|Born||April 14, 1872(1872-04-14)|
|Died||December 10, 1953(1953-12-10) (aged 81)|
Hafiz Abdullah Yusuf Ali, CBE, FRSL (14 April 1872 – 10 December 1953) was an Indian Islamic scholar who translated the Qur'an into English. His translation of the Qur'an (The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary) ranks alongside the translation of Marmaduke Pickthall as the most widely-known and used in the English-speaking world.
Ali was born in Surat, Gujarat in British India to a wealthy merchant family with a Dawoodi Bohra father. As a child, Ali received a religious education and, eventually, could recite the entire Qur'an from memory. He spoke both Arabic and English fluently. He studied English literature and studied at several Europe universities, including the University of Leeds. He concentrated his efforts on the Qur'an and studied the Qur'anic commentaries beginning with those written in the early days of Islamic history. Yusuf Ali's best-known work is his book The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, begun in 1934 and published in 1938 by Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers Lahore in India (later Pakistan). While on tour to promote his translation, Ali helped to open the Al-Rashid Mosque, the third mosque in North America, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in December 1938.
Ali was an outspoken supporter of the Indian contribution to the Allied effort in World War I. He was a respected intellectual in India and Sir Muhammad Iqbal recruited him to be the principal of Islamia College in Lahore, British India. Later in life, he again went to England where he died in London. He is buried in England at the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood, Surrey, near Wokin, not far from the burial place of Pickthall.
Modern editions of his work remain in print, but with modifications such as "God" altered to "Allah" and with controversial modifications of the opinions that Ali expressed in footnotes and of short historical articles that were included with the original text. For instance, Ali's liberal views on credit and interest do not appear in some editions, as they are considered to run contrary to some schools of Islamic economic thought. Wikisource is using a "modern edition" with the name of Allah for God.
Preface to First Edition, Lahore 4th April, 1934
|“||Gentle and discerning reader! what I wish to present to you is an English Interpretation, side by side with the Arabic Text. The English shall be, not a mere substitution of one word for another, but the best expression I can give to the fullest meaning which I can understand from the Arabic Text. The rhythm, music, and exalted tone of the original should be reflected in the English interpretation. It may be but a faint reflection, but such beauty and power as my pen can command shall be brought to its service. I want to make English itself an Islamic language, if such a person as I can do it, and I must give you all the accessory aid which I can.||”|
—A. YŪSUF ‘ALĪ, 1934, Online Quran Project
Preface to Third Edition, 1938
|“||Since I last greeted my readers collectively I have been able to perform the Pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca and the sacred territory around it and seen with my own eyes the city and territory of Medina, with all the country around and between the holy Cities. I have realised for myself the scenes in which the revelations came which I have humbly sought to interpret. I hope that some glimpses of this experience will have been conveyed to my dear readers.||”|
—A. YŪSUF ‘ALĪ, 1938, Online Quran Project