Saturday, July 29, 2006

A closer look ...

... at the Qur'an: Book of signs . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri, who comments:

"While reading this piece, it struck me how a lot of the meaning of texts is lost in translation:

The Qur'an is a multilayered Arabic text. Even those who hear it understand it in numerous, sometimes divergent ways, and those who cannot hear it in Arabic grasp no more than a fraction of its intended message.

The limits of human experience affect the way we approach the text. The Qur'an as written in Arabic is less than the revelation given to Muhammad; it is a second-order revelation. The Qur'an written, then translated from Arabic to English, becomes a third-order revelation. Distance from the source handicaps us, yet we can still learn about Islam by engaging with the Qur'an, even as a written text, translated from Arabic to English.

The Hindu religious texts, the Vedas and the Upanishads are all originally in Sanskrit. Sanskrit texts are more readily translatable to Hindi because of the closeness of the languages. Could it be then terrorists can misinterpret Islam because most Muslims don't have access to its original version? As they say, that which is rendered in translation can at best be a loud echo of the original.")

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