News is circulating about the passing on of Muhtar Holland who was one of the great translators of Arabic of this age. I have just got off a telephone call with Ruslan Moore, the owner of al-Baz Publishing who publish the translations of Sheikh Muhtar’s translations of the works of Sheikh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani. Ruslan Moore has confirmed to me that Sheikh Muhtar passed onto the realm of his Lord at 1pm today (EST) at his family home in New Jersey, USA. He was with his family and his wife, Noor Aisha, was at his bedside when he passed away. Sheikh Muhtar had been a long term sufferer of diabetes and was on insulin for the last couple of years of his life. Unfortunately he went on to develop pancreatic cancer which had spread to his liver, where there was also a tumour. His condition had deteriorated in the last ten difficult days which then resulted in his journey to the Divine presence.
Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. It is indeed sad news and a great loss to Muslims in the west who have benefited immensely from Sidi Muhtar’s devotion to the translation of traditional material. He was considered by many as the Sultan of the Translators. My first introduction to Sidi Muhtar was in the early 90s, with his translation of Imam Ghazali’s “Duties of Brotherhood”. Some years later, I was contacted by Ruslan Moore who is the owner of al-Baz Publishers to help promote Sidi Muhtar’s translations of Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani’s works, which I was honoured and excited to assist with. I was also honoured and blessed to have been able to proofread some of the earlier translation manuscripts even though I didn’t feel worthy of the task. Unfortunately I had never met him in person, and was someone that I dearly wished to have met.
Sheikh Nuh Keller referred to him as a “translator’s translator” such was his standing amongst the people of this craft; he was a giant of a translator, a Sultan.
In my conversation with his publisher, I was told that Sidi Muhtar had completed part of Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani’s Safinat al-Qadiriyya, this was to be his next publication and was then going to start on Sheikh Abdal Qadir Jilani’s Tafsir of the Qur’an, some of which he had started. Sidi Muhtar had also recently completed the entire Ihya Ulum ad-Din of Imam al-Ghazali for the publisher Fons Vitae and just goes to show the level of devotion and barakah that he had in his craft.
Words cannot express the loss, whilst we grieve for Sidi Muhtar, we are in fact grieving for ourselves and our loss, for someone like sidi Muhtar has, through his life and work, loaded his scales in his favour and when such a person passes on, the losers are the ones he leaves behind; he was one of the awliya.
You can read a little bit about him and his translations here http://www.al-baz.com/translator.shtml
The publishers have since updated their website and have included an “in memoriam” by owner and long-time friend of Sidi Muhtar, Ruslan Moore – http://www.al-baz.com/memoriam.shtml
note: photos taken from the al-Baz website.