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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

The Qur'an:Language,Style and Translation in English

Course Code:
15PNMC142
Unit value:
1
Taught in:
Full Year
As one of the major courses in the MA in Islamic Studies, The Qur’an: Language, Style and Translation is central to the main objectives of encouraging concentrated study of the sources of Islam. Building on students’ basic knowledge of the contents and structure of the Qur’an, the course aims to engender a deeper understanding of the linguistic and rhetorical features of the Qur’anic text. A unique aspect of this course is the detailed study of the Arabic rhetorical disciplines as they developed in tandem with the development of the Qur’anic sciences. In addition, English translations of the Qur’an are compared, contrasted and evaluated.

Prerequisites

This is essentially a text-based course, so it requires, in addition to the qualifications for the MA degree, that students are able to read and comprehend Islamic texts written in classical Arabic.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of this course students will be acquainted with the characteristics of the language and style of the Qur'an, which will enable them to have a better understanding of its meaning and impact on the reader/listener. They will be able to compare, contrast and evaluate some of the best-known existing English translations of the Qur'an.

Workload

This course is taught over 22 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week.  Weekly lectures will be supplemented with seminars and class discussion.

Scope and syllabus

A. Language and style of the Qur’an

Issues such as the following will be discussed:

  • Al-Muhkam wa-mutashabih
  • Conciseness and multiplicity of meaning
  • The structure of the surahs and sequence of ideas
  • Waqf and fasila
  • Sound and rhythm
  • Context and intertextuality
  • Iltifat
  • Al-fasl wa’l-wasl
  • Hadhf
  • Al-wujuh wa’l-naza’ir
  • Levels of emphasis
  • Terminology
  • Appeal to reason and emotions

B. Existing Translations of the Qur'an

Passages from the following will be discussed:

  • Sale
  • Rodwell
  • Bell
  • Arberry
  • Yusuf Ali
  • Pickthall
  • Asad
  • Hilali and Khan
  • Abdel Haleem
  • Alan Jones

There will be a brief study of the history, types, standards and values of these works.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (70%); one essay of approximately 2,000 - 2,500 words to be submitted on the day of teaching week 2, term 2; one essay of approximately 2,000 - 2,500 words to be submitted on the day of teaching, week 1, term 3.

Suggested reading

  • Abd Al-Salām, ‘Izz al-Dīn b., Majaz al-Qur’an, Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, London 1999.
  • Abdel Haleem, M., Understanding the Qur’an: Themes and Style, IB Tauris, 2001 / 2010.
    • The Qur’an: A New Translation OUP, 2004
    • Journal of Qur’anic Studies, EUP 1999 ff.
    • 'Grammatical Shift for Rhetorical Purposes: Iltifat and related features in the Qur'an', in BSOAS 1992, LV 3, pp. 407-32
    • 'Qur'anic Orthography: the Written presentation of the Recited Text of the Qur'an', Islamic Quarterly XXXVIII, 3, 1994, pp. 171-92.
  • Al-Hamalawi, A, Shadha'l-'arf fi fann al-Sarf, Cairo, many editions.
  • Badawi E. and Abdel Haleem M.A.S. ‘An Arabic English Dictionary of Qur’anic Usage,’
  • Baker, Mona, In Other Words, Routledge, London 1992
  • Bell, R and Watt, M., Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, Edinburgh University Press, 1970 and later editions.
  • Draz, M.A., Madkhal ila-l-Qur'an al-Karim, Kuwait, 1981.
  • Draz, M.A., Introduction to the Qur’an, IB Tauris 2000.
  • Draz, M.A., Al-naba' al-azim, Kuwait, 1984.
  • Al-Hashimi, A.A., Jawahir al-balagha, Beirut, 1986.
  • Hassan, Tammam, Al-Bayan fi Rawa’i’ al-Qur’an, Cairo, Alam al-Kutub 1993.
  • Hassan, A, Al-nahw al-wafi, Cairo, 1969.
  • Hatim, B., and Mason, I., Discourse and the Translator, New York 1990
  • McCauliffe, J.D. Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, Brill 2001
  • Mir, Mustansir, Coherence in the Qur’an, Indianapolis, American Trust Publications, 1986.
  • Newmark, P, Approaches to Translation, Oxford 1982.
  • Nida, E.A. Towards a Science of Translating. With special reference to principles and procedures involved in Bible Translating, Brill, Leiden 1964
  • Robinson, Neal, Discovering the Qur’an, 1996.