Maulana Muhammad Ali — His Influence on Contemporary and Later Muslim Scholars
by Masud Akhtar Choudry
When the Review of Religions started its publication from Qadian, India, in 1901, Maulana Muhammad Ali became its first editor. The depth of his knowledge in the teachings of Islam portrayed through his articles and editorials surprised not only the scholarly elite of the Ahmadiyya Community but also of the contemporary Muslim world. His articles on comparative religions are a treat to read. (The Review of Religions file is available in the Library of Congress in the U.S.A.) Merit of his learning was discovered and recognized by the Mujaddid [Reformer] of the 14th century Hijrah and the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam in the early days of his contact with him and accordingly he had ordered that all articles to be published in Urdu magazines of the Movement be first shown to and approved by Maulana Muhammad Ali. Not only this, the venerable Imam of the 14th century Hijrah chose this young man from amongst a circle of the scholarly personages who had gathered around him as his disciples, each one of whom was an authority on the teachings of Islam in his own right, for that great work of translating the Holy Quran into English and for writing a book on the teachings of Islam for exposing the sublime teachings of the Quran and Islam to the Western nations. This was a great honour for a youth in his early thirties, as Maulana Muhammad Ali was at that time.
Maulana Muhammad Ali started work on the English translation of the Holy Quran with Commentary in 1909 and it was completed in 1917 when its first edition was published. (He completed its revision in 1950 and the revised edition was published in 1951, a few days before his passing away.) For these nine years he worked very hard, and thus the first complete English translation of the Holy Quran from the pen of a Muslim became available to the world of religion. About the salient features of this translation, he himself wrote in the preface to the first edition which is reproduced hereunder:
“As regards the translation I need not say much. That a need was felt for a translation of the Holy Book of Islam with full explanatory notes from the pen of a Muslim in spite of the existing translations is universally admitted. Whether this translation satisfies that need, only time will decide. I may, however, say that I have tried to be more faithful to the Arabic text than all existing English translations. It will be noticed that additional words as explaining the sense of the original have been avoided, and where necessary — and these cases are very few — they are given within brackets. Wherever a departure has been made from the ordinary or primary significance of a word, reason for this departure has been given in a footnote and authorities have been amply quoted.
There are some novel features in this translation. The Arabic text has been inserted, the translation and the text occupying opposite columns. Each verse begins with a new line in both the text and the translation, and verses are numbered to facilitate reference. Necessary explanations are given in footnotes in serial numbers, and generally either authorities are quoted or reasons given for the opinion expressed. This made the work very laborious, but I have undertaken this labour to make the work a real source of satisfaction to those who might otherwise be inclined to be sceptical regarding many statements which will appear new to the ordinary reader. I have tried to avoid repetition in the explanatory footnotes by giving a reference where repetition was necessary, but I must confess that these references are far from being exhaustive. When the significance of a word has been explained in one place it has been thought unnecessary, except in rare cases, to make a reference to it. For the reader’s facility I have, however, added a list of the Arabic words explained, and the reader may refer to it when necessary.
Besides the footnotes, ample introductory notes have been given at the commencement of each chapter. These introductory notes give the abstract of each chapter in sections, at the same time showing the connection of the sections and also explaining that of the different chapters with each other. This feature of the translation is altogether new, and will, I hope, in course of time prove of immense service in eradicating the idea which is so prevalent now that there is no arrangement in the verses and chapters of the Holy Quran. It is quite true that the Quran does not classify the different subjects and treat them separately in each section or chapter. The reason for this is that the Holy Quran is not a book of laws, but essentially a book meant for the spiritual and moral advancement of man, and therefore the power, greatness, grandeur and glory of God is its chief theme, the principles of social laws enunciated therein being also meant to promote the moral and spiritual advancement of man. But that there exists an arrangement will be clear even to the most superficial reader of the introductory notes on these chapters. It will be further noted that the Makkan [Meccan] and Madinan [Medinan] revelations are beautifully welded together, and there are groups of chapters belonging to about one time and relating to one subject. The introductory notes also show whether a particular chapter was revealed at Makkah or Madinah, and also the probable period to which it belongs. Exact dates and specified order of the revelation of different chapters are often mere conjectures, and therefore I have avoided this useless task.
