Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies
Some eighty per cent of Muslims in the contemporary world speak languages other than Arabic, the language of the Qur’an. To respond to the needs of their communities, Muslim scholars and laypersons must increasingly explain and communicate the meanings of the Qur’an in their own languages – including through the medium of Qur’an commentary and translation.
The Qur’an and its Readers Worldwide provides an introduction to this rich and expanding field of endeavour. It brings together a selection of Qur’an commentaries and translations produced across the twentieth century to the present day, and ranging in provenance from the regions of the traditional Islamic heartlands to the new loci of global Islam. Individual chapters examine works in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, English, German, Malay, Persian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu, each viewed in terms of the impact of modernity on the encounter with the Qur’an, providing an English readership with an exceptionally broad overview.
Situating these works in their cultural and national settings, this volume focuses attention on the relationship between language, culture and sociopolitical environment in Qur'an commentary and translation. It highlights the linkages between the Qur’an translations and commentaries studied and the developments and debates that generated them, and to which they respond, whether associated with colonial realities, the challenges of nation building, or the search for ways to reconstruct Islamic culture in the face of new legal frameworks or societal models.
Through a detailed introduction and a series of case studies this book illustrates the defining trends in Qur’an commentary worldwide, addressing evolving questions of authorship, message, intended readership and media of communication. It highlights the continued relevance of Qur'an commentary as an authoritative Islamic tradition in a period of growing direct engagement with the sacred text. It also samples debates concerning Qur’anic meaning in translation that are pertinent for many millions of Muslims today, and that look set to grow in tandem with globalisation.
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Note on Transliteration, Conventions and Abbreviations
2. Qur’an Translation and Commentary in Early Twentieth-Century Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mehmed Džemaludin Čaušević (d. 1938)
Enes Karić and Suha Taji-Farouki
3. A Turkish Exegesis of the Early Twentieth Century: Elmalılı Muhammad Hamdi Yazır (d. 1942) and his Hak Dini Kur’an Dili
4. The Urdu Qur’anic Commentary of Muhammad Shafi‘ (d. 1976): Ma‘arifu’l-Qur’an
5. A Public-figure Mufassir from the Malay-Indonesian World: Hamka (d. 1981) and his Tafsir al-Azhar
Anthony H. Johns and Suha Taji-Farouki
6. Persian Qur’anic Networks, Modernity and the Writings of ‘an Iranian Lady’, Nusrat Amin Khanum (d. 1983)
7. The Journey of an Egyptian Exegete from Hermeneutics to Humanity: ‘Aisha ‘Abd al-Rahman (Bint al-Shati‘) (d. 1998) and her Approach to Tafsir
8. An Islamist Tafsir in English: The Ascendant Qur’an by Muhammad al-‘Asi (b. 1951)
9. Polemics and Language in Swahili Translations of the Qur’an: Mubarak Ahmad (d. 2001), Abdullah Saleh al-Farsy (d. 1982) and Ali Muhsin al-Barwani (d. 2006)
10. Setting the Record Straight: Contemporary Interpretations of Q. 4:34 by German Muslims
11: Twentieth-Century Qur'an Translations in the Hui Muslim Community of China and their Antecedents: A Social History
Index of Qur’anic Citations
‘The chief benefit of the work is its enormous scope. It notes almost all the vernacular linguistic traditions within the large arc of Muslim observance across Africa and Asia. It also has substantial chapters on American, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Bosnian, German, and Chinese exegetes and/or translators.’
– Andrew Rippin, Professor Emeritus of Islamic History, Department of History, University of Victoria
‘This broad-gauged yet coherent volume focuses on translation as a strong unifying theme. It will attract all those engaged by the layers of meaning within the Qur'an. Some will find their attention drawn to novel elements previously unknown to them, but all will be riveted by the numerous strategies and challenges of translating the Qur'an, with equal accent on accessibility to the original text and adaptation to myriad local contexts.’
– Bruce Lawrence, Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke University
‘Without exception each individual chapter has been written by scholars with an impressive mastering of their topic and each chapter has interesting and, at least to me, new information and insights to offer.’
– Nico J.G. Kaptein, BiOr
Suha Taji-Farouki is Senior Lecturer in Modern Islam at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, the University of Exeter. She was formerly at the University of Durham, and has held Visiting Fellowships in London, Berlin, Oxford and Amman. Her research interests focus on Islamic thought and its internal tensions and evolution in the modern period. Her major publications include co-ed., Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (2004); ed., Modern Muslim Intellectuals and the Qur'an (2004. OUP/IIS, Qur‘anic Studies Series 1); Ibn 'Arabi, A Prayer for Spiritual Elevation and Protection, al-Dawr al-a'la' (Hizb al-wiqaya): Study, Translation, Transliteration and Arabic Text, tr. (2006); Beshara and Ibn 'Arabi: A Movement of Sufi Spirituality in the Modern World (2007).