The Inimitable Qurʾān

Some Problems in English Translations of the Qurʾān with Reference to Rhetorical Features


In The Inimitable Qurʾān: Some Problems in English Translations of the Qurʾān with Reference to Rhetorical Features, Khalid Yahya Blankinship examines certain Arabic rhetorical features of the Qurʾān as represented in seven English translations. The author addresses the intersection of two important topics in Qurʾānic studies: the critique of the available English translations and the role of rhetoric in the interpretation of the Qurʾān. He identifies a number of figures characteristic of Qurʾanic style which represent some of the chief stumbling blocks for readers who are used to English in attempting to understand, interpret, and appreciate the text. The book should be useful to all those interested in rhetorical and translation studies and theory as well as Islamic studies.

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Khalid Yahya Blankinship, Ph.D. (1988), University of Washington, is Associate Professor of Religion at Temple University. He has published numerous articles, translations, and the book The End of the Jihad State: The Reign of Hisham ibn ʿAbd al-Malik and the Collapse of the Umayyads (SUNY, 1994).
I Preface
Note on Transliteration


1 Word Order

2 Iltifāt

3 Indicative in Place of Imperative or Jussive

4 Indefinite Nouns

5 Non-Consequential Exception

6 Pleonasm and Redundancy

7 Repetition for Emphasis

8 Parallelism

9 Juxtaposition of Contrasting Conditional Sentences

10 Coordination

11 Lack of Conjunctive (Asyndeton)

12 Parenthesis (iʿtirāḍ)

13 Succinctness, or ījāz al-qiṣar

14 Ellipsis, or ījāz al-ḥadhf


Academic scholars and students of rhetorical and translation studies and theory and Islamic studies in general; also practitioners of Islam, particularly those who use English-language translations of the Qurʾān.