What is the Best Arabic translation of the bible for refugees?

Image: Mr Cup / Fabien Barral, Unsplash

What is the best Arabic translation of the bible for refugees?

Jay asked us about recommended Bible translations in Arabic the other day:

Can you recommend a good Arabic translation of the Bible for a refugee?

Dear Mahabba,

I know the YouVersion Holy Bible app is very good in terms of its range of other languages available. Could you give me some pointers on which of the Arabic translations would be best to use with which Arabic speakers when sharing with Muslims I meet? E.g., for Iraqis and especially Syrians. P.S. it was good to see that there is now a Dari audio version!


Our response

Thanks to the help of some specialists on The City, we an relay the following advice.

Sharif Arabic Bible (SAB)

For Arabic speakers of Muslim background the Sharif Arabic Bible comes recommended.

The Sharif is written using Muslim vocabulary, e.g. isa, not yasua, and so is good as it is more accessible to Muslim seekers.

Conversely, it is not popular with Middle Eastern Christians because of its use of majority Arabic not Christian Arabic.

Incidentally, it also has a good (but maybe not widely known) reputation, being a set textbook for the Christianity subject in one or two Islamic universities.

Van Dyke translation

The van Dyke translation is written in 19th century vocabulary, but is considered to be the best by the long-established Christian Arab community in the Middle East (similar to the love of white British church-goers for the 1662 prayer book and KJV).

Kitab al Hayah (NAV)

The al Hayah translation is written in clear, modern Arabic, similar to the Good News Bible. You can buy a hard copy on Amazon etc. with parallel English/Arabic text (the English is the NIV). This is advantageous if you want to do a one-on-one Bible study, reading along with your Arabic-literate friend.

Audio in local Arabic dialects

Look out for audio materials in local Arabic dialects such as from Global Recordings - with over 100 in Arabic alone.

Some of the recordings were made decades ago for the old 78 rpm records, so quality may be poor! As such, have a little listen before you pass it on to your friends.

If you’re looking for languages other than Arabic, or audio-visual etc, start here:

See also

Chapter Two Books (use the pull-down menu on the right-hand side to select the language)

No Frontiers  (N.B. the website is currently unavailable 25/04/17 because of a rebuild, but check back).

Don't forget to try Word of Life, which has lots of foreign language resources, including Arabic.

Check out other FAQs from Mahabba

You might find the following helpful in relation to asylum seekers and refugees:

Do you have any info on new Testaments and Gospels in other languages suitable for refugees and asylum seekers?

Bibles for refugees

New Testaments & Gospels in other languages suitable for refugees and asylum seekers

Image: Raul Petri,  Unsplash

Image: Raul Petri, Unsplash

Info on new testaments & gospels in other languages suitable for refugees and asylum seekers

Do you have any info on New Testaments & Gospels in other languages suitable for refugees and asylum seekers?

Mahabba Gloucester has created a helpful sheet!

N.B. prices are subject to change and are correct as of the time of publication of this blog.

1. Amazon

  • Arabic/English New Testament, £2.80 (£3.27 plus postage)
  • Biblica are holders of the NIV copyright
  • NIV Luke’s Gospel £0.50 (and free shipping for orders of over £10.00)

2. Operation Mobilisation (OM)

  • Store in Halesowen
  • Telephone 0121-5855662 - Cecil Benjamin knows about Asian languages best
  • Large stock with English/Urdu Luke's Gospels in packs of 100

3. The Bible Society

  • Based in Swindon, telephone 01793 418100
  • Urdu New Testament £1.25
  • Bengali New Testament £8.40
  • Punjabi New Testament £8.05
  • English/Russian £19.00
  • English/Arabic £5.00
  • English/Chinese £5.00
  • English/Spanish £7.00

4. Kitab

  • Andrew Howell, telephone 01908 552714
  • New Testaments or Gospels in other languages
  • Luke in Arabic £0.85
  • Diglot New Testament in Arabic £6.50
  • Luke in Gujarati

5. The Bible Society

  • Northern Ireland, 028 9032 6577
  • Bi-lingual New Testaments: English/Arabic, English /Chinese, English/Hungarian, English/Polish and English/Spanish

6. Gospel Publishing Mission

  • Is God really my Father? English/Arabic and pictures for use in teaching, £4.50
  • N.B. check pictures for suitability

7. Bible websites with foreign languages

Bibles for refugees

Image: Colin Carey,  Unsplash

Image: Colin Carey, Unsplash

Hi Mahabba,

A quick question - do you have any good contacts from which we could obtain Amharic and Tigrinya bibles for refugees we are working with?

Have a Great Day,


The Bible Society stocks common language Bibles in Amharic and Tigrinya, as a first start.

Amharic is the main language of Ethiopia and Tigrinya (ትግርኛ) is spoken in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia.

The Amharic common language edition was published by the Bible Society of Ethiopia in 1980. The Tigrinya Bible is published in a Common Language edition.

ComRes poll on refugees for BBC Newsnight


Poll of 1000 British adults about the migrant crisis for BBC Newsnight

Here are the key findings from the ComRes poll for the programme.

  • Four in ten members of the public say that Britain should allow more refugees from countries such as Syria or Libya to come and live here
  • Although taking more refugees is the most popular single option (40%), there is a combined majority against increasing numbers
  • 31% say Britain should take fewer and an additional 26% say it should take about the same amount as it currently does
  • There has also been a large shift in attitudes towards allowing migrants coming to Britain via an EU quota system

Read the poll and its findings in full on the ComRes website.