Volume 64, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0521-9744
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9668
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The Qur’an is the uncontested central religious text of Islam. Many Muslim scholars dogmatically believe that the language of the Qur’an is the miraculous word of God revealed directly to his Prophet, and disagree that it is possible to translate it into any other language. On the other hand, some scholars, old and new, have argued for the permissibility of its translations for linguistic and pragmatic reasons. The polemics surrounding the translatability of The Qur’an bring to light other enduring debates on the permissibility of translating the word of God into an earthly language even if it has been revealed in one, and if one can safely describe this as a translation.

The debate on the translatability of the Qur’an constitutes one of the most controversial issues in Arabic-to-other-languages translation. This paper aims at weighing, as objectively as possible, the justifications variously employed by each camp to rationalize its position. It also touches upon some of the philosophical issues of translatability itself, along with a critical discussion on the traditional Arabic linguists’ views of meaning and translation.

The paper assumes that some readers, particularly non-Muslim readers, are not fully familiar with certain rhetorical and linguistic issues that might be familiar to Muslim scholars. For reasons of clarity, the paper accordingly includes some detailed discussions of certain essential issues.


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