Let me say a few words about the present English translation of the Ma’ariful-Qur’an.
Although a large number of English translations of the Holy Qur’an is available in the market, yet no comprehensive commentary of the Holy Qur’an has still appeared in the English language. Some brief footnotes found with some English translations cannot fulfil the need of a detailed co’mmentary. Besides, they are generally written by the people who did not specialize themselves in the Qur’anic sciences, and their explanatory notes do not often reflect the authentic interpretation of the Holy Qur’an. Some such notes are based on an arbitrary interpretation having no foundation in the recognized principles of the exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, and are thus misleading for a common reader.
On the other hand, during the last few decades, the Muslim population has increased among the English speaking countries in enormous numbers. These people and their new generations need a detailed commentary of the Holy Qur’an which may explain to them the correct message of the last divine book with all the relevant material in an authentic manner which conforms to the recognized principles of tafseer (the exegesis of the Holy Qur’an).
Since Ma’ariful-Qur’an was the latest book written on these lines and was proved to be beneficial for a layman as well as for a scholar, it was advised by different circles that its English translation may fulfill the need.
It made me look for a person who might undertake the task, not only with his professional competence, but also with his commitment to serve the Holy Qur’an.
Fortunately, I succeeded in persuading Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari, the well-known scholar of English literature and criticism, to undertake the translation. In the beginning he was reluctant due to his strong sense of responsibility in the religious matters, but when I assured him of my humble assistance throughout his endeavor, he not only agreed to the proposal, but started the work with remarkable devotion. Despite my repeated requests, he did never accept any honorarium or remuneration for his service. He was a chain-smoker. But he never smoked during his work on Ma’ariful-Qur’an, which sometimes lasted for hours.
In this manner he completed the translation of about 400 pages of the original Urdu book and 156 verses of the Surah al-Baqarah, but unfortunately, his sudden demise discontinued this noble effort.
Strangely enough, the last portion he translated was the commentary of the famous verse:
“And surely, We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger and loss in wealth and lives and fruits. And give good tidings to the patient who, when they suffer a calamity, say, ‘We certainly belong to Allah and to Him we are bound to return’.
Prof. Askari passed away in 1977, and due to my overwhelming occupations during the next 12 years, I could not find out a suitable person to substitute him. It was in 1989, that prof. Muhammad Shamim offered his services to resume the translation from where Prof. Askari had left it. I found in him the same sincerity, commitment and devotion I had experienced in the late Professor. Moreover, he had decided to devote the rest of his life to the service of the Holy Qur’an without any financial benefit.
Here again I tried my best to persuade him to accept some kind of honorarium, but it was in vain. He started his work from the Verse 158 of Surah al-Baqarah and has now completed the translation of the first two volumes of the original Ma’ariful-Quran and is working on the third volume.
Both Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari and Prof. Muhammad Shamim have insisted that their translations must be revised by me from the religious point of view. For this purpose, I have gone through the typescript of the translations of both of them and suggested some amendments where it was necessary.
The translation of Prof. Askari had been started at a time when the esteemed author of Ma’ariful-Qur’an was still alive. We were fortunate to receive some guide-lines from the author himself. He had advised the translators not to be too literal in translation to sacrifice the natural flow of the text. Moreover, he had emphasized that while rendering his book into English, the requirements of English must be kept in mind. Some discussions may be dispensed with. Similarly, many paragraphs may be condensed in the English version in order to avoid repetition.
The esteemed author had authorised me for suitable decisions in these matters. Both the learned translators, despite their earnest effort to reflect the original text as accurately as possible, have followed, in consultation with me, the said advices of the author himself. However they have never tried to sacrifice the original concept of the text for the beauty of language alone. Particularly, in the juristic discussions of the book, they have been very strict in the translation, lest some change in the style should creep in and distort the accurate connotation of the Islamic injunctions. In such places, the reader may feel some difficulty. However, a more concentrate reading can easily remove it.