The Impact of Translator Ideology in the Translation of Certain Quranic Verses into English

Ruqaya Sabeeh Khalaf AL-Taie

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The translation of sensitive texts, for example the Quran, presents a set of characteristic challenges in that translators must respond to underlying meanings whose level of complexity, in turn, has divided the interpretative work of even religious scholars. Different interpretations that emerge from their exegesis of a wide range of Quranic verses will cause Muslim translators, who will be from a variety of ideological backgrounds, to reach different solutions in terms of their decoding of these Quranic verses from Arabic into English. It is at this point that the belief system of the translator is of central importance in terms of their translation choices and emphases. If the translator belongs to a specific branch of Islam, s/he will produce a translation that reflects the understanding that particular group espouses, so that elucidation, understanding and re‐writing are dependent on pre‐ ordained belief. In that way, the principal objective of this study is to analyze two English translations of a number of verses from Quranic discourse which have provoked a series of fluctuating interpretations on the part of Muslim exegetists; the translations are by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (2001) and Mohammed Habib Shakir (1999), who are from different sects of Islam. This study traces the impact of their respective belief systems on the ways in which they render the same verses into English. In conclusion, the article will show that the different ideological backgrounds of the translators produce divergent results in translation, leading effectively to what may be termed ‘two Qurans’. 


    Conference8th Asian Translation Tradition Conference at SOAS
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


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