There are popular rhymes and songs that many Nigerians have sung for ages, but the lyrics distort the original words. Some recognize this distortion after decades, while others may never realize it. These songs are learned in schools, social gatherings, religious houses, etc.

From “Sandalili,” meaning “Standard Living,” to “Jangolova epo motor,” which is “jingle over like a motor,” to “osingo singo praise the Lord,” actually “O sing my soul and praise the Lord,” and even “Old MacDonald had a farm iya iya o,” which should be “E I E I O,” among many others.

This isn’t specific to Nigeria alone; it happens when information travels from place to place. This phenomenon explains why fables have different versions across various countries and continents; tortoise stories and Cinderella are examples. The distortion and corruption of original works underline the need for methods of preserving literature and ideas in their original form for ages.

Criticism of the religion of Islam often centers on Muslims performing their daily Salah in Arabic, reciting the Qur’an in Arabic, and new converts needing to learn how to read the Qur’an in Arabic. It’s noteworthy that while Muslims are encouraged to learn to read the Qur’an in Arabic, selected verses have been translated into 114 languages, and the entire book has been translated into 47 languages, and possibly more. The Qur’an is the most preserved book globally, the only one that has gone for over a millennium without additions, insertions, or editing, remaining in its original state.

Many who have read William Shakespeare’s works written between 1589 and 1613 haven’t read the original works. Even though they were originally written in English, the modern English renditions may miss out on some details present in the original works.

Examining the Bible and Christianity, there are several versions of the Bible that impact the average Christian’s understanding of their religion. Translations like NIV, RSV, and NWT of Acts 3:13 and Acts 3:26 refer to Jesus as a servant, while other versions like KJV call him a son. The translation of John 1:1 also varies between versions, with NWT asserting “the Word was a god.” This debate revolves around translating Greek words, “Hotheos and Tontheos,” and becomes more intricate when these words are translated differently in other passages.

Isaiah 7:14, with the Hebrew word עַלְמָה‎ ‘almāh meaning “young woman of childbearing age,” was translated as παρθένος parthenos, meaning “virgin” in the Koine Greek Septuagint. This translation was then used in the gospel of Matthew as a messianic prophecy of the Virgin birth of Jesus. Different Bible translations read “virgin” or “young woman,” impacting the interpretation of the prophecy.

Today, the Qur’an has been translated into several languages, yet all Muslims and non-Muslims have access to the original text. Islam and Muslims deserve respect, not criticism, for adopting a method that preserves the original text. Works before and after Islam have undergone distortions and corruption, but no book has remained as intact as the Qur’an for a millennium.

Muslims know Allah is Allah, and Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is Muhammad, unlike those who call Jesus a name he wasn’t called in his lifetime. Had we followed the same path, Muhammad would be called Mohamet.

Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman


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