The underlying esoteric Ismaili doctrine in Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Quran
Keywords:Quran translation, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, esotericism, Ismaili Bohra doctrine, ta'wil
Some researchers have identified doctrinal errors in Yusuf Ali's translation of, and commentary on, the Holy Quran. Ali's unconventional views have been attributed mainly to secondary reasons that do not fully account for his consistent departure from mainstream Islamic views on several issues such as prophethood, revelation and eschatology. It was hypothesized that Ali's Bohra affiliation informed his choices in the work under scrutiny. The interpretative qualitative approach is used. Select Ismaili/Bohra doctrines are used as a frame of reference. Representative examples of these doctrines were purposively identified in several suras (chapters) in Ali's work and examined for consistency. The extracted examples were analyzed in light of the selected Bohra doctrines. Results show that Ali's work is based on the esoteric Ismaili/Bohra doctrine and departs from mainstream Quranic exegesis he claimed to have relied on. The study further finds that Ali's work belongs to the ta'wil (interpretation) genre of Ismaili literature. At best, Ali's work needs to be thoroughly revised and expurgated of the esoteric content in future editions.
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