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M. Pickthall

His obituary and report of funeral in The Islamic Review
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Marmaduke Pickthall — His obituary and report of funeral in The Islamic Review

Reproduced below is the text of the obituary of Marmaduke Pickthall as published in The Islamic Review, August 1936, pages 298–300. The full issue of The Islamic Review can be read online at this link.



When our dear old friend Al-Farooque Lord Headley left us to mourn his death a year ago, we could hardly think that we would have to sustain another and a similar loss to our English Muslim fraternity in so short a time. But such was the Will of Allah. Maulvi Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, the Editor of Islamic Culture, published from Hyderabad, and the renowned translator of the Holy Quran into English, died of heart failure at 11 a.m., on the 19th May, at St. Ives, Cornwall.

The son of Rev. Charles Pickthall, Rector of Chillesford, Suffolk, he was born on April 7th, 1875, and was educated at Harrow. Owing to his long residence in the Near Eastern countries, he had an intimate knowledge of the Muslim life and of the Arabic language long before he declared his faith in Islam in the year 1918. Before his joining the Brotherhood he was a well-known figure in England as an authority on Eastern questions and as a successful novelist. Among his novels, numbering a dozen and a half, “Said The Fisherman” is a book as widely known as any successful publication.

Since his adoption of Islam, he became an asset to the Islamic Movement in England with its headquarters at the Mosque at Woking. For a considerable time he acted as the Editor of the Islamic Review, and during the absence of the late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din officiated as Imam at the London Muslim Prayer House, and conducted the Tarawih Prayers there during the Ramadan, and finally led the Eid-ul-Fitr Prayers of the same year at the Mosque, Woking.

Gradually he conceived the idea of performing a more substantial task in the cause of Islam. He wanted to translate the Holy Quran into the English language. He was an Englishman himself, and he knew the difficulties of an Englishman in understanding the Quran. For this, however, he needed leisure and patronage which he ultimately obtained in India while in the service of His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad. He was given an appointment in the Nizam’s Educational Service, and was allowed a long leave, when on the completion of the translation he wanted to have it revised in consultation with the recognized Ulema of Egypt. That his virtuous efforts have borne the expected fruits will be admitted by anyone who has a glance at The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, published by Alfred A. Knoff. But, apart from this standing service in the Cause of Islam, he has been editing all the while an Islamic cultural quarterly from Hyderabad, The Islamic Culture. It is one of the most successful Muslim Journals published in English in India. We only hope that it will continue in its grandeur and dignity and stand as a living memorial to the name of its founder together with his English translation of the Holy Quran. If we remember aright, in the course of his recent conversation with us he spoke to us about a new version of his Translation with slight alterations and with the Arabic Text attached to it. As yet we have not been able to ascertain its fate. We only hope his death will in no way hinder its publication.

The mortal remains of the deceased were brought to Brookwood Cemetery on the morning of Friday, the 22nd May, but the burial had to be postponed till the next morning, to enable the Brotherhood to attend the funeral.

The Salat-ul-Janaza was well attended, the mourners including members of the family, and some English friends of the deceased like Dr. F. Krenkow of Cambridge University. The Imam of the Mosque, Woking, with his whole Staff was present. It was he who led the Salat-ul-Janaza. At about 11-30 a.m., the body was lowered into the grave, leaving a deep sense of loss in the minds of the mourners.

Thus lies buried in the Muslim Cemetery at Brookwood with some other notabilities of the English Muslim Fraternity — like Haroun Mustafa Leon and Al-Farooque Lord Headley —this great English Muslim, the son of a clergyman.

Nothing remains for us now but to submit to the decree of Allah and to send our heartfelt condolence to the widow of the deceased, and the other members of the family. Great was he in life and great is he in death. May Allah shower His choicest blessings on his soul, and may He allow His inspiration to arouse a similar soul in the Islam of the British Isles!

Pickthall links:


Woking connections

Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din

Maulana Muhammad Ali


Quran translation

Obituary in The Islamic Review


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