While the Clear Quran is an improvement to previous mainstream translations, there are still a number of verses that are mistranslated. Below are some examples of a few of the more egregiously translated verses.
*Please note, there is The Clear Quran translated by Dr. Mustafa Khattab and Clear Quran translated by Talal Itani. This article address both translations when referencing the Clear Quran.
Clear Quran Mistranslation 17:46
[17:46] And We drape veils over their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. And when you mention your Lord alone in the Quran, they turn their backs in aversion.Clear Quran
[17:46] We cast veils over their hearts – leaving them unable to comprehend it–and deafness in their ears. And when you mention your Lord alone in the Quran, they turn their backs in aversion.The Clear Quran
This verse is often mistranslated to refer to “your Lord alone” as opposed to the proper translation of “the Quran alone.” Below is a word for word translation.
We can clearly see that the reference of wahdahu is in reference to “the Quran” and not “your Lord.” For comparison we can see that proper expression for “God alone” is “Allahu wahdahu” which occurs 7:70, 39:45, 40:12, 40:84 and 60:4.
[7:70] They said, “Did you come to make us worship GOD ALONE, and abandon what our parents used to worship? We challenge you to bring the doom you threaten us with, if you are truthful.”
(٧٠) قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا لِنَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ وَحْدَهُ وَنَذَرَ مَا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ آبَاؤُنَا فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِنْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ
[39:45] When GOD ALONE is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied.
(٤٥) وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ اشْمَأَزَّتْ قُلُوبُ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِ إِذَا هُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ
[40:12] This is because when GOD ALONE was advocated, you disbelieved, but when others were mentioned beside Him, you believed. Therefore, GOD’s judgment has been issued; He is the Most High, the Great.
(١٢) ذَٰلِكُمْ بِأَنَّهُ إِذَا دُعِيَ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ كَفَرْتُمْ وَإِنْ يُشْرَكْ بِهِ تُؤْمِنُوا فَالْحُكْمُ لِلَّهِ الْعَلِيِّ الْكَبِيرِ
[40:84] Subsequently, when they saw our retribution they said, “Now we believe in GOD ALONE, and we now disbelieve in the idol worship that we used to practice.”
(٨٤) فَلَمَّا رَأَوْا بَأْسَنَا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَفَرْنَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِكِينَ
[60:4] A good example has been set for you by Abraham and those with him. They said to their people, “We disown you and the idols that you worship besides GOD. We denounce you, and you will see nothing from us except animosity and hatred until you believe in GOD ALONE.” …
قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَآءُ مِنْكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّىٰ تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ
So consistently we see that the term “wahdahu” is in reference to the noun prior to it. Therefore the proper translation for 17:46 should be:
[17:46] We place shields around their minds, to prevent them from understanding it, and deafness in their ears. And when you preach your Lord, using the QURAN ALONE, they run away in aversion.
(٤٦) وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَنْ يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا وَإِذَا ذَكَرْتَ رَبَّكَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ وَحْدَهُ وَلَّوْا عَلَىٰ أَدْبَارِهِمْ نُفُورًا
*Note if you add all the digits for these five verses in reference to “God alone” (7:70, 39:45, 40:12, 40:84, 60:4) you get 361 = 19 x 19.
Clear Quran Mistranslation 22:15
[22:15] “Whoever thinks that Allah will not help his Prophet in this world and the Hereafter, let them stretch a rope to the ceiling and strangle themselves, the let them see if this plan will do away with the cause of their rage.The Clear Quran
If someone was to read the above translation they may have the false impression that God is advocating individuals to kill themselves. For one, suicide is prohibited in the Quran, therefore such an understanding cannot possibly be true because this would form a contradiction in the Quran.
[4:29] O you who believe, do not consume each others’ properties illicitly— only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. GOD is Merciful towards you.
(٢٩) يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَنْ تَرَاضٍ مِنْكُمْ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا
So what is the proper translation of 22:15, and what is the right way to understand this verse. The word that is translated as “rope” is بِسَبَبٍ / bisababin, this word comes from the root س ب ب, which occurs nine times in the Quran. This root has the derivative meaning of relation, cause, means in addition to rope, and this is how this word is used in the other eight instances in the Quran.
If we look at this verse word by word the true meaning becomes more apparent that God is not advocating people to kill themselves but instead to sever their dependence on anything in this world and reinforce their relation with God in order to remove whatever it is that is bothering them.
[22:15] If anyone thinks that GOD cannot support him in this life and in the Hereafter, let him turn completely to (his Creator in) heaven, and sever (his dependence on anyone else). He will then see that this plan eliminates anything that bothers him.
