Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (7 April 1875 – 19 May 1936) was a British Islamic scholar noted for his English translation of the Qur’an. Pickthall was a novelist as well as a journalist, headmaster, and political and religious leader. He was also involved with the services of the Woking Muslim Mission.
Pickthall travelled across many Eastern countries, gaining a reputation as a Middle-Eastern scholar. 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”.
The mission of ‘translating’ the Qur’an had preoccupied Pickthall’s mind since he had entered into Islam. He saw that there was an obligation for all Muslims to know the Qur’an intimately. Even while serving as an Imam in London in 1919, he often put aside the then available translations and offered his own. His devotion to the Book – a “wonder of the world” – was profound and he noted that while he had great difficulty in remembering a passage in his native English, he could easily memorize “page after page of the Qur’an in Arabic with perfect accuracy.”
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. It was in India that he completed his famous translation, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran.
Pickthall is buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey.