042 - DIFFERENCE 3: The Status of Translations of Bible and Koran
The reason Muslims did not translate their Koran into Christian languages in the early history of Islam is important: for conservative Muslims a Koran is only truly a Koran in its original language Arabic; a translation of the Koran into another language is not really a Koran, rather only a questionable interpretation of the Koran. Only under the pressure of Muslim sects (specifically the Ahmadiyya movement) did conservative Muslims start to translate their Koran into various languages at the beginning of the 20th century. However, even then they often indicate that their translation is not really a Koran by giving the translation of the Koran a title like the following two: of the Holy Qur'an (by Abdullah Yusuf Ali) or English Translation of of the Qur'an (by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan). In other words, for strict Muslims a translation of the Koran is not a real Koran, but only an inferior interpretation of the Koran. This is why Muslims the world over are required to perform their ritual prayers exclusively in the Arabic language. For during the repeated prayer cycles, they mostly recite passages of the Koran, and since translations of the Koran are not really Koran, they have to recite them in the Arabic original, even though most of them don't understand what they are saying. Less than 20% of Muslims worldwide speak Arabic as their native language, therefore most Muslims do not understand what they are reciting, when they recite the Koran in Arabic.
Here Christians differ markedly from Muslims. For Christians translations of the Bible into other than the original languages are not inferior interpretations of biblical content, rather they are regarded as real and complete Bibles and are used as such. In fact, the Gospels in the New Testament convey the message and life events of Jesus Christ not in the language that Christ himself used (Hebrew and Aramaic), but in a translation (Greek). The reason, why Christians do not hesitate to translate their Bible into other languages is based on the message of the Bible itself: In Genesis 11:1-9 we learn that the origin of different languages among humans goes back to God's judgment over those who were building the tower of Babel, and at Pentecost we read in Acts 2:1-13 that under the power of the Holy Spirit the apostles spoke in such a way that they could be understood by people from many different native tongues: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians (i.e. Aramaic speaking), Judaeans, people from Asia Minor (Cappadocia, Pontus, Phrygia, Pamphylia), Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretes and Arabians. So since God brought about the confusion of human languages and since he can speak in such a way that people from many different tongues can understand him, he is also able to guide translators through his Holy Spirit in such a way, that the translation of his word of the Bible is not compromised through the translation.
So this difference between the Bible and the Koran here is not directly related to the two books themselves, but to their understanding und usage by their respective adherents: For Muslims translations of the Koran are not really a Koran, but for Christians translations of the Bible are real and genuine Bibles.