(١٥) مَنْ كَانَ يَظُنُّ أَنْ لَنْ يَنْصُرَهُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ فَلْيَمْدُدْ بِسَبَبٍ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ ثُمَّ لْيَقْطَعْ فَلْيَنْظُرْ هَلْ يُذْهِبَنَّ كَيْدُهُ مَا يَغِيظُ
Clear Quran Mistranslation 2:54
[2:54] And remember when Moses said to his people, “O my people! Surely you have wronged yourselves by worshipping the calf, so turn in repentance to your Creator and execute “the calf worshippers among yourselves. That is best for you in the sight of your Creator.” Then He accepted your repentance. Surely He is the Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful.The Clear Quran
The above translation of 2:54 makes Moses seem like he was commanded to kill the individuals who worshipped the golden calf. God never advocates vice (7:28), and to think that God authorized the killing of others for what they decided to worship is completely contrary to the Quran. God in the Quran in no uncertain terms tells believers that “aggression is only permitted against the aggressors”, and that as believers we are never authorized to be aggressors but only can fight in self defense (2:190-193).
[2:190] You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors. [2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque (Masjid), unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers. [2:192] If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. [2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.
So what is the correct translation for 2:54 and where is the confusion coming from? The word nafs in Arabic has multiple meanings. Typically it means the self, but it can also mean the ego. It just happens that 2:54 uses the term أَنْفُسَكُمْ / anfusakum twice. While the first occurrence is in reference to the self, the second occurrence is in reference to the ego.
When a person chooses to follow their ego they are putting their own opinion over what God is commanding them to do. When they do this they are setting up their ego as a god and thus committing idol worship.
[25:43] Have you seen the one whose god is his own ego? Will you be his advocate?
(٤٣) أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ أَفَأَنْتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِ وَكِيلًا
So now let’s look at how this verse should be translated in a manner that does not contradict the other verses of the Quran.
[2:54] Recall that Moses said to his people, “O my people, you have wronged your souls by worshiping the calf. You must repent to your Creator. You shall kill your egos. This is better for you in the sight of your Creator.” He did redeem you. He is the Redeemer, Most Merciful.
وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ يَاقَوْمِ إِنَّكُمْ ظَلَمْتُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ بِاتِّخَاذِكُمُ الْعِجْلَ فَتُوبُوا إِلَىٰ بَارِئِكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ عِنْدَ بَارِئِكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
Clear Quran Mistranslation 38:44
[38:44] “Take with your hand a bundle, and strike with it, and do not break your oath.” We found him patient. What an excellent servant! He was obedient.Clear Quran
[38:44] And We said to him, “Take in your hand a bundle of grass, and strike your wife with it, and do not break your oath.The Clear Quran
After 22:15 this must be one of the most misunderstood verses in the Quran.
This verse is in the context of the prophet Job. The common tafsir regarding this verse makes Job out as tyrant. Writers of tafsir believed that Job promised to beat his wife if he was to have his health restored. Then upon his health being restored he regretted his oath, so was instructed by God to beat his wife with grass as not to inflict serious harm upon her and maintain his oath. This false history was fabricated to justify the misunderstanding of this verse.
This is similar to the mistranslation by many of 2:54 which depicts Moses out to be a murderer because fo the mistranslation of the word “nafs” as mentioned above.
Below is a word for word breakdown of the verse 38:44.
The word ضِغْثًا comes from the root ﺽ غ ث which means a thing or person that is mixed up or confused. The connection with grass is that the root comes from having a handful of mixed dry grass. Individuals interpret this as in reference to the grass itself, but from the other meanings of the word it is not the grass that should be the emphasis but the mixing. Therefore the word is in regards to a thing being mixed up. This is the reason the other meanings of the root all have to do with things being mixed up, confused, or muddled. For instance the same root is used in 12:44 and 21:5 as a confused or nonsense dream, and as a confused dream or hallucination respectively.
The second word that needs to be understood in this verse is the word فَاضْرِبْ which comes from the root ﺽ ر ب and this root has many meanings but in this context it means “to travel” and also “to serve as an example” to others. For instance, see 3:156, 17:48, 25:39.
So in this verse God is commanding Job to take those who are confused or mixed up and serve as an example to them e.g. preach to them. So a more appropriate transition would be the following:
[38:44] “Now, you shall travel the land and preach the message, to fulfill your pledge.” We found him steadfast. What a good servant! He was a submitter.
(٤٤) وَخُذْ بِيَدِكَ ضِغْثًا فَاضْرِبْ بِهِ وَلَا تَحْنَثْ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ
Clear Quran Mistranslation 2:106
[2:106] We never nullify a verse, nor cause it to be forgotten, unless We bring one better than it, or similar to it. Do you not know that God is capable of all things?Clear Quran
[2:106] If We ever abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten, We replace it with a better or similar one. Do you not know that Allah is Most Capable of everything?The Clear Quran
This is one of the most heavily abused verses in the Quran and both Clear Quran translations are continuing in the tradition of mistranslating this verse. The problem with this translation is that it forms numerous contradictions in the Quran and gives the impression that some verses no longer apply and certain verses take precedent over other verses.
