The Holy Quran
The Holy Quran
Mohammad Ali Esmail Habib (d. ~1959) is recorded to have made a complete Quran translation in the English language before his death, a translation that before his time of death remained unpublished. Later a certain M. H. Shakir (d. after 1959) edited the unpublished translation and provided a first limited publication in Pakistan in 1968. It was then republished in 1970 by “a group of Muslim Brothers” in Tehran, Iran under the title ”The Holy Quran, Arabic text and English translation”. This work is edited with footnotes and introduction by M. H. Shakir and therefore generally attributed to Shakir, rather than Habib. Very little is known about both scholars even while a lot of different statements and claims are made about their actual identities, full name, background and religious affiliation. The few bibliographical works on translations of the Quran in English provide limited insight into this matter.
The translation itself (by Habib) has later been re-issued several times by both Sunni and Shia publication houses and used by Muslims and non-Muslims alike as a general translation of the Quran. It is alleged that the translation is strongly inspired from Muhammad Ali’s (1874–1951) English translation of the Quran, a criticism that is not verified by any scholarly work. Likewise some unverified sources have stated that Habib was an Pakistani Ismaili Shia, maybe as a result of his middle name being ‘Esmail’ (and therefore the confusion), this point in combination with the later sectarian introduction and footnotes added by the editor (Shakir). The later additions by the editor (Shakir) is in fact a sectarian interpretation of the Quran, a point that is harder to claim regarding the translator of the work. The editor is undoubtedly influenced by Shia interpretations and has certain Shia notions added in the introduction and running footnotes.
The work is printed with English and Arabic in parallel columns and some limited number of footnotes added below the text. Later reprints are published without the introduction and footnotes by Shakir and only includes the translated English text by Habib (the complete work generally attributed to “M. H. Shakir”). The translation has also been printed side-by-side with Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s (1872–1953) and Marmaduke Pickthall’s (1875–1936) translations and is widely read.
Note: To find a verse in M. H. Shakir’s translation published before 1984, add: 3:3 + 1 (As far as we can ascertain, the numbering in all chapters other than this one instance in Chapter 3 is identical with that in the standard Egyptian edition).
About the author
M. H. Shakir
- Full name: M. H. Shakir
- Other names: Mohammad Ali Esmail Habib Mahomedali Habib Mohammed Habib Shakir
- Creed: Muslim
A Pakistani edition was published at Karachi by the Taj Art Press in 1970, while the World Organization for Islamic Services, Houston, Texas, USA presented it in 1974. It was reissued by Habib Esmail Benevolent Fund, Karachi in 1978. The work was again reprinted without the Arabic text and footnotes by Ansariyan publications, Tehran in 1984. Since 1982 it has been reprinted frequently by Tahrike Tarsile Quran, USA initially as a joint venture with different institutions (Muhammadi Trust, Zahra Trust, Aza Khana-e Zahra and Ahlul Bait Foundation). It has also been re-issued several times in the last years by publication houses in India.