Dr. T.B. Irving passes away

Our brother, Dr. T.B. Irving has passed away. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun. To Allah we belong and to Him we return.

Dr. Irving was once a fixture at Muslim conventions. This author, professor, and translator of the first American English translation of 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 and our good wishes, especially in the last moments of their lives.

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 roused 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 accessible to 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 Mosque 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 a study 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 Ahmad and Muhammad Manazir Ahsan; Had You Been Born a Muslim; Religion and Social 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 published in various journals.

Irving learned and taught at a diverse list of universities from across the continent, including McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Princeton University in New Jersey, University of San Carlos in Guatemala, University of Minneapolis, and the University of Tennessee, from which he retired as a professor of Spanish and Arabic in 1980.

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 of Excellence) 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.


Alhamdulillah that he dead a muslim and left a legacy for us to remember him as a translator of the Holy Qur'an and other books on Islam.I pray that Allah forgive him his trespasses and reward him with al jannah.The ealier the better for us to always know of our brothers in faith on what is happening to them.Ma salaam.



I am deeply saddened by the demise of Prof TB Irving. To God we belong, and to Him is our return. May the Allmighty bless his soul.Peace!



Assalam Alaikum I too was moved and sad that such a great scholar was all alone at the time he most needed us. At the same time i strongly felt that the article was too late. Public should have been informed while he was alive. No matter how sorry we feel now, we cant be of any help. yes but we definitely can pray for him which i did and will.In the future we allwould appreciate of such a situation before its too late.Jazakallah khair



Assalamu Alikum,we feel guilty ..We should have visited him..helped him..He did a noble job..so we are able to understan AlQuran...May Almighty Allah bless him.jazakallu k'airan



Assalam Alaikum. May Allah the Almighty have mercy on Dr. T.B. Irving and give him Firdaus. May Allah reward you for writing and caring about him. I feel heartbroken to know he was so alone and helpless at the end, and that he would have welcomed correspondence. His work aided me greatly when I was researching the history of Muslim Spain for the radio series,"The Lights of Al-Andalus" which was broadcast for several years by the Saudi Broadcasting System, English Service. I know I mentioned his name many times during the course of writing about Muslim Spain, which is a natural subject of interest to converts to Islam. Thank you so much for your service to Islam.



As Salaamu Alaikum. May Allah reward this outstanding servant of His for the Humble and far-reaching work that he did in his service to Allah. And may He reward you for keeping us informed on this and other important matters.


Atlanta, Georgia

Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah;May Allah Ta'Ala grant him forgiveness & mercy. Not seeking worldly praise is a noble trait, I'm not that familiar with much of Al-Hajj Ta'lim Ali's [rahimahullah] works but I do know he made the effort to reach the West with the Dawah to Allah, our Prophet [sallallahu alahi wa salam] and the Deen of Islam. May Allah Ta'Ala reward him for his efforts, Ameen.



May the Almighty Allah (swt) grant the promised Jennah to this great scholar whose Islam was by choice. May his works continue to earn him the reward even in the hereafter.


Saudi Arabia

Maasha'Allah, what a man! Indeed may Allah (SWT)forgive his sins, reward him for al he has done for the Religion of Allah (SWT) and grant him Jannah. Ameen yaa Rabbil'Alameen



He was certainly a great manin that he influenced his contemporaries as well as left his imprints for the generations tocome.We would like to have a detailed profile of the great man for highlightinghis deeds and service in the Indian media. Will someone oblige. We are, Dr.Shaukat Ullah KhanInstitute of Objective Studies,162, JogaBai Extension,Jamia Nagar New Delhi 110025 Indiamanzoor@ndf.vsnl.net.in


New Delhi


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