The Holy Qur'an by Muhammad Ali (1917)

Title:  The Holy Qur-an Translator:  Muhammad Ali Dated:  1917
Publisher:  The "Islamic Review" office England English/Arabic:  Both English and Arabic Text Cover:  Animal skin (Goat or Calf)

 Preface length

Pages (Qur'an only): 1,238 Number of Volumes:  1
Footnotes: Copious throughout General Notes:  Volume contains a 95 page preface, list of Arabic words and index
The first English Qur’an of this sectarian group (Ahmadiyya) was the 1917 Muhammad Ali translation.  The ninety-five page preface in this translation is the most detailed of any previous or future Islamic translation in this study.  The preface is a very detailed explanation of the tenets of the Islamic faith, from their distinctive perspective and serves the additional function of an apologetical discourse against Christianity.  What George Sale did in his Preliminary Discourse for Christians, Muhammad Ali has done for the Ahmadiyya in terms of equipping the Muslims with arguments and answers.  The Ahmadiyya translation by Muhammad Ali begins a trend of detailed and lengthy introductory and prefatory material that routinely appear in Ahmadiyya English translations.

Muhammad Ali does not explicitly state the reason for this translation, but it is abundantly clear this work was created to refute Christian theology and gain converts.  Many of the arguments used against Christianity are seen in future Ahmadiyya and non-Ahmadiyya translations.  English Qur’an research could be further served by additional research noting where Ahmadiyya arguments have appeared in the writings of Islamic sects that despise the Ahmadiyya.  The Ahmadiyya may be relegated to the status of non-believer by much of the Islamic world, but their arguments against Christianity are frequently used and repeated.

Another aspect of this preface that will surface in future translations is the view of the completeness of the Qur’an.  Muhammad Ali claims “…there is absolutely no evidence to the effect that any portion of the Holy Qur’an was left unwritten” by the time of Muhammad’s death (Ali Maulvi xxxii).  This statement is contrary to the evidence of Sahih al-Bukhari cited in chapter two where at the battle Yamama numerous Muslims were killed who had memorized the Qur’an.  The loss of some of the Qur’an, due to the death of the Islamic warriors, concerned the future Caliph Umar who petitioned the current Caliph Abu Bakr to commission a written Qur’an before more, if not all became lost.  Muhammad Ali is aware of Sahih al-Bukhari and praises his work as a “…renowned and trustworthy collection” (xxxvi).  Muhammad Ali’s statements are conflicting.  He cannot state there is no evidence that the entire Qur’an was left unwritten and then claim the hadith collection of Sahih al-Bukhari is trustworthy.  Muhammad Ali has revised long standing Islamic history in order to buttress evidence for the compilation and authenticity of the Qur’an.  The tendency to revise and rewrite Islamic history continues and expands in the following Qura'nic period.

This Qur'an is the chosen volume/translator of the peculiar sect of Islam known as "The Nation of Islam."



Ali, Muhammad Maulvi. , trans.  The Holy Quran.  Lahore:  Ahmadiyya Anjuman-I-Ishaat-I-Islam, 1917.

Khan, Muhammad Muhsin. , trans.  Sahih Al-Bukhari. 9 vols.  Mecca:  Dar AHYA Us-Sunnah, nd.


Verse Rendering for Comparison:
2:106: "Whatever communication We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?"

3:54:  "And they planned and Allah (also) planned, and Allah is he best of planners."
[Note:  This verse appears in 3:53]

4:34: "Men are the maintainers of women, because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping places and bet them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against then; surely Allah is High, Great."

5:51: "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

5:101:  "O you who believe! do not put questions about things which if declared to you may trouble you, and if you question about them when the Qur-an is being reveled, they shall be declared to you; Allah pardons this, and Allah is forgiving, Forbearing."

9:29:  "Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a state of subjection."

10:94:  "But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers."