Translating the Prophetic Hadeeth into other languages
Fatwa No: 135329

  • Fatwa Date:10-5-2010 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 27, 1431
  • Rating:

Question

Assalamu Alaikum WaRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh I understand that the Quran can only be understood correctly in Arabic as it is the word of Allah and so if it is translated than we would lose the divine impact of the words/meanings? Is the same to be said for the authentic Hadeeth in that they can't be translated either and have to be understood directly in Arabic? Currently I have learnt the meanings of the prayers/duas I offer in Arabic and am now going to learn Quranic Arabic so that I can understand Quran directly when I recite it. I currently study/read the 6 collections of Hadeeth in english which were recently published by Dar us Salam. Is it sufficient for me to learn enough Arabic to understand Quran directly and continue studying the Hadeeth in english or do I have to learn Arabic as a language to understand the Arabic used in the Hadeeth also? Is it true, that the Quran can't be translated because it is the direct word of Allah but the Hadeeth can be translated and understood in other languages because they were the words/actions/approvals of the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) and not words spoken by Allah directly? I hope this is clear. Shukhran, Hafiz Irfan

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

 

We have already issued Fataawa 84570 and 81646 clarifying that it is not permissible to translate the Quran literally and that it is permissible to translate its meaning to other languages provided that some conditions are met. For details, please refer to the above-referred Fataawa.

Also, it is permissible to translate the Ahaadeeth of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) to a language other than Arabic on the condition that the translator understands the meaning (of the Arabic words) correctly in addition to mastering the target language so that he can be able to render these meanings precisely and accurately.

Moreover, the majority of the scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them stated that it is permissible to narrate the Hadeeth with its meaning [i.e. without the exact words of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )], so this is evidence that it is permissible to translate the Hadeeth to another language provided the correct meaning is rendered.

As regards learning the Arabic language, then a Muslim is obligated to learn from it what enables him to recite the Quran or the Athkaar (the legislated mention of Allaah) which Allaah obligated him to recite in the prayer, as it is not permissible to do so in a language other than Arabic.

Imaam Ash-Shaafi’i  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “Every Muslim has to learn the Arabic language to an extent that enables him to perform his religious obligations.” As regards what is beyond his religious obligations, then learning it is desirable. For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 81468.  

Allaah Knows best.

Related Fatwa