Muhammad Asad and his translation of the Qur?an (II)

Referring to the work entitled `Haqâiqu't-Tafsir` authored by Sulami, commentator Wahidi says, "If he believes that it i

Referring to the work entitled `Haqâiqu't-Tafsir` authored by Sulami, commentator Wahidi says, "If he believes that it is a commentary on the Qur?an, he has most certainly strayed into blasphemy." (Itqân IV, 195)

 

This is one of the excessive examples of our history of criticism. Yet, as you have noted, even in this excessive comment Wahidi places `the work` in the centre of criticism, and not its author?s grandfather, lineage or descent because, according to Wahidi?s understanding, tafsir, unlike ta'wil, is supposed to be based on "discernment" rather than "narrative". In other words, even in this excessive comment Wahidi took care `to remain faithful to the procedure` from his viewpoint.

 

As for late Muhammad Asad?s translation of and commentary on the Qur?an, what has recently been written under the name of criticism about it has stepped far beyond the limits of criticism and turned into a smear campaign, for criticism has ceased to be "scientific" and has been transferred to a fully `sentimental` perspective.

 

Isn?t a critique of a translation of the Qur?an supposed to be `monographic`, i.e. a work concerned with a single subject? However, what has been written about Asad?s translation of the Qur?an has become more "biographical" rather than "monographic" and even "ethnographic" or `genealogical`.

 

Muhammad Asad is a model Muslim who has embraced the religion of ALLÂH (SWT), `the path of self-surrender to ALLÂH (SWT)` instead of the religion of his forefathers, though he could read and understand Torah in its Hebrew original as a child because of his having acquired religious education still in his early childhood.

 

As for those who emphasize his "being of Jewish descent" in season and out of season, what are they hinting at? That he does not belong to "a noble race" or "a noble lineage"? That he is not "local" or that he is "a foreigner"? That he became a `Muslim` not by inheritance, but by strenuous effort of his heart and mind (not apropos, let him who does not believe read "The Road to Mecca")?

 

Suppose one?s first-generation grandparents are `disbelievers` and another?s seventieth-generation grandparents. Does this circumstance diminish the former?s or enhance the latter?s standing before ALLÂH (SWT)? What do you think is the purpose for which the following examples are given in the Noble Qur?an: the disbelieving son of Prophet Nûh (AS), the idolatrous father of Prophet Ibrâhîm (AS), the ungrateful wife and daughters of Prophet Lût (AS), the believing wife of pharaoh, the polytheistic uncle of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)?

 

A vein within us has made it its job and even its `madhhab` to conduct the campaign for `local property` in the choice of science and scholars from time immemorial. Can science be classified as local and foreign? Of course, it cannot. Neither can scholars. How can the mind moulded by the Divine Revelation distinguish between `those of us and those not of us` based on anything besides "faith"?

 

This vein, which is nourished by every type of rejected tribal partisanship ('asabiyyah), has taken it upon itself to continuously create suspicion about Muslim scholars, sages, activists who have made their lives witnesses to their faith. It has not hesitated to make a mountain out of a molehill trying to find faults with them. It has always been prejudiced and ruthless in its criticism against them. But, it has not read their works. Neither has it done its best to get others to read them. It has not recognized and has even prevented others to recognize their struggle, scientific contribution and world of thoughts.

 

The same campaign has been waged against late Asad. Even justifiable criticism directed against his translation of and commentary on the Qur?an involves the risk of being used as ammunition of the campaign for `local property`. What has prevented me personally from embarking on a critique of Asad?s translation is above all this concern. Any criticism to be made without considering this concern will fail to fit `understanding` no matter how much it suits "science."

 

However, the kind of criticism given below fits neither science nor understanding, neither justice nor conscience: