First Time Qur'an Translated into Tamazight
ALGIERS — In an effort to promote Islam among a the sizable Berber community who are thirst for more knowledge over their religion, Algerian authorities has released for the first time a new translation of the Noble Qur'an in the Berber language, Tamazight.
We cannot translate Qur'an into foreign languages only and ignore Tamazight," Abdellah Tamine, spokesman of the Religious Affairs Ministry in Algeria, told Reuters.
About 11,000 copies of the new translation are released so far, Tamine added.
The ministry funded the printing of 6,000 copies of a full translation carried out by its experts, while Saudi Arabia financed the printing of 5,000 more copies.
All copies were distributed for free and the ministry plans to print more to satisfy the growing demand among the Tamazight-speaking people.
Amazigh or Berber population makes around 20 per cent of the total 33 million population in Algeria.
The majority of Berbers in the North African country are present in the northern region of Kabylie.
Berbers were the original inhabitants of North Africa before the arrival of Arabs in the seventh century.
The Berber people currently live in Northern Africa throughout the Mediterranean coast, the Sahara and Sahel.
There are around 20 million speakers of Tamazight across North Africa.
Algiers says the move came in response to the increasing need of the Berber community to fully understand the meanings of the Qur'an.
"The translation is fruitful," Tamine said.
The absence of a translation of the Qur’an in their language has caused a serious religious vacuum in the Berber community, he added.
But since the new version of Qur'an became available, people in Kabylie districts such as Tizi Ouzou are showing increasing eagerness to learn more about their religion.
"Mosques in Tizi Ouzou were empty before the distribution of the copies," Tamine maintained.
"It is now very difficult to find a place there, particularly on Friday."
The official said the government's move was not motivated at all by any political goals.
"Our efforts have nothing to do with politics."
"The government mainly aimed at reaching out to a sizable section of the Algerian people and helping them to understand their religion," Tamine added.
The Algerian government has recognized Tamazight as a national language in 2002, allowing it to be taught officially in schools in Berber-speaking regions.
But the Berber minority wants Tamazight to be an official language, on equal status with Arabic so that it can be used on official documents.