Searching For Solace
A Biography of Abdullah Yusuf Ali - Interpreter of the Quran
Published by: Adam Publishers and Distributors, 1542, Pataudi House, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002. Ph:23282550, Email:email@example.com
Muslims across the world refer to different translations of the Quran, but anybody who has gone through the translation of the Surahs by Abdullah Yusuf Ali in English will agree that his knowledge of a great many subjects-comparative religion, world history, both English and Oriental literature, in addition to Islamic lore is marvellous.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s Translation and Commentary of the Quran was first published in Lahore in 1938. Thus, from that year till his death, Yusuf Ali was recognised and acclaimed as a great scholar of Islam who had rendered valuable service to the Quran by enabling the English readers to understand its meaning and message better.
To most people, Abdullah Yusuf Ali who has been reverentially known at least in the sub-continent as Allamah Abdullah Yusuf Ali was recognised simply as the most important “interpreter of the Quran” in English. Strangely enough, while his scholarly stature was widely known, very few people knew anything about him, other than his being a translator of the Quran. Even basic information regarding his place of birth, his childhood, his family background, religious orientation, etc were scarcely known. The life of this outstanding scholar of the Quran even for those who cared to read about Islam was shrouded in a mist.
M.A.Sherif, the scion of a religious and educated family of South Asia, settled in UK and a systems analyst by profession has attempted to precisely fill this gap. He has devoted several years of his life delving into many sources. Thanks to this methodical research combined with Sherif’s intellectual endowments, a lucid and felicitous pen-we now have a captivating, full length biography which brings out Yusuf Ali in flesh and blood.
The author’s choice of the title, Searching for Solace for this biography is significant. For Yusuf Ali suffered the shock of two successive broken marriages and the ensuing agony was further exacerbated by the disrespect shown to him by his children. That Yusuf Ali could fruitfully carry out his masterpiece translation of the Quran under these circumstances enhances our appreciation for the man and his achievements. It was natural and appropriate that in these stressful circumstances Yusuf Ali should turn to God and to God’s book for solace. For the Quran in its own words is “an exhortation and a healing for the ailments of the heart, and a guidance and mercy for those who believe (10:57) and above all is the fact that it is in “Allah’s rememberance that hearts find peace.” (13:28).
The work was originally published by the Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur and it was the globe trotters who were lucky to pick up this book as it went out of reach in India. This fresh edition of the book is a boon to us, and soon its Urdu translation will see the light of the day.
Packed with touching incidents from the life of Yusuf Ali, the reader is taken on a journey into the life of the man who saw the world through his heart and when the world hurt him, his heart completely broke, as the first chapter reads : “ The winter of 1953 was a harsh one in Britain. On Wednesday 9, December, a confused old man was found out of doors, sitting on the steps of a house in Westminster. The police took him to Westminster Hospital. He was discharged the following day and a London County Council home for the elderly in Dovehouse Street, Chelsea took him in. He suffered a heart attack on December 10 and was rushed to St Stephen’s Hospital in Fulham. Three hours after admission, he died. Unusually there were no relatives to claim the body and arrange for the funeral. However the deceased was known to the Pakistan High Commission and as soon as the Coroner for the County of London had completed the inquest, an Islamic burial was arranged in the Muslim section of Brookwood cemetery, Surrey. So in these enigmatic circumstances, ended the remarkable life of Abdullah Yusuf Ali at the age of 81.”
If the first chapter has already made you misty-eyed, do pick up a copy of this brilliant biography of a sensitive human being and a great Muslim scholar.
Get in touch with Syed Tanveer Ahmed, Bookware (Bangalore) Ph. : 23543401, Cell : 9844158731. E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org. and Adam Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi.