|Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall|
|Born||Marmaduke William Pickthall|
(1875-04-07)7 April 1875
Cambridge Terrace, London, England
|Died||19 May 1936(1936-05-19) (aged 61)|
Porthminster Hotel, St Ives, Cornwall, England
|Resting place||Brookwood Cemetery, Brookwood, Surrey, England|
|Occupation||novelist, islamic scholar|
|Known for||The Meaning of the Glorious Koran|
Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (born Marmaduke William Pickthall, 7 April 1875 – 19 May 1936) was a Western Islamic scholar noted for his English translation of the Qur'an (1930). A convert from Christianity, Pickthall was a novelist, esteemed by D. H. Lawrence, H. G. Wells, and E. M. Forster, as well as a journalist, headmaster, and political and religious leader. He declared his conversion to Islam in dramatic fashion after delivering a talk on 'Islam and Progress' on 29 November 1917, to the Muslim Literary Society in Notting Hill, West London.
Marmaduke William Pickthall was born in Cambridge Terrace, London on 7 April 1875, the eldest of the two sons of the Reverend Charles Grayson Pickthall (1822–1881) and his second wife, Mary Hale, née O'Brien (1836–1904). Charles was an Anglican clergyman, the rector of Chillesford, a village near Woodbridge, Suffolk. The Pickthalls traced their ancestry to a knight of William the Conqueror, Sir Roger de Poictu, from whom their surname derives. Mary, of the Irish Inchiquin clan, was the widow of William Hale and the daughter of Admiral Donat Henchy O'Brien, who served in the Napoleonic Wars. Pickthall spent the first few years of his life in the countryside, living with several older half-siblings and a younger brother in his father's rectory in rural Suffolk. He was a sickly child. When about six months old, he fell very ill of measles complicated by bronchitis. On the death of his father in 1881 the family moved to London. He attended Harrow School but left after six terms. As a schoolboy at Harrow Pickthall was a classmate and friend of Winston Churchill.
Pickthall travelled across many Eastern countries, gaining a reputation as a Middle-Eastern scholar. Before declaring his faith as a Muslim, Pickthall was a strong ally of the Ottoman Empire. He studied the Orient, and published articles and novels on the subject. While in the service of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Pickthall published his English translation of the Qur'an with the title The Meaning of the Glorious Koran. The translation was authorized by the Al-Azhar University and the Times Literary Supplement praised his efforts by writing "noted translator of the glorious Quran into English language, a great literary achievement."
When a propaganda campaign was launched in the United Kingdom in 1915 over the massacres of Armenians, Pickthall rose to challenge it and argued that the blame could not be placed on the Turkish government entirely. At a time when Muslims in London had been co-opted by the Foreign Office to provide propaganda services in support of Britain's war against Turkey, Pickthall's stand was considered courageous given the wartime climate. When British Muslims were asked to decide whether they were loyal to the Allies (Britain and France) or the Central Powers (Germany and Turkey), Pickthall said he was ready to be a combatant for his country so long as he did not have to fight the Turks. He was conscripted in the last months of the war and became corporal in charge of an influenza isolation hospital.
In 1920 he went to India with his wife to serve as editor of the Bombay Chronicle, returning to England only in 1935, a year before his death at St Ives, Cornwall. It was in India that he completed his famous translation, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran.
Pickthall was buried in the Muslim section at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey, England, where Abdullah Yusuf Ali was later buried.
- Oriental Encounters – Palestine and Syria (1918)
- Sir Limpidus (1919)
- The Early Hours (1921)
- As others See us (1922)
- The Meaning of the Glorious Koran: An Explanatory Translation (1930)
- Folklore of the Holy Land – Muslim, Christian, and Jewish (1907) (E H Hanauer)
- Obituary in The Times, Wednesday 20 May 1936, Page 18, Issue 47379.
- Marmaduke Pickthall: a brief biography by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad
- Online Quran Project includes the Qur'an translation by Marmaduke Pickthall.
- Web based Quran Search application Based on the translation from Marmaduke Pickthall.
- A biography of Marmaduke William Pickthall
- The English translation of the Qur'an by Marmaduke William Pickthall at the Wayback Machine (archived 14 November 2007)
- Works by Marmaduke William Pickthall at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Marmaduke Pickthall at Internet Archive
- Works by Marmaduke Pickthall at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Pickthall, the Woking Muslim Mission, and his views about Lahore Ahmadiyya leaders
- ODNB article by Mohammad Shaheen, 'Pickthall, Marmaduke William (1875–1936)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2007 accessed 21 Oct 2010
- Complete Marmaduke Pickthall translation including arabic, transliteration, audio recital and translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Habib Shakir
- Search across Marmaduke Pickthall translation and across other translations by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Habib Shakir
In 1919, Pickthall worked for the London-based Islamic Information Bureau that among other things published the weekly Muslim Outlook. After completing his last novel the Early Hours in 1920, he departed for his new assignment in India to serve as the editor of the Bombay Chronicle. Pickthall devoted considerable interest in the independent Islamic empire of India that was gradually eroded through a string of British conspiracies. In 1927, Pickthall took over as the editor of Islamic Culture, a new quarterly journal published under the patronage of the Nizam of Hydrabad. He gave eight lectures on several aspects of Islamic civilization at the invitation of The Committee of "Madras Lectures on Islam" in Madras, India. His lectures were published under the title "The Cultural Side of Islam" in 1961 by S.M. Ashraf Publishers, Lahore. For an abridged version of his fifth lecture, point your browser to Tolerance in Islam.
The mission of 'translating' the Qur'an had preoccupied Pickthall's mind since he reverted to Islam. He saw that there was an obligation for all Muslims to know the Qur'an intimately. In 1930, Pickthall published The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (A. A. Knopf, New York). Pickthall maintained that the Qur'an being the word of Allah (SWT) could not be translated.
Pickthall returned to England in early 1935, and died a year later on May 19 at St. Ives. He is buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood, Surrey, near Woking. Sixteen years later another distinguished translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali joined him in this earthly domain.