About the Book
Maulana Azad's Tarjuman-al- Qur'an is an earnest attempt in elucidating the message as it was understood by the followers of the Prophet in his lifetime. He maintained that the latter-day commentators had side-tracked the earlier authentic interpretation under the infuence of alien culture and philosophy. The present commentary is more explicit than a mere translation but by no means an elaborate one. The Tarjuman is a classic in Urdu and is regarded as Azad's more outstanding contribution to Islamic learning. At the author's request, Dr. Syed Abdul Latif had magnifcently reproduced the thought-content of the original, preserving in the process the flavour of Azan's style.
Foreword To The Translation
The name of Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad will be written indelibly across the pages of Indian history as one of those great stalwarts who struggled to win freedom for India. That is the reward of patriotism and of sacrifices made under its compulsive demands. But his name will be equally remembered by posterity as a fighter in the cause of man's intellectual emancipation as welt fighting hard against the intellectual and religious obscurantism which had held mankind under its grip for ages together, particularly the mind of his co-religionists, the Muslims of India, and those who inhabited the huge belt which stretched itself along the Central and Western Asia and North Africa right up to the shores of the Atlantic on the one hand, and in its offshoot to the South- East covering in its onward march into the Pacific, the Malaya peninsula and Indonesia, - a form of obscurantism which had expressed itself in a rigid adherence to medievalism in thought and action styled Taqlid or unthinking allegiance to mere tradition. This struggle in its deeper reaches was at first a struggle against his own self, his very upbringing, a veritable Jehad, so to say, against his own personality as built up by medievalism in religion to which he was heir.
The manner in which Mawlana Azad endeavoured to free his mind from the clutches of his medieval past may be noticed in the pages of the Al-Hilal and the Al-Balagh, two weekly journals in Urdu which he himself edited oft and on between 1912 and 1930, and above all in the pages of his monumental work in Urdu, The Tarjuman al-Qur'an or the interpretation of the Qur'an, the first volume of which was issued in 1930, and the second in 1936. How hard was the struggle in his own soul to rise above his own self to seek fresh avenues of approach to the sources of his Faith, the Qur'an" and the example of the Prophet, may be gleaned from the agonised statement which he makes in the preface to his work.
The Tarjuman al-Qur'an is recognised on all hands as Mawlana's magnum opus. Therein he has tried to give to the Qur'anic word the interpretation which it was originally meant to bear, or as was understood by the followers of the Prophet in his own lifetime. It is in the form of an explanatory translation of the Qur'anic text supported, wherever necessary, by foot-notes and comments. The work, as it came out, attracted the serious attention of scholars both in India and abroad, so much so, that when it was revised by him while he was in Ahmednagar Jail and the second edition of it issued, I suggested to him the need for an English version of his great work, a suggestion which he readily appreciated. In fact, when he came out of jail in 1946, several scholars, one after another, tried their hand at it, but the result did not satisfy him. The translators themselves had to admit that the work was not easy to translate. The idea had therefore to lie in abeyance. Indeed, Mawlana Azad had well-nigh given up the hope of ever seeing his work in an English translation.
It was when Mawlana and I had the opportunity to read that remarkable work, The Mind Al-Qur'an Builds, written by Dr. Syed Abdul Latif, the distinguished scholar of Hyderabad, that we felt that here was a scholar who could rise equal to the occasion and fulfil the wish not only of my own self but also of Mawlana Azad. Dr. Latif was personally known to us for several years as Professor of English at the Osmania University, and a keen student of Islamic thought. When I approached him in this regard, he at first felt hesitant to undertake the task. But when it was brought home to him that his personal talents demanded of him to enter upon the task as a matter of duty to the world of intellect, he yielded. He had, however, long talks with Mawlana in regard to the manner of presentation. Mawlana Azad had, as I know, set great store by his commentary of the opening chapter of the Qur'an wherein he had surveyed its entire ideology. Indeed he regarded his achievement as a distinct landmark in the field of Islamic thought. He was anxious to see at least this part of his commentary on the Qur'in - the Surat-ul-Fatiha - rendered into English. So, when Dr. Latif finished its translation, I found Mawlana Azad immensely delighted and even overjoyed at the result. May it be noted that Mawlana was a very hard man to deal with in the matter of literary expression.
At this stage, a thought came to Mawlana that before issuing the finished translation of the opening part of his Commentary which was a serious production, a resume of the views advanced therein might be issued by way of introduction to his great Commentary. This was also prepared by Dr. Latif, and received high encomiums from Mawlana. It was sent to the press a few weeks before the tragedy of his death in February 1958 and came out of it a couple of months thereafter under the title, "Basic Concepts of the Qur'an" in the series of publications issued by the Academy of Islamic Studies, Hyderabad, of which Dr. Latif was himself President.
Mawlana Azad had made a special request to Dr. Latif to pursue his task and complete the translation of the rest of the Tarjuman which covered the first eighteen parts of the Qur'an. But this undertaking was somewhat of a different nature. It was not a translation of a running commentary in the language of Mawlana, as in the commentary of the opening chapter of the Qur'an, which forms the subject of the present volume. On the other hand, it was to be a literal translation, verse by verse, of the original Arabic text of the Qur'an fitted into his explanation and commentary. The task on the face of it was arduous, and called for the display of consummate skill in its execution. Nearly a half of this additional work has been done by now and the rest will be completed in due course, and the entire translation issued in a series in continuation of the present volume.
By rendering into English The Tarjumim al-Qur'an of Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Syed Abdul Latif has rendered a great service to the cause of the Qur'anic interpretation. His work will also be regarded as a lasting memorial to Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, the great savant of India, whose presence in our midst is so sorely missed at this hour.
In conclusion, as chairman of the Committee formed to organise preparation and publication of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an in its English translation I have to express thanks for the valuable help rendered to me by Professor Humayun Kabir, Minister for Scientific Research arid Cultural Affairs, Shri M. R Shervani of Allahabad, Shri Husainbhoy Laljee of Bombay, Shri Nazir Husain of Madras, Hakim Abdul Hamid of Delhi and Shri Mirza Mohammed Begg.
Preface To The Translation
While issuing the present volume, of the 'Tarjuman al-Our'an in its English rendering covering Chapters II to VIII of the Qur'an, it has been thought desirable to reproduce herein certain extracts from Mawlana Azad's prefaces to the first and second edition of his work, given in full in volume I, which explain the plan he has followed, both original and revised, in his interpretation of the Qur'an.
I express my sincere thanks to Mr. Ali Musa Raza Muhajir, a retired Educational officer of Hyderabad, for having assisted me in the preparation of the matter of this volume for the press, and to Dr. M. Yusufuddin, Head of the Department of' Religion and Culture, Osmania University, for preparing its index.
Preface to the English Translation of the Commentary of Al-Baqarah to Al-Anfa' al by Dr. Syed Abdul Latif
Translation of Extracts from Preface to the First Edition of The Tarjuman al-Qur'an by Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad
Translation of Preface to the Second Edition of The Tarjuman al-Qur'an by Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad
II. The cow-al-baqarah
II. Surat al-baqarah (contd.)
II. Al-baqarah (contd.)
III. Al imran
III. Al-i-imran (contd.)
IV. Al-nisa (contd.)
V. The Food-al-ma'ida
V. Al-ma'ida (contd.)
VI. The cattle
VI. The cattle (contd.)
VII.al-'araf- the heights
VII. Al-'araf (contd.)
VIII. Spoils of war
VIII. Spoils of war (contd.)
The trustees of Dr, Syed Abdul Latif's Trust for Qur'anic and Cultural Studies have the pleasure of presenting to those interested in Islam and Comparative Religion the third and the final volume of Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad's monumental work, the Tarjuman al-Qur'an, The Mawlana was one of the most outstanding scholars of Islam of the twentieth century and was, at the same time, one of his country's foremost leaders in her struggle for independence and her first Minister for Education for over a decade. However, future generations will remember him for his scholarship and contribution to Islamic learning. His exposition of the Qur'anic thought took different forms mostly of articles in his two weekly journals, the Al-Hilal and the Al-Balagh. Of his major works, the Tarjuman al-Qur'an is regarded on all bands as his greatest contribution.
Mawlana Azad was firmly of the view that under the influence of Greek and Iranian philosophy, latter day commentators of the Qur'an had side-tracked the earlier authentic interpretations and read new meanings into the Qur'anic word. The plain meaning of the plain word was given up and the allegorical or the figurative meanings were given, which were in a sense, alien to the spirit of the Book. The Mawlana tried to give to the Qur'anic word the interpretation it was originally meant to bear-an attempt at explaining the message of the Qur'an in its simplicity and directness divested of the mystery that clouds most interpretative works on religion.
The three published volumes of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an cover the first eighteen parts (twenty three chapters) of the Qur'an. The first volume. originally published in Urdu in 1930, is a comprehensive commentary of the-Sarat ul-Fillha the opening chapter, which in seven brief verses concentrates within its ambit the thought-content of the entire Qur'an. The second Urdu volume was published in 1936 and deals with chapters two to eight. The third volume dealing with chapters nine to twenty three was published years later. It is unfortunate that the manuscript of Mawlana Azad's commentary on the rest of the chapters could not be traced either in his lifetime or since, and this has deprived those interested in meaningful study of the Qur'an, of the benefit of the vast learning and simple exposition of the author of this commentary.
At Mawlana Azad's request tile late, Dr. Syed Abdul Latif, Professor of English, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India, a scholar' of repute in Islamic studies and the author of the renowned book The Mind AI-Qur'an Builds and other works like Bases of Islamic Culture and A.1.Qur'an Rendered into English, undertook the task of rendering the thought-content of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an into English. The manuscript of the first volume was approved by the Mawlana a few days before his death. The book appeared in print in 1962. The second volume was published in 1967. Although the manuscript of the third volume was sent to the press as far back as 1968, it could not be published for reasons beyond the control of the Trust and despite his eagerness, the late Dr. Abdul Latif could not see the result of his long labour of love. The book now being presented to the reading public has been published from a duplicate of the manuscript entrusted by the late Dr. S. A. Latif to our colleague, Mr. Nizamuddin Ahmed, When this copy was taken up for preparation for the press, it was found that the translation' and commentary of chapter 10 'Jonah' was missing. Failing in its efforts to trace the missing papers, the Trust requested Mr. Muhammad Anver, Reader in English.
Osmania University, Hyderabad, and one devoted to Islamic studies, to undertake the work of filling up the gap in the, book, which he has done. The Trust is immensely grateful to him.
This volume would not have seen the light of the day but for the sincere co-operation and help received from a number of friends. The Trust is greatly indebted. to Mr. Hooseini Doctor of ·the firm of Hooseini Doctor & Co., Solicitors, Bombay, for his continued interest in this work and his legal advice. We are also grateful to: Mrs. Sultana Ahmed, Dr. F. Ahmed, Dr. A. Raza, Mr. M. Ahmed, Mr. A. H. Talib, Dr. M. W. Siddiqee, Mr. M. S. Mirza, Mr. A. Hameed Siddiqee, Mrs. G. Alladin, the Nathani Charitable Trust, Mr. P.M. Elavia, Mr. Bardenvala, Mr. A. Razack, Mr. Nasiruddin Ahmed, Dr. A. Qadeer Siddiquee and Dr. Masoud Ghouri for their generous donations. It is gratifying to note that unost of our donors belong to the younger generation residing in the West. Their interest in the Qur'an is a good augury for the future of Islam.
Our thanks are also due to a number of other friends whose zeal and untiring efforts help bring out this volume. Dr -. Mohammad Yousufuddin, Reader, Department of Arabic, Osmania University read and Mr. Muhammad Anver, Reader in English revised Dr. Abdul Latif's manuscript to eliminate typographical errors, corrected proofs and prepared the index. Mr. Mohammad Abdulla, LA.S. (Retd) supervised the completion of work. Mr. A.R. Rawoot helped the Trust in diverse matters connected with this work. We the trustees are most grateful to them. We cannot recompense them. Their recompense lies with Allah.
We are grateful to Mr. Justice Sharfuddin Ahmed, H.C.S., Director, Da'iratu'l-Ma'arifi'l-Osmania, Osmania University, Hyderabad, for undertaking to print this volume despite prior commitments.
Lastly and most importantly, we bad delegated the entire responsibility for the publication of the volume to our colleague, Mr. Nizamuddin Ahmed, I.A.S. (Retd), Singlehandedly, he collected funds, and arranged for and supervised the printing of this volume facing all the problems, that the publication of a book of this importance poses. The result. of his efforts is now before the readers. We. his colleagues, offer him our most sincere thanks.
