Anthology of Arabic Discourse on Translation  book cover
1st Edition

Anthology of Arabic Discourse on Translation

ISBN 9780367139377
Published December 31, 2021 by Routledge
416 Pages

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Book Description

This anthology brings the key writings on translation in Arabic in the pre-modern era, extending from the earliest times (sixth century CE) until the end of World War I, to a global English-speaking audience. The texts are arranged chronologically and organized by two historical periods: the Classical Period, and the Nahda Period. Each text is preceded by an introduction about the selected text and author, placing the work in context, and discussing its significance.

The texts are complemented with a theoretical commentary, discussing the significance for the contemporary period and modern theory. A general introduction covers the historical context, main trends, research interests, and main findings and conclusions. The two appendices provide statistical data of the corpus on which the anthology is based, more than 500 texts of varying lengths extending throughout the entire period of study. This collection contributes to the development of a more inclusive and global history of translation and interpreting.

Translated, edited, and analyzed by leading scholars, this anthology is an invaluable resource for researchers, students, and translators interested in translation studies, Arab/Islamic history, and Arabic language and literature, as well as Islamic theology, linguistics, and the history of science.

Table of Contents

List of Contributors


Transliteration Guide


The Classical Period (c. 500 CE-1800 CE)

Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafi’i, Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani, Ibn Qaiym al-Jawziya
From Hadith and Islamic Jurisprudence (632)

Abu ’Abdullah Al-Waqidi, Abu Jarir al-Tabari, Abu al-Qasim Ibn ’Asakir
Interpreters in Islamic Conquests (823)

Hunain Ibn Ishaq

Epistle Regarding What Was Translated of Galen’s Books (859)

Abu ’Uthman al-Jahidh
Book of Animals (869)

’Abdullah al-Hashimi, ’Abd al-Masih al-Kindi
The Letter of ’Abdullah al-Hashimi to ’Abd al-Masih al-Kindi, Inviting him to Islam,
and al-Kindi’s Response, Inviting al-Hashimi to Christianity (9th-11th centuries)

Abu Bakr Ibn Wahshiya
Nabataean Agriculture (930)

Matta Ibn Yunus, Abu Sa’id al-Sirafi
Debate on the Merits of Grammar and Logic (935)

Sa’diya (Gaon) al-Fayumi
Explanation of the Torah in Arabic (941)

Abu al-Hasan Al-Mas’udi
Meadows of Gold (957)

Muhammad Ibn Ishaq Ibn al-Nadim
The Index (990)

Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi
Approximating the Scope of Logic (1063)

Abu al-Walid Ibn Rushd (Averroes)
Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics (1198)

Jamal al-Din Al-Qifti
History of Wise Men (1248)

Abu Sa’id Ibn Abi al-Husain
Translation of Samaritan Torah (13th century)

Unknown Author

The Chronicles of Time (late 13th century)

Abu al-’Abbas Ibn Abi Usaibi’a
Classes of Physicians (1270)


Treaties between Muslim States and Italian Cities (14th-16th centuries)

Taqi al-Din Ibn Taimiya
Collected Fatwas, Refutation of al-Jahmiya, Response to Those Who Changed the Religion of Christ (1328)

Salah al-Din Al-Safadi
Commentary on the L-Rhymed Poem (1363)

Ibrahim Al-Shatibi
The Reconciliation of the Fundamentals of Islamic Law (1388)

Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi
On the Fundamentals of Jurisprudence, On the Rules of Jurisprudence, On the Sciences of the Qur‘an (1392)

’Abd al-Rahman Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun’s Journey (1406)

Abu al-’Abbas al-Qalqashandi
The Craft of Composition (1418)
Muhammad Ibn Bilal
A Treatise on the Translation of the Qur‘an (1543)

Yahia Ibn ’Ali al-Rifa’i
Translation of Ulugh Beg’s Astronomical Tables (16th century)

Sarkis Ibn Musa al-Rizzi
The Holy Scriptures in Arabic (1671)

The Nahda Period (1800 CE-1918 CE)

’Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti
The History of Al-Jabarti (1822)

Muhammad ’Ali Pasha
Document for Appointing Rifa’a al-Tahtawi (1831)
Promotion of Al-Tahtawi to the Rank of Amiralay (1846)

