Traces of Ideology in Qur’an Translations: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Some Themes

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Al-Hanini, Shaima’
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Shaima’ Hanini Al-Hanini
This research attempts to explore the effect of translators' ideology on the translation of the Holy Qur’an. To achieve its end, the study relies on a critical discourse analysis of Mohammed Asad’s The Message of the Qur’an (1980) and Mohammed Ali’s English Translation and Commentary of The Holy Qur’an (1973). The two books are analyzed and compared on the basis of their translation of a number of Qur’anic themes; namely Miracles, Angles, Satan, Al jinn and Al Ka’bah. For each theme a number of representative examples are given from both translations. The study shows that both translators were consciously implying their ideologies as consistently expressed by their lexical choices. Mohammed Asad was influenced by his Mu’tazila’s ideology and by the neo-Mu’tazila figures Mohammed Abdu and Rashid Ridha. In addition, the way he translated some concepts reflects his beliefs as a Jewish person before converting to Islam. The study also shows that Mohammed Ali’s attempt to rationalize miracles was influenced by his Qadiani doctrines, which proved to influence the understanding of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an, especially among non -Arabic readers who assume that these translations are authentic and professional. Readers are more likely to adopt the translators’ ideologically-motivated world view which may contradict the true Islamic conceptualizations, especially if the readers are not aware of the translators’ backgrounds. In the end, the study gives some insights of how to get into a more faithful and authentic translation of the Qur’an.
Traces of Ideology in Qur’an Translations: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Some Themes