Centenary of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s English Translation of the Quran (Background, History and Influence on Later Translations)

Compiled by Dr. Zahid Aziz

Chapter 2: Publication and Reviews: Later reviews

After the publication of subsequent editions of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Quran and other books, reviews of this translation appeared from time to time. Below we reproduce extracts from the Indian press where Maulana Muhammad Ali’s trans­lation was reviewed at various times in later years.

  1. “Maulvi Muhammad Ali’s name is a guarantee that the translation is as accurate as it could be, and a careful perusal of the work really justifies the expression of the opinion that few translations into English have reached such a high standard. … The book will not only serve to enable Muslims to know their Islam better, but will also dispel many of the fictions fostered in the minds of the non-Muslims regarding the Quran and the religion it preaches.” — The Madras Mail, 15 October 1929
  2. “Among human productions of literary masterpieces, the English translation of the Holy Book by Maulvi Muhammad Ali undoubtedly claims a position of distinction and pre-eminence. But the real charm and value of the book lies in its introduction and footnotes which show Islam and its Founder in their true perspective. The book is of immense use and bene­fit to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and deserves to be extensively read and mastered by all and sundry.” — United India and Indian States, Delhi, 21 December 1929
  3. “The book will not only be found interesting by the Muslims but also by non-Muslims who will understand the Holy Quran and its teachings better than through any other translation available so far in the market.” — The Kashmir Times, Srinagar, 12 November 1933
  4. “Maulana Muhammad Ali’s name is known to every lover of the holy literature of Islam. … Very illuminating notes are provided by the translator which will be of great use to students. Maulana Muhammad Ali’s language is res­trained and eminently suitable for the purpose.” — The Hindustan Times, Delhi, 6 May 1935
  5. “Maulana Muhammad Ali, M.A., Ll.B., is a well-known personality, a great scholar, and as a translator he has the good reputation of being accurate and reliable, and his trans­lation in English is of high standard … We congra­tulate Maulana Muhammad Ali for this production which has surpassed other English translations. The book is well printed and will prove a substantial addition to all public libraries and institutions.” — The Advocate, Lucknow, 24 October 1935
  6. “As for the translation, it is needless to say that it has been well done, in chaste and simple language. Maulana Muhammad Ali has in a way specialised in this work of translating the Holy Book, for he has devoted nearly 20 years of his life to this very work.” — The Searchlight, Sunday, Patna, 29 November 1935

In Atlas of the Islamic World Since 1500 by Francis Robinson, a British academic and historian, first published in 1982, Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation was used when quoting the Quran and it was acknowledged in the following words:

“Notable for its precision is that of Muhammad Ali of Lahore, the version used with one exception throughout this book.”1

The 1917 edition was reprinted in 1920 as the second edition in a quantity of 11,000, and again in 1935 as the third edition in a quantity of 5000 copies, both as before at the Unwin Brothers Gresham Press, Woking. The 1935 third reprint was the last time that the original 1917 work of Maulana Muhammad Ali was published in print.



  1. Atlas of the Islamic World Since 1500, by Francis Robinson, produced by Andromeda Oxford Limited, published by Time-Life Books, 1991, p. 229, column 2.