Propagating Divine Messages in Mother Tongues -By Sulaiman A. Osho

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Sulaiman A. Osho

Sulaiman A. Osho

 

The three surviving heavenly religions are perhaps creating challenges of terrorism in the globe out of desperation for expansion, political gains, and economic adventurism. Perhaps, the Jewish religion is desperate to promote the ideals of Moses to gain more faithfuls across the world in its expansionist agenda. Perhaps, the Christian leadership is poised to envelope the ecosphere with the message of Jesus Christ using the propaganda machinery as applied by Pope Alexander VII (Feb. 13, 1599 – May 22, 1667) in 1662 when a Committee of Cardinals in Rome sent missions abroad to propagate the gospel. And perhaps the Muslims are agitated to promote Islamic faith as brought by the Seal of all prophets, Muhammad (SAW) to all communities in the universe as the religion for mankind.

Yet, the different continents of the world are enveloped with acts of religious terrorism and killing, maiming, the destruction of property, and the frightening of people across. Yet, religions ought to have come to ensure peace and tranquility in the world. Yet, the three religions have Holy Scriptures of the Torah, Bible and Qur’an respectively sent through the prophets by God to the Jews, Israelites, and mankind for clarifications, understanding, and reference purposes.

Yet, the Holy Books have been translated into different languages for more interpretations and elucidation. Yet, the Divine Messages are available in the old and new media for further amplification and accessibility to the people. Yet, we continue to witness the pogrom of people in different countries of the world daily in the name of religion. Yet, we see daily the destruction of property, displacement of millions of people in different countries of the globe due to frictions between the faithfuls of the three religions.

Perhaps, there are misconceptions in the translations of the Holy Scriptures to local languages by scholars. Perhaps, some intellectuals have embarked on the translation of the Holy Books into local tongues with hidden agenda. Perhaps, the interpretations of the Divine Revelations are being done by some clerics for ulterior motives. Perhaps, the translation of the Holy Books into different languages are full of human errors genuinely. Whereas, God has put administration of the universe at the doorsteps of the Prophets and clergy, intellectuals, war lords, monarchs, leaders, and the wealthy.

Though, the Book of Torah revealed to the Jews through Prophet Moses was originally sent by God in Hebrew language, it has been translated to 70 different languages for better understanding by the people. Though the Bible revealed to the Israelites through Prophet Jesus Christ was unveiled in Aramaic language, it has been translated in 531 languages and some portions interpreted in 2,883 languages. Though the Holy Qur’an has been revealed to the People of the World through Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in Arabic language, it has been translated to over 50 languages in complete form and over 114 languages in verses and interpretations.

These are grossly inadequate when we realise the fact that by United Nations Population estimation, there are over 7 billion people in the world today out which 14 million are Jews, 2.2 billion are Christians, 1.6 billion are muslims, 1.13 billion are unaffiliated to any religion, 1.1 billion are Hindus, 1 billion are Buddhists, 405 million are faithfuls of folk religions, and 58 million profess to other religions.

Besides, the development of language by man actually manifests the physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual advancement of homo-sapiens above the brute animals, as it has improved human communications verbally and non-verbally.

Thus, it is insufficient that the three main holy books of heavenly religions have not been translated into most of the languages to improve human understanding when we realise the fact that people have better understanding of messages through their mother tongue. After all, as UNESCO (2015) reveals, there are over 6,912 languages in the world today, out of which 2,269 are being spoken in Africa; 230 in Europe; 431 in Latin America; 300 in North America; and 2,197 in Asia.

By this ipso-facto, it is imperative to commend the intellectual exposition of Ustadh Daud Yinka Awwal, a Saudi Arabian trained Islamic scholar and London expert journalist to translate the Holy Qur’an to Yoruba language, in order to correct the numerous errors found in the previous editions. This becomes more crucial, when we realise that Yoruba is one of the 100 most populous spoken languages in the world as espoused by the Swedish Nationalencyklopedin (2010). It is spoken locally by over 50 million people in Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Brazil, West Indies, the Caribbean nations, and other countries of the world. Thus, not less than 0.50 per cent of the world population speaks Yoruba language which is closely related to the Itsekiri language in Niger Delta and Igala in north central Nigeria.

