Centenary of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s English Translation of the Quran (Background, History and Influence on Later Translations)
Compiled by Dr. Zahid Aziz
Chapter 4: Revised 1951 Edition and Later: Later reprints and edition
All subsequent reprints and editions are re-publications of the 1951 edition, incorporating corrections of typographical and other errors found over the years, and improving its design. Many such errors in the fourth edition were identified in Lahore by Dr Asghar Hameed.1 Incorporating these corrections, the fifth edition was printed in 1963 in a quantity of 10,000, at Unwin Brothers of Woking (where the pre-1951 editions had been printed). In 1973 the sixth edition was printed and published from the USA by arrangement with Speciality Promotions Co. Inc. of Chicago.
In 1978, the writer of these lines, Dr Zahid Aziz, carried out a detailed proof reading of the latest available reprint and submitted a list of corrections and other suggestions to the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore. These were considered in detail by Mr N.A. Faruqui,2 a leading light of the Anjuman who was much involved in the study of the Quran and the propagation of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s writings, and Mr Muhammad Ahmad,3 son of Maulana Muhammad Ali. They produced an approved list of corrections, the most important of which were incorporated in subsequent editions published in the 1980s and 1990s in the USA by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore, USA.
Since the late 1980s, various reprints and editions have been published by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore, Ohio, USA, including a pocket version consisting only of the translation, without the Arabic text or footnotes. Dr Noman I. Malik and Mrs Samina Malik of Dublin, Ohio, have led and expanded this work with considerable energy and dedication over many years.
During the late 1990s the entire book was re-typeset in a new design and layout, with re-checking of all references and cross-references, and providing a greatly expanded index of subjects. Some minor linguistic inconsistencies were also removed. Most of these seemed to have arisen because the revisions made for the 1951 edition had, in some cases, not been reflected in all the places to which they related. Details are provided in a Publisher’s Note to the resulting work. This edition was published in 2002, and is known as the Year 2002 Edition. It had been first planned and proposed by Dr Zahid Aziz in 1989-90, and includes a Foreword written in 1990 by the President of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore, Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan,4 and the Vice-President Mr N.A. Faruqui, as endorsement and approval.
Even before the start of the 21st century it was being felt that, due to changes in recent years in currently-written English language, some of the expressions used in the translation were becoming increasingly unfamiliar to modern English readers; in particular, the use of the forms thee, thou, hast, wouldst etc. The traditional versions of the Bible are no longer so generally studied and read in the English-speaking world, and people are less and less acquainted with certain previous forms of expression. Therefore, to make the language of the translation of the Quran more widely accessible, the writer of these lines, Zahid Aziz, edited Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation with the specific aim limited to replacing antiquated terms by those in current usage. An edition updated along these lines was printed from the UK in 2010. Details of the kind of changes made are explained in the Preface to that work. As stated in that Preface, the revisions have been made
“while showing reverence to the original work and remaining as close as possible to the language used by Maulana Muhammad Ali”.
In that edition, the Arabic text has not been included, and the footnotes have been considerably abridged.
Over the last hundred years and more, since before 1917 in fact, many people have been involved in assisting, as volunteers, with various aspects of the publication of the editions, mentioned in this book, of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s English translation of the Quran. Only some of their names have been noted here, but acknowledgements are due to all of them.
- Dr Asghar Hameed was a distinguished academic in the field of mathematics at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, as well as being a scholar of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore. He was head of the Anjuman from 1996 to 2002. ↩
- Naseer Ahmad Faruqui (1906–1991) retired in the mid-1960s after a long public service career, first in the Indian Civil Service till 1947, and then in the Civil Service of Pakistan, in which he rose to the high position of Cabinet Secretary. He had a life-long, deep interest in studying and teaching the Quran. He was also brother-in-law of Maulana Muhammad Ali and was devoted to carrying forward and propagating the Maulana’s literary work. It was at his residence in Karachi that the Maulana stayed during the last five months of his life, passing away in October 1951. ↩
- Muhammad Ahmad (1920–1981), elder son of Maulana Muhammad Ali, who served in the Railway service of Pakistan at high executive levels, was also devoted to carrying forward the religious work of his father. He was the main author of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s Urdu biography, Mujahid-i Kabir, published in 1962. ↩
- Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan (d. 1996) was head of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore from 1981 to 1996. He had had an illustrious medical career as a specialist and surgeon in chest diseases and was superintendent of a famous tuberculosis sanatorium at Dadar (in the North-west Frontier Province of British India, later Pakistan) from 1939 to 1964. He also had vast knowledge of Islam, and in particular the Quran, whose meanings he taught regularly. As with the three other Lahore Ahmadiyya stalwarts mentioned in the notes above, his inspiration for the service of Islam, the Quran and the Lahore Ahmadiyya cause came from long association with Maulana Muhammad Ali. ↩