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From my reading of the Quran, I've noticed that some translations aren't consistently the same as one another, giving me the impression that edits are being made in some, but not others. Take for example Surah 10:5 concerning the light given off by the moon and sun:

وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا

alim.org gives two translations from two sources:

Asad : and has set up within them the moon as a light [reflected], and set up the sun as a [radiant] lamp?

Malik : placing in them the moon as a light and the sun as a glorious lamp?

while quran.com translates it as:

And made the moon therein a [reflected] light and made the sun a burning lamp?

They're different. So this raises my question on how Islamic scholars can edit original translations of the Quran lawfully, with added text by the translator in square brackets being a possible example, or maybe not.

  • While this is not enough for an asnwer, al-Ghazali discusses levels of interpretive freedom in his faysal at-tafriqa. Roughly summarizing he says that the literal interpretation takes precedent, and only if a level of interpretation is found to be in conflict with reality/other parts of the Quran is it legitimate to move away to a less-literal level of interpretation. – G. Bach Nov 26 '17 at 20:04
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    As-written, this seems intended to drive argument and debate rather than attract useful answers. I would strongly suggest you edit it to remove the challenging tone, maybe add some relevant context to indicate why you "know" what Muhammad actually meant better than the scholars whose translations you're challenging, and also maybe learn how square brackets work in the English language before just accusing anyone of "revising" anything. – goldPseudo Nov 27 '17 at 23:29
  • @Uma OK, I've changed the title to clarify what I mean – Larry Harson Nov 29 '17 at 19:25
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Yes, it is haram for Islamic scholars to revise the Qur'an. However your examples here do not show any attempts to actually revise the Qur'an. They just show an example of translators including brackets to try to convey a more accurate meaning than what their English translations can capture. Indeed, a lot is lost in meaning when things are translated from language to language.

In Arabic, light is categorized as different types.. as either Diya (light that shines from a source) or Nur (light that is reflected). These are used very particularly in the Qur'an when referring to the Sun/Moon.. but never interchangeably. But when translating these into English, English only has one word for light of all kinds; 'light'. So you are not getting as accurate an understanding as the Arabic speakers are getting who see the two different words used in different contexts. Thus the translators try to make up for that by using brackets.

Qur'an 10:5: هو الذي جعل الشمس ضياء والقمر نورا

The verse gets translated as, "It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light...". Notice, Sun's 'light' is ضياء and Moon's 'light' is نورا.

Now, are there translations out there that incorrectly introduce words in brackets that change meanings? Yes. That is why it is important to get a trustworthy translation. Better yet, just learn Arabic and read the original. (The Arabic Qur'an will never have brackets; it will be exactly as it was spoken by God directly).

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    This link makes clear that nur means only light and not reflected light: quransmessage.com/articles/nur%20FM3.htm. – Larry Harson Nov 29 '17 at 19:36
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    Thanks but your link does not address why then the moon hasn't been described with the word 'Diya' or sun with 'moon' if they both just mean light. Further, although 'Nur' is used to describe Allah, His essence is always different than that of the creation. So we cannot compare them. – Muslimah يا رب العالمين Nov 29 '17 at 22:12

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