Feminist Strategies in Qur’ān Translations: A Comparative Study of the Sublime Quran and Saheeh International
For almost thirteen centuries, the Qur’ān had been interpreted by men before it was first translated by a woman. In 1995, Umm Muhammad, Amina Assami, translated the Qur’ān into English under the pseudonym Saheeh International. Extensive research indicates that Umm Muhammad’s translation reproduces patriarchal gender hierarchies (Al-Sowaidi et al., 2021), while Laleh Bakhtiar’s the Sublime Quran comprises feminist elements (Kidwai, 2018). Comparing these two translations to determine whether the translators employ feminist translation strategies to increase their visibility has not been previously addressed. I aim to investigate how these women translators transfer feminine nouns and pronouns and generic masculine nouns from Arabic, a highly gendered language, to English. In this paper, I apply an eclectic approach: the feminist theory by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood and Luise von Flotow and the basic linguistic theory for the grammatical description of language by Roman Jakobson. The results reveal that Bakhtiar’s translation published in the USA demonstrates feminist perspectives through utilising prefacing, supplementing, and neutralisation, whereas Umm Muhammad’s version published in Saudi Arabia depends on exegetical books and maintains a softer tone between the dominant male and diluted feminist voice. Future researchers should broaden the scope of the comparison and cover more Qur’ān translations in different countries to examine the impact of women translators’ socio-cultural contexts on their translations.
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