Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

7/1/2005 - 6/30/2006

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Translation of the Qur'an and the Early Modern Construction of Islam

FAIN: FA-51836-05

Ziad Elmarsafy
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

In this project I propose to study of the English and French translations of the Qur’an and their impact on the Enlightenment’s relationship to the Muslim world. In particular I will focus on the Sale translation (1734) and its impact on the place of Islam in the works of Voltaire and Gibbon.

Media Coverage

The Enlightenment Qur'an: The Politics of Translation and the Construction of Islam (review) (Review)
Author(s): Bridget Pupillo
Publication: MLN
Date: 9/1/2010
Abstract: The Enlightenment Qur'an is for its reader, as the Qur'an itself was for Voltaire, a good tool to think with: it provides an inspirational point of departure for further studies of intercultural exchange throughout the long eighteenth century and beyond. The lucidity, [End Page 989] timeliness and erudition of this study ensures that Elmarsafy's Enlightenment Qur'an will stand as a worthy companion to Burman's earlier contribution on Europe's fascination with the sacred text of Islam.
URL: http://

Associated Products

The Enlightenment Qur'an: The Politics of Translation and the Construction of Islam (Book)
Title: The Enlightenment Qur'an: The Politics of Translation and the Construction of Islam
Author: Ziad Elmarsafy
Abstract: Iconoclastic and fiercely rational, the European Enlightenment witnessed the birth of modern Western society and thought. Reason was sacrosanct and for the first time, religious belief and institutions were open to widespread criticism. In this groundbreaking book, Ziad Elmarsafy challenges this accepted wisdom to argue that religion was still hugely influential in the era. But the religion in question wasn’t Christianity – it was Islam. Charting the history of Qur’anic translations in Europe during the 18th and early 19th Centuries, Elmarsafy shows that a number of key enlightenment figures – including Voltaire, Rousseau, Goethe, and Napoleon – drew both inspiration and ideas from the Qur’an. Controversially placing Islam at the heart of the European Enlightenment, this lucid and well argued work is a valuable window into the interaction of East and West during this pivotal epoch in human history.
Year: 2009
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: This is the link to the publisher's website. It also contains a downloadable chapter (probably more useful than an abstract)
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: This is the link to the Worldcat page
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9781851686957


British-Kuwait Friendship Society Prize, awarded by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies
Date: 11/27/2010
Organization: British Society for Middle Eastern Studies
Abstract: General Information A prize or prizes will be awarded each year to the value of up to £10,000 for the best scholarly work in English on the Middle East which has been published in its first edition in the United Kingdom. We are now accepting submissions for books published during the calendar year 2011 and listed in Whitaker's Books in Print. Particular consideration will ge given to books of sound scholarship which enhance understanding of the Middle East among a wider readership in the English speaking world. Translations of work published in other modern languages are not eligible. The judges welcome entries on any aspect of Middle East studies. Normally the chronological remit of the prize will be from the rise of Islam until the present day, but outstanding scholarly entries from the pre-Islamic era may also be considered. The award of the prize is the sole responsibility of the judges, whose decision is final. If the judges so decide, the prize may be divided. The Enl