By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
13 October 2016
The major source of mistranslation of the Quran is the mistranslation by every translator of the Quran of the word “Kafaru” as “disbeliever”. A disbeliever is understood as “those who are not followers of Prophet Muhammad” although even this meaning of disbeliever is incorrect. The Quran does not use the word Kafaru in the sense of “disbeliever” even in a single verse! As a matter of fact, the Quran makes it unmistakably clear that Kafaru means not a disbeliever but one of the following:
a) Religious persecutor
c) Those who were fighting against the Muslims for no other reason except for their faith
d) An insincere Muslim
e) A deliberate rejecter of the truth.
In every verse related to fighting and war, the Quran uses Kafaru in the sense of either a), b) or c) above and not for those under the category d) or e). We can imagine how the meaning gets distorted if in such verses, Kafaru is translated as disbeliever who could be a peaceful disbeliever but not an oppressor! The impression created is that the Quran commands fighting against the disbelievers or that Islam stands for the destruction of all other religions. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
The Kafaru are a category apart and can otherwise be Muslim, Jew, Christian or Polytheist
(98:1) The Kafaru, among the People of the Book and among the Mushrikin, were not going to depart (from their ways) until there should come to them Clear Evidence,-
(98:6) Those Kafaru, among the People of the Book and among the Mushrikin, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.
(2:105) It is never the wish of the Kafaru among the People of the Book, and among the Mushrikin, that anything good should come down to you from your Lord. But Allah will choose for His special Mercy whom He will - for Allah is Lord of grace abounding.
(9:90) And there were, among the desert Arabs (also), men who made excuses and came to claim exemption; and those who were false to Allah and His Messenger (merely) sat inactive. Soon will a grievous penalty seize the Kafaru among them. (The Kafaru referred to here are Muslim)
From the above verses it is clear that the Kafaru can be from among any religious group including the Muslims and not all people of any faith are referred to as Kafaru. Translating Kafaru as disbeliever is therefore a gross mistranslation.
If all polytheists were considered as Kafaru, then the verses cited above would have been worded not in the manner they are worded but as follows:
(98:1) The Mushrikin and the Kafaru, among the People of the Book, were not going to depart (from their ways) until there should come to them Clear Evidence,-
(98:6) The Mushrikin and the Kafaru, among the People of the Book, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.
(2:105) It is never the wish of the Mushrikin and the Kafaru among the People of the Book,, that anything good should come down to you from your Lord. But Allah will choose for His special Mercy whom He will - for Allah is Lord of grace abounding.
In the reworded verses, it means all the Mushrikin and only the Kafaru among the People of the Book which by implication would then mean that all the Mushrikin are Kafaru. Clearly this is not what is intended, and not all the Mushrikin are considered as Kafaru by the Quran in any of the verses. Verse 9:3 is another clear example that covers only the Mushrikin and uses both terms Mushrikin to cover all of them with whom treaty is dissolved and also to the Kafaru or to the Kafaru among the Mushrikin for whom a grievous penalty is proclaimed. The Kafaru are those who fought against the Muslims and the non Kafaru are those who never fought against the Muslims.
(9:3) And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage, - that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Mushrikin. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a grievous penalty to the Kafaru.
There isn’t even a single verse that castigates the Mushrikin or the Polytheists or says that they will be cast into hell. It is always the Kafaru who will be cast into hell. There are two verses that say that polytheism is an unforgivable sin but these verses are in the context of Jews and Muslims. For the Jews and Muslims, polytheism would be going against the clear and known tenets of their religion and is an unforgivable sin. For others, only those who die rejecting the truth knowing it to be the truth are kafir. Those who die without ever coming to know of the “truth” are not kafir.
The Second Major Misunderstanding
The second major understanding comes from the following verse:
(3:85) If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).
Islam and Muslim however have a broader meaning and cover the righteous of every faith.
(2:62) Those who believe (in the Qur´an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
Anyone who believes in God and the last Day or The Day of Judgment and works righteousness is a Muslim
(22:34) To every people did We appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your god is One God: submit then your wills to Him (in Islam): and give thou the good news to those who humble themselves,-
The verse above refers to people of other faiths. Since there is only one God and all of them follow the rites appointed to them in submission to Allah (by whatever name), their faith is Islam.
(27:44) She was asked to enter the lofty Palace: but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she (tucked up her skirts), uncovering her legs. He said: "This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass." She said: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds."
