Quran in different languages

I ask those question out of curiosity. This are my questions:

  1. As far as i know, the first Arab Muslims didn’t translate the Quran into languages of the people they conquered. Why? And why did they translate them now?
  2. Why do you think that the Quran loses its touch when translated from Arabic? Is Arabic a superior language? And is this claim that Quran loses its touch when translated backed by the Quran itself?

An interesting take on this:


  1. Dunno, don’t care.
  2. dunno, don’t care.

I prefer Tolkien.

Reading the Quran in the original Arabic was considered essential if one wanted to get the true meaning of Muhammad, because the original poetry lent an air of beauty to the writing which would be lost in another language. This, of course, presented a significant obstacle for the spread of Islam. For people conquered during the great expansion of the Islamic Empire, they were treated as outsiders until they learned to understand Arabic.

Those who became Muslim without being conquered, such as the Malaysians, could, of course, create their own variants.

Arabic is not a superior language but The Arabic in Quran is superior because it is exactly speechs of Allah.

Reading Quran in original text(in Arabic) is worshiping for Allah.

There are at least 40 miracle sides of Quran in Arabic(Because of being speech of God). When Quran translated from Arabic many meanings go away.

There had been always translation of Quran in other Muslim’s language. And also non-Arabic scholars of İslam learned Arabic. They give meaning of Quran to others unknowing Arabic.

Can you give an example of a word or expression that would be lost when translating from Arabic to English?

I can’t imagine that anything can not be translated.

why only arabic though? why not all languages? Im sure God understands all languages, so why not give it in all languages like the bible can be produced?
When God spread the Holy Spirit, it was in ALL tongues, not just one… and also arabic was not one of the first languages, does not make sense…

I do not know Arabic, but there are many things that cannot be exactly translated.

If a story starts with “Once upon a time…” then that phrase in English is telling you something about the nature of the story that follows. That meaning may not be present in the other language.

Translating standard phrases is often difficult. The literal translation of “a red herring” is “a pink fish”, but that is nowhere near the real meaning.

My father once gave a speech, in English, to a Japanese audience while he was in Japan. His speech included a joke, and he got the expected laugh when the translator reached that point. Afterwards, he asked the translator how he had translated the English joke into Japanese. The translator answered, "I said, ‘the professor has just told a joke. Please laugh now.’ " Being Japanese, and very polite, the audience laughed. Was that a good translation of the joke or a bad one?


it is not so much the literal translating…yes, that can be done.

But often, especially in lyrical writing, the meaning and flow is lost when translating.

I am fluent in Spanish. I can translate English into Spanish and Spanish into English. But Spanish is a prettier language than English, and sometimes, when I translate a Spanish verse in English, the words are correct, but the flow and true meaning are lost.

On the subject of translations,
How does one translate, “It’s a home run!”? or “You’re barking up the wrong tree”?
Or how about the French expression “Il y a”?
There is a classic French word “rapprochement” that is so difficult to express in English that it is included in English discourse.

To me it’s sort of akin to translating an epic poem like Beowulf into modern English - it just looses about 90% of it’s original “effect” so to speak. No matter how well the translation, it just “ain’t the same”, so I can see the reluctance to translate a holy book into a vernacular language (look how long it took to get the Bible from Latin to the vernacular languages).

That said, I believe it is now available in several languages. How well it translates from the original “classical” Arabic, I’ve no idea.

God only speaks Arabic? I have heard it all now.

No, Allah speaks only Arabic. At least he was getting the Angel Gabriel to speak Arabic when he commanded Muhammad to recite the Quran in Arabic.

Nice story Rossum. Thanks.

I also think there are jokes in the Bible which are missed. For example, Lot in the cave with his daughters and being tricked into having sex with them and us being told that this is the origin of the tribes of the Ammonites and Moabites.

If the text had started with the line - an Irishman, Englishman and Scotsman walk into a bar… and ended with the Irishman telling how the grand-children of Lot were called Scott and Engel, and that is where the Scottish and English come from… everybody would understand straight away that the Irishman was trying to be funny by describing his neighbours as inbred bastards.

If you read the Jewish writing back with that in mind, you realise straight away that the whole passage is supposed to be funny, not a detailed account of Lot’s life, a commentary on incest or any serious attempt to try and explain where the neighbouring tribes of Ammonites and Moabites came from.


Likely this is one reason Jesus (or Isa in Islam) is not God (for Muslims) because Isa speaks Aramaic.:stuck_out_tongue:


I would still love an Arabic Qur’an example of how things just can’t be translated.

Did Allah use phrases and expressions that were only meant to be understood by Arabs at that time? Why would Allah conform to how others speak?

I’ll give the Greek example of an old saying from the 1st century in the Bible. Paul cites “gird up your loins” which essentially means “get ready.” This was a reference to a runner putting on a type of clothing before participating in a race; however, when translated now to “get yourself prepared” no meaning is lost.

So what’s the problem?

There are letters at the start of some chapters of the Qur’an which have no known contemporary meaning. See Muqatta’at.


So would you consider this an example of why one should learn Arabic and then read the Qur’an?

…Baha’u’llah has divulged the full meaning of these Letters:

Heres an essay on the subject. Absolutely fascinating in my humble opinion :slight_smile:



Arabic and Farsi poetry can be tremendously melodious, sometimes even trance-inducing. Revelation language is even more so.

Notice the beauty and melody of the Islamic Call to Prayer, or Farsi prayers:


I speak Farsi, and my wife is fluent in Arabic. This rhythm and reverence is lost when translated into English.

The meaning however can be conveyed when translated, but what might take a sentence in English is just one word in Arabic

Arabic is a uniquely complete language. There is a word for EVERYTHING, and the depth of meaning in each word is incredibly unique amongst all other languages.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:


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