English

Qur’an translation of the week #41: The Rhyming Cadences of Shawkat Toorawa

The Qur’an is “not the word of a poet” but aspects of structure, rhythm and rhyme certainly evoke aspects of Arabic poetry. Can any of that carry over into translation? Should it? Shawkat Toorawa is Professor of Arabic at Yale, and his approach to teaching and translating the Qur’an draws from his broader interests in …

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Qur’an translation of the week #34: “The Qurʾān: A Reformist Translation” by Edip Yüksel, Layth Saleh al-Shaiban and Martha Schulte-Nafeh

This week’s thread looks at a translation belonging to a trend broadly known as ‘Quranism’ or ‘Qur’an-only’. Paradoxically, its members often see a need to promote their own ideas and writings, including translations of the scripture. Quranist theory may have had early proponents, but it goes against the epistemic approaches and hermeneutics of mainstream Islamic …

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Qur’an translation of the week #30: The Gracious Quran: A modern-phrased interpretation in English

We noted previously that official efforts by Egypt’s religious establishment – represented by Al-Azhar University – have been eclipsed by translations by men associated with the institution. Today’s post concerns one of those. The 1st edition (2007) of “The Gracious Quran: A modern-phrased interpretation in English” is particularly fine, in two volumes: one with the …

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Qur’an translation of the week #26: Al-Montakhab

To mark the arrival of a certain president-elect (!), this week’s post concerns another “muntakhab” – a project to standardise Qur’an translation according to the scholarship of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University. “Al-Muntakhab fi tafsir al-Qur’an” is better translated as ‘The Select Interpretation of the Qur’an’. This thread draws numerous points from Stefan Wild’s paper on “Muslim …

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Qur’an translation of the week #22: Muslim translations to English

The Qur’an famously has a recited/compiled order which differs from the order of its revelation/proclamation. Some non-Muslim translators have ‘restored’ chronology. But how about Muslim translations to English? Muslim scholars have always treated revelatory order as significant, as observed in tafsīr and subgenres of naskh and asbāb al-nuzūl. However, the challenge of constructing a detailed …

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Qur’an translation of the week #19: Pre-determined exegetical translation

Ever wondered how it would look if a great exegete wrote his own Qur’an translation? There are attempts to construct these hypothetically alongside translations of tafsir, such as this work which contains ‘A Baydawian Rendering’ of the Qur’an in English. It’s easy to show that translation is a form of tafsir (focused on words). What’s …

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Qur’an translation of the week #18: Modern Slovakian translation of Abdulwahab al-Sbenaty

Slovakia’s Muslim community is the smallest in Europe with around 5000 members. It has been noted as the only EU country without a mosque. Nevertheless, this community benefits from the Qur’an translation of Abdulwahab al-Sbenaty (2007). A Muslim activist of Syrian origin, al-Sbenaty graduated from the Faculty of Law of Comenius University (Bratislava). He is …

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Qur’an translation of the week #16: Towards Understanding the Ever-Glorious Qur’an by M.M. Ghali

Since the days when they debated the validity of translating the Qur’an, scholars of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University have contributed some translations of their own. One is M.M. Ghali’s “Towards Understanding the Ever-Glorious Qur’an” (1st edn. 1997). Muhammad Mahmud Ghali (1920-2016) was Professor of Linguistics & Islamic Studies, and founder of Al-Azhar’s Faculty of Languages & …

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Qur’an translation of the week #12: A Phrase-by-Phrase translation by Ali Quli Qara’i

This week, we consider another choice of formatting Qur’an translation, particularly into the left-to-right script of the English language: the “phrase-by-phrase” approach adopted by Ali Quli Qara’i. Born in Hyderabad, India, Qara’i graduated from Osmania University before doing an MBA at the University of Wisconsin. He edited the Al-Tawhid quarterly on Islamic thought from 1983-1997, …

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Qur’an translation of the week #09: The Majestic Qur’an by Dr. Musharraf Hussein OBE

“The Majestic Qur’an” (Nottingham: Invitation Publishing, 2018) is among the recent translations placing an emphasis on “plain English”. Its translator, Dr Musharraf Hussein OBE, is a graduate of Al-Azhar and longstanding educationist in the UK. The front matter contains an endorsement from Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta’ and various individuals. The translator’s intro draws attention to the …

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