we do with our Lord God Almighty which is an unforgivable sin if we do not seek forgiveness from Him and cease to do it during our lifetime? How do we do that?


This particular book attempts to answer all that. I am reading it to discover if I am too one of those who associate partners with Him despite being a believer. You should too. Because if we are into shirk unknowingly then we must rectify ourselves by seeking mercy from Allah and stop doing it!


No wonder why Allah is saying in the Qur’an addressing the “Believers”:


O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.  (  سورة آل عمران  , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #102)


We must be in error in our faith and practices that need to be corrected while we have the chance. I now have a lot reasons to believe that the actual number of believers (Muslims) is probably very small. Our only hope is Allah. If He forgives then maybe we will enter His bliss. Is that why He is holding 99% of His blessings for the Day of Judgment?


Narrated Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman: The people used to ask Allah's Apostle about the good but I used to ask him about the evil lest I should be overtaken by them. So I said, "O Allah's Apostle! We were living in ignorance and in an (extremely) worst atmosphere, then Allah brought to us this good (i.e., Islam); will there be any evil after this good?" He said, "Yes." I said, 'Will there be any good after that evil?" He replied, "Yes, but it will be tainted (not pure.)'' I asked, "What will be its taint?" He replied, "(There will be) some people who will guide others not according to my tradition? You will approve of some of their deeds and disapprove of some others." I asked, "Will there be any evil after that good?" He replied, "Yes, (there will be) some people calling at the gates of the (Hell) Fire, and whoever will respond to their call, will be thrown by them into the (Hell) Fire." I said, "O Allah s Apostle! Will you describe them to us?" He said, "They will be from our own people and will speak our language." I said, "What do you order me to do if such a state should take place in my life?" He said, "Stick to the group of Muslims and their Imam (ruler)." I said, "If there is neither a group of Muslims nor an Imam (ruler)?" He said, "Then turn away from all those sects even if you were to bite (eat) the roots of a tree till death overtakes you while you are in that state."  (Bukhari, Book #88, Hadith #206)


Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: The Prophet said, "On the day of Resurrection Allah will say, 'O adam!' adam will reply, 'Labbaik our Lord, and Sa'daik ' Then there will be a loud call (saying), Allah orders you to take from among your offspring a mission for the (Hell) Fire.' adam will say, 'O Lord! Who are the mission for the (Hell) Fire?' Allah will say, 'Out of each thousand, take out 999.' At that time every pregnant female shall drop her load (have a miscarriage) and a child will have grey hair. And you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet not drunk, but severe will be the torment of Allah." (22.2) (When the Prophet mentioned this), the people were so distressed (and afraid) that their faces got changed (in color) whereupon the Prophet said, "From gog and Magog nine-hundred ninety-nine will be taken out and one from you. You Muslims (compared to the large number of other people) will be like a black hair on the side of a white ox, or a white hair on the side of a black ox, and I hope that you will be one-fourth of the people of Paradise." On that, we said, "Allahu-Akbar!" Then he said, "I hope that you will be) one-third of the people of Paradise." We again said, "Allahu-Akbar!" Then he said, "(I hope that you will be) one-half of the people of Paradise." So we said, Allahu Akbar."  (Bukhari, Book #60, Hadith #265). Also see (Book #55, Hadith #567), (Book #76, Hadith #537).


Therefore, those among us who are in a comfortable state thinking they are good enough Muslims should think again. May Allah cleanse us from all impurities in our faith and accept us among the true believers, ameen.