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The mission of Universal Knowledge Institute (UKI) is to advance knowledge and understanding of the Quran and its historical context for Muslims and others, increase public understanding and awareness of Islam and Muslims, and advance world harmony through sensitivity toward Islam and Muslims. Universal Knowledge Institute was created in 2007 by a small group of concerned individuals for educational purposes as a nonprofit 501C3 organization based in the State of Illinois. We are convinced that knowledge is a powerful element that can promote understanding of Quran, sensitivity toward Islam and Muslims, improve public awareness and increase harmony in the world.

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Professor Seema Imam

slideshow_02 Professor Seema Imam is faculty in National-Louis University’s Graduate Elementary and Middle Level Teacher Education Program in Chicago and suburbs. She is Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council, and former Chair of the University Faculty Senate.

Dr. Imam believes there is tremendous need to advance world harmony through knowledge and understanding. She strongly believes that in today’s global society a world-class education requires familiarity with the Quran. Similarly, as a founder of Universal Knowledge Institute, Dr. Imam is committed to the notion that we simply cannot as a nation and as a world deny the need for dialogues to take place, that is, dialogue of Muslims with Muslims and Muslims with others.

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A New Interpretation And Translation

gracious_slideshow_01This contemporary, authoritative translation interprets the Quran’s meaning for the English reader with unprecedented access to the Book that is the foundational source of Islam, its civilization and its peoples, who now comprise nearly one-fourth of humanity across the breadth of all the Earth’s continents and who form a crucial, contiguous community at the middle of the world.

Twenty years in the making, The Gracious Quran: A Modern-Phrased Interpretation of Its Meanings in English is both highly reliable and powerfully expressed. Where the Arabic of the Quran swells with important implication, that intent is conveyed in this rendering with a light hand in unobtrusive brackets, every effort having been expended to make its reading august, clear, accessible, and consistent while at the same time free of poetic pretension, philosophical complication, and lifeless literalisms.

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gracious_slideshow_02Professor Ahmad Zaki Hammad is an internationally known authority on Quran and Islamic Studies. He teaches Islamic Civilization and the Primary Disciplines of Quran Commentary, the Prophetic Traditions, and the Principles of Islamic Law at the foremost center of Islamic and Arabic learning in the Muslim world, AL-Azhar University (Faculty of Languages and Translations, Department of English). He is also a member of the Faculty of Shari’ah, Departmentd of Juristic Studies.

He lived for many years in the United States, where he founded and served in numerous national and community Islamic institutions for American Muslims.

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gracious_slideshow_03The Muslim World Book Review, 30:1, 2009 19
Islamic Thought and Sources
Review by: Abdur Raheem Kidwai (Aligarh Muslim University)

It is heartening to note the publication of this new English translation of the Qur’an in that it stands out above the existing ones on several counts. Its chief merit consists in its deep and sincere concern for meeting almost all the needs of the uninitiated English speaking readers of the Qur’an who want to find out what the Qur’an is, what is its message and how best it should be studied.

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slideshow_06Building high self-esteem in all children will result in a more peaceful and harmonious world. Select from three children’s stories. Living in a diverse society, a world of many people prompts authors to write for Muslim Children and for others to better understand the culture around the Muslim family.

I am Listening is a story for home or class, public or private. It discusses the value of names. It is a cross-cultural story in an American public school class where the 5th grade teacher wears hijab (scarf). Sadia is new to the neighborhood. It is one of the “I AM GOOD BOOK” Series.



The Muslim World Book Review, 30:1, 2009 19
Islamic Thought and Sources
(Two volume set) By Ahmad Zaki Hammad (trans).
Publisher: Lucent Interpretations, 2007. Pp. 1514. ISBN: 0978784901

It is heartening to note the publication of this new English translation of the Qur’an in that it stands out above the existing ones on several counts. Its chief merit consists in its deep and sincere concern for meeting almost all the needs of the uninitiated English speaking readers of the Qur’an who want to find out what the Qur’an is, what is its message and how best it should be studied. Ahmad Zaki Hammad, who had his academic training at both al-Azhar and University of Chicago coupled with his decade-long stay in the US, has addressed effectively and competently these and other related issues. To begin with, he has provided extensive and helpful background material geared towards preparing readers better for grasping the meaning and message of the Qur’an. His opening note, “Before You Read” (pp.xi-xii) is characterized by his overflowing sincerity of purpose and his keen desire for making the study of the Qur’an highly rewarding for readers.

The same noble spirit permeates the seemingly innocuous table of contents listing titles of 114 Qur’anic Surahs. What makes his detailed “Annotated Contents for the Gracious Qur’an” (pp.xxi-xxxiii) unique is his elucidation of the meaning and significance of each Qur’anic Surah title. For example, Surah al-Anbiya’ is introduced as “the Surah that mentions the names of sixteen Prophets and Mary, illustrating the unity of divine message” (p.xxiii) and Surah al-Kafirun as “the Surah that instructs the Prophet (peace be upon him) to inform the Disbelievers that the worship of false deities and the worship of One God are not, and can never be, compatible”. (p.xxxii) Hammad often manages to capture the quintessence of the main subject matter of Surahs in his brief introduction at the contents page itself, which stands in a sharp contrast to all other English translations in which only Surah titles are listed, divorced from their context. As a result, some readers feel bewildered upon coming across such heterogeneous Surah headings on the contents page as “The Cow, The Table Spread, Cattle, Thunder, The Bee, The Ant, The Spider, Crouching, The Sand Hills, The Winnowing Winds, she that disputes, She that is to be examined, The Ascending Stairways, He Frowned, The Fig, Palm Fiber, etc”. This ingenious editorial innovation on Hammad’s part will go a long way in drawing readers closer to a more fruitful study of the Qur’an.

