Author Topic: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.  (Read 5510 times)

Abd r Raheem al Haq

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Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« on: February 28, 2011, 03:08:19 PM »
{Please make me sticky}

This sticky has been set up to bring together people's thoughts on some of the more technical issues that relate to the wonderful English translation of the Quran that Layth and others have provided us with. I'm very pleased that Layth has suggested this sticky and seems really keen to help make this a productive endeavour, Inshallah we'll get plenty done. I'll have to repeat a few things here that have been mentioned elsewhere on the site so as to try and bring it all together in one place, sorry for that, but it is just keeps things tidy. I'll try not to directly repeat anything.

If we look at the histories of various successful open source projects, Linux being the quintessential example, we find that it's normal for the project to only have a small dedicated team, usually one full-time guy and a few core collaborators, working for years on end with very little thanks. Then the project reaches a certain point - invariably the point that the project can finally offer a finished product, perhaps a bit rough round the edges at first, but something people want to use - then, almost overnight, everybody wants in. Now, of course, that's what the team worked for, they want everyone involved and helping push the project forwards, but at the same time, the rapid switch from a small, friendly team to a huge, diverse community can ruin the project if it's not well managed.

The Monotheist Group is not exactly an open source community, but it has grown to become very similar to one. It's certainly the closest thing we have to a mature, open, Quran project. Whether the Monotheist Group decide to become an open source community explicitly or not is really up to them, but we have the opportunity to discuss it here and perhaps build something really important.

The English speaking world currently has no single translation of the Quran that is both free from licensing restrictions and modern. It's one or the other. Even if you did secure the legal right to use a modern translation, they're often poor and almost always sectarian. There's a lot of demand for a good, readable, objective, English translation and I think that we could met that demand much more effectively than we're currently doing.

The excellent translation available here, like any, still needs to be widely published and I can't help but feel that this would be easier to achieve if the work could stand in it's own right, as an objective translation of the Quran, good for anyone needing access to one, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. As it stands, the translation is heavily associated with those rascally Quran Aloners, you know the ones. But it is not a Quran Alone translation, it is simply meant to be as accurate and as correct as humanly possible.

What I'd like to push for, and I'm happy to build and maintain software to help achieve it, is the creation of a simple markup language to use to store and maintain the core translation, lets call it QML for now. I'd suggest just using a narrow subset of HTML with a few extra tags that'd be handy to have. Maybe something like <INDEX v=16:12 /> so indexing can be separated from the text and then toggled on and off by any QML aware software. It'd be useful to have something like <TOPIC tags=finance, banking, usury> with a closing </TOPIC> tag to enclose arbitrary sections by topic. This would allow for the use of complex formatting whilst keeping everything in a plain text file. Keeping it in marked up plain text makes it possible to employ some form of version control to properly manage editors suggestions whilst also making it much easier to produce software to work on the translation, whether to perform intelligent searches or device specific, rendering optimisations. It's all about plain text.

It'd be a bit like editing Wikipedia, minus the bit where anyone can just go in and change the core version. In fact, most important religious articles on wiki are actually uneditable and have a trusted group that maintain the pages to protect against perpetual vandalism. So, in fact, it'd be quiet a bit like editing Wikipedia.

Scholars could develop libraries of commentary and footnotes that could be accessed whenever you wanted them and simply left out whenever you didn't. Each reader would have his or her own preferred libraries, almost like a favourites list.

With the option of toggling the indexing on and off, comes the possibility of finally being able to read the text in what might be called fluid mode; so that...

1:1   In the name of God, the Almighty, the Merciful.
1:2   Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds.
1:3   The Almighty, the Merciful.
1:4   Sovereign of the Day of Judgement.
1:5   You alone we serve, and You alone we seek for help.
1:6   Guide us to the straight path.
1:7    The path of those You have blessed, not of those who have incurred
the wrath, nor the misguided.

Becomes...

In the name of God, the Almighty, the Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds, the Almighty, the Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Judgement. You alone we serve, and You alone we seek for help. Guide us to the straight path, the path of those You have blessed, not of those who have incurred the wrath, nor the misguided.

You'd still have the option of toggling indexing on whenever you wanted to know the chapter and verse, it'd just take a moment to refresh.

Certain words can be marked up to make it simple for a reader to choose between different translational options. For example, referring to the Lord, Glorified is He above all things, as either Allah or God, is generally more a matter of preference than correctness. The default could be enclosed in tags, something like <LORD alt=God's> Allah's </LORD>.

With an open source, software friendly, modern translation available, translators, scholars and developers could really start to apply up to date, collaborative methodologies to the task of spreading the Word of Allah. A noble goal indeed.

Please do get involved, even if you're a bit off topic, there's a lot to discuss here and I can't personally spearhead every topic, so please, get stuck in.

