I'm leading a discussion, in our book club, of the Koran. I recommended Dawood's translation, which is very popular, but one member of the group thought the English was old-fashioned. In a way, it is. He uses "shall" where we would now put "will". And he uses the subjunctive mood:
"Would that you knew the fire awaiting you in hell!"
That's not actually from his translation, but he has sentences like that.
So my friend picked the Haleem translation to read. I actually find Haleem harder to read, even though his language is a little more modern.
Haleem seems to have the kinder, gentler Koran. Where Dawood has: "Men have authority over women," Haleem has "Husbands should take good care of their wives." (4:34)
As for wives who may be disobedient, Dawood has: "admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them." (also 4:34)
Haleem's translation is similar: "remind them [of the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them," but he adds a footnote, says the wording makes it clear that only "a single blow" is meant.
Haleem also translates in such a way as to eliminate 2 miraculous occurrences that the majority of Muslims apparently read into the text - a case in which God turned some people into apes, and a case in which God brought some birds back to life.
This sort of thing happens with the Bible too. Remember "Joseph's coat of many colors", which became a Broadway hit: "Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat"? Well, I've also seen that translated as "Joseph's coat with the long sleeves."
How could "long sleeves" be right?
Those colors shone in Broadway lights.