We end our foreword with a fervent prayer for the departed souls of Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad and Dr. Syed Abdul Latif.
May their souls rest in peace.
While issuing this additional volume of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an, it seems necessary to draw attention to the following.
The object of compiling the Tarjuman al-Qur'an was to afford a general knowledge of the Qur'anic teachings in a bandy volume such as may offer to the reader something more explicit than a mere translation of the Qur'anic text, but which should by no means assume the form of an elaborate commentary. With this end in view, a method was adopted which could render the translation self-explanatory, supported wherever necessary by appropriate marginal notes leaving tbe presentation of a formal commentary and the exposition of the principles underlying the Qur'anic injunctions of observations on life to two separate volumes, o.ne styled Muqaddima or prolegomena, the other, Al-Bayan or exposition, both of which were in the course of preparation.
But after the issuing of the first volume of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an (which in its English translation occupies three volumes) it was realised that the original plan referred to above, however suitable to the presentation of the subject, was not very much to the liking of the general reader who was desirous of knowing my views thereon without waiting for the appearance of the Muqaddima and Al-Bayan. He desired to have the entire picture of it before him at once. In the words of a poet, he "preferred to have a cup of wine today to the promise of a round of cups tomorrow."
The task of spreading over a limited canvas a wide range' of subjects was indeed a trying one, But that was not to be helped. Necessarily, therefore, I had to apply the break: to the movement of my pen at almost every .step. The process inevitably wrought a distinct change in my method of presentation. The volume had now no longer to offer a translation in Urdu of the Qur 'anic text supported by occasional notes as in the previous volume of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an. It was now to offer a commentary as well, and discuss at times in detail some of the important issues arising out of the text. No doubt, these discussions could not afford to be .as elaborate as in the contemplated Al-Bayan, Still, an attempt had to be made to cover in my discussions all the salient aspects of the themes presented in every chapter of the Qur'an.
With this end in view, the following plan of presentation has been adopted. In the first place, care has been taken to let no important aspect of any theme go unnoticed. Every such aspect has been commented on ; so much so that the notes supplied in exposition of the different aspects are not only lengthier than the notes furnished in the previous volume, but are nearly twice in number. Not merely this, at the end of each chapter, an attempt has been made to give a review of its contents as a whole and add to it wherever necessary a regular dissertation on this or that aspect of the subject as called for particular attention. Some of these dissertations, despite my attempt at brevity, have become somewhat lengthy. Indeed. the notes and dissertations furnished in this manner will form by themselves a fairly bulky volume, With the result that the present volume is in the extent of its matter nearly twice in size as the first volume of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an.
To make this clear to the reader, I may state that a dissertation of twenty-six pages of double crown size has been added to the matter covered by the Qur'anic chapter. 'Al-Tawba' and another of thirty-eight such notes under' Al-A'raf" alone. with ten pages of commentary thereon added at the end, Similarly. An essay has been furnished under chapter, 'Had: explaining the place and value of the Biblical and other stories incorporated therein. Further, apart from the numerous notes given under the chapter, 'Yosuf’ an essay of nearly twenty pages has .been supplied at the end, by way of a critical review of the entire matter covered by that chapter. The same procedure bas, more or less, been adopted in respect of other chapters.
Thus it is that the matter which this volume of the Tarjuman al-Qur'an contains is larger in extent than what was originally planned for it. Indeed, the matter covered by the critical notes and dissertations is' by no means less in volume than what would have been given in the Al-Bayan.
It has to be pointed out that since the method followed in this volume was not observed in the previous volume, notes and dissertations on a similar scale could not be furnished therein. The shortcoming has been met in this volume. The contents of such verses of the previous volume as would have called for detailed comment under the plan followed here, have in one form or another, been repeated by the Qur'an itself in its textual matter covered' by the present volume. Occasion, therefore has been taken to give to such verses special attention. It is in this way that what had been left unattended to in the previous volume has been dealt with in the proper detail in this volume. Certain themes, however, of the previous volume not touched upon in the Qur'anic text of this volume could not in like manner be dealt with in the present volume-themes such as the story of Adam, the migration of Israelites, the rights of women, and the law of inheritance. These will come under review only in the text of the third volume of the Tarjuman al-Quran.
