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.


May Allah(SWT) light his grave with nur(light) and shower him with His forgiveness and mercy. May the legacy of our scholars remain! Ameen.



May Allah SWT unite us with him in the highest levels of Jannah. Ameen.



We have a poet in our literature "Yunus" who had lived in Turkey around 12th-13th century.In one of his poems he finishes with below sentences that can be translatated as follows:Let them say a stranger passed away,Let them hear 40 days after his deathLet them wash him with cold waterA stranger, like me Yunus.We hear the news of our friends ... only after they die ... only the news of their death.I wish forgiveness for that man who translated Quran that I learnt his translation upon his death.WesselamSerhat Toksoz


Istanbul - Turkey

It is with deep regret and my sincere sympathy for the friends and family of Dr Irving that I hear of the loss of another scholar of Islam. Unfortunately I only now have become aware that Dr. Irving was indeed a Muslim. As a rule of thumb, I have always held with suspicion any translation of the Qur'an that I could buy in a major book store and Dr. Irving's translation fell into that category, also I don't belief that I have ever seen it in a Muslim bookstore ( maybe I just had the misfortune of being there when it was sold out). I have at least 7 or 8 different translations of the Qur'an and as a convert who has just marked his 10 anniversary of taking the Shahada it is with deep regrets that I now discover that this man was a Muslim and a scholar, I have just recently completed reading the Qur'an in Arabic for the first time but now I will have to seek out a copy of the good doctor's translation so that I may read his translation. May Allah continue to add to the good deeds of Dr. T B Irving through the works that he has left behind and may we derive benefit and guidance from the legacy of this and all scholars of IslamAmin


Milwaukee, WI

May Allah Almighty bless his soul with peace and solace and give the courage and strength to his family to bear this irrepairable loss. Aameen.The Muslim Ummah must show greater care towards its Scholars, Academics, Writers, Professors and all those who help to present the Real and True Image of Islam to others through their words and deeds in the present day's highly biased and self centered Western controlled and Jewish dominated Electronic and Print Medias.It is incumbant upon the so-called "Wealthy Muslim Countries of the AGCC" to evolve and establish a World Body of the Ummah which could attract Muslim Scolars from all parts of the world irrepsective of their National Origin, Age, Colour, Gender, Creed, Caste, Class, Status and backgournd and help to work towards the Muslim Unity as well as to counter the on-going Media Slaughter Campaign against the Muslims in general and Islam in particular sprearheaded by present US Administration at the behest of Strong Jewish Lobbies in and outside USA in the guise of the so-called "War on Terrorism"Wake up Muslim Leaders, Kings, Presidents and the Ruling Class of 60 plus Muslims countries of the world and lead the Ummah with courage, selflessness, dedication, faith and perseverance otherwise, you would become a part of history very soon like the Muslims in the ex great Ottomon Umpire.


St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

May Allah forgive and bless the soul of T.B. Irving. The example of his demise is an important reminder to all of us of the need to care for our learned men and women. It is an unfortunate illustration of how, as an ummah, we neglect our scholars and their role as the living link to our glorious tradition of knowledge and wisdom. I pray that Allah forgive us and help us to better value those whom He has blessed with knowledge.



Innaa Lillahi Wa Innaa Ileyhi Raji'un.He was a great scholar and contributor to the worthy cause for which he will be remembered for ever.May Allah give him the Jannatul Firdous Paradise and give his family, relatives and all of us the necessary patience to bear his departure.Amin.


Athens, Ohio

May Allah shower his soul with mercy and grant him highest place in paradise--aameen!I remember him very fondly as participant at MSA conventions and very sought after speaker at various islamic mtgs. Personally he was amoung the first muslim scholars from North America that I had a pleasure to meet in USA.



Surprisingly, it was recently that I first heard of Prof. Irving and his translation of the Qur'an into the kind of English easily understood by the Americans. This work of his is enduring and will easily keep him in our minds.For his contributions to Islam in this light and others, may the almighty Allah forgive him his sins and give him a deserved place in aljanah.


Lagos, Nigeria

T B Irving was a beacon of light. His life could be an ideal message for those who are yet to accept islam as final religion. Irving was Muslim by choice.


New Zealand


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