Marun al-Naqqash
Speech Delivered at the Staging of The Miser (1848)

Butrus al-Bustani
Translation of Robinson Crusoe (1861)

Eli Smith, Cornelius Van Dyck, Nasif al-Yaziji, Butrus al-Bustani
The Bible, that is the Old and New Testaments, Newly Translated from Hebrew and Greek Languages (1865)

Simeon Calhoun
The Seekers’ Guide to the Precious Bible (1869)

James Shepard Dennis
Proofs of the Fundamental Truth of Christianity (1877)

Ahmad Faris al-Shidiaq
Revealing the Hidden Arts of Europe (1866)

Augustin Rodet, Ibrahim al-Yaziji
The Holy Bible (The Jesuit Translation)
First Edition (1876-1881)
Second Edition (1897)

Ahmad Zaki Pasha
Official Documents about His Service as a Translator (1887-1896)

Muhammad ’Uthman Jalal
Edifying Plays in the Art of Tragedy (1893)
The Tale of Qabul and Ward Jinna (1912)

Khalil Baidas, Jurji Zaidan
"Arabization" (1895)

Ibrahim al-Yaziji
"Language and this Age" (1897)

Jurji Zaidan, Hilmi Halim, Selim Effendi Sa’eed
Copyright of Authorship and Translation (1899-1905)

Rashid Rida, Muhammad ’Abdo, Shibli Nu’mani
Translation in Islamic History (1900-1912)

Hafidh ‘Ibrahim
Translation of Les Misérables (1903)

Sulaiman al-Bustani
Homer’s Iliad (1904)

Various Authors
"Celebrating the Translator of the Iliad" (al-Muqtataf Magazine) (1904)

Ahmad Fahmi
Europe’s Crime against itself and the World (1906)

Muhammad al-Saiyd, Muhammad ’Awad Ibrahim, W. H. Stevens
Modern Guide for the Translator (1906)

Khalil Sa’ada, Rashid Rida
The Gospel of Barnabas (1908)


"Copyright Law" (1910)

Amin al-Rihani
"Poetry and Poets" (1910)

’Ali ’Umar al-Misri
"Translation Lessons" (1912)

Ernest Ni’matalla
"‘La Marseillaise’: History of the French National Anthem and its Translation into Arabic" (1918)




Appendix (1): Statistical Tables for the Classical Period

Appendix (2): Statistical Tables for the Nahda Period


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Tarek Shamma is Associate Professor in comparative literature and translation studies at Binghamton University, NY. His recent publications include "In Search of Universal Laws: Averroes’ Interpretation of Aristotle’s Poetics", in World Literature (2021) and "Universal Wisdom, Islamic Law: Translation Discourse in Classical Arabic", in The Routledge Handbook of Translation History (2021).

Myriam Salama-Carr is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies. She is the author of La Traduction à l’époque abbasside (1990). Her publications include "Mapping an Arabic Discourse on Translation" in The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Translation (2020), and "L’École de Bagdad", Équivalences (2020).



Mona Baker is Affiliate Professor at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education, University of Oslo, Norway. She is author of In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (Routledge, third edition 2018) and Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account; and editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (Routledge, third edition, 2020).


This anthology offers a unique opportunity for English-language students and scholars to familiarize themselves with Arabic knowledges on translation between the 6th CE and the 20th CE. Thanks to a very rich selection of fragments and longer texts, and elaborate commentaries on historical contexts and theoretical backgrounds, it is a major resource for a wide range of researchers in cultural history, translation history and translation studies, as well as the historical branches of many disciplines in the humanities and the sciences.

Lieven D'hulst, KU Leuven, Belgium

Accompanied by a very interesting introduction, this fascinating anthology contains a rich selection of texts originally written in Arabic, most of which have never been translated into English before. It includes both texts in which translation and interpreting are mentioned as part of a historical account and more theoretical reflections, and shows just how many of the issues that we consider to be ‘contemporary’ were already being reflected on and written about in the Classical and Nahda (awakening or renaissance) periods of Arabic history.

Christopher Rundle, University of Bologna, Italy