The matter that was originally planned to be covered' by the Muqaddima and Al-Bayan has been incorporated in this volume and the rest of it win find its place in the next. The present volume goes up to the chapter entitled 'Al-Mu'minun. The third volume will begin with the chapter. 'AI-Nur' and close with the last chapter of the Qur'an. 'Al-Nas.' The third volume will necessarily run into about seven hundred pages, especially because It is proposed to provide to this volume a variety of informative addenda.
Every work of a serious nature has some specific purpose to serve and necessarily displays a distinctive feature of its own. So far as the Tarjumnn is concerned, what leads to the volume its distinction is the style of the translation it gives to the Qur'anic text-a style of translation which enables the reader to catch the exact meaning of the original lain out of sight till now, and acquaint him for the first time with the fundamental bases on which the teaching of the Qur'an takes its stand and the principles or values of life which it sponsors for the good of man. Every word or phrase employed therein to bring out the sense of the original has been chosen to stimulate thought and reflection and open out before the thoughtful a vista of fresh and fresher visions of beauty of the Qur'anic message and thus help them grasp the truth embedded in the Qur'anic phraseology.
Another striking feature of this volume is the provision made therein of appropriate marginal notes. These are necessarily brief in form. But they indicate, nevertheless, a very wide expanse of thought and reflection. It may therefore be asserted that every phrase of the notes and indeed every sentence therein furnishes, in its compactness. a wide range of commentary. In fact, the reader will realise that the writer has not in these notes given full expression to the world of thought latent in the . Qur'anic word. But it is hoped that he will not fail to perceive in the brief notes given here, the entire gamut of thought that was struggling in his mind for fuller verbal expression. A flash should suffice the thought ful to catch the full vision of its source. The marginal notes therefore call for very careful study. The greater the attention paid in this respect, the deeper the impress that will form itself on the mind of the reader. of the variety and vastness of thought, pertinent to the life of man that the Qur'an offers for his earnest consideration.
It is not easy to convey to the reader an idea of the arduous processes which were involved in disclosing the meaning of the Qur'an, What should matter to him are the results achieved. The aim of the writer was not to indulge in laborious disquisition or tedious commentary. On the other hand, his primary concern was to follow certain principles of approach to the Qur'an, and give out a clear and comprehensive picture of all that the Qur'an has presented for the earnest consideration of man. He has not disclosed to the reader. the strenuous efforts that he had to make, and the obstacles that he had to overcome, to find out for the reader all that had for long been lost to sight. Had he done that, the Tarjuman al-Qur'an would have taken a different form for what it was intended to be.
At the moment we have to reckon with two sets of intellectuals, the 'ulamn and those who have received modern education. The first group is conversant with the old lines of approach, but has no adequate knowledge of the trends of the present-day thought. The other group is impressed by the demands of advancing time, but is not conversant with the old lines of thought and cannot realise the difficulties which beset a right approach to the Qur'an. This being the situation, neither the one group nor the other is in a position to appraise correctly the nature of the task which "are present writer has ventured to discharge. Unfortunately, there is at the moment no third group to step in to do this.
Forword by Dr. Syed Abdul Mannan
Translation of the Preface to the first edition of Second Volume of the Tarjuman al-Quran by Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad
TRANSLATION AND COMMENTARY OF THE QURAN (Vol. 3)
Chapter IX The Repentance-Al Tawba
Chapter IX The Repentance (Contd.)
Chapter X Jonah-Yunus
Chapter XI Hud
Chapter XI Hud (Contd.)
Chapter XII Joseph-Yusuf
Chapter XII Joseph-Yusuf (Contd.)
Chapter XIII The Thunder-Al Ra’d
Chapter XIV Abraham-Ibrahim
Chapter XV The Rock-Al Hur
Chapter XV The Rock (Contd.)
Chapter XVI The Bee-Al Nahl
Chapter XVII The Israelites-Bani Isra’il
Chapter XVIII The Cave
Chapter XVIII The Cave (Contd.)
Chapter XIX Mary-Maryam
Chapter XX Ta Ha
Chapter XXI The Prophets
Chapter XXII The Pilgrimage
Chapter XXIII The Believers
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