The Story Behind Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s Translation

If you have read a copy of the Qur’an and accessed Sahih al-Bukhari in English, chances are that they were translated by him.

Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, the renowned co-translator of the Qur’an and the first translator of Sahih Al-Bukhari into English passed away to the mercy of his Lord on Wednesday 14 July 2021 in Madinah, Saudi Arabia at the age of 97, may Allah have mercy upon him. His funeral prayer was prayed in Masjid an-Nabawi after Fajr on Thursday, 15 July, 2021 and he was buried in Al-Baqi’ cemetery.

What a beautiful and fitting culmination to a lifetime spent serving Islam!

Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan worked in the city of Taif in the Ministry of Health, in the newly formed Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the Director of El-Sadad Hospital for the Chest Diseases for fifteen years. From there he moved to Madinah, where he worked as Chief of the Department of Chest Diseases in the King’s Hospital, and later as the Director Clinics at the Islamic University of Madinah.

Dr. Yasir Qadhi narrates the story of Dr. Muhsin’s journey of translating the Noble Qu’ran and Sahih al-Bukhari:

“In Madinah, he saw the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in a very vivid dream; he asked Shaykh Ibn Baaz (Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia) who was the Rector of the University, the interpretation of that dream, and the Shaykh replied that his dream meant he would somehow benefit the Sunnah. Dr. Muhsin remarked, “I was shocked – I was no scholar and my training was in medicine. I didn’t know how I could benefit the Sunnah until I realized that I was fluent in English and the most important works had not yet been translated into the English language.” He, therefore, decided to dedicate his life to translate what he could.”

Since he was not an Islamic scholar, Shaykh Bin Baz assigned Shaykh Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali to collaborate with Dr. Muhsin on the task. Shaykh al-Hilali was an Islamic scholar from Morocco and from the first batch of scholars who studied Islamic Studies in the West, having completed his Ph.D. in Germany under Nazi rule.

Together, Dr. Muhsin and Shaykh al-Hilali embarked on the translation of the Quran which was published by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran, which is said to produce ten million copies of the Quran every year. Their English translation ‘Interpretation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur’an’ is also referred to as the Hilali–Khan translation. After this, Dr. Muhsin continued onwards to translate the Sahih al-Bukhari on his own.

May Allah have mercy on Dr. Muḥammad Muḥsin Khan, raise his ranks, accept his works and admit him to the highest stations in Jannah. His passing away is a loss for the entire Ummah. May Allah enable us to raise righteous generations who will inherit and further his pioneering legacy and the benefit he brought to millions of Muslims.

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