Quranology Institute (QG) is aimed at studying Quran as an existential text. What this means is that it looks at Quran as an ever present text whose meaning revealed to the Reader who is any person that engages in a dialogue with it. It also focuses on Quran’s own existence as a text, deeming this to be the most important factor in the process of its interpretation. The purpose of this engagement is produce the Quranic State of Being (QSOB) which is the condition in which we are connected to the Divine and understand our life purpose.
Following the above, the QG translation has that goal – that it is a tool for the Reader to achieve the QSOB by primarily using Quran’s own textuality to corroborate the meaning from existent language. Prior to that though, we have to find Quran in the world.
The QG translation draws upon the wording of ‘Quranun mubeen’, the obvious or prominent recitation existent in the world. This recitation is carried out all over the world and is reduced into a text we know as Quran carried by the people known as Muslims. QG takes this verbalization and transforms it into a meaning in the English language that speaks to the Reader.
There are three modes the QG translation is projected to work. The Verbatim, Contextual and Poetic meanings. Each of these three have their own strengths and weaknesses and should be taken together in order to effectively achieve the Quranic State of Being.
The first mode is the Verbatim reading. As per the word ‘verbatim’, it is a word for word translation as far as possible. It aims to be concise and in that brevity, convey the best possible way for the Reader to produce the QSOB. However, no two languages can match word for word. In other words, a word in English will not translate directly into a word in Arabic. Even within a language this cannot work! A Quranic word will need an explanation or signified in Arabic for it to make sense to an Arab.
Therefore, in order for the Verbatim translation to work, extensive footnotes will be required. These footnotes are mostly to provide explanations for the words used in the translation proper.
Here is an example of the Verbatim meaning and its footnotes. This is a translation of Quran Chapter 1 Verse 1:
The praise is for Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
- Praise here connotes a feeling of joy, relief and positivity. It is best demonstrated by the event in Ch 23 Verse 28, when nuh is delivered from harm
- Allah is the name Quran uses for the deity. It is the connective concept for all other notions of the divine.
- Lord (rabb) is the world used to describe Allah the most. It means nourisher and sustainer. The process of ‘rabb’ is also used for parenting (17/24).
- Worlds (‘alameen) comes from the word ‘ilm’ meaning data. There is an infinity of worlds of data all whose existence is sustained by the Lord.
The second is the Contextual meaning. As mentioned above, the Existential Reading sees Quran as an existent text. Words and sentences and even passages do not exist independently of each other. Chapters of Quran themselves may stand alone but even so, connect with each other to form the complete message. Quran itself acknowledges and promotes this and so it would be remiss for QG not to take this into account.
In the Contextual translation, the meanings are deeply connected to the states created by the surrounding text. Verse Zero (the basmalah) and the opening verse or passage will of the chapter will serve as the initial idea of what the chapter is about. The context of the rest of the chapter is thus determined from this initial idea. While we have to dispense with brevity, we would obtain a deeper meaning of the text.
Following our example of 1/1 above, here is what our translation would look like in the Contextual mode:
Praise achieved from verse zero (the basmalah) is for Allah, who devised this formula. He is the one who nourishes and sustains the existence of the worlds of information though his essence (ism).
In the translation above ‘the’ (al) from ‘the praise’ (al hamd) is connected to Verse Zero which opens every chapter. Therefore we understand the praise to come from it. Verse Zero should also be looked at how it occurs (like in 11/41 and 27/30). This state of praise is for Allah in his capacity has one who nourishes and sustains the infinite worlds of information. His essence ‘ism’ is what connects to that existence.
Finally we have the Poetic translation. While the Poetic does need to maintain both verbatim and contextual meaning, it is more focused towards cadence and rhythm. It would definitely therefore need to compromise accuracy of meaning and contextual faithfulness. However, it can still generate the QSOB due to its linguistic power.
Readers may wonder why the Poetic translation is necessary at all. It is simply because Quran itself is highly poetic in nature. It has won great commendation and is considered unparalleled in this regard by Arabic literary scholars. Although this is not the point of Quran, it does help in the process of memorization and aesthetic appreciation.
These are the three modes we have identified for the Existential translation. Taken together, they may help us a great deal in achieving the Quranic State of Being.