The above verse is about Prophet and King Solomon and Queen Sheba who preceded Jesus and their religion is Islam.
(2:132) And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; "Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the Faith of Islam."
(2:136) Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma´il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam)."
Islam is the religion of every prophet and of every person who believes in God (by whatever name), and in the consequences of his deeds beyond this life, and works righteousness.
House of God
Monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. (22:40)
Third Major Source of Misunderstanding are the Verses giving permission or the command to Fight.
The misrepresentation and mistranslation is mainly on account of:
1. Kafaru is mistranslated as disbeliever instead of religious persecutor which is what it means in all the verses. If it is correctly taken as religious persecutor, then even the precise context becomes unimportant because who can object to fighting against the oppressor?
2. Fight until the “Deen of Allah” prevails. Deen of Allah means the law of Allah which includes: a) There is no compulsion in religion (2:256) and b) To the peaceful disbeliever be his way (109:6). However, most translators translate “Deen of Allah” as faith in Allah which is incorrect and conveys a totally different meaning of accepting the faith of Islam. See also verse 12:76 where Dini Maliki means Law of the King.
With correct translation as above, no verse is problematic even without knowing the context outside what the Quran itself describes.
(2:190) Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.(191) And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of the Kafirin. (The Kafirin are not any disbeliever but specifically those who fight you) (192) But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.(193) And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail the law of Allah (dinu lillah); but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.
(217) They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn your back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.
(2:246) Hast thou not Turned thy vision to the Chiefs of the Children of Israel after (the time of) Moses? they said to a prophet (That was) among them: "Appoint for us a king, that we May fight in the cause of Allah." He said: "Is it not possible, if ye were commanded to fight, that that ye will not fight?" They said: "How could we refuse to fight in the cause of Allah, seeing that we were turned out of our homes and our families?" but when they were commanded to fight, they turned back, except a small band among them. But Allah Has full knowledge of those who do wrong.
(4:75) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!"
(8:36) The Kafaru spend their wealth to hinder (man) from the path of Allah, and so will they continue to spend; but in the end they will have (only) regrets and sighs; at length they will be overcome: and the Kafaru will be gathered together to Hell;-(37) In order that Allah may separate the impure from the pure, put the impure, one on another, heap them together, and cast them into Hell. They will be the ones to have lost.(38) Say to the Kafaru (religious persecutors), if (now) they desist, their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them).(39) And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail the law of Allah altogether and everywhere (dinu kulluhu lillah); but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.
(22:39) To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid;-(40) (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our Lord is Allah". Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).
The cause for fighting is clearly to fight against religious persecution or any kind of oppression until the law of Allah prevails which means until there is no more compulsion in religion or any kind of oppression. The verses are of eternal relevance. It is the mistranslations on account of which some Muslims become oppressors or “Kafaru” that must perish.
(23:18) Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).
(39:32) who, then, does more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning Allah, and rejects the Truth when it comes to him; is there not in Hell an abode for blasphemers?
(33) And he who brings the Truth and he who confirms (wa Saddaqa) (and supports) it - such are the men who do right.
(34) They shall have all that they wish for, in the presence of their Lord: such is the reward of those who do good:
(35) So that Allah will turn off from them (even) the worst in their deeds and give them their reward according to the best of what they have done.
Unless people support the dissemination of the correct version, how can we transform Islamic theology? Nothing that I have written in this article is new or what I have not written in other articles and yet, instead of disseminating the correct understanding, people indulge in the same arguments based on the mistranslations. Which is easier, correcting the wrong understanding based on mistranslations or invasive methods with the text of the Quran? In any case, not a word from the Quran can be changed nor is required to be changed but those who do not mean well, will continue with their chant for changing this or that. Clearly, the Quran has been carrying the burden of falsehood heaped on it by bigoted scholars and the effort that will be blessed by Allah is the effort to clean it up of all the falsehood heaped on it through mistranslations and misinterpretations. Will people choose the way that is blessed or the way that is accursed?
(10:25) But Allah does call to the Home of Peace: He does guide whom He pleases to a way that is straight. (26) To those who do right is a goodly (reward)- Yea, more (than in measure)! No darkness nor shame shall cover their faces! they are companions of the garden; they will abide therein (for aye)!(27) But those who have earned evil will have a reward of like evil: ignominy will cover their (faces): No defender will they have from (the wrath of) Allah: Their faces will be covered, as it were, with pieces from the depth of the darkness of night: they are companions of the Fire: they will abide therein (for aye)!
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com
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