World’ first Tamazight Quran

Has been made in Algeria:

ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria has translated the Koran into the Berber language, Tamazight, for the first time, to promote Islam among a community that has long campaigned for more language and cultural rights, an official said on Monday.

Religious Affairs Ministry spokesman Abdellah Tamine said the ministry had funded the printing this year of 6,000 copies of a full translation carried out by its experts.

Saudi Arabia financed the printing of 5,000 copies of a partial translation last year, he said. All 11,000 copies were distributed free and the ministry planned to print more.

I’m rather curious about how many Algerian or Moroccan Berbers actually read Tamazight. I must admit (and this is awkward to say as an ethnically Arab Moroccan) that I have always been rather skeptical about the need to push for Tamazight text in cultures that are already at least bilingual. Does anyone know exactly how many Tamazight readers there are? Or is it a political issue being driven by a small intellectual elite?

In any case, this particular project seems quite worthy. It’s a surprise it didn’t happen earlier considering the many top Islamist leaders in the Maghreb who are Berbers.

0 thoughts on “World’ first Tamazight Quran”

  1. Fascinating. Despite the very different histories, this Berber project sounds like it has things in common with that of Iraqi-Jewish writers who emigrated to Israel and experimented with writing dialogue in their Iraqi dialect (with bits of Hebrew already in it) while the narrative was in Hebrew. It’s just a question of being allowed to write literature the way you speak, I think, like Rushdie tried to do in Midnight’s Children.

    The Qur’an is a whole different ball game, of course.

  2. i have seen an ancient coran translated in tachelhit many years ago, but it was in arabic script. it’s may be the first kabyl translation or the first time printed in Tifinagh script…
    I must admit (and this is awkward to say as an ethnically Arab Moroccan) that I have always been rather skeptical about the need to push for Tamazight text in cultures that are already at least bilingual.
    it’s like asking “which came first the chiken or the egg?”
    you need interessant amazigh publications to attract amazigh readers.

  3. Xoussef is of course correct; a complete translation of the Quran into “Tamazight” (specifically Tashelhit) came out in Morocco some years ago, done by Houcine Jouhadi. From context, I suspect the official meant the first complete translation into Kabyle (although partial translations have been around for a while.) The two are different enough that a translation into one will not be all that easy to read for a speaker of the other.

  4. I suspect there are quite a number of “Tamazight”- specifically Kabyle readers in Algeria and France. The shutdown of the Algerian universities in teh early 80’s (The Berber Spring) made sure there would be some an now it’s into the second generation. You might ask Rabah Seffal over at the Amazigh Association of Amerca what he thinks.

  5. Well you raise another issue — which dialect should be used, say, in TV and radio? Do different dialects get different state documents (ID cards, etc.)? What do you teach in schools? I am all for preserving the various Berber traditions but integrating them into the modern state apparatus is rather difficult.

  6. I think there has been some effort to create a standard written Tamazight, but as far as dialect is concerned, I don’t see where the problem lies if there is a standard written form. The dialects tend to be very region specific, for example, Kabyle in Kabylie, Chaoui in the Aures area, Chleuh for the region of the Ait Haddidou (which is like Chaoui in Algeria), and so on, so the regional wilayas, etc. can incorporate that.

  7. A standardized written Tamazight? Written in Tifinagh? … Well, I’m all for giving Amazigh culture the space it deserves in Maghreb countries, and lord knows it isn’t being done now.

    But doesn’t these attempts to formalize/standardize the language risk creating even bigger obstacles for students and others, who are perhaps already handicapped by having to overcome Arabic? Even Arab students have a hard time learning Fusha. Adding a similarly formalized written Tamazight (which I’m sure that Amazigh-activist language buffs would craft into something with a grammar from Hell, to rival Fusha) to the existing languages of Arabic Fusha, French, English and whatever else they teach in school over there these days … it just seems the curriculum may get a bit heavy for Berber students, if they don’t drop English. And that honestly wouldn’t help the position of their community in the long run.

    Either way, a Tamazight Quran is a great thing. Both for promoting interest in the language and for helping some much needed state-Kabyle reconciliation along in Algeria. If I was Boutef, I’d cancel one of the Arab state papers (no-one’s reading them anyway) and start one in Tamazight instead, just to make up for past sins.

  8. I suspect there are quite a number of "Tamazight"- specifically Kabyle readers in Algeria and France. The shutdown of the Algerian universities in teh early 80’s (The Berber Spring) made sure there would be some an now it’s into the second generation. You might ask Rabah Seffal over at the Amazigh Association of Amerca what he thinks.

  9. Ma sha allah! Finally a Qur’an for my Tamazight speaking mother in law. I can explain to her in sha Allah and she will understand what the verses she has been saying means. For so many years and possibly generations they recite the verse by faith and with how it affects their heart. But iA now with meaning I hope she can appreciate the true magnificence of the Qur’an. All her faith be rewarded, and she feel the redemption of the simple gestures of iman In sha Allah. Allah is the Greatest.

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