Father’s day…. dedicated to my late father (a liberal, open minded man who treated all with tolerance & dignity) he translated the Quran in Urdu & English, an excerpt thereof (1993):
I bow my head in humble obeisance to Almighty AllahST, the All-Merciful, the Worthy of Praise, for having vouchsafed to me the gracious favor of rendering some little service by presenting a new English translation of the Divine Message, Al-Quran.
I also pray to AlllahST, the All-Merciful, to shower HIS peace and blessings upon HIS last Messenger, MuhammadSS, the love and devotion for whom has enabled this humble servant to persevere in completing this onerous task, this humble service to the Glorious Quran, the final Message of God for the guidance of mankind.
May AllahST, grant acceptance to it and may it prove of benefit in communicating the Message to its readers. Amen!
Syed Muhammad Owais
In loving memory of my dear parents
Syed Muhammad Ayub
Syeda Sabira Bibi
With humble prayers to Allah Subhanahu Taala
for extending His gracious forgiveness to them and granting a blessed home in Paradise
(by HE Dr Abdullah Ibn Abdul Mohsin Al Turki, Rector, Jamia Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Al-Islamia, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
The Quran is the word of God and is the main miracle of Prophet Muhammad. It is miraculous in form as as in content. It is therefore impossible to translate it as a Quran in any language other than its’ own. This is a fact which has been acknowledged by all those who tried their hands at its’ translation. Thus Arberry who is neither Arab nor Muslim says: “I have called my version an interpretation conceding the orthodox claim that the Quran (like all other literary masterpieces) is untranslatable.” He therefore called his translation, “The Quran Interpreted.”
But this should not prevent us from attempting to communicate the basic meanings of its verses to those who have not been fortunate enough to read it in the original. It is in fact our duty to do so because though the Quran is an Arabic book, its message is directed to all people at all times and places ever since its revelation to Prophet Muhammad.
Many translations of the meaning of Quran have appeared in the English language and have been of great benefit to multitudes of English speaking people. But there is always a chance to improve on those translation until they reach a humanly possible perfection.
We, at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, were therefore pleased when a number of specialists from our university as well as other universities who read samples of Syed Owais’s new translation recommended it and pointed to some of its merits and advantages over existing translations. The learned scholar, the late Dr Ismail R Faruqi, finds this rendering as giving evidence of the relevance of the Quran to contemporary times, while Dr Barbara Stowasser, Professor of Arabic at Georgetown University finds his “use of English language in various registers as rich and powerful.”
We therefore decided to sponsor Syed Owais’s work. We asked two members of our staff, Dr Abdul Haq Ansari, and Dr Ja’afar Shaikh Idris to cooperate with Syed Owais and overview his work in order to ensure that the rendering:
1) conforms in the standard commentaries
2) is accurate especially in regard to basic questions of belief
3) is not too literal especially in regard to Arabic idiomatic phrases
4) uses language which is understood by the generality of English speaking people
I have been told that the translation in its final form fulfills these requirements to a remarkable degree. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Syed Owais for this great achievement.
Syed Owais is a scholar who held important administrative and judicial appointments during the British days in India and, later in Pakistan. By the grace of God, he enjoyed throughout a reputation of ability and efficiency as well as of integrity and justice. It was a blessing of Allah (ST) that his religious inclinations led him to the deep and special study of the Holy Quran which has spread over a period of nearly forty years. His Urdu translation of the Holy Book, completed in the 1960s, received commendations from the learned scholars of the sub-continent, while his translation of famous Urdu poets in English verse were also highly appreciated by the English reading public. I pray to Allah that He may grant His acceptance to this present rendering of the Sacred Book and reward the translator and all those who have contributed to its finalization and presentation to the English-reading public.
Dr Abdullah Ibn Abdul-Mohsin Al-Turki
Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University
IV. GRATEFUL THANKS
First and last, I offer my most humble and grateful thanks and obeisance to AllahST for having vouch-safed to me the tawfiq to convey the Divine Message in two languages, first in Urdu and then in English. May AllahST grant His acceptance to my humble work in this service of the Holy Quran and bestow His grace and blessings on my humble self and my family members in this world and the Hereafter, Amen. In addition to giving me the strength to continue this work, He facilitated my work by giving me the opportunities to meet numerous people who encouraged me along the way and without whose help I might not have been able to accomplish this great responsibility. While I thank all these individuals, there might be some unintentional omissions for which I hope I will be forgiven.
