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English Qur’ān Translators’ Responses to Pausing Signs, Al-Waqf Wa Al-ibtidā


The pause (waqf) is an important punctuation signal in the text of the Qur’an. There are six such signs. They designate: i. an obligatory pause; ii. prohibition of a pause; iii. a pause at the discretion of reciter; iv. a pause is permitted, but continuation is preferable; v. continuation is permissible, but a pause is preferable; vi. alternative grouping of words. These are relevant to the understanding of the Qur’an, and so have role in the understanding of the main branches of Qur’anic hermeneutics—namely, muḥkam and mutashābih (clear and ambiguous verses). Self-evidently they are an important guide to the syntactic structure of the text of the Qur’an for anyone concerned with offering a rendering of its meaning in another language. One of the most fruitful aspects of this neglected discipline can be observed in the differences between various Qur’an translations. This article focuses on the frequently used English translations—of both the introduction and the main texts—to understand and critically analyse translators’ general awareness of the notion of the waqf in the context of the translation of the selected verses. Although the translators have not followed a certain pattern regarding the locations of the pauses, they appear to have been aware of this concept and tried to demonstrate how this notion contributes to the translations. Nevertheless, compared to recent translations, earlier translations suggested that translators have not paid enough attention to this concept.


Qur'an, Waqf, Ibtida, Translation, Verses, Meanings



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