Bruce B. Lawrence, “The Koran in English: A Biography” (Princeton UP, 2017)


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As the basis for a major world religion, the Qur’an is one of the most influential books of all time. But when it first appeared, the Qur’an was in Arabic. Most Muslims today are not native-Arabic speakers. Bruce B. Lawrence deals with this issue of translation and more by specifically focusing on the Qur’an (or the Koran) in English in the aptly titled The Koran in English: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2017). He goes back to the earliest English translations, which he terms the “Orientalist Koran,” by non-Muslims, then explores how Muslims themselves translated the document and how modern concerns shape contemporary interactions with the Qur’an. Translation, politics, and belief weave together a biography of the Koran in English that reflects how millions of Muslims today interact with their faith.
NA Mansour is a graduate student at Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies working on the global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press. She tweets @NAMansour26 and produces another Middle-East and North Africa-related podcast: Reintroducing.
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