The references to the authorities quoted in the notes are explained in the list of abbreviations given on p. lx. Among the commentators, I have made the greatest use of the voluminous commentaries of Ibn Jarir, Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi, Imam Athir al-Din Abu Hayyan and the shorter but by no means less valuable commentaries of Zamakhshari, Baidawi and Jami al-Bayan of Ibn Kathir. Among the lexicons, Taj al-Arus and the Lisan al-Arab are voluminous standard works and have been freely consulted, but the smaller work of Imam Raghib Isfahani, known as Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran, has afforded immense help, and it undoubtedly occupies the first place among the standard works in Arabic lexicology so far as the Quran is concerned. The valuable dictionaries of Hadith, the Nahayah of Ibn Athir and the Majma ul-Bihar have also proved very serviceable in explaining many a moot point. It will, however, be noted that I have more often referred to Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon, a work value of which for the English student of Arabic can hardly be overestimated; this has been done purposely so that the reader of this volume may have the facility to refer to an easily accessible work. It is a pity that the great author was not spared to complete his work, but up to the letter fa, Lane has placed the world under the greatest obligation. Besides commentaries and lexicons, historical and other works have also been consulted. Among the collections of Hadith, Bukhari, Kitab al-Tafsir, or the chapter on the commentary of the Holy Quran, has been before me throughout, but the whole of Bukhari and other reliable Hadith collections have also been consulted. And lastly, the greatest religious leader of the present time, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, has inspired me with all that is best in this work. I have drunk deep at the fountain of knowledge which this great Reformer — Mujaddid of the present century and Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement — has made to flow. There is one more person whose name I must mention in this connection, the late Maulawi Hakim Nur al-Din, who in his last long illness patiently went through much the greater part of the explanatory notes and made many valuable suggestions. To him, indeed, the Muslim world owes a deep debt of gratitude as the leader of the new turn given to the exposition of the Holy Quran, he has done his work and passed away silently, but it is a fact that he spent the whole of his life studying the Holy Quran, and must be ranked with the greatest expositors of the Holy Book.
The principle of the greatest importance to which I have adhered in interpreting the Holy Quran is that no word of the Holy Book should be interpreted in such a manner as to contradict the plainer teachings of the Holy Quran, a principle to which the Holy Word has itself called the attention of its reader in 3:60; see 387. This rule forms the basis of my interpretation of the Quran, and this is a very sound basis, if we remember that the Holy Quran contains metaphors, parables, and allegories side by side with plain teachings. The Practice (Sunnah)and Sayings of the Holy Prophet, when contained in reliable reports, are the best commentary of the Holy Word, and I have therefore attached the greatest importance to them. Earlier authorities have also been respected, but reports and comments contradicting the Quran itself cannot but be rejected. I have also kept before me the rule that the meaning to be adopted in any case should be that which suits the context best, and the only other limitation to which I have subjected myself is that the use of that word in that sense is allowed by the lexicons or by Arabic literature. Existing translations have rendered me great help, but I have adopted an interpretation only after fully satisfying myself and having recourse to original authorities. Many of the stories generally accepted by the commentators find no place in my commentary, except in cases where there is either sufficient historical evidence or the corroborative testimony of some reliable Saying of the Holy Prophet. Many of these stories were, I believe, incorporated into Islamic literature by the flow of converts from Judaism and Christianity into Islam. I must add that the present tendency of Muslim theologians to regard the commentaries of the Middle Ages as the final word on the interpretation of the Holy Quran is very injurious and practically shuts out the great treasures of knowledge, which an exposition of the Holy Book in the new light reveals. A study of the old commentators, to ignore whose great labour would indeed be a sin, also shows how freely they commented upon the Holy Book. The great service which they have done to the cause of Truth would indeed have been lost to the world, if they had looked upon their predecessors as uttering the final word on the exposition of the Holy Quran as most theologians do today.”
The Urdu paper Wakil, which was published from Amritsar, India, and of which both the editor and the proprietor were orthodox Muslims, published a review of this translation in the following words:
“We have seen the translation critically and have no hesitation in remarking that the simplicity of its language and the correctness of the version are all enviable. The writer has kept his annotations altogether free from sectarian influence with wonderful impartiality, and has gathered together the wealth of authentic Muslim theology. He has also displayed great skill and wisdom in using the new weapons of defence in refuting the objections of the opponents of Islam.”
Rev. Zwemer’s quarterly, The Muslim World of July, 1931, offered this comment:
“One cannot read far in the translation of Maulvi Muhammad Ali or in his notes without being convinced that before he began his work on the Koran he was already widely read in the Arabic authorities listed on page lx, to which frequent reference is made in his notes; also his quotations from Lane’s Lexicon indicate that he was not altogether oblivious to the results of European scholarship” (p. 303).
