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Book Announcement: Translating the Qur’an in an Age of Nationalism Print Culture and Modern Islam in Turkey

Translating the Qur’an in an Age of Nationalism
Print Culture and Modern Islam in Turkey
M. Brett Wilson
Oxford University Press, 2014

  • Explains the key debates on the printing and translating of the Qur’an
  • Provides a unique window through which to view the formation of modern Islam, and the impact of nationalism and print technology upon Middle Eastern societies
  • Brings fresh perspective to the seminal Islamic debates, using untapped sources which bridge the gap between the Arabic and Turkish debates
  • Aids the understanding of how Muslims integrated religious and national identities
  • Illustrates the key issues for Muslim communities and intellectuals during a period of modernization and political crisis

Over the course of the past two centuries, the central text of Islam has undergone twin revolutions. Around the globe, Muslim communities have embraced the printing and translating of the Qur’an, transforming the scribal text into a modern book that can be read in virtually any language. What began with the sparse and often contentious publication of vernacular commentaries and translations in South Asia and the Ottoman Empire evolved, by the late twentieth century, into widespread Qur’anic translation and publishing efforts in all quarters of the Muslim world, including Arabic speaking countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This is remarkable given that at the dawn of the twentieth century many Muslims considered Qur’an translations to be impermissible and unviable. Nevertheless, printed and translated versions of the Qur’an have gained widespread acceptance by Muslim communities, and now play a central, and in some quarters, a leading role in how the Qur’an is read and understood in the modern world. Focusing on the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, and following the debates to Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, and India, this book tries to answer the question of how this
revolution in Qur’anic book culture occurred, considering both intellectual history as well the processes by which the Qur’an became a modern book that could be mechanically reproduced and widely owned. Readership: Students and scholars of Islamic intellectual history; of religious studies.

Author Brett Wilson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College. He holds a PhD in Religion with a specialization in Islamic Studies from Duke University. His scholarship has appeared in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Comparative Islamic Studies, and The Encyclopaedia of Women in Islamic Cultures.