BYU Publishes Islamic Texts

“BYU Publishes Islamic Texts,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 78

BYU Publishes Islamic Texts

Brigham Young University is spearheading the translation and publication of Islamic philosophical works in a groundbreaking project called the Islamic Translation Series: Philosophy, Theology, and Mysticism. Managing editor Daniel C. Peterson says the series is furthering BYU’s understanding of and friendship with the Muslim world.

The Arabic works are being translated by scholars from around the world and produced and printed at BYU.

Written by al-Ghazali, a law professor living in the 12th century, the first published volume in the series is The Incoherence of the Philosophers. Two receptions were held earlier this year at which copies of the volume were presented to Muslim dignitaries and community leaders. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles joined Brother Peterson at a Washington, D.C., function attended by several diplomats and U.S. congressmen. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accompanied Brother Peterson at a reception in Los Angeles.

“We want more people to be able to take advantage of this reservoir of knowledge and to expose them to a cultural perspective that was previously unavailable,” said Brother Peterson, an associate professor of Asian and Near Eastern languages at BYU. “Studies of philosophy generally omit Islamic contributions because their authors and editors can’t read Arabic.”

William Graham, chair of Harvard University’s department of Near Eastern languages and civilizations, says BYU’s translation series is welcomed as an addition to resources for teaching Islamic civilization. “It is a commendable thing when a university associated with one religious tradition branches out into a translation effort involving another religious tradition,” he said.

“There is something on the order of a billion Muslims in the world and several million Muslims in North America, yet knowledge about Islam is very limited among Westerners,” said Brother Peterson. “Much of what is known about Islam in the West isn’t true. Among the things most needed to increase Western appreciation and understanding of Islam are competent, trustworthy, readily available translations of Islamic texts.”

BYU President Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy views a translation with Jordan ambassador Marwan Muasher. (Photo by Mark Philbrick.)