An article shared almost 7,000 times on Middle East Monitor claims that Saudi Arabia has authorised an incorrect translation of the Quran and implies that it this was done to please Israel. The news was shared far and wide by anti-Saudi blogs and social media pages.
The news however, is fake.
The article claimed that the Masjid Al Aqsa was changed to “The Temple” which is the Jewish name for the third holiest site of Islam. The claims got even wilder where it was claimed that Saudi authorities allowed the name of, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (ﷺ) to be deleted from the Quran.
What is the Source?
The source of this claim is the biggest concern. Middle East Monitor claims their source as “Shehab News Agency”, an extremist blog which was removed from Facebook in 2015 for promoting extremism and anti-Semitic content.
More specifically the source is “researcher on Israeli affairs, Aladdin Ahmed” which upon closer inspection leads us to the original article from which the Middle East Monitor article seems to be taken. The Iranian website Iqna.ir which published the same story 28 hours before Middle East Monitor. They place their sources as the same video and the same individuals.
The original article from the Iranian website makes bolder claims than the Middle East Monitor article, that Masjid Al Aqsa is called Solomon’s temple and that even the name of Jesus is missing. Furthermore they claim that the name of, the forefather of the Jewish people, the Prophet Isaac (peace be upon him) is found but, the name of the forefather of the Arabs, the Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) is not found.
All of these claims have been found to be false.
If the source was not questionable enough the claim itself is false. Dr HA Hellyer, an author and academic in international relations and religion, said the about claims of Middle East Monitor that the Saudi authorities had mistranslated the Quran and that there “doesn’t seem like there is much truth to this.” He went on to explain
“The Hebrew word used in the Saudis’ Hebrew translation to refer to mosque is “מסגד”. When transliterated into English, this Hebrew word is ‘misgad’; which is the Hebrew translation for *mosque* (English) and of course “مسجد” (Arabic). It is not the Hebrew translation for ‘temple’. The Hebrew word for ‘temple’ is מקדש. That word shows up *nowhere* here. “– Dr HA Hellyer, author and academic in international relations & religion
Other people pointed out the claim that the name of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had been deleted was also false. Shibli Zaman commented stating ” The name Muhammad is in parentheses as (מוחמד). It says: (השבח לאללה אשר הסיע את עבדו *מוחמד) It uses “`āvdo” the same as in Arabic (in Hebrew the b is pronounced v here) and then in parentheses says “Muhammad” (ﷺ). “
The original article from the Iranian website claims that the translation was done by Dr. Assad Nimer Busool, the translator of the Quran into English namely “The Wise Quran”. Dr. Assad Nimer Busool English translation also does not delete the name of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) nor the name of Masjid Al Aqsa.
Furthermore we spoke to someone who spoke directly to the former head of the translation of the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran. He said that this Hebrew translation was printed many years ago and has nothing to do with recent events. In fact he went on to clarify that while there may be minor errors in translations, every endeavour is made to translate the Quran as correctly as possible.
Why was the rumour spread?
Middle East Monitor is an organisation founded by Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of Al-Ikhwanul-Al-Muslimun, the Muslim Brotherhood. Middle East Monitor has shared fake news against Saudi Arabia in the past when they claimed that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman defended Chinese concentration camps, which was later found out to be a lie. Recently Middle East Monitor shared mocking caricatures and claimed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is a Zionist.
Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel as a state and only recognises Palestine. The only Muslim country to recognise Israel and have mutual embassy, bilateral ties, trade and military ties is Turkey. Middle East Monitor has never claimed Turkey or President Erdogan is Zionist (rightly so), yet they have claimed this for Mohammad bin Salman based on a false news story they conjured up from Iran.
These anti-Saudi stories only appeared on Middle East Monitor once Saudi Arabia banned the Muslim Brotherhood. Marc Rich said that Middle East Monitor was promoting conspiracy theories about “Jews, Zionists, money and power.” The former BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan said that the Middle East Monitor promotes a strongly pro-Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Hamas viewpoint.
In 2015 the Middle East Monitor invited UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to an event titled “Palestine & Latin America” but pulled out due to concerns of Antisemitism.
Perhaps none of this fake news would be spread if the Muslims who had so much concern of the Quran being disrespected by a mistranslation, actually respected the command of the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ
O you who believe! If a disobedient person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done. (49:6)