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The question of using synonyms in translating the Qur’an is a thorny issue that led to both different interpretations and different translations of the holy text. No matter how accurate or professional a translator’s attempts have been, Qur’anic translations have always been fraught with inaccuracies and the skewing of sensitive theological, cultural and historical connotations owing to the peculiar mechanism of stress, semantico-syntactic ambiguity, prosodic and acoustic features, the mesh of special rhetorical texture and culture-bound references. Consequently, in most of the English interpretations of the Qur’an, cases of non-equivalence and untranslatability are frequent with plenty of scope for ambiguities, obscurities and fuzzy boundaries. The trend has been to accept exegetical translation based on commentary and explanation of the Qur’anic discourse. Since there is no uniform book of exegesis, translations are considered to be glosses or approximates for non-Arabic speaking Muslims.This study is mainly concerned with assessing the criteria and strategies used by different Qur’an translators in selecting synonyms to render Qur’anic polysemous words. The linguistic-cultural context of the original polysemous source text (ST) word will be analysed and compared with its target text (TT) near-synonyms. The study argues that in translating religious texts where synonyms are usually used to convey implicated meanings of ST polysemous words and where we seek to have the same effect on the target language (TL) receiver as that of the original, the use of functional ideational equivalence is given primacy over formal equivalence.

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