The Signs of God
The main advantage of literal translation of scriptures, is that, it removes one layer between you and the original text, the layer imposed by the translator interpreting the text for you. take this example:
“And you see the mountains you think they are stationary, and they are passing like the passing of clouds. The Working of God who perfected everything. Indeed He is Well Acquainted of what you do”
This is a beautiful verse, a great sign pointing to its divine source. One possible interpretation is that this verse describes the rotation of Earth as seen from a frame of reference beyond the gravitational field of Earth.
It is one of many verses in the Quran, which describe with great accuracy, scientific phenomena that were completely unknown to humanity in the seventh century AD, when the Quran was revealed.
How on earth did prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) have known that mountains are not stationary?
Unlike all previous prophets and messengers of God, the miracle of the last prophet, Mohamed pbuh, is an enduring one. It is a sign that stays with us today and will stay for those who will come after we depart from this world. You too can see it and appreciate it.
The Sign given to the prophet whose mission includes the era of a scientific and materialistic world, is different. It is a Sign that speaks to your mind and to your intellect. It is for those who think for themselves, those who honestly seek the truth.
The splitting of the sea, was very visible and- no doubt- an astounding miracle bestowed on Moses, Similarly, raising the dead, with the will of God, was performed by Jesus and Moses, These miracles which defied the norms of worldly laws and customs were intended for specific people, and were witnessed by a limited audience who were present at a certain place at a particular point in history.
The Quran, the miracle of prophet Muhammad, is a book. A miraculous book that can be read by people long after the prophet has died, and long after the revelation itself.
Notes on the translation of the verse:
Non Arabic speakers who translated the Quran, did a great job, but in a few instances they relied on “Tafseers” or peshers (interpretations) and in those instances, they would translate their understanding of the verse, which was derived from the interpretations they received.
The above verse was translated as:
“And you will see the mountains and think them solid, but they shall pass away as the passing away of the clouds. The Work of Allâh, Who perfected all things, verily He is Well-Acquainted with what you do.”
Early Muslim scholars who wrote interpretation of the Quran, could not imagine the mountains moving. Most of them interpreted the verse as a future occurrence on the day of judgement.
The only exception was an interpretation attributed to IBN ABBAS, who was quoted by Al-Qurtubi as saying “the mountains are standing but moving fast”.
There could be a merit in the old interpretation, which assumes the verse to be a continuation from the previous passage. That is perfectly plausible, however, there is nothing in the original words that exclude the possibility that the verse is describing a contemporary, worldly scene.
The translation I wrote above is a literal translation, the Arabic sentence is ” and it passes like the passing of clouds” is in the present tense, and not future tense,
It is true that the Quran, in many places, refers to the future in the present and even the past tense, to give the meaning of certainty to a scene. This verse however has no future context at all. It speaks of looking at the mountain, and after describing the motion of the mountains, it says: “The making of Allah, who perfected every thing, verily, He is Well Acquainted with what you do” so this is an added emphasis on the contemporary nature of what the verse is describing.