For the first time in New Zealand history, Māori will now be able to read the Muslim holy book, the Koran, in Te Reo Māori.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has been working on the translation project for more than 20 years and has translated just over half of the Koran. The 16 parts have been published into a book comprising the original Arabic text with Māori translation and was launched in the weekend. The launch event held at Alexandra Park was a combination of Māori culture and Islamic tradition, uniting two communities as one.
The translation project was initiated by the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the late Mirza Tahir Ahmad, during his visit to New Zealand in 1989. He believed that the Māori language was here to stay and encouraged the local branch of the organisation to begin working on translating selected verses of the Koran into Māori.
The local president of the Ahmadiyya Community, Dr Mohammad Shorab sees the translation of the Koran 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 Māori 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 Koran. While working in a school in Nigeria in 1993, Mr Monir began to teach himself Māori with an English to Māori dictionary, Māori Bible and a book of Māori grammar. With a few extra years of dedicated study Mr Monir began the challenging task of translating the Koran into Te Reo.
"I am very happy that the first half of the Holy Qur'an has been printed in the Māori language," says Mr. Monir. "Not being a Māori myself, there have been some limitations." Mr. Munir added that with the help of 5 to 6 different Māori language experts, he is confident that the Māori translation is fairly accurate and as close as possible to the original Arabic text.
The Koran 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.