This article discusses the theme of `untranslatability' of Islam in . Against the background of an increasingly transcultural world characterized by worldwide migration, the very idea of the `untranslatability of Islam' points to what the Islamic scholar Bassam Tibi and others have diagnosed as `the crisis of modern Islam'. Aboulela's novel highlights this untranslatability as the fundamental attribute of Islam: Islam, the novel suggests, seems above all translations. Aboulela's narrative in fact stages the idea of the untranslatability of Islam as an undisputable fact of life in the interaction between a European man and an African woman, and thus throws up intriguing questions with regard to the role of religions in a globalized world characterized by far-reaching processes of social and cultural change. The Islamic solution means that the entirety of life is molded into a fundamentally Islamic form and character [...] The Islamic solution means the establishment of a totally Islamic society.1 Modern Islam is [...] not a pure autochthonous entity. It is itself an expression of the continuing argument with the penetrating colonial, industrial West.2 Yusuf al-Qurdawi, Al-hal al-islami, farida wa darura (Beriut: Beriut Press, 1974): 47, 88. Quoted in Bassam Tibi, The Crisis of Modern
Matatu – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2009
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