Sad News on the Passing of a Great Translator

Muhtar Holland in the early days of al-Baz Publishing
Muhtar Holland in the early days of al-Baz Publishing

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.

Muhtar Holland a few weeks before his passing.
Muhtar Holland a few weeks before his passing.

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.

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7 thoughts on “Sad News on the Passing of a Great Translator”

  1. Innaa lilaahi wa innaa ilayhi raji’un!
    Innumerable individuals have benefited so much from his pen and his craftsmanship. May Allah give ease to his family! May Allah give ease to us who lost a valuable fellow brother! May Allah allow his sadaqa to ever weigh heavier in his scales, and may his sins and missteps be effaced!

  2. Bismillah Hirrahman Nirraheem,
    Dear Noor Aisha Sahiba and children,
    Assalamo alaikum wa rahmatullahay wa barakatu hu. I am extremly saddened upon hearing the news about passing of Respectable Muhtar Holland. Inna Lillahay Wa Inna Alahay Rajaoon. In Miami Chapter, of Jamat Ahmadiyya, we have many fond memories of Mr. Muhtar Holland. Especially now we miss him great deal, as Miami Boook Fair International is going to be held in Down Town Miami, where he displayed his translations. During the years 1995-1998 he used to frequently come to our Mosque, Baitun Naseer in South West Ranches, and share with us his love for Islam. It was fun afternoon of January, 1997 having picnic with Mr. Muhtar Holland in Tree Top Park, where his daughter used to go for horse riding.Forgive me for going on and on reminiscing
    about a devout muslim. May Allah Taala grant him the best place in His paradise. Ameen.
    Wassalam
    Abdul Basit

  3. salam,
    im a muslim from malaysia..
    this is the first time i know this man..really proud of his work for the spread of islam as a translator..may Allah bless his soul…ameen

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