The word آيَةٍ in modern day Arabic commonly recognized to mean verses, but in Classical Arabic and throughout the Quran it predominately is used to mean a miracle, revelation, or proof. For example, see: 13:27, 14:20, 54:2, 21:91, 20:22.
Additionally throughout the entire Quran the singular form of the word آيَةٍ is always in reference to a sign, proof, miracle, or the entire revelation and never in reference to a single verse. The only time that the verses of the Quran are referenced throughout the entire Quran is in the plural form as آيَاتِ.
Below is a word for word translation.
So the proper translation of 2:106 is the following:
[2:106] When we abrogate any miracle, or cause it to be forgotten, we produce a better miracle, or at least an equal one. Do you not recognize the fact that GOD is Omnipotent?
(١٠٦) مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
This translation is consistent with the other verses of the Quran and does not form any contradictions. As this topic goes beyond the scope of this article, for more information regarding abrogation please listen to the following podcast episode on the topic:
Clear Quran Mistranslation: Ummy
In classical Arabic the word الْأُمِّيَّ means “the gentile” a person without a scripture. This title is given to communities outside of the Children of Israel e.g. Jews and Christians, which applies to the Arabs. Modern Arabic has twisted this meaning of this word to fit the narrative that Muhammad was illiterate and changed the meaning of الْأُمِّيَّ to mean those who cannot read or write.
The Clear Quran properly translated this verse in 3:75, but failed to do so in other occurrences in reference to the prophet; specifically 7:156 and 7:157. Below is their translation of 3:75.
[3:75] Among the People of the Book is he, who, if you entrust him with a heap of gold, he will give it back to you. And among them is he, who, if you entrust him with a single coin, he will not give it back to you, unless you keep after him. That is because they say, “We are under no obligation towards the gentiles.” They tell lies about God, and they know it.Clear Quran
[3:75] There are some among the People of the Book who, if entrusted with a stack of gold, will readily return it. Yet there are others who, if entrusted with a single coin, will not repay it unless you constantly demand it. This is because they say, “We are not accountable for exploiting the Gentiles.The Clear Quran
However, here is how the Clear Quran translated the word in 7:156 and 7:157:
[7:157] Those who follow the Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel in their possession. He directs them to righteousness, and deters them from evil, and allows for them all good things, and prohibits for them wickedness, and unloads the burdens and the shackles that are upon them. Those who believe in him, and respect him, and support him, and follow the light that came down with him—these are the successful. [7:158] Say, “O people, I am the Messenger of God to you all—He to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. He gives life and causes death.” So believe in God and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believes in God and His words. And follow him, that you may be guided.Clear Quran
[7:157] “They are the ones who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whose description they find in their Torah and the Gospel. He commands them to do good and forbids them from evil, permits for them what is lawful and forbids to them what is impure, and relieves them from their burdens and the shackles that bound them. Only those who believe in him, honour and support him, and follow the light sent down to him will be successful.” [7:158] Say, O Prophet, “O humanity! I am Allah’s Messenger to you all. To Him alone belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god worthy of worship except Him. He gives life and causes death.” So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His revelations. And follow him, so you may be rightly guided.The Clear Quran
Rather than translating the word الْأُمِّيَّ in 7:156 and 7:157 as “the gentile” prophet they translated it as “the unlettered” prophet in order to twist the meaning to match the false understanding that Muhammad could not read or write. This word is used in 2:78 and 62:2 and both instances it is obvious that it is in reference to the gentiles not the unlettered. Note how the Clear Quran translated these verses:
[2:78] And among them are uneducated who know the Scripture only through hearsay, and they only speculate.
[62:2] It is He who sent among the unlettered a messenger from themselves; reciting His revelations to them, and purifying them, and teaching them the Scripture and wisdom; although they were in obvious error before that.Clear Quran
[2:78] And among them are the illiterate who know nothing about the Scripture except lies, and so they wishfully speculate.
[62:2] He is the One Who raised for the illiterate people a messenger from among themselves–reciting to them His revelations, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and wisdom., for indeed they had previously been clearly astray.The Clear Quran
Below is how these two verses should be translated and notice that the term “gentile” in these verses is more suitable than “unlettered” or “uneducated” or “illiterate” in the context of the verses.
[2:78] Among them are gentiles who do not know the scripture, except through hearsay, then assume that they know it.
(٧٨) وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّونَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا أَمَانِيَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ
[62:2] He is the One who sent to the gentiles a messenger from among them, to recite to them His revelations, purify them, and teach them the scripture and wisdom. Before this, they had gone far astray.
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
As the proof that Muhammad was not illiterate is beyond the scope of this article, more information regarding this matter can be found in the following links:
Subscribe to the podcast
Quran translation App on iOS
Quran translation website
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