Thomas Ballantyne Irving
(Talim Ali)(1914 – 2002)
Professor, writer, translator, and activist best known for his translation of the Qur'an: First American Version (1985). The work is an attempt to make the English translation of the Qur'an more readable to an audience not used to the old style of English common in most translations.
Irving was particularly concerned about making the Qur'an accessible to Muslim youth in North America."A new generation of English-speaking Muslims has grown up in North America which must use our scripture differently than their fathers would have done. Their thinking roots have become distinct on a new continent without the familiar use of our holy tongue, and a great difference has developed between their customs and their ancestral faith," he wrote in the introduction of his translation of The Qur'an, entitled "The Noble Reading".The cover of the 1993 edition of this translation features a photograph of the dome of the Great Umayyad Mosque of Cordoba, Spain. This provides a hint at another passion of his: Muslim Spain.
Dr. Irving who accepted Islam in 1950s and took the name Al Hajj Ta’lim Nasr learned and taught at universities across Canada and America and retired as a professor of Spanish and Arabic in 1980. He then served as the dean of the American Islamic College,Chicago (1981 – 1986).
Irving authored a number of books and was considered a leading expert on the Arab-Islamic period in Spanish history with his book "Falcon Spain". This was a Spain under Muslim rule, with a special emphasis on the Umayyad ruler, Abd al- Rahman I, who Irving considered a "great statesman". Irving's other books in English include: Growing Up In Islam; The Qur'an: Basic Teachings, which he co-authored with Dr. Khurshid Ahmad and Muhammad Manazir Ahsan; Had You Been Born a Muslim; Religion and Social Responsibility; Tide of Islam; Islam Resurgent; Islam in its Essence; Polished Jade; Stories of Kalil and Dimna; The Mayas Own Words, as well as various articles on Central American Literature. In Spanish,Irving wrote Cautiverio Babilónico en Andalusía, Nacidocomo Musulmán, and El Poema de José.In addition, he wrote a number of other articles and essays published in various journals.
Irving was awarded Pakistan’s Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award (Star of Excellence), in 1983, for his services to Islam.
Thomas Ballantyne Irving died in his Mississippi home suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.