Mykhaylo Yakubovych

Published On


Page Range

pp. 55–88


  • English

Print Length

34 pages

3. The Hilālī-Khān Translation

The First Interpretation of the Qur’an in a Foreign Language by Saudi Scholars

Chapter Three, ‘The Hilali-Khan Translation: The First Interpretation of the Qur’an in a Foreign Language by Saudi Scholars’, provides the first comprehensive study of the textual history of this influential Qur’an translation into English―one which was first published in the USA in 1977 and prepared by scholars affiliated with the Islamic University of Madinah at the time. The Hilali-Khan translation provides a good illustration of how the original text of Qur’an translations can be subject to significant change in later editions, sometimes to the extent of completely changing the original and introducing new meanings that bear the hallmarks of a Salafi interpretation of the Qur’an. The Hilali-Khan translation (particularly the later editions published by Darussalam and the King Fahd Complex Glorious Qur’an Printing Complex) has also paved the way for a growing trend of ‘tafsīrisation’ of translation, the idea that the core meanings of the Qur’an will not be understood ‘properly’ by the reader if it is not supplemented by the ‘correct’ (in its Salafi or mainstream-Sunni sense) classical interpretation. This approach demonstrates the way that, in general, the Muslim tradition tends to view translation as a kind of commentary, seeing the translator (and also editor and publisher) as interpreters with the religious authority to undertake exegesis.


Mykhaylo Yakubovych


Mykhaylo Yakubovych (born 1986 in Ostroh, Ukraine) obtained his PhD in 2011 from The National University of Ostroh Academy with a study on interreligous relations in medieval Sunni traditionalism. Currently a member of the research team on the ERC-funded project ‘GloQur—The Global Qur’an’ (University of Freiburg, Germany), he studies Qur’an translations produced by international institutions and publishers, with a focus on Central Asian and Eastern European languages. He is the author of an annotated translation of the Qur’an into Ukrainian (first published in 2013), along with several books and translations from Arabic, and many research articles published in academic journals from the UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. Yakubovych has conducted several academic projects on the Islamic manuscript heritage, including the post-classical intellectual history of the Crimean Khanate (at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, USA) and sixteenth-seventeenth century Qur’an interpretations produced by Lithuanian Tatars (at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland).