Muhammad Marmaduke William Pickthall (ra) 1875-1936 CE) was a great British Muslim and the author of one of the most popular translations of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an into English. His translation of the meanings of the glorious Qur’an into English was be the first such translation to gain authorization from the great Al-Azhar university in Cairo. After a long held love of Islam Muhammad Marmaduke declared his Shahada (declaration of Islamic faith) in 1917 CE, in front of the Muslim Literary Society in London. Born in Suffolk to middle class parents, his father was the Reverend Charles Grayson, an Anglican priest.
Muhammad Marmaduke grew up in London and suffered from ill health as a child. He studied at Harrow School and gained a love of languages, in Wales he would learn Welsh and Gaelic in Ireland. Hoping to learn Arabic he traveled to Palestine sought work with the British there whilst he was still only seventeen years old. During his time in the Middle East he saw a joyousness amongst the Muslims that he had never seen amongst the Christians of Europe, he also saw in Islam values that he knew many British Christians had been striving towards but failing to reach over the years.
Furthermore he loved the freedom and beauty of the life he saw and lived in the Middle East, a life that at that time still could remind him of the Tales of the Arabian Nights that he had read as a child or the stories of the Bible that he also learned in that early part of his life, but even as a Christian he came to dislike the petty and sectarian Christian Missionaries who had started to swarm through those areas of the Middle East where they were able. Thus a young man he traveled through many lands and eventually he became known as a learned writer on Middle-Eastern things. He particularly loved the Ottoman society and he had a deep fascination with Islam and this was reflected in his writings.
Sadly with the troubles of World War One a propaganda campaign was launched in the UK against the Ottomans (and Islam). Muhammad Marmaduke tirelessly defended the Turks with his pen, however, he supported the British against the Germans and declared he was ready to be a combatant so long as he did not have to fight the Turks.
In 1920 CE Muhammad Marmaduke went to India and became the editor of the Bombay Chronicle. He was a good hearted man and gave much in charity but hid his giving from others. He would not return to England until the year before his passing. He is buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood, Surrey.