Kanzul Iman, A Marvelous Translation Of The Quran By Imam Ahmad Raza Khan: Describing its Uniqueness And Artistic Beauties

By Muhammed Aslam Jaleel, WordForPeace.com


Interpretations and commentaries of the exegesists have been adequately provided for the better understanding of the sacred texts. Therefore, an innumerate amount of writings and pioneering literary works are very important in the new world order, where a significant amount of misinterpretations have been applied to legitimate terrorism in the name of Islam. In the course of Islamic history, the contribution of variety factions who were internalised in the Islamic world has left a most tragic picture of misinterpreted Qur’anic verses, in a brutal way.
kanzul-imanThe Quranic Tafseer of Hazrat Imam Raza khan, the renowned Islamic revivalist of the 14th century has imparted an authentic and credible commentary of the holy texts, while presenting it in an impure ambience. This widely accepted Urdu translation titled ‘Kanzul Iman ‘ has succeeded with greatest regard in resolving the aforesaid obstacles in the way we explain the Quran , with a unique demonstration of its inner Sufi meanings.
In what follows, this essay will tend to underscore the artistic elevation of Hazrat Imam Barelvi’s Kanzul Iman, one of the most explanatory translations of the Quran available in Urdu language, providing a clear-cut sketch of its literary prominence and superiority. And in particular, I would like to chart its uniqueness and attributes in receiving a good ground amongst the north Indian Sunni Muslims.



Quran is obviously a master model for a better religious guidance and moral teaching. The revelation of this sacred text itself proved to be a distinctive figure from the literary books, calling the community, who were deeply subscribed to worse vicissitudes and uncivilised practices, to the best human potentialities and the perfection in character building. Making reformative ambience in their living pattern, the divine texts, with its entire substance, formed a new challenging basis with its lessons it carried amidst the literary elites. Together with this, the translations and explanations for this scripture also occupy a prime position to this with high remarks which render the texts easily understandable . The scholarly works and contributions to this scholarly discourse of commentators are being utilised by the muslim community as a whole. However the misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the sacred texts have called the circumstances into the need for a necessary attention to these traditional translations, in particular, giving attention to its genuineness and authenticity. Kanzul Iman, the most read exegesis of Hazrat Imam Barelvi hold an effective stance among the traditionally held pluralist and beautiful interpretation of Quran .



Being one of the highly recognised translations of the holy Quran in the Muslim world, Kanzul Iman registered its distinctiveness with enormous features. Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza khan Barelvi, the author defined and described about the esoteric and exoteric meanings of each verses of Quran with its very aesthetics. Without happening any distortion for even a single word as per the traditional way of Tafseer, especially in explaining the divine names, he could give a fascinating rendition for the Quran with its very beauty and sacredness. It stands as one of the most received and genuine explanations for the Quran in Urdu. The Kanzul Iman has reached its voice in front of a vast community through its further translations into lot of other local and globally accredited dialects.


Kanzul Iman registered its stance as an outstanding and remarkable urdu paraphrase translation for the Quran by the renowned Islamic revivalist of the 14th century, Imam Ahmad Raza khan who is considered the ideologue of the Sufi - barelvi branch of Sunni Islam. This Urdu translation of Quran is precisely an explanatory translation. This explanatory translation of the holy Quran was completed in 1910. It is the most known, highly read and widely accepted Urdu translation among the global sunni community. The significant thing to be highlighted regarding this translation is, Ala Hazrat has tried to assign such meanings to the words of holy Quran that there may not be any contradiction between the meaning of the words, and that of the verses of the holy Quran . More over the other thing he has kept in his mind while translating the sacred texts is that such a meaning must be chosen in the way they may not slight the status and dignity of the Almighty and his prophets.



Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, also known as Ala’Hazrat , was an eminent Muslim scholar, ascetic, and reformer in British India. The Barelvi movement within Sunni Islam is attributed to him. Raza Khan wrote on numerous topics, including law, religion, philosophy and the sciences. He was a prolific writer, Mufti (jurist) producing nearly 1,000 works in his lifetime. Ahmed Raza Khan is regarded by his followers as Imam-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat (Leader of the Ahl-e-Sunnat) and Ala’Hazrat .Ahmed Raza Khan wrote several books on various topics in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, including Fatawa-e-Razvia|Fatawa Radawiyyah (30 volumes), which is a compilation of fatwas, and Kanzul Iman (translation of the Qur’an). Several of his books have been translated into other European and South Asian languages. His proficiency in various subjects was over fifty four branches of knowledge. And he has contributed valuable works in allmost all of them.


A true commentary of the Holy Qur’an requires a deep knowledge of Arabic grammar, semantics, lexicology, tradition, jurisprudence as well as numerous other branches of knowledge. Ala Hazrat Imam Raza khan was surely mastered in all the required branches of Islamic theology. Further more, the depth of the knowledge he possessed, which extends around more than fifty branches of knowledge can be read obviously from the works he had in each genre.


The highly read translation, Kanzul Iman provided a clear and true understanding for the revealed texts, removing the misinterpretations and false denominations espoused by different personalities during the period it reached the muslim society. The vicious mistake and distortion of the truthfulness and dignity that were crept in the course of time showed an imperative atmosphere for a real and factual explanation for the divine texts. Faced with these numerous critical and challenging circumstances, in demonstrating the divine laws and prophetic tradition, the muslim community was necessarily in need of a true translation of the Quran . Realising the problematic scenerio, disciplines of Ala Hazrat asked him for an obvious Tafseer work which could resolve these problems effectively. Though Raza khan paid no enough attention to this, the students decided that they would do the work which can be published in its serene beauty paying consideration to his dictation and rectification. However the authoring of the translation was finished and it was getting published later.



Many people have contributed enough to the translation and commentary – footnotes for the holy Quran in Urdu language, but the translation written by Ala Hazrat titled “Kanzul Iman” can be justified to be the most unique and widely read translation in the Urdu language which the muslim world has looked into ever. The methodology he used in doing make so, as to portray the esoteric and exoteric meanings of each verse, renders the translation to be the most distinguished and highly recognised. The uniqueness can be read easily from his explanations he given for the divine names and that of beloved prophet. One who go through it can identify that Ala Hazrat used only those words in his translation that are worthy of the Attributes and Qualities of Almighty Allah and of his Beloved prophet. The relevant thing to understand is that Kanzul Iman is not merely a lexicographical translation, instead it is also the commentary of the holy Quran . According to Hazrat sayyiduna Muhaddith e Azam Hind (R.A), in his words, “it is not only the translation of the Qur’an, it is the Qur’an”.
As we could watch it evidently throughout the translation, we shall exemplify one of the verse from the holy Qur’an that has been translated by enormous persons and compare it with the beautiful explanation of Ala Hazrat . For an example, here is 7th verse of chapter 93 as our :

(1) “And He found you lost on the way and He guided thee” ( translation by Mohammad Asad).
(2) “And found thee groping so He showed the way” (translation by Mohammad Ali Lahori) .
(3) ” And he found you uninformed of Islamic laws so He told you the way of Islamic Laws”( translation by Ashraf Ali Thanvi) .
(4) ” Did He not find thee erring and guide thee” ( translation by Arberry)
(5) “And saw you unaware of the way so showed you the straight way”. ( translation by Fatheh Muhammad Jalledhri).
(6)” And he found thee wandering and He gave thee guidance” ( translation by Yusuf Ali).