The author of Islam in its True Light called this translation
“a leading star for subsequent similar Muslim works” (p. 69).
Many of the special features of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation were adopted by later Muslim translators of the Holy Quran. The introductory notes to chapters, giving the abstract of each chapter and showing its connection with what went before, were specially appreciated. Even in the matter of interpretation, most of the views adopted by Maulana Muhammad Ali have found acceptance with them, as we shall see in the following lines.
English translations of the Holy Quran by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall and Mr. Ghulam Sarwar appeared a few years after Maulana’s translation. About the influence on Mr. Pickthall and Mr. Sarwar, we have to quote once again from The Muslim World, July, 1931, Rev. Zwemer’s quarterly:
“A careful comparison of Mr. Pickthall’s translation with that of the Ahmadiyya translator, Maulvi Muhammad Ali, shows conclusively that Mr. Pickthall’s work is not very much more than a revision of the Ahmadiyya version” (p. 289).
“We have made a thorough examination of about forty verses in the second chapter, sixty verses in the third, forty verses in the nineteenth, and all of the last fifteen chapters, comparing his renderings with those of Sale, Rodwell, Palmer and Muhammad Ali; as well as with the Arabic. From this careful investigation we have come to the conclusion that Mr. Pickthall’s translation, in all that part of his work which we have examined, resembles very closely the version of Muhammad Ali, the difference between the two versions in many passages being merely verbal” (p. 290).
“Now if we compare the above passage (3:57–63) with the versions of S, R and P, we shall see that Mr. Pickthall is very much nearer to MA than he is to any of the three previous translators, so that one gets the impression that, although he may have taken a word here and there from R and P, yet he has not followed them so closely as he obviously followed MA” (p. 292).
“The dependence of Mr. Pickthall upon the work of MA is also indicated in an occasional footnote, and those who will compare these footnotes with the notes in the 1920 edition of MA, which contains his commentary, will find that throughout chapter 2 almost every footnote is based on the Ahmadiyya Commentary” (p. 293).
“We think it will now be evident to the reader how much Mr. Pickthall is indebted to the version of Maulvi Muhammad Ali, not only for his footnotes but also for the translation itself” (p. 293).
The author of Islam in its True Light also mentions both Mr. Pickthall and Mr. Sarwar as following closely the translation of Maulana Muhammad Ali. Rev. Zwemer also wrote:
“By comparing these two passages with Mr. Sarwar’s rendering given on page 133 of the last issue of this journal, it will be seen that both Mr. Sarwar and Mr. Pickthall have followed MA very closely” (p. 294).
Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali is another translator of the Quran into English. He has rendered a translation from Arabic verse to English verse. For such a translation in poetry it is really hard to remain true to Arabic. The true meanings have to be sacrificed for the sake of poetical rhythm and meter. Abdullah Yusuf Ali was conscious of this problem and we have it at the authority of late Mirza Masud Beg, a retired Divisional Inspector of Schools, Government of the Punjab, who became the Secretary General of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore and had been working in various positions for the Anjuman for the most part of his life, that Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali, when he was a lecturer in Anjuman Himayat-ul-Islam Lahore’s Islamia College he had an arrangement with Maulana Muhammad Ali whereby he used to send each verse of the Quran that he rendered into English poetry to Maulana for approval, who would return it to Abdullah Yusuf Ali with necessary suggestions as to keeping nearer to true meanings.
The late Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Editor, Such, Lucknow, has also translated the Holy Quran. He was a recognized leader of orthodox Muslim opinion. He admits the influence of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation in the following words in his paper of 25th June, 1943:
“To deny the excellence of Maulvi Muhammad Ali’s translation, the influence it has exercised and its proselytizing utility, would be to deny the light of the sun. The translation certainly helped in bringing thousands of non-Muslims to the Muslim fold and hundreds of thousands of unbelievers much nearer Islam. Speaking of my own self, I gladly admit that this translation was one of the few books which brought me towards Islam fifteen or sixteen years ago when I was groping in darkness, atheism and scepticism. Even Maulana Muhammad Ali [Jauhar] of the Comrade was greatly enthralled by this translation and had nothing but praise for it.”
