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News Analysis

Anti-Islamist Translation of Quran Enormously Popular

Tue, August 6, 2013

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, author of the anti-Islamist translation of the Quran.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, author of the anti-Islamist translation of the Quran.

Ryan Mauro

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a Muslim reformer and former member of the Islamist Jamaa Islamiya terrorist group, has published a “modern translation” of the Quran that challenges Islam’s traditional interpretations. Its Arabic Facebook page has more than a half-million “likes” in less than 12 weeks, and Hamid says he is considering translating it into more languages.

Hamid, who is the chairman of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies’ Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism, also made a website for his translation, RohAlQuran.com.  Hamid also appeared in the Clarion Project documentary, The Third Jihad.

A summary of the text describes it as a “fresh and theologically valid interpretation for the Quran to counterbalance the radical teaching.” Hamid’s newsletter states that this interpretation promotes a “non-literal understanding of the religious text,” religious tolerance, non-violence and the end of corporal punishments and fights terrorism and anti-Semitism.

In his interview with the Clarion Project in December 2012, Hamid explained that “human interpretations of the [Islamic] religious text and the cultures of the time played a significant role in creating what is now called sharia law.”

The Muslim Brotherhood-originated groups and other Islamists are predictably resistant to the efforts of Hamid and other Muslims to modernize the interpretation of their religion.

“They [the Islamists] have a strong group in the U.S. that is trying to improve the image of Islam and sharia law without having a real change in the traditional violent and inhumane interpretations of the religion. They just want to change the image without changing the reality,” Hamid said.

Muslim reformists like Hamid argue that it is not an act of apostasy for individual Muslims to critically examine long-held interpretations of their religious texts. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, another Muslim reformist, writes in A Battle for the Soul of Islam that he and his father studied Islamic texts in classical Arabic. He was raised with the understanding that imams and Islamic readers are not infallible. Muslims like these believe that, as mankind grows, so should mankind’s understanding of religious texts.

This doesn’t mean altering what they believe is God’s word, nor does it mean abandoning the faith. It is a recognition that man’s knowledge is finite, especially when compared with God, and mankind should continually strive to better understand God’s teachings. It is actually belittling to God to assume that He is fully understood by humans from hundreds or thousands of years ago.

In June 2012, I wrote an article titled, The Anti-Islamist Texts the Free World Needs To Use. Dr. Tawfik Hamid’s modern translation of the Quran is one of them.


Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.