Arabic CultureArabic Translation

Who did first English Translation of the Holy Quran?

It is now common to see many copies of the Holy Quran translated into different languages, which can be easily obtained by anyone or found on the Internet. However,  this was not the case in the past, as obtaining a translated version of the Holy Quran was not as easy as it is today.

George Sale is the first translator of meanings of the Holy Quran into English, according to Ibrahim Marzouq in his book “Leaders Guide”.

George Sale was born in London in 1697 and died in 1736. Sale studied at the King’s School in Canterbury. In 1720, he joined the Institute of the Inner Temple, which included the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. He was an English orientalist, fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, and he published his translation of the Holy Quran in 1734, two years before his death. The translation was clear and concise and therefore it achieved great popularity throughout the eighteenth century. He was fair to Islam although he was Christian, according to Abdul Rahman Badawi’s  “Encyclopedia of Orientalists”.

He spent about 25 years in the Arabian Peninsula, where he learned Arabic and some Arab customs, according to the French writer and philosopher Voltaire in his dictionary “Dictionnaire Philosophique”.

George Sale owes much to the Italian Catholic priest and orientalist Luigi Morschi, who is famous for translating the Holy Quran into Latin. Sale said, “Morschi’s translation is generally very exact, but it literally adheres to the Arabic original text, the matter which makes it difficult to understand for those who are not experts in Islamic sciences.”

Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress, was the first Muslim Democratic representative for Minnesota. When he won in 2006 elections, he requested, in January 2007, to take the oath on Jefferson’s personal copy of the Holy Quran translated by George Sale in 1734 which is known as the Alcoran of Mohammed. The two-volume work, which is located in the Rare Books and Special Collections section of the Library of Congress, is one of about 6,500 titles sold to Congress in 1815 by Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States.

It is worth mentioning that the Holy Quran was translated into German in 1746 depending on George Sale’s translation.

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