Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali

Taqi ud-Din al-Hilali
Born 1893
Died June 22, 1987
Era Modern era
Region North Africa
School Zahiri[1]

Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din bin Abdil-Qadir Al-Hilali, was a 20th-century Islamic scholar from Morocco, most notable for his English translations of Sahih Bukhari and, along with Muhammad Muhsin Khan, the Qur'an, entitled The Noble Qur'an. In addition to Arabic and English, he was also fluent in German, and both traveled and taught in India, Europe and the Middle East.


Early life and education

Hilali was born in Rissani, Morocco, near the oasis of Tafilalt in a valley near Sajalmasah. His birth year according to the Islamic calendar was 1311,[2] coressponding to 1893 on the Gregorian calendar.[3] name Hilali's grandfather moved to Al-Fidah from Kairouan in Tunisia many years before his birth. Hilali belongs to the family of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Hilali memorized the Qur'an by heart when he was twelve years old, making him a Hafiz. When he first delved into Islamic studies, Hilali was a Sufi of the Tijaniyyah Order. After his religious studies, Hilali took the view that Sufism in general and the Tijani order in particular were far from orthodox Sunni practice due to superstitious and even polythesitic beliefs.[3] He began to speak out against the group in Morocco, for which he was persecuted and assaulted multiple times.[4][5][6]

In his twenties, Hilali moved to Algeria in order to study Muslim Jurisprudence, moving on to Egypt in 1922. While there, Hilali enrolled in Al-Azhar University only to drop out after being disappointed with the curriculum. Instead, Hilali spent time under the tutelage of Rashid Rida,[7][8] then returned to Morocco that same year to finish his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of al-Karaouine. Responding to a call by Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna for Muslim intellectuals of Morocco to share ideas with those elsewhere, Hilali wrote a number of letters to the organization's magazine which were intercepted by authorities of the French colonial empire. Arrested and held for three days without charge, Hilali's release was secured and he fled Morocco. Shortly after he escaped the country, he was sentenced to death in absentia for subversive activity against the French protectorate of Morocco.

In Asia and Europe

After performing the pilgrimage to Mecca, Hilali moved to India in order to pursue Hadith studies. While there, he worked as head of Arabic studies at Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow. After completing his study in India, Hilali spent three years in Iraq before being personally invited by first King of Saudi Arabia Ibn Saud to teach in the Muslim holy land. Hilali taught and led the prayer in Medina at Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Islam's second holiest site, for two years and taught in Mecca at Masjid al-Haram, Islam's most holy site, for one more year.

After finishing his duration of teaching in Mecca, Hilali enrolled in Baghdad University; he also served as an assistant professor while there. Hilali returned briefly to India for a second time, and enrolled in the University of Lucknow as both a student and a teacher, the most prominent of his own being Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadwi. Shakib Arslan, who was a close friend of Hilali,[8] went through a contact at the German Foreign Office and helped Hilali enroll (again, both as a student and a teacher) at the University of Bonn.[9] He transferred to Humboldt University of Berlin, where he earned his doctoral degree in Arabic literature in 1940.

Return to Morocco, then Iraq, then Morocco, then Saudi Arabia, then Morocco

Toward the end of World War II, Hilali left Germany for French Morocco, which was rocked with calls for independence. He returned to Iraq in 1947, once again taking up a teaching position at the university in Baghdad. After the 14 July Revolution, Hilali returned to a now-independent Kingdom of Morocco one more time. He was appointed to a teaching position at Mohammed V University in Rabat in 1959 and later at a branch in Fes.[8] In 1968, Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz wrote to Hilali requesting that he take up a teaching position at Islamic University of Madinah, of which Bin Baz was the president. Hilali accepted, living in Saudi Arabia for one more time between 1968 and 1974.

In 1974, Hilali permanently retired from teaching, moving to Meknes initially and later to Casablanca, where he owned a house. Hilali died on the 25th of Shawal in the year 1408AH,[2] corresponding to June 22, 1987 Gregorian.[10] He was buried in the neighborhood of Sbata.


Views on Hilali within the Muslim world itself - specifically within Sunni Islam- have been positive. Algerian national hero Abdelhamid Ben Badis in particular considered Hilali to be one of the most knowledgeable Muslim clerics of their era.[1]

Hilali was not without critics, especially Western analysts due to his translation of the Qur'an. Western Muslim academics Khaled Abou El Fadl, Khaleel Mohammed and Sheila Musaji criticized Hilali's translation of the Qur'an as bearing an extremely conservative slant.[11][12][13]


Hilali worked with Muhammad Muhsin Khan in the English translation of the meanings of the Qur'an and Sahih Al-Bukhari. Their translation of the Qur'an has been described as ambitious, incorporating commentary from Tafsir al-Tabari, Tafsir ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qurtubi and Sahih al-Bukhari,[14] all considered canonical works in Sunni Islam.

Hilali also translated the book al-Lulu wa al-Marjan to English during the period of his stay at the Islamic University of Madinah.

Personal life

Hilali was an adherent of the Zahirite school of Islamic law according to his children and students. Administrators of his website edited his biography to remove all references to his adherence to the school, with which modern-day Zahirites took issue.[1]

See also


External links

  • Al-Hilali website (Arabic)
  • Biography of Al-Hilali
  • LibraryThing

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