The second volume of Henry Corbin’s “Iranian Islam” was unveiled with the presence of translator Reza Kouhkan, and editor Shahin Aavani.
At the beginning of the session, Aavani termed the book criteria for understanding the nature of research and methodology disregarding its specialized content. “All works of Corbin, especially this four-volume book are considered as a touchstone for international research. In this work he has made a research map according to which he proceeds. Bibliography and order dominate this collection and Corbin has referred to sources that are available only in manuscript forms,” she said.
She went on to highlight the role of Stella Leenhardt Corbin, the wife of the French Orientalist and added: “Perhaps he could not have achieved all these without the help of his wife and this should make a model for al researchers.”
Aavani added: “Corbin spent 20 whole years on compiling this collection and meantime he got access to sources that are of high value to Islamic philosophy researchers. The period extending from Mirdamad to Mirfendreski is the most unknown to us. By studying this period and introducing sources for that led to the compilation of five volumes of research by late Ashtiani.”
Considering the fact that most of our translations are made from English, translating such a deep and scholastic text from original French is a valuable endeavor, she added.
She added: “Corbin had intended the book for western audiences and therefore, he presented a critique of western thought here and there in the books. When translating the work, Kouhkan has completed the approach by offering necessary notes in the footnotes.”
Then Kouhkan presented an introduction to the book: “The French title of the book is ‘islam Iranien’ meaning ‘Iranian Islam’. But it has ethnic connotations that are not true. Therefore, I have retitled it in Persian as ‘Islam in the Land of Iran’.”
He continued: “Corbin is an orientalist and yet he is not. He was devoted to the orient and oriental Illuminationism and this book reveals a lot about and Shiism. Although Suhrevardi seemingly separated Illuminationism from Shiism, Corbin believes that Shiite beliefs dominate over it and that is why it has spread throughout the Shia world.”
Kouhkan regarded Corbin as a great elucidator and added: “Therefore I tried not to interfere with his method and remained loyal to his style in my Persian translation. In very few cases when Corbin addresses a western concept, I tried to add margins to the book to make it clear for Iranian audiences.”
“I believe that a translation is different than an elucidation. Unfortunately some translators tend to add notes to the original books arguing with the writer’s opinions. Avoiding this, I have tried to reflect the text to the readers as it is and therefore it should be regarded as a loyal translation,” he added.
Kouhkan went on to remark that Corbin’s research is scientific in the sense that he seeks the truth in his research. Spirituality is the gravity point of Corbin’s works. He tries to introduce a type of spirituality to western audiences that is already lost in their lives.”
He finally mentioned that in order to find the most appropriate equivalents in Persian, he has studied the etymology of the terms in Latin and Greek.
Henry Corbin’s “Iranian Islam” was unveiled last week at the central building of Fars Literary Agency with the presence of Reza Kouhkan and Shahin Aavani.