(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The Quran translation made by Gordiy Semionovich Sablukov (1804-1880), renowned Russian orientalist, is believed to be the best version among the existing Russian translations of the Holy Book.
Authored by Ahmad Pakatchi, Iranian theologian and linguist, the article “A Brief Report on Russian Translations of the Holy Quran” has been published in the latest issue of Tarjoman-e Vahy (Translation of Revelation) Journal. Pakatchi is a member of the Supreme Scientific Council of the Center for Great Islamic Encyclopedia, academic board member of Imam Sadeq (AS) University, and head of the Department of Art Semiotics in Art Cultural House.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
Translation of the Holy Quran into European languages began in the 17th Century and continued into the following years. Most of the translations were primarily modeled on previous works not the original Arabic version, and they were not much effective in introducing Islam and the Quran to the Europeans. A notable work in the 17th Century was Andre Du Ryer’s French translation in 1647 that was popular for more than 2 centuries and used as a model for many other translations of the Holy Book.
The same trend could also be traced in Russia where almost all translations, except for Kalmakov’s, were modeled on Du Ryer’s work. The first of such translations was made by Posnikov in early 18th Century but was wrongly ascribed to Dimitrie Cantemir. Although the work marked the beginning of the process of Quran translation in Russia, it was not much noteworthy in terms of technical accuracy or literary style. The process continued in mid 18th Century with more translations which considerably improved in accuracy and style. Examples were an anonymous translation that was published in Saint Petersburg in 1776 as well as another one that has been reviewed by Krachkovski and is currently kept in the Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg.
Another translation which was based on Du Ryer’s work and published in 1790 in Saint Petersburg belonged to Ferrokin which came to be known as an outstanding literary translation, influencing other translators and writers like Pushkin.
The middle of the 18th Century was a turning point in the process of Quran translation in Russia due to the promotion of Orientalism in different philosophical schools and the development of social and cultural interactions between Russians and Muslims which prompted them to get more acquainted with Islam and the Holy Quran. That is why a number of prominent orientalists such as Sablukov, Boguslavski, Krimski and Nicholive embarked on translating the Book.
The first translation was an anonymous one published in 1844 that was mainly based on former translations in style and regarded as the only Russian translation modeled on Suvari’s French translation.
Nicholive’s translation was modeled on the famous French translation by Kazimirski (1840) and is therefore open to criticism, as it merely reflects Kazimirski’s suppositions without considering the original Arabic text. Like its predecessor, Nicholive’s work is also debatable concerning its linguistic reliability. Nonetheless, it was a popular reference in the 19th Century and published 5 times during the years 1864-1901.
Boguslavski’s translation was done based on the Arabic text of the Quran in 1871 but left unpublished. It was later reviewed by Krachkovski and is now being kept in Saint Petersburg’s Academy of Sciences.
Sablukov’s translation is actually the best one among the existing Russian translations which has still kept its popularity. Sablukov was a Christian but spent most of his life in Muslim-populated areas in Volga and was therefore acquainted with Islamic culture. The work was published in 1878, two years before his death. It is believed to be a difficult translation due to its complicated prose style and use of archaic expressions. However, it has been commonly used by Muslims as a reliable source.
Krimski’s translation was made in two parts for Madani and Makki Surahs of the Quran that were respectively published in 1902 and 1905. Krimski was a famous author and orientalist from Ukraine who was obsessed with Quranic studies and presented a set of related courses in Eastern Languages Institute in Moscow. Due to his experience in writing literary works, his translation is believed to have traces of his literary taste.