|Abstract||Stylistic inimitability, al-i‘jāz al-balāghī, is one of the cornerstones of the Qur’anic textual structure. Based on the inability of the Arabs of the time to compose even one verse like that of the Qur’an, Muslim scholars believe that the stylistic structure of the Qur’an is unique in that no human being can produce anything like it. Based on an analysis of stylistic inimitability by six translators, my thesis shows that the translators understand the significance of the features and have generally tried to maintain it in English, except in cases where the structure of English doesn’t allow that. An exception is the translation by Abdel Haleem, who chooses not to retain the Arabic structure order if it goes against the contemporary English features.
Unlike many critics of Qur’an translation who argue that such translations are incorrect, I argue that this is the result of the privileging of the audience. One key finding of this study is that dominant assessments of Qur’an translation are based on two unrealistic assumptions, namely (1) correctness means faithfulness to the source language, and (2) successful translation must render the totality of meanings.
Analyzing Abdel Haleem’s translation, I also show that there is a real danger of translators diverging from the source language text to achieve communication for the target audience. I have shown that what’s needed is the execution of the principle of loyalty rather than faithfulness. This study underlines the need to examine the prevalent benchmarks of assessment through an engagement with recent translation theories, which will help understand factors other than the primacy of source language, allowing researchers to delve deeper in the factors such as the audience, the purpose, and the ideology.