Friday, August 10, 2012

جماعة التوحيد والجهاد في غرب أفريقيا

i saw another article that refers to the west african islamist group as "the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa." it's also what the english wiki page calls the organization.

who came up with that english translation of the arabic name? the word that is translated as "oneness", التوحيد ("al-tawhiid") does literally mean "the oneness." but it also means "monotheism" especially if the word is used in a religious context. when we're talking about an islamist group, and when the word is paired with "and jihad", it seems pretty clear to me that the group name is referring to monotheism and not some abstract sense of "oneness."

it's also strange because before the group now known as "al-qaeda in iraq" affiliated with al-qaeda in 2004, it went by the name جماعة التوحيد والجهاد ("jamaa'at al-tawhiid wa-jihaad"), the same name as the west african group without the words "in west africa" at the end. the iraqi organization's name was regularly translated as "group of monotheism and jihad" in the western press.

so "monotheism" for "tawhid" makes more sense in context and has been used in the translation of other groups with similar names in the past. then why are reporters all talking about "oneness" in west africa now? who made that first translation that everyone else is parroting now?