May Allah Bless you all and your families. Glorified is He above all things.

Abd r Raheem al Haq

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 06:12:35 PM »
Probably need to do something about the topic tags overlapping. Maybe include an optional attribute in the start and end tags. Perhaps something like...

<TOPIC:1 tags=finance, banking, usury>
body of text
<TOPIC:2 tags=inheritance>
body of text
</TOPIC 1>
body of text
</TOPIC 2>

It's a bit unconventional, but just off the top off my head. Also it'd be nice to get rid of the nasty HTML syntax if we could, not that {/TOPIC} is much better.

holy man

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 06:28:35 PM »
Good idea, but at the same time I don't see it as very relevant . What's the main purpose of this? As in what are we trying to achieve. I reckon whatever Quran a person reads is irrelevant to them understanding it.
life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at eachother, but looking outward together in the same direction..........

Abd r Raheem al Haq

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 06:13:17 AM »
Good idea, but at the same time I don't see it as very relevant . What's the main purpose of this? As in what are we trying to achieve. I reckon whatever Quran a person reads is irrelevant to them understanding it.

God Bless you brother. The main purpose is to provide the world with a high quality, English translation of the Quran that is not subject to restrictive copyrights. That is the main purpose of this thread.

Once we had such a translation, we'd then need to decide how best to achieve widespread publication. I was putting forward the idea of reformatting the core edition so that the translation has the modern features that the world has come to expect of digital information, stuff you either just can't do with a book or else, can't do as cost effectively.

QML is just the beginnings of an idea, just throwing it out there to fire people up a bit. Even if someone came along like "Markup's a rubbish idea, you should do a, b and c", that'd be great. Let's just dig into the problem and see where we can go from there. But, again, the primary focus of this thread is to discuss the viability of open sourcing the translation itself and looking at what type of license would work. The tech talk is all secondary.

It might be a good idea if we move the technical side of things to a different thread, maybe even just move the whole thing over to Google Code or something better suited to sharing source code and building documentation, and then discuss the main issues here in this thread. Save mixing too much in one place.

holy man

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2011, 07:50:52 AM »
peace bro,now im with ya  :bravo:
html is probably the best 
ok so whos got suggestions or comments???????????????
life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at eachother, but looking outward together in the same direction..........

Abd r Raheem al Haq

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2011, 05:19:58 PM »
I've got a project started on Google Code, but I'm just starting to fill it out. Until Layth gets back to us on the legalities, it's all I can get done. I'll do a little browser and some other bits too, but I need the translation itself to start doing anything substantial and getting people involved.

Layth...?  :)

holy man

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2011, 06:02:11 PM »
Inshallah all gets done soon
life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at eachother, but looking outward together in the same direction..........

Layth

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2011, 10:23:41 AM »
Salam Abdulraheem,

Not sure what you need me to do, but if you are looking for permission to use the electronic version of "The Quran - A Monotheist Translation" which is available on this site, then you have my full blessing.
`And when God Alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter are filled with aversion; and when others are mentioned beside Him, they rejoice!` (The Quran 39:45)

Abd r Raheem al Haq

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2011, 11:48:27 AM »
Asalam Alaykum Brother Layth and thank you so much for your kindness.
I'll start right away, Inshallah it'll be really productive. I'll bring the thread up to date soon, once I've got something to show. Thank you again brother. Nice one.

Marshallah.

willreadit

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Re: Open Quran Project - Please Get Involved.
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2011, 12:06:20 PM »
Peace Abd r Raheem al Haq, everyone,

I am so happy to hear the news! but late in finding this thread  :-[  Below are quotes from my past posts.

From Re: The Message by "The Monotheist Group" - not representative  Reply #13 on: Today at 12:07:00 AM

"If possible, Abd r Raheem al Haq, could you make a new thread?  I think what you are suggesting is neccessary and I hope inevitable. Maybe a new thread would clarify if and how the Monotheist Group's translation would fit into your broad plan . When I find a site/project such as you recommend I consider it alive and active, valuable to those who devote life-time, possibly containing advice relevant to life right now. (Like this forum! ^_^ )

and from  http://free-minds.org/forum/index.php?topic=9596946.msg277208#msg277208

"Even the esteemed corpus needs to put one word in the slot for the basic root. I do not agree with some of the words they chose, but everytime I open the site, I think "all thanks and praise to Almighty God -this is amazing". I could not hope to progress without the PRL, and many other conscientious study sites.  That is what gives me enthusiasm for Abd r Raheem al Haq's ideas. I am happy to  find the not-so-new thread about that!

Sometimes I just want to read though, possibly meditate, and I trust the Monotheistic Group's translation to be consistent in important topics...some of the reasons why it is the most valuable translation to me.

Smiles from Debbie ^_^"




"...Ultimately, to God all matters return." 42:53