Whether his translation be counted amongst the orthodox or the modernists, Maulana answers this question in these words:
“There is not a single doctrine of the religion of Islam in which this Translation differs from orthodox views. I hope to be excused for clearing up this point by a quotation from Mr. Pickthall’s review of my Religion of Islam in the Islamic Culture for October, 1936:
‘Probably no man living has done longer or more valuable service for the cause of Islamic revival than Maulvi Muhammad Ali of Lahore. … In our opinion the present volume is his finest work. It is a description of Al-Islam by one well-versed in Sunnah who has on his mind the shame of the Muslim decadence of the past five centuries and in his heart the hope of the revival, of which signs can now be seen on every side. Without moving a hair’s breadth from the traditional position with regard to worship and religious duties, the author shows a wide field in which changes are lawful and may be desirable because here the rules and practices are not based on an ordinance of the Quran or on an edict of the Prophet (peace be on him!).’
Mr. Pickthall was an orthodox Muslim, and what he has said of The Religion of Islam is true of this Translation. There is not a hair’s breadth departure from the essentials of Islam, and this Translation does not contain anything contrary to the views of the great Imams and learned Ahl Sunnat that have gone before. That there have been differences in the interpretation of the Holy Quran among the greatest commentators, among even the Companions of the Holy Prophet and the great Imams, cannot be denied. But these differences do not relate to the essentials of the faith of Islam on which all Muslims are agreed; they relate to minor or secondary points. All Muslims believe in the Unity of God and the prophethood of Muhammad. They believe in all the prophets of God and in His Books. They believe that Divine revelation came to perfection with the Prophet Muhammad who is thus the last of the prophets — Khatam al-Nabiyyin — after whom no prophet will come, and the Holy Quran is the last Divine message to the whole of humanity. All these doctrines find clear expression in my translation and the explanatory footnotes.
The only important matter wherein I may be said to have differed with the majority relates to the death of Jesus Christ. But in the first place the belief that Jesus is alive somewhere in the heavens has never been included among the essentials of Islam. It has never been included among the religious doctrines of the faith of Islam. There are Muslims who still believe that four prophets are alive — Khidr, Idris, Elias and Jesus Christ — but that is not an article of faith with any Muslim. Many learned Muslims have held such belief regarding the first three to be based on Israelite stories and as having nothing to support it in the Holy Quran and authentic Hadith. They are not looked upon as unorthodox for that reason. Why should this Translation be looked upon as unorthodox for saying the same thing about a belief in Jesus Christ being alive? I may call the reader’s attention to another fact as well. Most learned Muslims all over the world, if not all, are today convinced that Jesus Christ died like other prophets and many of them have given expression to such views, among them being the famous Mufti Muhammad Abdu-hu and Sayyid Rashid Rada of Egypt.”
Now this opinion that Jesus Christ did not bodily ascend to Heaven and is not alive there and that he died a natural death like other prophets was not only followed by Mr. Pickthall and Mr. Sarwar but found place in the first edition of Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation. For reasons best known to them the publishers deleted it from the later editions. Recently, Allama Muhammad Asad’s translation has been published and it, too, has carried the same opinion and interpretation about the death of Jesus Christ as expressed by Maulana Muhammad Ali in his translation.
Ahmad Deedat of South Africa is another Muslim scholar of the present days who believes in the death of Jesus Christ and is in agreement with the opinion of Maulana Muhammad Ali on almost all-important matters of the teachings of Islam.
How did Maulana Muhammad Ali come to exercise so much influence on his contemporary and later Muslim scholars? He was not seeking worldly laurels or prizes. He was consciously working for transforming the world around him; and this was possible only through revival of Islam — the mission of the Mujaddid whose disciple he was. Thus his was the labour of love, devotion and dedication. The labour which Maulana had put in this is recounted by him in these words:
“My work was a work of labour. For every rendering or explanation I had to search Hadith collections, lexicologies, commentaries and other important works, and every opinion expressed was substantiated by quoting authorities. Differences there have been in the past, and in future too there will be differences, but whatever I have differed I have given my authority for the difference. Moreover, the principle I have kept in view in this Translation and Commentary, that is, seeking the explanation of a problematic point first of all from the Holy Quran itself, has kept me nearest to the truth, and those who study the Quran closely will find very few occasions to differ with me.
