Oral Translations of the Holy Qur'an

Oral traditions of African countries constitute an important component of the world's intangible and non-renewable cultural heritage. Among them, a tradition of special significance is the verbal translation of the Quran, which is generally encountered in mosques in the form of recitations and interpretations elucidated during the month of Ramadan each year. This is a tradition of great historical value, among other reasons because, it is one of the media by which the message of Islam was spread in Africa. In our time, the quasi-extinction of this tradition is beginning to be felt acutely, especially after the decrease of the number of exegesists and translators who are able to render the Quran in the local languages of Africa.

IRCICA made efforts to collect sound recordings of the oral translations in different languages in cooperation with local institutions of the African Member States. Translations and interpretations in Wolof were recorded with the assistance of the "Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire Cheikh Anta Diop" (IFAN) in Senegal, in 1992, on 25 cassettes of 90 minutes each.

A plan of action was prepared in the early 1980s to collect translations in Tamasheq and Songhay, with the assistance of Dr. Mahmoud Zouber, the Director of the Ahmed Baba Historical Documentation and Research Centre, in Timbuctu, Mali, who was a member of the Governing Board of IRCICA. The recording was finalised by the said institution in 1989, on 44 and 30 cassettes respectively for each language. Oral translations in Kanuri were recorded in Nigeria with the cooperation of Open Press publishers in Kaduna, and forwarded to IRCICA in 1995, on 55 cassettes. Furthermore, translations in the Fulfulde and Mossi languages will be recorded with the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, and translations in Zulu, with the cooperation of the Islamic Foundation for Education and Culture in South Africa (IFECSA), Capetown. Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria, and the Islamic Association of Niger and the Islamic University of Say, Niger, are expected to cooperate with the Centre in recording translations in Hausa. In addition to the above, the Centre plans to collect oral translations in the following languages: Swahili, Djoula, Susu, Malinke, Bambara, Soninke, Serer, Mandingue, Yoruba, Eve, Dendi, and other widely spoken languages. This is a large-scale and long-term project. It can achieve the best results with the contributions of the African Member States and their institutions involved in similar activities.