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Open Access English Translations of the Qur’an and the Roles of Why, By Whom, For Whom and How

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English Translations of the Qur’an and the Roles of Why, By Whom, For Whom and How

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image of Al-Bayan: Journal of Qur'an and Hadith Studies

The translation of a literary work from its original language to another requires not only great skill in both languages, but great knowledge of their literatures and cultures as well. A scripture, particularly the Qur’ān, presents another, higher level of difficulty. Muslims hold that the Qur’ān in any other language than the original Arabic is not the Qur’ān. Some scholars oppose Qur’anic translation per se. Others believe it is an integral part of the Prophet Muhammad’s command to convey the Qur’anic message. Although Muslim translators understand their translations are not the Qur’ān, this is why they must strive to transmit the message of the Qur’ān to the best of their skills through their translations. Hundreds of editions have appeared in various languages, with the majority in English. By whom can the Qur’ān be translated? A translator assumes he is the most qualified, skillful and dedicated in communicating with his target audience. They are the all-important ones for whom he must tailor his work. Once he has settled why, by whom and for whom, he can proceed to how. What style can he best use to reach his audience with the Qur’anic Message? What range of diction and level of discourse will he employ to bring his efforts into the cultural and social context of his readers? Can Islamic and Arabic terminology be conveyed without lengthy footnotes and commentary? The translator is responsible for making many difficult and crucial decisions which will affect the accuracy, clarity and acceptability of his work.


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