Translation and the World of the Text: On the Translation of the Word Ḥijāb in the Qur’an

Ziad Magdy Elmarsafy, Mustapha Bentaibi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article addresses questions of semantics, reference and the ‘world of the text’ (Ricœur’s term) through a detailed comparative analysis of the ways in which the word hijab in the Qurʾan has been translated and understood. The translations of the word hijab and the meanings that attach thereto demonstrate the risks inherent in privileging a putatively all-important referent over several valid signifieds. The article falls into two parts, the first presenting a theoretical exposition of the stakes involved in these translations, while the second traces the operation of the word hijab in several English translations of the Qurʾan. We argue that, in the Qurʾan, the word hijab demarcates the place that enables communication between the divine and the human.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-222
JournalThe Translator
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2015


  • Translation Theory
  • Qur'an
  • Hermeneutics
  • Reference
  • Islam
  • Ricoeur
  • Anthony Appiah
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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