Wednesday, July 09, 2008

How to hear the Qur'an

Zekr 0.7.0 beta 1 is a really nifty Qur'an study tool for the Linux desktop. The name means "Message," the same way "Gospel" refers to the Bible.

It seems to be a work in progress, but already it includes the full Qur'anic text in Arabic, transliterations, well-known competent translations into several languages including English, and perhaps its nicest feature, recitation.

Most of us average Western infidels who have tried to approach the Qur'an have eventually been baffled by it, because of questions about translation and cultural context certainly, but mostly because the deep vertical dimension of the human voice has been missing — nearly all of the poetry, in other words.

Zekr attempts to fill the gap. There are online and offline recitations which plug in for listening. The 0.7.0 beta 1 version has nearly automatic download and installation, which is an improvement; however, it does lack some features which the 0.5.1.dfsg-1 stable Hardy Heron distribution had — in particular, Search within the text of translations. [Update: Search in translation may be coming back in beta 2, according to the author. (Thanks, Mohsen!)]

The usual Islamic disclaimers about possible typos in the electronic text of the Qur'an and virtually certain human errors in the translations ("since translation is impossible, anyway") do apply. E.g., Shakir's translation seems to have a missing word in Sura 97, Aya 2: "And what will make you comprehend what the grand night " (sic)[is?] In any case, Zekr is pretty good and getting better, even if it's not feature complete yet.

Also comes in Macintosh and Windows.



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