I may here add that it is not only in having recourse to Lane’s Lexicon that I have taken advantage of European scholarship. For full nine years before taking up this translation I was engaged in studying every aspect of the European criticism of Islam as well as of Christianity and religion in general, as I had specially to deal with these subjects in The Review of Religions, of which I was the first editor. I had thus an occasion to go through both the higher criticism of religion by advanced thinkers and what I may call the narrower criticism of Islam by the Christian missionaries who had no eye for the broader principles of Islam and its cosmopolitan teachings, and the unparalleled transformation wrought by Islam.”
No wonder then that his translation is a leading star for later translations of the Quran. After the English translation, Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote a voluminous Urdu commentary of the Quran under the title Bayan-ul-Quran in three volumes which extends over 2500 pages and is much more explanatory than the notes in the English Translation. This translation and commentary became the most popular exposition of the teachings of the Quran in the Urdu language in the nineteen thirties and forties; so much so that many Maulanas [clerics] who were otherwise opposed to the Ahmadiyya Movement made extensive use of this commentary in their khutubat (sermons) and dars-i-Quran [discourses of the Holy Quran]. The only precaution they took was to tear off the title page where the name of the author and publisher was printed. But there were other honest and strong characters who did not deem fit to do away with the name of the author and publisher. The late Sheikh-ul-Islam, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, the then Principal of the well-known Darul Ulum at Deoband (India) was one of them. The late Maulana Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad, a student of the Sheikh-ul-Islam at Deoband who later became Imam of the Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, Surrey, U.K. and translator of Sahih Bukhari into English in his account of joining the Ahmadiyya Movement reported that the Sheikh-ul-Islam used to deliver very inspiring and enlightening dars-i-Quran and while on a visit to his home Maulana Aftab-ud-Din found that Maulana Usmani made use of the Bayan-ul-Quran of Maulana Muhammad Ali for his dars-i-Quran. Having noted the name of the author and the publishers, Maulana Aftab-ud-Din came to Lahore during summer vacations and joined the Ahmadiyya Movement. (This account was published during the life of Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani and during a period of about twenty years between publishing and his death Maulana Usmani did not contradict or disown it.) On the emergence of Pakistan Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani came to Pakistan and became Sheikh-ul-Islam of Pakistan.
After this Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote his well-known book on the teachings of Islam under the title of The Religion of Islam. Allama Iqbal wrote about it:
“… An extremely useful book almost indispensable to the students of Islam.”
The University of the Punjab (now in Pakistan), in appreciation of this work, granted Maulana Muhammad Ali a special reward, and included this book as one of the reference books on Islamic jurisprudence.
Marmaduke Pickthall wrote about this book:
“Probably no man living has done longer and more valuable service for the cause of Islamic revival than Maulvi Muhammad Ali of Lahore … In our opinion the present volume is his finest work. It is a description of Al-Islam by one well-versed in Sunnah who has on his mind the shame of the Muslim decadence of the past five centuries and in his heart the hope of the revival, of which signs can now be seen on every side. Without moving a hair’s breadth from the traditional position with regard to worship and religious duties, the author shows a wide field in which changes are lawful and may be desirable because here the rules and practices are not based on an ordinance of the Quran or on an edict of the Prophet (peace be on him!).”
This was translated into Arabic in Egypt and Miss Qutorman, a Turkish journalist who visited Pakistan in 1950, informed that this had been translated into Turkish and the influence it wielded in Turkey was acknowledged by the message of the great Mufti of Turkey delivered by her to the Maulana … It has since been rendered into many languages, Dutch, Indonesian, Urdu and Spanish being some of these.
In 1945, the Maulana published The New World Order whereby he tried to draw the attention of the world intelligentsia to the fact that the concept of nationalism as worshipped by various nations in recent times has proved to be the worst enemy of mankind. National jealousies and rivalries are the root cause of conflict and war between various nations.
The only hope for world peace is to be found in replacing the present glorification of nationalism with glorification of the concept of ‘mankind as one nation’ as preached by Islam. This great work of the Maulana will be a source of enormous wealth for intellectuals of the world till mankind attains the capacity to discover its destiny.
Glowing Tributes of Eminent Personalities to Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali:
On the English Translation and Commentary of Holy Quran:
Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, translator of Holy Quran:
“For the last thirty-two years he devoted himself to the study of Islam and his writings in Urdu and English, if put together, will form a fair-sized library. The English translation of the Holy Quran is not the only book he has written but it is the one by which he will perhaps become an immortal amongst those who have written about the Holy Quran.”
About the preface dealing with the collection of the Quran, he writes:
“No lover of truth and no student of the Holy Quran can do without this authoritative and masterly essay on the subjects treated therein.”
