Answering Islam Email Dialogs

Topic: Classic Muslim Excuses (or Can the Quran Be Understood by non-Arabic Scholars?)

Received: 2 July 2005

Subject: Regarding Contradictions

Dear Author,

I was reading the Contradictions / Difficulties of the Quran page. Well, me being a muslim I wish to comment on what articles had written. I have no feeling of hate, so I will apologize if you misunderstand my comments.

I wish to say that most of your contradictions mostly came from wrongful translations. Yes, there are good English translations, as you had referred mostly to Pickthall. But I have to say that you cannot really come close to the meaning of the corrent translation if you read it in English. Since the Quran has been written in Arabic, it is best that you would understand it if you read it in Arabic. Well, it doesnt end here, to contradict its really not just right to take quotes from the Quran and comment on the incorrectness. The best and correct way is to find someone who is basically a scholar and then ask him some questions regarding your contradictions. I am sure they will certainly be ready to help you out, that is if you are really interested.

Thank you,

Our answer:


Thank you for the e-mail.

Your claim is that most of the Quranic contradictions that we cite on Answering-Islam are not really contradictions but rather seeming contradictions. Our error according to you is that we use English translations of the Quran. Firstly have you looked at the Arabic section of our site to see if this is also the case there?

Secondly, you go so far as to say that by reading the Quran in English we "cannot even come close" to the correct understanding. Not even close? Let me ask you this question: Is it possible to translate Arabic into English in your opinion, or does this rule of yours only apply to the Quran and not other Arabic texts? I'm asking you this to possibly cause you to think through this claim of yours as it is quite a wild claim and probably rather difficult for the average person to accept. Is Arabic an untranslatable language?

Thirdly, you say that we are not qualified to point out contradictions in the Quran – that we need to consult a scholar – presumably a Muslim scholar. Again, while we appreciate your advice, it must be asked; is the Quran beyond the ability to understand for the average person? Does it take a scholar to know what the Quran is saying? While there may indeed be some cases where there are confusing or difficult to understand passages in the Quran – possibly more than many Muslims would like to admit – is it really common sense for you as a Muslim to say that the book which you claim as the final revelation from God to mankind isn't even understandable to the average person?

And lastly, we would like to assure you that while we may primarily stick to one particular translation in any particular article for consistency sake, we do indeed consult many Quran translations and have many of our points confirmed by those who do speak Arabic – both lifelong Arabic speaking Christians as well as former Muslims whose native language is Arabic.

If there is one contradiction in particular that you disagree with then feel free to ask us and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

Thanks again and may God greatly bless you!


For a related discussion, see Must one learn Arabic?

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