Masood Khoshsaligheh (Ferdowsi University of Mashhad): Retranslations of the Qur’an into Persian in Iran: motives, orientations and criticisms

There are numerous retranslations of the Qur’an into Persian published in Iran before and after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The question that has not yet been explicitly addressed is why many attempts have been put into retranslations of the sacred book of Islam. Assuming that the preface by the translator would expectedly contain indications to the aims of the new translation, the purpose of this study was to explore the motives behind so many retranslations by examining the prefaces of over forty Persian translations of the Qur’an published in Iran in recent decades. The qualitative thematic analysis of the content of the prefaces of the translations—as the best first-hand declarations of the translators in terms of their work—reveal that varied subjects and topics are presented and discussed. The most frequent subjects include the motives of the translator in retranslating the Qur’an, the significance of translating the Qur’an, criticizing the earlier translations of the Qur’an, stating the choice of strategies in translating the Qur’an, and the length of time and resources used by the translator. Regarding the motivations of the translators, dedications of the translator to the Islamic and Qur’anic thoughts, offering a more fluent and readable translation, serving a particular function (e.g., teen reader friendly), and overcoming the drawbacks of the earlier translations have been mentioned. The paper presents details and examples for each of the emergent categories of the preface content of the retranslations of the Qur’an into Persian and discusses them against the current context of Iranian and Islamic culture.

About the speaker

Masood Khoshsaligheh is currently associate professor and Director of Translation Studies at the Department of English and Vice-dean for Research at the Faculty of Letters and Humanities at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM), Iran. He teaches courses on translation theory, research and pedagogy at the MA and PhD in Translation Studies at FUM. His research on Persian translation and translators has appeared in many top-tier journals such The Translators, Language and Intercultural Communication, Perspectives, Visual Communication and Translator and Interpreter Trainer among others. He is also the chief editor of the Persian journal Language and Translation Studies published by FUM Press.