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Conference : "Problematics of Translating Qur’anic Stories : Stylistic, Structural and Semantic Aspects" (Marrakech, 5-6 Mars 2014)

Conference : "Problematics of Translating Qur'anic Stories : (…)

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The Fourth International Conference on Religious Texts and Translation On the theme "Problematics of Translating Qur’anic Stories: Stylistic, Structural and Semantic Aspects" Marrakech 05-06 March, 2014

The Almighty says:
“We narrate to you the best of narratives in revealing this Qur’an to you, even though before it you [too] were certainly unaware” (012:003) He also says:
“Verily in their narratives is a [significant] lesson for people of understanding. This [Qur’an] is not a fictitious tale but a confirmation of that which was sent before it [of earlier divine Books], a detailing of everything, and guidance and a blessing for those who believe (012:111)”.

There is no doubt that stories constitute a prestigious and ancient art in that they enable the narrator to transmit a narrative, be it real or imaginary, spoken or written and get the emotional involvement of the reader or listener. Irrespective of the diversity of their cultures, different nations produced narratives. Such narratives, however, are different in their aesthetic values and text manifestations.
The subject of Qur’anic stories has been investigated by specialists in the field of Qur’anic sciences as well as orientalists as part of their general interest in the field of Qur’anic studies, which includes the Holy Quran and its Sciences. It has also been explored by researchers in the field of literature, who attempted to extract characteristics of Qur’anic stories in the light of concepts from narratology and reflect on ways of rebuilding such concepts. Despite all these efforts, there are still obstacles due to the fact that Qur’anic stories have not always been investigated as a genre, the fact that they overlap with other narrative types in the Arabic literature and the fact that Qur’anic language requires contextual and extra-contextual considerations.

The translator’s interest in Qur’anic stories stems from various dimensions.
First: Since the Qur’anic text is related to a specific cultural, historical and religious background, its transfer from Arabic into other languages raises great difficulties and challenges. Maintaining the references of the translated text and understanding the context with which it is associated occupies a high priority in the translation act. It is impossible to translate Islamic texts in the absence of an Islamic awareness. Furthermore, given the close relationship between translation and interpretation, the translator is required to fully grasp the meanings of the text to be translated, and consider the contexts and requirements of the target language lest there be confusion and misunderstanding, especially when it comes to the inimitable Qur’anic text. Second: Qur’anic stories present all the stylistic features peculiar to the Qur’anic text such as brevity, rhetorical figures and repetition, all of which represent a real challenge to the translator. The translation act is already complex but it is even more so when it comes to the Qur’anic text, which could cause loss of purposes, distortion of meaning and form.
Third: Qur’anic stories constitute an independent literary genre unlike novels and short stories. Irrespective of differences of culture, the latter genres tend to be similar for all nations as far as techniques are concerned, which makes their translation relatively easy. The peculiarities of Qur’anic stories make them particularly difficult to translate given the differences in readers expectations.
Fourth: Many names and events can be found in the Holy Qur’an and in other Scriptures. The believer finds in this evidence and confirmation of the same divine origin. The non-believer interprets this with suspicion. All this raises questions like: how do we translate proper names in the Quran? Are contextual clues to be provided for the benefit of the target language reader or does the supply of such contextual clues contradict the Qur’an as a timeless and place-free text?
Generally, when approaching the Qur’anic text, it is helpful to bear in mind that the text is miraculous in its language and the arguments that it provides to prove its divine origin. It remains, nonetheless, open to interpretation and addresses people of different cultures, races and colors, which proves that there is something else to it in addition to its rhetorical inimitability and the uniqueness of its narratives.

Themes of the conference focus on narratives as an essential component of many chapters in the Quran and as an effective discourse mechanism advocated by Islam unlike its stance on poetry. The conference addresses important issues such as: How do we translate narratives that are scattered throughout the Quran? What is the role of argumentation in Qur’anic dialogues? What are the temporal and spatial features Qur’anic narratives and how are they structured? What are the characteristics of Qur’anic characters and what are their roles? Should we limit ourselves in the translation of Qur’anic stories to the evident text or should we resort to interpretation and exegesis? What are the pros and cons of alternative decisions in the translation process? What are the difficulties that result from its translation? In a nutshell, how do we translate this divine text, which is inimitable in its eloquence and Arabic language and at the same time preserve its impact when transmitting it to the receiver?

We hope that this conference will enable us to broaden our understanding of Qur’anic stories and advance us on the way of overcoming some of the problems faced by translators.

Some of the proposed themes:
 Methodological problems in translating Qur’anic stories.
 Semantic problems in translating Qur’anic stories.
 Stylistic problems in translating Qur’anic stories.
 Time of the Qur’anic text / time of the corresponding translated text: conflict of identities.
 Qur’anic stories: editing and re-translation.
 Qur’anic narratives: technical components, rhetorical strategies and problematics of translation.
 Narrative components of Qur’anic stories: repetition, argumentation, history, the unseen and problematics of translation
 Translators perspectives in generating parallel texts to the original.
 The role of technology in visually accompanying the translated text.
 Translating Qur’anic stories: loss and gain.
 Conciseness and repetition in Qur’anic stories and the challenges of translation.
 Narrative discourse in the Quran: its importance, its aims and ways of preserving it in the target language.
 Specificity of the character and narrator in Qur’anic stories. - Aesthetics of Qur’anic stories between the original language and the target language.
 Aspects of inimitability in Qur’anic stories.

The conference papers can be presented in three languages, viz. Arabic, English and French. Notice: The organizing committee will provide full-board accommodation during the conference period.
The time allotted for presentations in the Conference: 15-20 minutes
The New Books Universe for publishing and distribution in Irbid - Jordany (managed by Bilal Aabidat) will be in charge of publishing the conference papers of which copies will be distributed during the conference.

Important dates:
The abstract, participation form and CV must be submitted no later than 30/04/2013.
Confirmation of Abstracts/ acceptance of Topics: 15/05/2013. The deadline for the submission of the whole paper is 30/09/2013. Final Selection of Papers by the Academic Committee: 30/10/2013. Conference will be held in March, 05-06, 2014. Abstracts and completed research papers should be sent to Dr. Hassane Darir to the following email:

Hassane Darir, PhD
Faculty of Letters
University Cadi Ayyad,
Marrakech - Morocco