However, it is imperative to note that the Holy Qur’an didn’t address only the believers, unbelievers, Arabs, and non-Arabs, but the entire humanity; as it addresses mankind in more than 50 different verses.

Also, it is true that as Divinely Guarded, the 114 chapters and 6,666 verses of the Holy Qur’an had been revealed in classical Arabic for 23 years from 610 A.D. to 632 A.D.; and remains unedited, unreviewed, and unblemished till eternity; but the translations to various languages are being revised due to human errors.

According to Ustadh Daud Awwal, “I spotted many grammatical errors in the first Yoruba version of the Qur’an translated from English version by a Christian clergy, Reverend Samuel Michael Cole in 1907, ‘Al-Kurani Ni Ede Yoruba’ as published by the CMS Bookshop in Lagos. However, I was able to obtain a copy of the first Yoruba Qur’an in London at the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and reviewed the 1924 edition as published in Exeter, United Kingdom by James Townsend and Sons; and mistakes were spotted from the cover page to 67 different pages of the 410-page Yoruba edition of the Holy Qur’an.”

But the great work of Reverend Cole set the stage for further translation of Holy Qur’an to Yoruba language which led to the first translation of Holy Qur’an to Yoruba language by the Muslims which was commissioned by the Muslim World League (MWL), Makkah, Saudi Arabia in 1962 and completed in 1973 with the Founder and President of Ansar-ul-Islam Society and College, Ilorin, Nigeria, Sheikh Kamaldeen El-Adabiy as Chairman and Proprietor of Markaz Arabic Institute, Agege, Lagos, Sheikh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory as Secretary who also wrote the Preface. And another edition being translated by Dr. Abdul-Razaq Alaro in Ilorin in 2002 is a copied work of the 1973 edition’.

Meanwhile, the errors discovered in the Yoruba edition of the Holy Qur’an published in 1973 by MWL in Makkah, were astronomical as every chapter contained an average of 100 mistakes in Yoruba grammar, morphology, spellings, and meaning from Arabic language. This is without prejudice to all the committee members of the Yoruba edition of the 1973 Yoruba Holy Qur’an including the Proprietor of Markaz Arabic Institute, Agege, Lagos, Nigeria, Sheikh Adam Abdullah El-Iloriy, where Ustadh Daud Awwal trained from 1987 to 1995.

The author of the new version of Yoruba translation of Yoruba, Ustadh Awwal declared that, “since the over 50 million Yoruba people deserve to have a comprehensive and error free translation of Qur’an in their mother tongue, I embarked on the new translation from 2006 and completed the great work titled, Al-Kurani Titobi Ni Ede Yoruba in over 8,000 pages in 2014.”

According to the author, the quality of the new Yoruba Qur’an has been aided by the inventions of the 26 Yoruba alphabets by Bishop Ajayi Crowder in 1830 for the formal writing of Yoruba language, and the co-authorship of Yoruba Dictionary with E.J. Sowande, Revd. T.A.J. Ogunbiyi, and Mrs. E. Fry in 1842 by the Anglican clergy who married a Muslim.

The entire manuscripts are being sought for publishing by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in Arabic, Transliteration, and Yoruba which makes the work to be unique to make for easy reading by the expanding population of Yoruba community around the world.

Great scholars in Arabic and Islamic studies and who are versed in Yoruba language have reviewed the Transliteration and Yoruba translation of the Qur’an. They include Sheikh Abdul Wahaab Zubair Al-Ghamawiyy, Founder of Sofwat Movement of Nigeria and Sofwat Arabic and Islamic Centre affiliated to University of Lagos who has written the Preface; Dr. Olanrewaju Badmas, lecturer of Arabic and Islamic studies, University of Lagos; and Sheikh Muhydeen Najeemdeen Al-Kubra, Chief Imam of Assalatu Rahman, United Kingdom; and a senior lecturer of Yoruba language at SOAS, University of London, Professor Akin Oyetade. They have commended the great work for public use.

Kudos for a good intellectual contribution to knowledge to ward off ignorance and get the Message of God to the people through the mother tongue of Yoruba.

 

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