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Christian Bonaud or Yahya Alawi: an Islamic Propagator and a Brilliant French Translator of the Holy Quran

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Christian Bonaud was born in 1957 into a Catholic family in the German city of Freiburg. Due to his father’s career, he lived in Germany and Algeria until he was ten-years old, then he moved to the French city of Strasbourg.

As he himself stated, Bonaud liked to know more about oriental religions; thus he deeply studied works in this domain and travelled frequently to Spain, Morocco, Italy, Holland, and Germany.

Influenced by the works of the Muslim French Philosopher René Guénon, Bonaud converted to Islam in 1979. He began to study the Arabic Language and Islamic Studies. At the university, he eventually became familiar with the writings of Henry Corbin who introduced Shia Irfan (Gnosis) to the West.

After deep studies and under the guidance of Amadou Hampâté Bâ, an African gnostic and spiritual leader of the Tijaniyyah, Bonaud re-converted to Shia Islam and adopted the name Yahya Alawi when he was 22 years old.

Bonaud spent his childhood in Algeria, received his higher education in France, but after he by chance came to know Imam Khomeini (May the Mercy of Allah be on him), he became interested in Imam Khomeini’s religious and political personality hence he commenced in reading his books.

Bonaud continued his high academic studies and defended his doctoral dissertation which he presented in French on Ruhollah Khomeini under the title “Theology in the philosophical and Sufi works of Imam Khomeini (May Allah be pleased with him)” from Sorbonne University in 1999.

To write his thesis, Bonaud travelled to Iran in 1991 and attended the lessons of Ayatollah Sayyed Jalal-ed-Din Ashtiani in Islamic philosophy and Irfan and stayed in Mashhad for 15 years.

With the help of Javad Hadidi – the Iranian researcher who teaches in the religious Hawza and who had his PhD in French Language and Literature – and in response to a call made by the Iranian cultural “Turjuman al Wahi Institute”, Yahya Alawi (Christian Bonaud) accomplished a French translation of the Holy Quran. They both presented an original translation free from the previous faults and defects.

The head of “Turjuman al Wahi Institute” declared that the French translator – who died in August this year – was a prominent Shiite propagator of Islam and one of the most famous translators of the Holy Quran.

This new translation was published in 624 pages. It includes the translation and a commentary on Surat – al – Fatiha and Surat – al – Baqara. This translation – which was achieved after three years of industrious work – includes sections of the French translation of the Holy Ayahs next to the Arabic text of the Holy Quran. That is in addition to interpretations of previous studies and researches for other translators on every term or Ayah of the Holy Quran besides translations of the Quranic terms placed in dual columns, as well as an Arabic- French index of all the Quranic Surahs.

Christian Bonaud’s translation of the Holy Quran to the French Language was original as not one text was quoted. Its special features turned it to a unique creative translation that differs from all other French and European translations of the Holy Quran.

Bonaud passed away after an accident in Côte d’Ivoire. He was making a visit to the African continent to address Muslims about the Month of Muharram for the year 1441 AH / 2019 AD. His body was transferred for his funeral rites and burial in the Holy City of Mashhad….

Among his works are:

– Imam Khomeini, an Unknown Gnostic of the 20th Century

– A French Translation of the Holy Quran

– Islamic Sufism and Irfan (In French)

– A French translation of Imam Khomeini’s “The Greater Jihad”

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