PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
It has been more than half a century since the first appearance of 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali's superlative work, The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary. Since that time, there have been innumerable reprinting and millions of copies distributed throughout the world. It is, by far, the best known, most studied, and most respected English translation of the Qur'an. It was the first monumental and authoritative work of its kind and it subsequently inspired many such similar endeavors. The eloquent poetic style of the translation and the authenticity of the extensive commentaries and explanatory notes, have, no doubt, contributed greatly to its much deserved reputation as the English translation of the meaning of the Qur'an.
The tremendous impact that this work has made upon the English-reading Muslims (as well as, many non-Muslims) of the world, has never been greater than it is today and shall continue-insha'a Allah (Allah willing)-for generations to come. It has enabled interested readers of English, who do not have a proficiency in reading and comprehending Qur'anic Arabic, to greatly enrich their understanding of the meaning and the incomparable beauty and perfection of the Glorious Qur'an. It has given them a more authentic and reliable translation and commentary from which they could make a serious study.
A. Yusuf 'All was quick to point out that there can be no absolute or perfect rendition of the meaning of the Qur'an and, at best, only an interpretation of its understood meaning can be offered. Probably, he never envisaged how universal his work would someday become, for he was primarily attempting to explain his understanding of the Qur'an to his fellow-countrymen-both Muslims and no Muslims alike. Therefore, he was apt to occasionally use references, which could not be easily appreciated outside the milieu of the Indian Subcontinent.
Although it may not have been the intention of the author to reach such a wide range of readers as exists today, there nevertheless has long been a need for a revised new edition reflecting the needs and demands of today's enthusiastic readership. In response to this need, the present edition represents the first major revision since the initial printing over fifty years ago.
Revisions have been made in both the content and form of the original work. Where necessary, the content has been brought up-to-date and within the current understanding and interpretation of the Qur'an. In the translation, the Surah introductions, and the commentaries, such changes were relatively few and infrequent and have been noted as having been revised. The reader will however, find such notable changes as the use of the name 'Allah' for the word 'God' (as used in previous editions) since it was felt that the use of this Most Glorious Name is more widely understood and accepted by the general reader today. In addition, the word 'Messenger' has been given preference over the word 'Apostle' for the meaning of the original Qur'anic word in Arabic 'Rasul'. The reason being, it was felt, that the former term more clearly expresses the Islamic usage of the term without any negative connotations, which may be associated with the latter term resulting from inaccuracies in its use by other religious or historical works.
The explanatory footnotes and the appendices, however, were subject to more frequent, and occasionally more substantial, changes than those in the translation and the commentaries. The reason being there was a greater need of general updating of information and clarification of certain explanations, which were subject to misinterpretation. There were also a few instances in which certain portions of the material were deleted, either due to its out datedness or due to its proneness to misinterpretation.
The form of this newly revised edition has undergone a more dramatic change in style and has been vastly improved in order to facilitate its readability and study. The type for the English text has been completely reset for the first time, thereby making the character definition more legible after many years of reprinting.
In addition, the spelling has been modernized and the system of transliteration of Arabic into English has been modernized and standardized. For reasons of practicality, the title of each Surah appears in its transliterated form at the head of each page within the Surah. This should enable the non-Arabic reader to not only become more familiar with the names of the Surahs in Arabic but also to begin to associate the content of what he/she is reading with the name of the Surah in which he/she is reading. In addition, the 'Abbreviated' Letters (or al Muqatta'at) have been transliterated as they are spelled out in Arabic to make it possible to learn their pronunciation.
Furthermore, anew system of Qur'anic notation of the Surah and Ayah numbers used in the English text has been adopted. The Roman numerals used in the original system have been converted to Arabic numerals thus making it easier for most readers to readily understand the notations and to encourage them to investigate the frequent references and cross-references found in the Table of Contents Index, and Footnotes. In this edition (1416/1995), anew and comprehensive index for the translation and the commentary has been added to the book to facilitate its use and maximize the benefits of the work. Finally the method of indicating each Juz' (or 1/30th part of the Qur'an) has been modified in order to incorporate the more conventional method of notation commonly used today and thereby reduce the potential for confusion to the reader.
In sum, the editors have acted out of a sincere desire to improve upon this great work. It is hoped that this will-insha a Allah- help in furthering the aim of 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali by enhancing the usefulness and relevance of his work to the ever-changing needs and demands of the countless readers of today. May Allah bless him for his truly extraordinary efforts in producing this invaluable work of translation and commentary.
International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
Herndon, Virginia U.S.A.
Jumada al Akhirah,1409 A.H./January,1989 A.C.
Herndon, Virginia U.S.A.