The Qur'an in English: Challenges and Choices for Surat an-Nisa (Q.4)

Professor Bruce Lawrence & Professor Miriam Cooke, Duke University

The full story of The Koran in English has never been told. In The Koran in English: A Biography (2017) Lawrence tells the story from Robert of Ketton in the 11th century to Sandow Birk in the 21st century. Through the many English Korans run complex questions and conversations on the status of women in Islam. Have there been female Koran translators and what has distinguished their work from that of male counterparts? Central to answering such questions is the fourth chapter of the Koran, Surat an-Nisa (Q.4). Few other chapters have as many verses where interpreters have been challenged to find not just the right meaning but also an evocative rendition of the original Arabic. This seminar will highlight elements of interest from several verses. Some concern women's status and rights, but others look at family relations more broadly, as well as to mandates for self-defence and public protocol.

Miriam Cooke is Braxton Craven Professor of Arab Cultures Emerita, at Duke University. Her work focuses on modern Arabic literature and the critical reassessment of women's roles in the public sphere. Among her many books are Women claim Islam: creating Islamic feminism through literature. New York: Routledge (2001) and Dissident Syria: making oppositional arts official. Durham: Duke University Press (2007). 

Bruce B. Lawrence is the Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Professor Emeritus of Religion at Duke University. His extensive research interests have included not only Islam, but also the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism and Christianity as well as the South Asian traditions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. His books include The Qur’an: A Biography (2006) and The Koran in English: A Biography (2017).