Denying the ‘Sharif Bible,’ Christian denominations in Egypt have called it an explanation of the Bible rather than an independent translation of it. They have agreed that it is not meant to preach Christianity in Islamic states, but clarify the faith in a simple language understood by Muslims.
The author points out that he met some people in the British capital, London, that were trying to distribute copies of the Sharif Bible and CDs entitled, ‘The Life of Jesus for Children’ in districts inhabited by Arab majority. They did not want to reveal the names of the bodies that had supplied them with these materials, Mashhūr adds.
The so-called Sharif Bible is believed to be written in a language that is also seen in Islamic wittings. It also changes the names of biblical figures into their equivalent names in the Qur’ān. For instance, it shows the name of Jesus in its Islamic form ‘Īsá rather than in its common Arabic form Yasū‘.
A Syrian man, who introduced himself as Fādī ‘Awaḍ, had met the author in London and said that he had previously distributed copies of this Bible in other European countries, such as Malta and Cyprus, where there are big Arab communities. ‘Awaḍ explained that his is not aiming to convince Muslims of Christianity, but simply to allow them to better understand its real beliefs.
Father Marqus ‘Azīz Khalīl, an archpriest at the Coptic Hanging Church in Old Cairo, said that Pope Shenouda had rejected this translation as the Holy Bible translation (of van Dijk) – translated in Beirut in 1860 – is the only authorized translation in the Coptic Orthodox Church. He added that it is not a problem to use terms that are better understood by Muslims, as long as the content remains the same. Nevertheless, he regarded it as an explanation of the Holy Bible rather than a real translation. Khalīl denied the opinion that this Bible was made to preach to Muslims, believing that such a claim could create unrest in society.
Rev. Pastor Ikrām Lam‘ī, the media officer of the Evangelical Church, stated that the Sharif Bible contains unacceptable terms and as a result, the three Christian denominations in Egypt rejected a 50,000-copy-cargo of this book from accessing the country. It is written in an Arabic Islamic language that can be easily understood by Muslim youth. For example, it uses an Islamic greeting phrase like ‘al-salāmu ‘alaykum’ [peace be upon you] instead of the common Christian one ‘al-salāmu lakum’ [peace be with you].
Lam‘ī said that he has a translation of the Bible dating back to the 11th century A.D. entitled, ‘The Sharīf Bible’ and prefaced with the Islamic basmallah [the saying: bismillāh al-Raḥmān al-Raḥīm].