As to his translation of the Qur’anic text, it is both elegant and reader friendly. His “modern-phrased interpretation” is in lucid, idiomatic English, which is a delight to read. His rhythmic division and sub-divisions of the text of each verse into smaller chunks of chaste English has enhanced the presentation quality of the work, rendering it more readily comprehensible. Here are some instances in point, by way of juxtaposing Pickthall’s and Hammad’s translations:

1. And We rained a rain upon them. See now the nature of the consequence for evil doers. (Al-A[raf, 7:84, Pickthall’s translation) And we rained down upon them a devastating rain of marked stones! See how dreadful was the end of the defiant Unbelievers. (Hammad’s rendering of the above, p.153)

2. Nay, I swear by the city- and thou art an in-dweller of this city- and the begetter and that which he begat. We verily have created man in an atmosphere. (Al-Balad 90:1-4 Pickthall’s translation)

No, indeed! I do swear by this Sacred City of Makkah, while you, O Prophet, are a free dweller in this Sacred City of Makkah Moreover, I swear by all that beget and all that is begotten! Very truly We created man in a life of travail. (Hammad’s translation of the above, p.664)

As is clear from the above samples, in his rendering Hammad has opted for paraphrasing, rather than literal translation of the Qur’anic text. This device is no doubt, reader-friendly and conveys more effectively the tenor of the Qur’anic text, in comparison to the cryptic, enigmatic and, at times, incomprehensible English renderings in almost all other translations. However, utmost caution should be exercised while interpolating extra-Qur’anic material in the body of the translation of the Qur’anic text. Such material, no matter how useful it might be, should better appear within parenthesis, distinct from the translated version of the Word of God. This norm is regretfully not observed in Hammad’s work. As a result, his rendering, though faithful to the spirit of the text, contains abundant material for filling gaps for the sake of a coherent narration, which is not supported by the wording of the text. As already indicated, Hammad’s work is truly a treasure-house of sound Qur’anic scholarship which is reflected in his comprehensive explanatory notes (Vol 2, pp.111-298), which apart from embodying a wealth of his own perceptive comments, draw also upon the rich tafsir corpus, referred to in his: A Library of Principal Sources of Islam (Vol 2, pp.15-16) and Bibliography (Vol. 2 pp.307-312).

Hammad’s thorough familiarity with the English translations of the Qur’an comes out sharply in his judicious critique, Representing the Qur’an in English: The Western Tradition (Vol. 2, pp.67-94). His invaluable knowledge of the existing translations has indeed helped him in avoiding the errors marring these. In all, this is a monumental English translation which is destined to meet many needs for the years to come. Remarkably it delivers what the translator rises to deliver: to convey an understanding of the intent of the words and verses of the Arabic Qur’an ... according to how the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explained them and how his Companions understood his elucidation; to allow the new reader and non-specialist to understand the references and connections that an Arabic reader well-studied in the Qur’an would grasp; and to present this reading of the Qur’an’s verses in clear language.

Abdur Raheem Kidwai
Aligarh Muslim University

“This work is a masterpiece. It not only accomplishes what other major scholarly translations have accomplished, but it does it in ….a readily understandable and world-wide modern spoken English.” M. Cherif Bassiouni, International Law Professor DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.

“It is no doubt a significant milestone in the series of introducing the Quran to English speaking readers over history, and to my mind is so far the best.” Dr. Hassan Hathout, Los Angeles, California.

“It is an impressive work of scholarship and a truly beautiful and contemporary presentation of this sacred text. Congratulations to Doctor Hammad for bringing this project to completion.” Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago.

“A wonderful contribution to the body of Islamic knowledge in America.” Salam Al-Marayati, President of MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) in Los Angeles, California.

“It is obviously, the culmination of many years of careful scholarship, and we will give it an honored place in our library, Thanks for the connection you drew between honest expression of religious thought and the mind of a religiously plural society.” Harvey Grossman, President of Chicago, Illinois Chapter of the ACLU (America Civil Liberties Union).

“The Gracious Quran is fantastic, two volumes with explanation, mashallah and this translation uses modern technology and modern languages without using the old fashioned British English, not only a translation, but it also has commentary on every chapter. The way the two volumes were prepared is really quite excellent. That is the best investment for anyone who claims himself or herself to be Muslim. I wish we could print ten million copies and put those in every hotel to Congress, to mayors, and so on. Just print 10 million to 20 million and start asking Muslims to deliver these in their areas.”

Dr. Ahmad Sakr, Islamic Scholar and author of many books on Islam in English, Founder and President of Islamic Education Center of Walnut, California.

“The Gracious Quran delivers the divine in a very culturally effective way and I think that is much needed today. It does so in terms of its physical appearance, the font that is used, the use of red and black and the captions on the sides you know it is like going to Borders and picking up a book, yet it maintains the weight and grace of divine scripture. From the perspective of its spiritual appeal, it uses an eloquent language and it uses a conceptual language that really I think sits well with in the heart of the 21st century reader in the west specifically. We have sensitive issues in our times and I think Shaik Ahmad’s commentary speaks to those sensitivities and the language used is very reassuring. Amal Ali, Youth Coordinator of CIOGC (Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago) Chicago, Illinois.

My first impression of the Gracious Quran is a great one I was so----so, so happy. For me, knowing the language of the Quran, Arabic and seeing the translation I was hoping to see someone to give us in the United States, Muslims who speak English and those of us who teach Islam a new translation. I’ve read the Gracious Quran and I was really impressed. I love Quran and I teach it and when I teach the girls I think I need something closer and when I use the Gracious Quran, I say this one is closer to your mind, easier to understand and The Gracious Quran is something I recommend for every one of my students. Laila El Amine, Head of Religion Department, Aqsa School in Bridgeview, Illinois.


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