I feel, it was something Divinely ordained that I had the opportunity to accompany my wife Atiya (now Associate Professor, Department of Arabic, University of Karachi) to Saudi Arabia, as her mahram where she had been assigned a post in the Arabic Department of the Girls College of Arts in Riyadh in 1983. It was here that I was able to make contact with the learned Arab scholars with the result that my work was sponsored by the Islamic University of Imam Muhammad bin Saud, Riyadh.
Many friends and scholars offered me help and support in course of my stay in Riyadh. I offer my grateful and sincere thanks to H.E. Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin Al-Turki, Rector of the University for lending his kind support by making available to me the cooperation of the learned scholars of the University as well as providing facilities of visa and stay in Riyadh for completion of the work. May AllahST bless him and grant him long life to serve Islam and the Muslim Ummah. I also express my thanks to his secretary Shaikh Abdur Rahman Al-Musa for introducing me to H.E. Dr. Turki.
I thank the Dean of the Jamia’s Research Center, Dr. Abdur Rahman Ar-Rubaie, as well as the Wakeel of the Center, Dr Abdul Mohsin bin Abdul Aziz Abanami for their help in various ways in the course of my stay in the Kingdom. I thank Mr. Sarwat Ibrahim Abdur Rahim, a translator at the Center, for the support that he extended to me during this period.
My very special thanks are however due to the two learned scholars of the University, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari and Dr. Jafar Shaikh Idris for their collaboration in the revision of my work. Dr. Ansari gave me the benefit of his learning while taking great pains to ensure the general conformity of the English rendering with the accepted interpretations given by the classical commentators e.g., Al-Tabari, Ibn-e-Kathir, Jalalain and other great scholars. I would like to acknowledge his deep learning and pious approach for a comprehension of the Divine words.
My learned friend Dr. Jafar Shaikh Idris was the first to extend his appreciation of my humble work and to bring it to the notice of H.E. Dr. Turki. He has also been instrumental in ensuring conformity of the translation with the standard tafaseer and to infuse the real spirit of the Divine Message. Further, because of his close and frequent association with the present day developments of Islamic thought in the East and the West, his suggestions, will, Insha Allah, be of inestimable help in bringing about a better understanding of the great message of the Quran among the readers of the West. I thank him with all my heart.
I also thank my friends Dr. Shaikh Abdullah Abdul-Hamid, Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al-Furaih, and Shaikh Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al-Furaih for their support and assistance to me.
To Mr. Mumtaz Ahmad Khan, I am grateful for preparing drafts and final presentation of the work with sincere devotion and painstaking labor.
While in the United States in 1985-86 and again in 1990-1991, I received help and encouragement from the various learned scholars of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Reston, Virginia. It is with deep sorrow and respect that I mention the name of the distinguished and eminent scholar and servant of Islam, the late Dr. Ismail Ar-Rajei Al-FaruqiRH, the then-president of the IIIT, for his appreciation of my humble work and his sincere urgings for its completion at the earliest. Further, I express my sincere thanks to Dr. Jamal Barzanji, now president of the IIIT and to Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani and other scholars of the Institute.
I thank the Director and the officials of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Fairfax, Virginia for providing monetary assistance for the services of a professional editor for the work. Ms. Jan Sedeka, who helped me in her capacity as professional editor deserves my sincere and special thanks for her devoted assistance and conscientious approach. I would also thank my friend and nephew, Dr. Sanaullah Kirmani, for his help in various ways.
Nearly thirty years ago I had begun my Urdu translation. In the course of about five years that I continued this work I had the full support and sympathy of my late wife Ahmedi Begum, a gracious and pious lady, a loving wife, and a caring mother. May AllahST extend His mercy and forgiveness to her and grant her a place in Paradise. Also, our children Zafar, Anjum, Salman, Asad, Mansoor, and Adil gave me all the help and support in completing the translations in the two languages.
It is also a matter of deepest gratitude for me that later, in the course of my work on the English translation, I received similar support, care and sympathy from my present wife, Atiya Khalil Arab and our younger children Naila, Imran, and Hassan. Atiya, also a loving and comforting wife, has been a source of great strength and support to me especially because of her contribution to the translation in view of her extensive knowledge of Arabic language, the Holy Quran, and the Ahadith. I wish and pray for her success in her ultimate aim to render service to the Pakistani women in the field of teaching of the Holy Quran and the Arabic language.
Syed Muhammad Owais