A Comparative Study of the Holy Qur’ān’s English Translations by Muhammad Ali and Shakir: Plagiarism or Revision?



The present article aims at comparing the Holy Qur’ān’s English translations by Maulana Muhammad Ali (1917) and M. Habib Shakir (1980). Shakir was a Pakistani merchant and Muhammad Ali was a scholar of the Qadiani sect. The logic behind the selection of their works was their irrefutable similarity. The main question is whether we can label Shakir’s work a revision of Muhammad Ali’s or not. The other issue was to identify the percentage of such a similarity. Since the possibility of detecting major differences between the two works was stronger in the selection of equivalents for culture-bound items, and more specifically, for religious-specific concepts, such terms were first extracted from the entire chapters of the Holy Qur’ān and the equivalents adopted by the two translators were identified. It was finally revealed that Shakir has employed more than 80% of the religious-specific terms being selected previously by Muhammad Ali. The similarities were not, of course, limited to RSTs. Even a cursory glance at some Surahs will reveal the indisputable similarity of the two works at various levels, from words to phases, sentences, Signs or even, the entire Surahs. In some research papers, the authors may erroneously consider Shakir’s work as an original one and make no mention of Muhammad Ali’s. Shakir’s work should neither be considered a plagiarism, nor an independent translation: it is merely a revision.


Maulana Muhammad Ali, M. Habib Shakir, the Holy Qur’ān’s English translations, comparative study

Author Biographies

Mahmoud Afrouz, University of Isfahan

Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran;

Hussein Mollanazar, Allameh Tabataba’i University

Associate Professor, Department of English Translation Studies, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran;



How to Cite

Afrouz, M., & Mollanazar, H. (2018). A Comparative Study of the Holy Qur’ān’s English Translations by Muhammad Ali and Shakir: Plagiarism or Revision?. Iranian Journal of Translation Studies, 16(61), 51–68. Retrieved from https://journal.translationstudies.ir/ts/article/view/610



Academic Research Paper

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