Some Muslim universities petition for the translation of Saint Augustine’s writings to Arabic.

Posted by on 30 January 2013

January 2013 - Italy

University professors from Cairo (Egypt), Tunis, Algeria and from other Arab countries, who participated in an international congress on Saint Augustine in Algeria ten years ago, recognized the African Doctor to be part of their patrimony. From that congress began a project which was just launched at the beginning of 2013. It consists of a website in seven languages, and one of which is the Arabic language, with the purpose of making known the spirit and thought of the Bishop of Hippo:

OAR / Pablo Panedas

In the L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Holy See, Francesco Ricupero makes a report on this project last January 4. He continuously echoed the words of the Discalced Augustinian, Eugenio Cavallari, who initiated the project: "Our objective is to facilitate through Augustine the dialogue between the Muslim and Western world, in view of a new future of unity and peace."

The webpage in Arabic has begun to be developed through the efforts of a team of translators, religious and laypersons, headed by Father Cavallari. The first section presents a collection of Saint Augustine’s prayers from his Confessions. These prayers express the depth of the human heart and, thus, can be shared by persons of different religious belief. In few months, the second section will be added, which will focus on the search for God. It will highlight the thirst for God, which characterizes the man of today. Then the third part will follow. It deals with the problem of God in man and of man in God, which will also be taken from the Confessions. The fourth part will contain the teachings of the Doctor of Hippo on specific contemporary problems like the person, the family, the society …

Muslim countries

Eugenio Cavallari affirms: “The future of the Augustinians is the future of Augustine.” This Discalced Augustinian has taken up the challenge, which the scholars from major Muslim universities of North Africa put forward 12 years ago during an international congress in Algeria ( April 1-7, 2001). It was organized by Abdelaziz Boutleflika, the then president of Algeria. 
Cavallari was at that time the Prior General of their Order, one of the three branches of the Augustinian family (the Augustinians, the Augustinian Recollects and the Augustinian Discalced). He felt the impact of the petition of the representatives from these Muslim universities: "Translate for us the works of Augustine to Arabic, so that they may be made known in Muslim countries."

The university professors from Cairo (Egypt), Tunis, Algeria and from other academic centers of the Arab world recognized the African Doctor to be part of their patrimony. Saint Augustine was born in Tagaste (Tunis) in 354 and died in Hippo (the present-day Annaba, Algeria) in 431. Fruit of the congress is the project that was just launched on the website of the sanctuary of the Madonnetta (Genoa, Italy): The webpage is presented in seven languages, including Arabic. It springs from the conviction that Augustine continues to be the teacher of life and guide for the man of today, even for non-Christians.

Bouteflika, the then President of Algeria, expressed such conviction in his speech during the congress: “In order to begin this enduring dialogue between Christians and Muslims, what better door and initiative can there be than to know Augustine?... We, Muslims, put ourselves at the disposition of listening attentively and studying Augustine without any prejudice… Such study is highly topical in order for us to progress together, despite our diversity, towards a peaceful world of justice and brotherhood, which men of goodwill have been seeking for so long a time.”

Russian and Chinese

The objective of the Discalced Augustinian Cavallari and of the Center of the Madonnetta (Genoa, Italy) still goes beyond. Such is his conviction on Saint Augustine’s relevance as promoter of dialogue both at the human and religious level. For this reason, his project even aims to include the Russian and Chinese languages, considered to be the other two major languages, which at present remain to be at the margin of the western culture.

Eugenio Cavallari believes that this is the principal mission of the Augustinian family at present. According to him, the raison d’être of the Augustinians in the Church and in the contemporary world is to make known the thought and spirit of Saint Augustine, whom they consider to be their father and founder. And the key to their renewal is the realization of this mission.