The IIS is pleased to announce the publication of The Vernacular Qur’an: Translation and the Rise of Persian Exegesis, written by Travis Zadeh. This publication is the seventh volume in the Qur’anic Studies Series, and presents varied views held by early Muslim theologians and jurists on the translation of the Qur’an.

The Vernacular Qur’an dispels the myth that early Muslims were averse to translating the Qur’an. Dr Zadeh shows that even though some schools of law argued that the divine nature of the Qur’an could not be conveyed in a language other than Arabic, the reality was that Persian translations were considered acceptable in certain cases, such as for use by new converts to Islam. In addition, Dr Zadeh presents the early debates about whether translations of the Qur’an could be used for liturgical purposes and what restrictions, if any, were to be placed on this usage.

According to the author, translation and interpretation are inextricably intertwined; thus, an act of translation was also an act of interpretation, and the translations that resulted could be considered to be ‘exegetical translations’. These translations preserved the Arabic text of the Qur’an and wove Persian commentaries throughout its lines, thereby preserving the original script while expanding on and making the text available to a wider audience. The Vernacular Qur’an gives a thorough overview of the evolution of a range of Persian exegetical writings, from rhyming translations to major commentaries, and shows the inter-relationship between such writing and Persian culture, institutions of education and dynastic authority.

This book also contains visual samples of Qur’anic translations and commentaries which illustrate the exegetical literature discussed by Dr Zadeh. It is essential reading for those with an interest in Qur’anic interpretation, early Islamic theology, translation theory, jurisprudence, literature and culture.