David asked:

Which edition of the Qur'an should a Catholic read?

Robert Spencer replied:

"The most common translations into English are in pseudo-King James bible language and they are just very dense and hard to get through. Also the Qur'an itself, even in the best translation is very dense and hard to get through. Because it’s not arranged chronologically, it’s not arranged thematically, it lurches from topic to topic. It refers to incidents without explaining what they are all about ...

.. In the first place you need two things. Not just the Qur'an, but a guide to the Qur'an. I’d recommend my own book 'The Complete Infidels' Guide to the Qur'an,' but I’m not trying to sell you anything, there are other Qur'an guides out there ... Or at least a Qur'an with commentary. But be careful about Qur'ans with commentaries, because they are often white-washed and misleading and intended to deceive Western audiences ..."

Editor's note: Mr. Spencer recommends several books.

Patrick Coffin asked:

"I wanted to ask if Muslim apologists with whom you debate will say that you can’t really rely on an English or any other translation other than the original Arabic? ..."

Robert Spencer replied:

"The Qur'an itself is part of Islamic theology. The Qur'an is in Arabic, essentially in Arabic, the rhythm, the music, the rhyme of it in Arabic is absolutely intrinsic to it. So that when Muslims translate the Qur'an, they call it things like the meaning of the Qur'an, or something of that kind to distance it, to make sure the people understand that this is not the thing itself.

It has to be in Arabic. But that’s also a subterfuge and a dodge. When confronted with uncomfortable passages of the Qur'an about warfare against some believers or about how the unbelievers are the most vile of created beings or things like that, that can be embarrassing they will generally tend to say, ‘you’re taking it out of context,’ or you can’t really understand it unless you read it in the original Arabic. As if somehow ‘slay the unbelievers wherever you find them,’ rendered by Muslims translators will become suddenly, ‘give the infidels a hug,’ in the original Arabic.”


Catholic Answers, "Islam" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: September 20, 2013

Name of show: Islam

Guest comments by: Robert Spencer

Question appeared in show: 35:27

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