The lesson of this story about the deliberate mistranslation of an imam’s prayer, and the resulting vilification and loss of employment he suffered, is that people should not take translations at face value. Apparently no one thought to ask whether the translator had adequate language knowledge or had a bias about the subject matter of the translation.
Unfortunately, most people think translation is a straightforward word-replacement exercise. There’s nothing straightforward about it. Faulty translations are common.Actually, it's entirely straightforward. An Arabic-speaking imam trash-talked the Jews, and, finding himself in hot water, looked to some interfaith-minded Jews to assert that his straight talking was anything but.
Brian Mossop, certified translator, Toronto
Here's "certified translator" Robert Spencer on the subject (hat tip--BS; the italicized lines are from the article; the non-italicized paragraphs are Spencer's comments):
“He said ‘Jews’ is widely used in the Arabic-speaking world to mean ‘Israeli forces’ or ‘Israeli occupiers,’ not as a sweeping reference to all ethnic and religious Jews.” All right. But remember: Elkasrawy prayed: “O Allah! Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them.” If he didn’t mean all Jews, but just the “Israeli occupiers,” it would have been kind of him to pray: “O Allah! Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them, except the Jews who aren’t ‘Israeli occupiers.'”Yup, that's about as straightforward as it gets.
“I have never thought of anything against people of Jewish faith,” he says. “In Islam, we believe that no one should be forced into any religion. We cannot hate any people, any group, because of their ethnicity or their religion.”In reality, the Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the well-being of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); they fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); they claim that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); they love to listen to lies (5:41); they disobey Allah and never observe his commands (5:13). They are disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more. They are under Allah’s curse (9:30), and Muslims should wage war against them and subjugate them under Islamic hegemony (9:29).