1st Edition

Qur'an Translation in Indonesia Scriptural Politics in a Multilingual State

Edited By Johanna Pink Copyright 2024
    230 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a comprehensive survey of Qur’an translation in Indonesia – the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world with a highly diverse, multilingual society.

    Delving into the linguistic and political dimensions of this field, the contributors – many of whom are Indonesian scholars – employ a wide range of historical, socio-cultural, linguistic and exegetical approaches to offer fresh insights. In their contributions, the negotiation of authority between state and of non-state actors is shown to be a constant theme, from the pre-print era through to the colonial and postcolonial periods. Religious organizations, traditional institutions of scholarship and Wahhabi-Salafi groups struggle over the meaning of the Qur’an while the Ministry of Religious Affairs publishes its own Qur’an translations into many of the country’s languages. The contributors also explore the influential role of the Ahmadiyya movement in shaping Qur’an translation in Indonesia. Moreover, they examine the specific challenges that translators face when rendering the Qur’an in languages with structures, histories and cultural contexts that are vastly different from Arabic.

    Opening up the work of Indonesian scholars to a wider audience, this book will appeal to anyone interested in Qur’anic studies and Islam in the Southeast Asia region.


    Johanna Pink

    Prologue: A Historical Perspective on Indonesian Qurʾan Translation

    1. Qurʾanic Arabic, Tafsīr al-Jalālayn and Javanese: Javanese Translation in an Eighteenth-Century Banten Qurʾan

    Ervan Nurtawab and Fasjud Syukroni

    Part I: The Politics of Qurʾan Translation

    2. Ahmadiyya Translations of the Qurʾan in Indonesia: Reception and Controversy

    Ahmad Najib Burhani

    3. The Representation of God in Acehnese Qurʾan Translation: Wahhabi-Salafi Translations of Anthropomorphic Verses and the Verdict on Heresy

    Saifuddin Dhuhri

    4. Vernacularism and the Embers of Conservatism: The Production and Politicization of Qurʾan Translations

    Fadhli Lukman

    Part II: A Multilingual State: Beyond the Indonesian Language

    5. Fathers and Sons, Angels and Women: Translation, Exegesis and Social Hierarchy in Javanese tafsīr

    Johanna Pink

    6. Translating the Qurʾan into Sundanese: A Translator’s Personal Experiences

    Jajang A Rohmana

    7. Contested Authority in Madurese Qurʾan Translation: A Comparative Study of Three Versions

    Masyithah Mardhatillah


    Johanna Pink is Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Her main fields of interest are the modern transregional history of tafsir and Qur’an translations. She is the Principal Investigator of "GloQur – The Global Qur’an" and general editor of the Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an Online.

    "Through the lens of Qur’an translation this highly original collection of articles offers interesting insights into Indonesian Islam. Not only theological controversies are dealt with (for instance those in response to Ahmadi and Wahhabi-Salafi inspired translations) but also the changing language policy of the Indonesian government with regard to the national language and regional languages is explored, as well as the direct involvement of the government in initiating and sponsoring translations, like the official state translation in the national language Bahasa Indonesia and the one in Sundanese. Given the importance of the topic, the book deserves to be read not only by specialists in Southeast Asia, but by anyone interested in modern Islam."

    Nico J.G. Kaptein, Professor of Islam in Southeast Asia, Leiden University

    "How should the message of the Qur’an be conveyed to Muslims in regions where Arabic is not the mother tongue? The myriad contestations surrounding the translation of the Qur’an in modern Indonesia, from political pressures to linguistic choices, are deftly explored in this excellent book. In editor Johanna Pink’s lucid introduction, especially illuminating is her framing of the success of state-led Qur’anic translation projects in Indonesia as both rooted in the Islamic tradition of consensus while embracing the modern concept of the ‘invisible translator’, rather than the identifiable individual scholars of the past. This important book on manifold aspects of the Qur’an in the multilingual nation with the largest Muslim population in the world also makes a valuable and timely contribution to translation studies."

    Annabel Teh Gallop FBA, Head of the Southeast Asia Section, British Library

    "Johanna Pink’s latest edited volume represents a major contribution to the study of Indonesian Islam, offering rich resources in a wide range of sub-fields. The papers consider both Qur’an translation and exegesis, showing the heavy overlap between the two disciplines. The work is also of interest to historians, addressing context from earlier centuries as well as the present day. Indonesia’s rich ethnic mix is reflected in the consideration of Javanese, Acehnese, Sundanese and Madurese works. Also addressed are sectarian considerations, with attention given to mainstream, Salafi and Ahmadi approaches to the Qur’an. Interwoven throughout the papers is discussion of social, political and gender issues. This rich smorgasbord of papers gives voice to the research gifts of prominent Indonesian scholars, providing invaluable insights into the living world of Indonesian Islam."

    Peter G. Riddell, Professorial Research Associate, History, SOAS University of London

    "Despite Indonesia being a multilingual country, with more than 700 ethnic languages and one national language, the Qur'an has been translated only into Bahasa Indonesia and several major ethnic languages, either by independent ulemas or by the Ministry of Religion. However, many other ethnic translations endorsed by the latter would appear in the next decades. This volume edited by Johanna Pink is indeed the first book written in English on Qur'anic translations into Indonesian languages. This is undoubtedly the most important contribution so far to the international study of the Qur'an and Qur'anic translation in the largest, but rather neglected, Muslim country in the world."

    Moch. Nur Ichwan, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies, State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta