Caveat (if I may): my knowledge is very limited so I am not able to give an in-depth analysis nor do I want to. What follows is based purely on this past weeks worth of experiences with the YA translation and nothing analytical or comprehensive in any sense.Is it his translation that you have a problem with, or is it his commentary? Would you share which things bother you? I made a thread on Yusuf Ali, if you want to post there so that this one doesn't take a new goat path. I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts!
I have a problem with both now. I am okay with the way he writes but can't say it is my preference. I have 2 versions of his translation:
- 1957 (paperback) version published by Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers & Booksellers (Lahore) - without commentary, English only
- 1989 (hardcover) new revised edition published by Amana Corporation - with commentary, English/Arabic side-by-side
I was reading through the original (actually, I think it is the second edition though not specified), paperback version (easier to handle, relatively smaller, lighter) and did not like the numbering system he chose to use. The reason I dislike the numbering system is, ironically, reflected in YA's intro:
Well, I'm not in Egypt and when I went to cross-reference with Ma'ariful Qur'an (from the East, out of Pakistan), I did indeed experience some confusion. This I did not like and I am not saying it is a 'fault' in the original YA translation but it made it uncomfortable for me to continue reading that version. I have since switched to Pickthall (1977 - no commentary, English/Arabic side-by-side). I have not been reading through the revised edition of YA's translation so I can not really comment on it in much detail however, I did notice that changes were made from the original to the revised edition. To illustrate:...the system of numbering the verses has not been uniform in previous translations. European editors and translators have allowed their numbering diverge considerably from that accepted in the East. This causes confusion in giving and verifying references. The different Qirats sometimes differ as to the punctuation stops and the numbering of the verse. This is not a vital matter, but it causes confusion in references.... I have adopted mainly that of the Egyptian edition published under the authority of the King of Egypt. This will probably be accepted in Egypt and in Arabic-speaking countries, as those countries generally look up to Egypt in matters of literature...
Verse 1 from the translation of Surah Maida reads as follows:
=====O ye who believe ! fulfil (all) obligations.
[1989 revised edition]
=====O ye who believe!
Fulfil (all) obligations.
Lawful unto you (for food)
Are all four-footed animals
With the exceptions named:
But animals of the chase
Are forbidden while ye
Are in the Sacred Precincts
Or in pilgrim garb:
For Allah doth command
According to His Will and Plan.
That one verse difference at the start made me confused for a little while until I realized what was happening (I was cross-referencing something closer to the beginning of the surah). The same surah in the 1957 version is 123 ayahs long, sections are not noted. The 1989 revised version is 120 ayahs long with 16 sections.
Then, after I read discussions under this thread and read your blog, I became aware of another problem. The problem is that when a non-Muslim reads the commentary and English translation/interpretation of the verses through the lens of their religious preferences and other scriptures, the meaning changes (it seems to be too loose and leaves too much room for additional interpretation). Where we were discussing how it is now wrong to consider God as the father (and so too any reference to children of God) even in the spiritual sense, I noticed that was not coming across at all. My understanding is that, eventhough it was initially intended to be used in a spiritual sense, the use of father-child became corrupted and hence any reference even to a spiritual father-child relationship is no longer allowed. Your notes do not reflect this and since the effort you've undertaken is to explore Ma'ariful Qur'an and YA translation side-by-side, and to view them through the lens of your own spiritual beliefs and background, the meaning becomes corrupted. This is dangerous and worrisome for me and I attributed the problem to the YA translation/interpretation/commentary. All that said... I must also add that I too do not know Arabic so I have no way of knowing what would be closest to the original Arabic meaning however, I trust scholars and feel it is probably not the best version to use.
It is for these reasons that I do not think the YA translation/interpretation/commentary is good for the purpose you've employed it for and for those reasons, I also no longer feel comfortable reading it myself.
May Allah forgive me if I have erred.