Friday, February 9, 2007

Dr T B Irving-Frontier for Latino Dawah in USA

Dr. Irving was once a fixture at Muslim conventions. I met him and was sincerely moved by his professional presentation at one of our PIEDAD lectures on Mudejar Art in Latino America. He was inspireing when chatting about Andalusia and how my roots were Hispanic even before birth. He pushed me to lecture and socialize among Latinos and other Muslims. He gave me his braveheart to do outreach inspite of what my Id told me. Al hamdulilah he was my teacher and I am forever greatful of the times I met him or read his books. Allah grant him paradise.

This author, professor, and translator of the first American English translationof the Quran who accepted Islam over 50 years ago passed away peacefully on the morning of September 24, 2002 in his Mississippi home. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Few Muslim publications or media know about his death or published anything about his condition while he was sick. We need to remember our scholars. We need to be there for them with our concern, our Dua's and our good wishes, especially in the last moments of their lives. Warmly , Khadijah Rivera


The state of this translator of the Quran can remind us of Yusuf Ali, another Muslim whose translation of the Quran into English is world renown. Yusuf Ali did not need money to take care of himself. But when he passed away on a cold London night about 50 years ago, he was sick and alone. The Muslim community only came to know later about his death.

Some background on Dr. Irving It was Muslim "stubbornness" which eventually led the Canadian Quran translator and writer Thomas Ballantyne (T.B.) Irving to Islam. "I remember especially a missionary returned from India stating how the 'Mohometans' (Muslims) were so obdurate in adhering to their religion; that was my first encounter with Islam, and it aroused an unconscious admiration in me for their steadfastness to their faith and a desire to know more about these 'wicked' people," he recounted in the book "Islam: Our Choice", a collection of interviews with Muslims who have converted to the faith. T.B. Irving later became one of these "obdurate" people, choosing the name Al Hajj Ta'lim Ali Abu Nasr.

Born in Preston, Ontario in 1914, this professor, writer, translator and activist is best known for his translation of the Quran entitled, The Quran: First American Version (1985). The work is an attempt to make the English translation of the Quran more readable to an audience not used to the old style of English common in most translations. Irving was particularly concerned about making the Quran accessibleto Muslim youth in North America."A new generation of English-speaking Muslims has grown up in North America which must use our scripture differently than their fathers would have done. Their thinking roots have become distinct on a new continent without the familiar use of our holy tongue, and a great difference has developed between their customs and their ancestral faith," he wrote in the introduction of his translation, entitled, The Qur'an: The Noble Reading.The cover of the 1993 edition of this translation features a photograph of the dome of the Great Umayyad Masjid of Cordoba, Spain. This provides a hint at another passion of his: Muslim Spain. Irving was considered a leading expert on the Arab-Islamic period in Spanish history, especially with his book 'Falcon of Spain"'. This was astudy of Spain under Muslim rule, with a special emphasis on the Umayyad ruler AbdurRahman I, who Irving considered a "great statesman". Irving's other books in English include: Growing Up In Islam; The Quran: Basic Teachings, which he co-authored with Dr. Khurshid Ahmadand Muhammad Manazir Ahsan; Had You Been Born a Muslim; Religion andSocial Responsibility; Tide of Islam; Islam Resurgent; Islam in its Essence; Polished Jade; Stories of Kalil and Dimna; The Mayas Own Words, as well as various articles on Central American Literature.In Spanish, Irving wrote Cautiverio Babilónico en Andalusía, Nacido como Musulmán, and El Poema de José In addition, he wrote a number of other articles and essays publishedin various journals. Irving learned and taught at a diverse list of universities fromacross the continent, including McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Princeton University in New Jersey, University of San Carlosin Guatemala, University of Minneapolis, and the University ofTennessee, from which he retired as a professor of Spanish and Arabic in 1980. Source Following retirement, he served as the dean of the American Islamic College in Chicago between 1981-1986. It was during his time there that he published his translation of the Quran. His service to Islam as a writer was noticed by the Pakistani government, who rewarded him the Sitara-e-Imtiaz award (Star ofExcellence) for service to Islam in 1983. Dr. Irving's last years Dr. Irving's son, Nicholas, moved from Guatemala to take care of his father. While Dr. Irving did not need monetary or medical help, he would have appreciated hearing from Muslims, especially those who benefited from his work as a writer and scholar. Although he could not talk and could only eat with the help of a feeding machine, he was conscious. I visited him last year, while he was in a nursing home. Standing next to his bed, I felt each time I said Shahadah (the Islamic declaration of faith), he moved as though he was trying to respond to it. May Allah forgive him and grant him Paradise for his contributions to humanity.

Bism Rabbik's footnote:

As a personal friend of Dr. Irving, I feel a great loss and sadness, and will miss him. We have worked together over the years to establish Islam in the Spanish-speaking community. He has written other books not mentioned above, primarily text books, which he has placed in our possession for translation into Spanish. Over time, inshallah, we will translate and publish those books....... Carl Askia El-Amin, Executive Director

Source: Islamic forum at "gawaher"--------------------------------

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