“Ever since this translation was published in 1917, the preface thereof has become the vade macum of Muslim students, writers and lecturers, and there is no doubt as time goes on its value will increase.”
“The translation is supplemented by very copious notes and commentaries which deal both with the meanings of the words used in the original text and form short essays on the subjects treated in the original. A mass of learning and research has been accumulated in these notes and comments which any man might be proud of. It took Maulvi Muhammad Ali seven years to accomplish his work, but it might have taken another man twenty or thirty to do as much and that perhaps not so thoroughly.
“The English of the preface and the notes is unimpeachable, and Maulvi Muhammad Ali has corrected the mistakes of the previous translators in scores of passages; and wherever he differs from them his rendering is either the correct and most authoritative one or has at the back of it full support to be found in the standard dictionaries of Arabic. Let no man run away with the idea that Maulvi Muhammad Ali has introduced any new meanings into the translation of his text. If one is not hasty, one will always find that Maulvi Muhammad Ali is as great an investigator as he is a scholar. The whole book is a labour of love for which Muslims and non-Muslims alike are forever indebted to Maulvi Muhammad Ali.
“There is no other translation or commentary of the Holy Quran in the English language to compete with Maulvi Muhammad Ali’s masterpiece. For ten years past I have always carried Maulvi Muhammad Ali’s translation wherever I have been to. It has travelled with me round the globe, has been to Mecca on pilgrimage, to the London Conference of Religions of 1924, and to all other places and assemblies of men that I have been to” (Introduction to the Translation of the Holy Quran).
The Quest, London:
“A work of which any scholar might legitimately be proud.”
Shaikh Sir Abdul Qadir, Bar-at-law, and Member of the Secretary of State for India’s Council:
“The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam has for a long time been performing invaluable services for the propagation of Islam. Its leader and President is Maulana Muhammad Ali saheb who, by publishing his English translation and commentary of the Holy Quran, has placed the English knowing world under a deep debt of gratitude. He is a venerable gentleman who has true love for Islam. And the people of Islam, without distinction of party or creed, view with great respect his unselfish services to Islam, and appreciate them. This jamaat has presented in foreign countries such a picture of Islam that Muslims of all sects recognize it” (Islam ka daur-e-Jadid, p. 50).
On the book The Religion of Islam:
Justice Abdur Rashid, later Chief Justice of Pakistan:
“It (The Religion of Islam) reveals great learning, deep research and a thorough mastery of the subject. The religion of Islam, its principles, laws and regulations have all been exhaustively discussed in this comprehensive book. The conclusions of the learned author are amply supported by authority, and every controversial doctrine has been critically examined” (letter dated 5th January 1936).
Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, M.A., PhD, Bar-at-law, scholar of religion:
“I have glanced through parts of it (Religion of Islam) and find it an extremely useful work, almost indispensable to the students of Islam. You have already written a number of books; one cannot but admire your energy and power of sustained work” (letter dated 6th February, 1936).
Chaudhary Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, Chief Judge, World Court, The Hague:
“The book (Religion of Islam) is an extremely valuable contribution to the rather meagre literature on Islam in the English language; and of course being compiled by a scholar of your eminence and learning, it must rank as a standard work on Islam” (letter dated 5th January 1936).
Mushir Hussain Kidwai of Gadia:
“Like almost all other works of the Maulana, this also is a classical book, exhaustive, bold and authentic. I wish it were translated in other languages, particularly in Turkish, Persian and Arabic.”
Sir S. M. Suleman, Chief Justice:
“It is a product of great learning, deep scholarship and enormous labour.”
Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan:
“A work which embodies deep learning, ripe and finished scholarship.”
“No public or private library or educational institution should be without it.”
“The book is a monumental one, dealing with almost every aspect of Islam.”
“Lawyers too will find it of immense benefit.”
“A picture that is faithful and complete in every detail.”
“Hence the student of Islam will welcome this large and comprehensive volume which bears the name of an acknowledged authority on his own faith and whose credentials are assured on the ground of his previous writings. … A purely informative and descriptive account is in a way beyond criticism and this book in particular appears to be as lucid and authoritative an exposition as has been written for some time and it will doubtless play an important part in future estimates of the Religion of Islam.”
The Times of Ceylon:
“The volume under review is a deeply engrossing one, which reflects the author’s scholarship and sincerity in every line. The style of the author is lucid; the controversial points are dealt within crisp and logical form.”