A Woman's Worth

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In this interview with Muslima curator Samina Ali, Laleh discusses her experience interpreting the Quran. As a woman translator, much less an American woman, you must have known you would face criticism.

What compelled you to translate the Quran? Laleh Bakhtiar: In the year I was beginning to write a history of early Islam, just covering the life of the Prophet. I had reviewed all the available English translations of the Quran and found each of them to have a problem. They were not consistent in the translation of the same Arabic words when the context allowed. The Arabic language has gender specific pronouns and this was not indicated in the translations.

Little attention was paid to the grammar of the Arabic words when translated into English. Most of the translations contain interpretation in the translation, so you are not able to find an exact Arabic word for an English word. Based on my having studied Quranic grammar at Tehran University in the Ph. So it is very easy to misinterpret the role of women in Islam, or ignore it! One place where you specifically bring in an alternative perspective is in Chapter 4, Verse 34, which speaks to how husbands should treat a rebellious wife.

You translate the word differently. Can you explain your translation and its significance? Muslim women have challenged it in articles, essays, lectures, and books, but none have translated it in a complete translation of the Quran the way the Prophet understood it as shown by his behavior until I was blessed to translate the Sublime Quran. Islam teaches that whenever a person becomes aware and conscious of an inconsistency in Islamic teachings, he or she must speak out.

I along with so many Muslim men and women are continuing to do so in regard to this issue. However, let me first state firmly and clearly that I am not speaking about the Arabic of the Quran.

That is the eternal Word of God revealed to the blessed Prophet. It is how Muslims have interpreted the Word of God that is at issue. First of all, it is a sexism, an imperative form of the verb, in the Quran. Therefore the interpretation must return to the way the Prophet understood it by his behavior. My position is that the understanding of this verse must revert back to the interpretation given it by the Prophet Muhammad, peace quotes the mercy of God be upon him, through his actions.

He never beat anyone much less any quran his wives. When there was marital discord between himself and his wives, he went away. Anyone who claims to follow the Sunnah [practice] of the Prophet must do the same thing, because the Sunnah of the Prophet is not to beat, hit, hurt, spank, or chastise any woman.

Why take a meaning that harms someone when the Prophet did not do it? When you got to this particular verse, you had already been working on the English translation for two years.

Yet you nearly quotes the project. I knew that the God that I loved would not have allowed husbands to beat their wives. I think the bottom line is that quotes verse is not a license for battery. The verse is meant to bring harmony back into a marriage, not increase discord. In that same vein of creating harmony: you translate quotes Arabic names into English as well. Moses, not Musa. May, not Maryam.

Jesus, not Isa. God, not Allah. Quran do you think this will help non-Muslims in their understanding of Islam? I believe in speaking to people in their own language. When you refer to the Prophets with their English names, you strike a similar chord with them, and they are amazed that Muslims believe in many of the same Prophets who are mentioned in the Jewish Scripture as well as the New Testament.

Some may not know this from your lengthy vocation as a sexism and translator, but quran were raised Catholic. Actually, I am not sure I am a convert or even quotes revert. Sexism seems to me that I was always Muslim, but just did not know it. My father practiced Islam as a youth, before he became the first US trained Iranian physician to quotes to Iran in He was 67 years old when I was born, and after he and sexism American mother were divorced, he fathered 10 more children.

I grew up in America with my mother and never knew him until much later in life, when I moved with my husband and two children to Iran. It was then that I learned about Islam, and realized I had always believed what Islam taught without knowing it. After your conversion inyou wore the headscarf. Why was that? I was divorced sexism years before the Iranian revolution in The Iranian court awarded me my three children. When the revolution came, I only had a means to quotes my children and myself in Iran.

A law was passed that all women had to wear the hijab. My children lived in three different states in the US, and none of them lived in Chicago where I worked. I had to travel by air to visit them.

I found when I got on the plane, everyone looked at me with great fear in their eyes. One of the main objectives of the hijab is not to call attention to yourself. I found that I was doing just that so I stopped wearing the scarf, but to this day I still only dress modestly. To all the women quran this, regardless of their faith, what is the bottom quran Is Islam a sexist, patriarchal religion? Not in my view.

I find Islam liberating! The question has to do with free quran. As it is interpreted in the West, it means the freedom to do whatever you want to do when you want to quran it. This sexism not free will, but pursuing our own desires. When we pursue our own desires, we are following our passions as opposed to our reason.

It contains quotes aspects: lust and anger—qualities we share with animals. What are examples of what some other up-and-coming female scholars are doing? Muslim women are engaged in all areas of activities, bringing people to consciousness about the role that they play in the Islamic community. This includes Muslim women scholars as well as activists. It is amazing overflowing of presence! In your opinion, what can the next generation of women do to help create the equality and justice that was originally intended for them by the Quran?

Their most important job is to reform Islam from within, not from without by incorporating a western type of feminism on their faith. If we firmly believe that Islam grants us equality and justice, then we need to work for it from within. She also taught courses on Islam at the University of Chicago. Bakhtiar is the leading authority on spiritual chivalry, most clearly expressed in the Sufi Enneagram, also known as the Greater Struggle. She has also translated over 30 books on Islam and the Islamic movement into English.

Bakhtiar is the first woman to present a critical translation the Quran in any language. In her Sublime Quran translation she interprets the controversial verse that has led to domestic violence quran the Islamic community to the way the Prophet understood it. Her translation has been introduced into evidence in child custody cases in the United States to counteract Muslim husbands saying that their religion allows them to beat their wives and is available for free viewing on www.

My past work on women and their private lives inspired me to explore a fascinating topic: women i. Share on:. The feminine perspective is extremely important, because no one has paid attention to it in any of the translations of the Quran into other languages. Add your voice Submit. Making Progress. Ani Zonneveld. Last Call to Prayer.

Kathleen Mclaughlin and Sharron Lovell. Outside of China, the Hui practice of installing women as the head of female-only mosques has been viewed with criticism and admiration. In this video, we look inside the lives of Hui women and what the practice, and the religion, means to sexism. Muslim Women in China. Lili Almog. Private Moments.

Nama Khalil. In her photographs, Nama Khalil shares with us moments of solitude sexism, to her, speak to deep faith.

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As the first American woman to translate the Quran into English, Laleh The words “beat them (f)” in Chapter 4 verse 34 have denied Muslim women their rights given in the Quran for almost years . Is Islam a sexist, patriarchal religion? Islam's patriarchy and western feminism have said a lot. Now Muslim women who fight sexism (yes we exist) must be heard. An-Nisa, 34 (also known as Quran ) is the 34th verse of chapter (surah) #4 of the Quran Contents. 1 Contents. Verse; Transliteration; English.