Maori Language Preserved for Life

Saturday 17 April 2010, 5:34PM
By Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at New Zealand Inc.

For the first time in New Zealand history, Maori will now be able to read the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, in Te Reo Maori.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has been working on the translation project for more than 20 years and has translated just over half of the Holy Qur’an. The 16 parts have been published into a book comprising of both the original Arabic text with Maori translation and was launched earlier today.

The launch event held at Alexandra Park was a combination of Maori culture and Islamic tradition, uniting two communities as one.

The local president of the Ahmadiyya Community, Dr Mohammad Shorab believes that the translation of the Holy Qur’an is a great way to honour the community’s motto: Love for all, hatred for none.

“Islam is a universal religion,” says Dr. Shorab. “For that reason it is important to invest in other languages and traditions to gain a better understanding of the people around us.

“The Holy Qur’an is the most precious thing to Muslims and its translation into Te Reo not only shows our respect and regard for the Maori community, but is also a way to share with New Zealand something that is very special and meaningful to us.”

The credit of the translation largely goes to Mr. Shakil Monir, a Pakistani teacher with a love for religion and the holy Qur’an. While working in a school in Nigeria in 1993, Mr Monir began to teach himself Maori with an English to Maori dictionary, Maori Bible and a book of Maori grammar. With a few extra years of dedicated study and with instruction from the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Mr Monir began the challenging task of translating the Holy Qur’an into Te Reo.

“I am very happy that the first half of the Holy Qur’an has been printed in the Maori language,” says Mr. Monir. “Not being a Maori myself, there have been some limitations.”

Mr. Munir adds that with the help of 5 to 6 different Maori language experts, he is confident that the Maori translation is fairly accurate and as close as possible to the original Arabic text.

The Holy Qur’an has been translated into more than sixty languages worldwide by the Ahmadiyya Community but a translation created and published in New Zealand is the first of its kind.

“This is a huge milestone for our local community,” says Dr. Shorab. “But, God willing, this will not be the limit of our efforts to become an active, peace-loving community in New Zealand.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a religious organisation, international in its scope. It has branches in over 193 countries in Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, and Europe with worldwide membership exceeding tens of millions.

The New Zealand branch of this community was established in 1987 and has just over 200 members. It is a registered charitable organisation and endeavours to be an active and integrated community within New Zealand.