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There Is Nothing Like Him? A Syntactic, Semantic, Rhetorical and Translational Analysis of Qur’anic Terminology
This paper provides a syntactic, semantic and rhetorical (balāġi) analysis of the term-statement made in the Holy Qur’an 42:11, namely ﴿لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ﴾ ‘laysa ka-miЋlihi- šay'on’, which may be loosely translated as "There is nothing like Him" in reference to Allah (God). A method of analysis is established based upon consideration of the syntactic values of the components making up the structure of the term-statement or expression, and how they impact and/or dictate the overall meaning. This method of analysis is aimed to establish a methodology in determining the meaning of Qur’anic terminology in general. Issues involved and therefore, considered, are: the structure and the implications thereof, the concept of God in major religions in general and in Islam as manifested in the Qur’an in particular and the rhetorical aspects involved. Additionally, English translations of this term-statement are contrasted with the Arabic wording in order to determine if a more accurate translation may be reached.
The paper reveals that Qur’anic term structure -- based on analysis of Q42:11-- incorporates an inherent "manual" outlining how the overall meaning should be derived and determined. This study offers in its conclusion two insightful and original contributions that have been completely overlooked by old as well as modern linguists, Qur’anic exegetes and translators alike. The result, in turn, is the provision of a more accurate English rendition of the Arabic term-statement under investigation. Proper understanding of Qur’anic term structure is bound to lead to better understanding of the Qur’anic message, and, in turn, results in improved translation.
Speaker: Dr. Ahmed Ali, Associate Professor at the Department of Arabic and Translation Studies, AUS, and President of Arabic Translators International (ATI).
Dr. Ahmed Ali has a PhD in Comparative Translation of the Holy Qur’an from the University of Durham, UK, 1998. He is the General Editor of ATI Academic Series, and ATI literary Series (Arabic Literature Unveiled), former General Director of Dragoman, an international refereed journal of language and translation studies. His teaching and research interests cover a wide range of topics across various disciplines such as translation, interpreting and cultural studies, contrastive linguistics, Qur'anic and Hadith studies, Arabic heritage and language.
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