Research Seminar: “Translating Al-Kafi: how to make a classical Shii text accessible to 21st century readers”

On the 10th December 2014, the Al-Mahdi Institute held a Research Seminar with Professor Oliver Scharbrodt from the University of Chester on the topic of; “Translating Al-Kafi: how to make a classical Shii text accessible to 21st century readers.” The seminar had a high turnout and was attended by students, AMI faculty and interested members of the public.

Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Chester, Professor Scharbrodt examined ‘Al-Kafi fi ‘Ulum Al-Din’ by Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub AlKulayni (d. 941); the first major collection of traditions attributed to the Shii Imams and discussed the issues and challenges in making such a classical text accessible to 21st century readers. he also talked about the cultural turn in Translation studies, the ‘Imamization of the Qur’an’, the relationship between Nubbuwah and Imama and the scrolls of Fatima (as).

An abstract of his paper read;

“The act of translating is often taken for granted in Religious Studies. The translation of religious texts plays a central role in any type of research on different religious beliefs, practices and various other discursive acts and formations. Often seen as just preliminary to the actual analysis of the research data, it is either looked down up as a necessary chore or undertaken without further reflection. While traditional approaches to translation have emphasised linguistic skills and accuracy the postcolonial and postmodern turn in the humanities has created an awareness of the politics of translation. The contested nature of the act of translating appears central when it comes to the translation of authoritative religious texts – however, little reflection often occurs when such translations are produced. How to bridge the often immense historical, cultural and linguistic gaps between a text and the intended audience of its translation? How to deal with the diverse and contested reception history and exegetical traditions of authoritative texts and with the status a text is held in within religious communities?”

To view more images from the Seminar, please click here.

Research Seminars for the next term will commence from March 2015. More details on these will soon be released.