The Koran Interpreted

The Koran Interpreted

The Koran Interpreted

The Koran Interpreted

Excerpt

The first rendering of the Koran into a western language was made by the English scholar Robertus Retenensis in the twelfth century, at the instance of Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny; it was completed in 1143, and enjoyed a considerable circulation in manuscript. Exactly four centuries later this mediaeval Latin version was published at Basle, the editor being Theodor Bibliander (Buchmann) of Zurich. It abounds in inaccuracies and misunderstandings, and was inspired by hostile intention; nevertheless it served as the foundation of the earliest translations into modern European idioms.

In 1647 Andre du Ryer, a gentleman of France trading in the Levant, published a French translation, which took matters little farther. Two years later an English version of this appeared, with the following curious title-page:

'The Alcoran of Mahomet, Translated out of Arabick into French. By the Sieur du Ryer, Lord of Malezair, and Resident for the French King, at ALEXANDRIA. And Newly Englished, for the satisfaction of all that desire to look into the Turkish Vanities. To which is prefixed, the Life of Mahomet, the Prophet of the Turks, and Author of the Alcoran. With a Needful Caveat, or Admonition, for them who desire to know what Use may be made of, or if there be danger in Reading the ALCORAN.'

Such was the somewhat inglorious beginning of the English interpretation of the Holy Book of Islam. A quotation or two from the translator's address 'to the Christian Reader' will help to illustrate the spirit in which this version was offered:

'There being so many Sects and Heresies banded together against the Truth, finding that of Mahomet wanting to the Muster, I thought good to bring it to their Colours, that so viewing thine enemies in their full body, thou maist the better prepare to encounter, and I hope overcome them. It may happily startle thee, to find him so to speak English, as if he had made . . .

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