Controversy trails launch of ‘first’ Qur’an translated into Igbo

Controversy trails launch of ‘first’ Qur’an translated into Igbo

On Friday, a group of South-East Igbo Muslims launched the translation of the Quran into Igbo language at the Ansar-Ud-Deen Mosque in Abuja.

The brain behind the idea is an Islamic cleric of Igbo extraction, Sheikh Murtala Chukwuemeka who revealed that it took him and his team five years to complete the translation which he claims to be the first in history.

Chukwuemeka hails from Orlu LGA of Imo State. He was formally a Christian preacher before he converted to Islam in 1989 and later studied to become an Islamic cleric.

The clergyman told BBC Africa that he intends to spread the “message of Allah” to his Igbo brothers and sisters in the South-East where Christianity is the predominant religion.

Since the news broke out, social media has been awash with a flurry of comments as many Nigerians hailed Chukwuemeka for his efforts.

However, there is a disagreement over his claims that he pioneered the first Qur’an to be translated into Igbo language.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Nigerian journalist, Jafaar Jafaar explained that the first Igbo translation of the sacred Islamic text was done by Professor Jumbo Ugoji in 1984 — five years before Chukwuemeka accepted Islam.

He said Ugoji’s daughter, Ngozi shared with him a copy of the cover and some pages of the Qur’an translated by her father.

According to Jafaar, the spokesman for the South Eastern Muslims Organization of Nigeria, Yahya Abugu also said that there are fundamental errors right from the title of Chukwuemeka’s work.

Abugu, in a message sent to the journalist, noted that none of the renowned scholars Arabic and Igbo languages were consulted by Chukwuemeka in the course of the work, adding that title of the translated text is wrong.

The cleric wrote, “We have a lot of renowned scholars of both Arabic and Igbo languages. For example, Professor Ilyas Rabiu of Arabic department, Nassarawa State University and Dr. Amaechi Bn Ali of National Open University. We also have Bar. Haroun Eze of National Mosque, to mention but a few. None of these mentioned above know this translator, he never consulted them to seek input or scholarly advice before going ahead with the huge task.

“On that cover page alone, we have observed serious errors. Nso, has many meaning in IGBO language, the easiest meaning that can be read to that caption ‘Nso Quran’ is ‘the forbiddance of Quran’ followed closely by ‘forbidden ‘things’ about Qur’an. No Igbo person will readily read Nso Qur’an to mean Holy Quran. Holy Quran in Igbo language should be ‘Quran Nso’.

“The Okwu Igbo does not mean Igbo language. Igbo language should be olu Igbo or asusu Igbo and not Okwu Igbo.”


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