And now let us see the translation of Ala Hazrat , ” and He found you drowned in his love therefore gave way unto Him”. Precisely unique and cautious presentation is given in the translation of Imam Ahmed Raza Khan. He was attentive and abstain from using the words that may cause any sort of disrespect to the dignity and personality of the Holy prophet.
Referring to the works of Ala Hazrat it states, due to the vast amount of time Ala Hazrat spent in compiling books on Fiqh and various other topics, it was not possible for him to compile a complete commentary of the Holy Qur’an. However a few learned scholars has said that if all the books of Ala Hazrat have to be brought together then there is a great possibility that a complete commentary of the Holy Qur’an may be compiled. Commenting only on the Bismillahir Rahman nir Rahim, the beginning verse in the Fathiha, Ala Hazrat presented a lengthy lecture on this simple phrase that it was compiled into a complete book and was published under the title, Al Miladun Nabaviya. Allamah Ata Muhammad Bandayalwi (R.A) of sarghoda, Pakistan said, Hazrat Barelvi has written about a thousand treatises. He exhaustively dealt with every topic he touched, but his most glorious work in his Urdu translation and explanation of the Holy Qur’an entitled, Kanzul Iman. Indeed, there is no parallel. Real worth of this monumental work can be evaluated by only those scholars who possess vast and deep knowledge of various other translations and explanations of high standard in Urdu. Ala Hazrat kept the same pattern as adopted by the renowned writers, but he excelled in the explanation and expansion of the most difficult and complicated subject matter in relatively few simple words.



Ahmad Raza khan followed and observed himself precious Sufi practices and rituals, which can be read precisely from his notable works he served for the crowd present before him. The most known movement, he shed light into and established throughout the South Asia, Barelvi Movement or Ahle Sunnat Movement depicts vividly the Sufi spirit and mentality he kept inside him. It was mainly rooted in his writings, the work of his students and their organizational behaviour that gave birth to this mass revolution. The context of the religious atmosphere at the period it was founded is highly pertinent. It was at a time when Raza Khan encountered an extensive intellectual and moral decline of Indian Muslims so that he put forth his conceptions to develop a mass movement which was ultimately a popular movement of Sufi sm that was antithetical to the Wahhabi ideologues.


The movement of Ahmed Raza Khan emphasizes primacy of Islamic law over adherence to Sufi practices and personal devotion to the Prophet Muhammad. The way he addressed the community giving effective solvents, which were grounded in such a religious and Sufi basis is evidently seen from the background of circumstances he dealt with for writing his works. As referred to earlier, the whatabouts of authoring the translation, Kanzul Iman, which uttered with its authentic and truthful responses to the highly critical problems of misunderstandings, underscore very clearly the ascetic character the translation holds within it and the vast reach of its popularity ahead a good range of world Muslim populace.


In a nutshell, Kanzul Iman is no doubt a treasure of faith. The way this translation tried to demonstrate the inner denominations of the divine script is extremely fabulous and ecstatic. Undoubtedly, Ala Hazrat gave this explanatory note for the Quran in its serene charm demonstrating even the dignities and Qualities of Almighty and his prophets, and more particularly the prophetic love. The comments and praising of some great scholars regarding the elevation and exaltedness of this Tafseer is the unique evidence that proves the invaluable contributions of Ahmad Raza khan. And the vitality of Kanzul Iman is evident from the momentum and the powerful audience it generated amidst the global sunni sect. However, giving a true portrayal with its sacredness and outliving the vicious and critical situations of misinterpretations and false understandings, Kanzul Iman, with its literary beauty and the ascetic character it contained, represents a best authentic and unique commentary note for the sacred texts. As scholarly submissions similar to Kanzul Iman are no more extant in the contemporary muslim society, it is definitely obligatory for the Muslims to bring this to the public sphere, underscoring its very uniqueness and marvellous portrayal of Qur’anic insights.




  • Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi (1988), Kanzul Iman, Taj Company, New Delhi, India.


  • Usha Sanyal (2005), Ahmad Raza Khan ; In the Path of the Prophet, Oxford: Oneworld Publications.
  • Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi(2016), Sadr Al-Afadil Maulana Naeem -Ud-Deen Muradabadi And His Commentary Explanation, Khazainul irfan : Sunnis Need To Produce In Global Languages For Its Wider Dissemination, Article on Kanzul Iman.


  • Abdul Hakeem Azhari(2013), Vismaya Vilasam, Glocal Media, Madeenathunnoor Institute, calicut.
  • Shah Faridul Haque (1988), The Holy Qur’an, Darul Amjadia, Karachi.
  • Ishthiyaqe Ahmad Misbahi (2011), Kanzul Iman; In view of Exegetists, Malekul Olama Library, Jamia Ashrafia mubarak, Pur Azamgarh,UP.

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