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Arabic translation and typesetting project in Egypt

Report by Sister Samina

See photographs of the visit to Egypt.

For sometime we have felt the need to have our literature translated into Arabic, as Arab Muslims generally want to read Islamic literature in the Arabic language. Several Arab Muslims had especially urged us to translate the English Tafsir of the Holy Quran into Arabic as no work such as this existed in Arabic. They also want to read Hazrat Mirza Sahibís Arabic books so as to know his claims first hand. For this reason I went to Egypt to make arrangements for translating our literature into Arabic, and to get Hazrat Mirza Sahibís books typeset into Arabic.

I arrived in Cairo on September 25, 1999. The next day I met with brother Ashraf Salah and his sister-in-law, sister Himmat. Brother Salah had contacted us several weeks ago and requested to put our articles on his web page about Islamic resources. They very graciously invited me to their home for lunch. We discussed about translation and typesetting.

After two days of searching for a translator, by the Grace of Almighty Allah, I managed to find brother Salauddin, a very prominent businessman. I was very impressed by his sincerity, open mindedness and devotion to Islam. He arranged for me to meet Dr. Abdulzaher Ali Hassan a retired Professor of Linguistics in Cairo University. Dr. Hassan was currently working as a translator. We had a long meeting in which we decided that he should translate the Introduction, Footnotes, and Index of the English Holy Quran into Arabic. This would be followed by translation of our other books. By the Grace of Almighty Allah, Dr. Hassan had started the translation by the time I left Egypt.

In the meantime sister Himmat introduced me to sister Randa Zulficar who is a translator in Cairo. I met with her in the hotel for a few hours. She had very good qualifications, and I gave her the book, Muhammad the Prophet to translate. She also arranged for me to meet her cousin brother Mehmood who works in a famous Arabic news paper. Brother Mehmood was willing to key in our Arabic books. Brother Mehmood is a twenty seven year old young man who impressed me as very intelligent and hard working.

I also went to Al-Azhar Univesity Library and Translation Dept. On my first visit I was alone, and without knowing Arabic I had difficulty in finding my way around. When I managed to find the University Library and Translation Dept, they had closed for the day. I returned several days later with brother Mehmood to the old section of the Library. There we met a young student from Nigeria who was studying Islamic Law in Al-Azhar, and he volunteered to show us around. I was interested in seeing the Arabic translation of the Religion of Islam which had been done at Al-Azhar in 1951. After two hours of searching, we could find only two books by Maulana Muhammad Ali which were the English Religion of Islam and Manual of Hadith. Both copies were torn and in a very bad condition. I went to the Librarian incharge, and told her that I would send a new set of all of Maulana Muhammad Aliís books for the Library. She was very happy, but told me not to send one but five.

From there we went to the new Library which had been built only a few years ago. There was very heavy security in the Library and it was with great difficulty that we managed to get in. I requested the officer incharge to do a computer search for the Religion of Islam in Arabic. After some time he managed to get a reference number for the book, but said that he was not authorized to give us the printout. But I managed to persuade him to give me the printout.

I then went upstairs to find somebody who could help me to get the book. I opened a door, and saw a very pious looking elderly gentleman sitting at a desk in a large and very well appointed office. I approached him with the translator and explained my reason for coming to Egypt and the Al-Azhar Library. He listened very kindly to me and said that he would do his best to help me. I found out that he was the chief Librarian Dr. Khalifa Muhammad. He sent one of his staff to get the book. He phoned a friend of his, Dr. Shalabi, who spoke very good English and gave the phone to me. When I asked Dr. Shalabi if he knew about the Religion of Islam, he replied "You mean the great scholar Lahori"? I replied yes. He said that he had both the English and Arabic edition but he would never part with them. Dr. Shalabi gave me a list of bookstores to inquire about the book.

Dr. Khalifa phoned almost ten bookstores but they did not have the book as it was out of print. In the meantime the staff member came down with the book, and I was able to examine it. It consisted of the first two parts only. I was told that the translator died before he could translate Part Three. Dr. Khalifa very kindly had a bound photocopy of the book made for me.

Dr. Khalifa knew that I was an Ahmadi and that Maulana Muhammad Ali was the first head of our Jamaat and he looked at Hazrat Mirza Sahibís Arabic books which I had with me. He helped very much; this shows that he did not have any ill-will for the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement.

Dr. Khalifa said that I was a visitor to Egypt and therefore his guest, and he invited me for lunch. However I declined because of other commitments. He said that next time I should come and meet his family.

The next day Sister Randa took me to Al-Azhar Mosque for Jummah prayers. There were at least two thousand people in the Mosque. I was very impressed with the Mosque which was built in 900 A.D. On Saturday October 2nd I returned to the USA.

I thank Almighty Allah for a very fruitful trip in that so much was accomplished in such a short time. Some years ago when I was sitting with the late Hazrat Ameer Dr. Saeed Ahmad he had told me that the Arabic Religion of Islam was in Al-Azhar, and it was very important to spread Hazrat Mirza Sahibís Arabic books among the Arabic speaking people. May Allah Taala bring about a fulfilment of his wishes.

See photographs of the visit to Egypt.
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