Earliest Complete Translation of the Quran into Chinese

Here is an interesting fact. The earliest complete translation of the Quran into Mandrian (Chinese) was translated not from Arabic but from Japanese which itself was translated into Japanese by Sakamoto Ken-ichi from Rodwell’s English translation of the Quran. The Chinese translation was done by a non-Muslim scholar named Li Tiezheng and was published in Beijing in 1927.

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22 responses to “Earliest Complete Translation of the Quran into Chinese

  1. I bought a Chinese Language Qu’ran in Beijing and saw that they also had Mandarin copies of Bukhari, etc. I wonder how many variations there are?

  2. I was so happy to find this blog, which I found through Sunni Sister’s blog. I have always been interested in China, and studied mandarin Chinese and writing for a year (although it has been awhile and I have not used what I learned, therefore lost most of it) and have always wanted to visit China, but wondered what the muslim community was like there. This is now giving me an opportunity to learn about a subject that is not easy to find alot of info on. Shukran and keep up the good work!

  3. mujahid7ia, U would also guess that is the case.

    parallelsidewalk, I believe there are at least 5 or 6 translations.

    wasaski, Welcome to the blog. I am glad you liked it. I wish that more non-Chinese Muslims also learned Mandarin. There is a lot of opportunity for dawah if only people made use of it. :)

    khalil, Thank you. :)

  4. Beautiful MashaAllah!

    Indeed the correct way of understanding the real Islam is to refer to the Holy Quran as the basis for all knowledge and then understanding the Sunnah and Hadith in its light. Anything that cannot be linked back to the Quran cannot be declared an integral part of Islam. We must be very careful when we assume that something is or is not part of Islam. Allah has protected the Holy Book for this very purpose that no matter how much time passes the word of Allah remains pure and provides guidance to those who truly want to submit to his will and stay on course to becoming true Muslims.
    The values, injunctions, and the principles enshrined in the Book form the corner stone of the Islamic polity and the limits laid down by it provide the framework within which the laws of the Islamic State may be formulated. These principles, or limits, or framework, are immutable, but the statutes made by the State within these four corners are open to modification and change according to the needs of the times.

    The Qur’an is the last of the Divine Books, because Messenger-hood ended with Muhammad. No subsequent human opinion or pronouncement in matters of deen, therefore, can be recognized as authoritative; nor can any man-made law repugnant to the Qur’an be regarded as binding upon the Muslims. The Qur’an is a book of guidance for all mankind and transcends the barriers of time and space. The Islamic State is an instrument for the enforcement of the Laws and Injunctions embodied in the Qur’an.
    May Allah guide us and have mercy on us. Ameen.
    Abdul Momin

    http://www.quransunnat.com

  5. Dear all,

    We, Rohingya People of Arakan, Burma (Myanmar), have recently perfected our writting system known as Rohingyalish that uses mainly English alphabets and two other Latin characters along with five accented vowels. The first important project completed was “Quran Translation in to Rohingya Language” sponsored by “Rohingya Language Foundation” based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

    The first concept was to use “Urdu Translation of Quran” as a basis because Urdu is more related to Rohingya Language than most people think it is more to Bangali Language. Many Rohingya can better speak Urdu than any other language because it is more closely related to Rohingya people. Almost all Rohingya thought that Urdu translation is the best among many other Asian translations.

    Since many Rohingyas staying in Saudi Arabia know Arabic, Urdu and Rohingya equally well, we soon found that translating Quran from Urdu translation is one of the worst ideas. It is because no language has direct word-for-word match from Arabic word to their own word. Therefore many translations have some sort of adjustments to take the nearest rather than exact word-to-word match. If you translate Quran from another translation of Quran (say from Urdu Quran to Rohingya Quran) you do again need, second time adjustment to the orginal meaning. This can cause big deviation from the original meaning. Moreover, there might have a better match from Arabic in to your Langauge than say from Urdu to Rohingya.

    So, the best suggestion is to translate Quran from original Arabic Quran which is the direct word of God (Allah) as it was revealed direct to the prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him). My personal opinon is that no body has the right to translate the Quran to another language unless he knows Arabic equal or better than his own mother language.

    ***end***

  6. A verry lovely site indeed.I would like to obtain a Translation of the holy Qur’an into Chinese.

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  8. The earliest direct translation from Arabic into Chinese was completed by imam Wang Jingzhai from Tianjin (who studied at Al Azhar), and printed in Beiping in 1932. This translation included many terms used in traditional Chinese Muslim educational system (jingtang jiaoyu) and was thus very difficult to understand for people not used to this vocabulary. A baihua version of the translation was completed by the same translator in 1942 and printed in Ningxia (under the sponsorship of Ma Hongkui I think). It was reprinted in 1946 in Shanghai and included commentaries and explanations.
    The best known Chinese translation was done by Ma Jian (also an Azharite), and published in Beijing in 1958. This is the most widely used translation, and is the most linguistically correct Chinese translation available. It has numerous prints.
    There is a linguistic work comparing both of these translations written by a scholar from the University of Oslo named Ivo Spira. It is available for download from his website. Also both Wang Jingzhai’s and Ma Jian’s translations are online.
    I guess there might have been earlier, so far little known, translations of the Qur’an. When I was in Lanzhou in the Muslim library there I was presented with a reprint of an old Chinese translation of the Qur’an. I do not have it readily available now as I have given it to a Hui friend from Jinan, will have to ask him to show it to me once more.

  9. The information comes from Jin Yijiu’s article “古兰经在中国“in 中国伊斯兰文化 published by the Zhonghua Shuju in 1996. Professor Jin writes that there existed numerous translation of selected passages from the Qur’an earlier used as a sort of religious readers called ‘haiting’ (from Arabic khatm) in Chinese used mainly as primers for Arabic studies. Anyway, the issue is of course complicated. It would also be useful to have a look at a selection of other religious Muslim texts translated into Chinese earlier.

  10. Peace be upon u!
    Islam(Submission) is not an Arabic religion.It is a religion for all mankind regardless of race,status and languages.It is a way of life as well.The believers of these religion is called Muslim(Submitters).The Quran(The Last Testament) is the Holy book and it is contained Allah’s(God) words.The Muslim(Submitters) states that Allah(God) is the only One God and Muhammad(PBUH) was His Messanger.Arab people regard their god as ‘Allah’,in English ‘Allah’ means God.The Quran can be translated in any language of all over the world,whether in Arabic,Turkish,German,English,Chinese,Korean,Japanese,Russian,Hindi and so on.please remind that Islam is a religion for all,not exclusively for the Arabs!

  11. Hi dear brothers and sisters, Assalamu Alaikum

    About the first Chinese translation of the Holy Qur’an, I understood it was directly from Arabic and was done by Yusuf Ma, a learned Muslim and respected scholar from the Yunan province who performed the Hajj, travelled extensively throughout the Middle East and had good knowledge of Arabic, Persian and Urdu. I was performed in the middle of the 1800’s. Please correct me if I am wrong and provide references. Ma’a Salam

  12. Hi Wang Daiyu,

    I work at the University of Alberta Bookstore in Canada and a customer has asked me if we could order a copy of the Qur’an in Mandarin for him. Do you have any idea of who I could contact to purchase this? Any leads would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Tabitha Gillman
    Special Services, U. of A. Bookstore
    (780) 492-0265

  13. Lovely blog.

    I have recently made a friend at a local ESL Class I teach in. She has taken an interest in Islam but is unable to understand the Qur’an in English as she is a recent immigrant from China. I’ve tried a few Islamic bookstores but none seem to carry a Mandarin Qur’an. Any suggestion on where to find one in Canada?

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