DR ZAFAR ISHAQ ANSARI, Director General, Institute of Islamic research, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan, was born and completed his early education in undivided India. He obtained his M.A. in Economics from the University of Karachi, and later his M.A. and Ph.D. from McGill University, in Islamic Studies, with specialization in Islamic History and Islamic Jurisprudence. Prior to his assignment in Islamabad, he has been associated with the University of Karachi; King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah; King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran; Princeton University; University of Chicago; Melbourne University and McGill University in connection with teaching and research. He has contributed a host of research papers to journals of international fame and articles to Encyclopaedia Britannica and Encyclopaedia of Religion. He also co-edited with K. Ahmad, Islamic Perspectives: Studies in Honour of Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Leicester, Islamic Foundation, 1979).
TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING THE QUR'AN is a fresh and highly readable English rendering of Tafhim al-Quran, Sayyid Mawdudi's monumental and masterly Urdu translation and commentary. Here is a Tafsir with a difference, by a scholar of an entirely different sort. An immense wealth of profound understanding of the Qur'an is here, so is a vast treasure of knowledge and deep insights, illuminating historical accounts and philological discussions, and a highly systematic exposition of social, political, economic and legal teachings. But what makes this Tafsir unique is that it translates the Qur'an into a book to be lived by, a mission to be lived for, and a duty that a reader can no longer evade or postpone. This rare quality is imparted not only by the depth of his scholarship and style of exposition, but also because Sayyid Mawdudi lived by what he expounded, as his life abundantly proves.
This Tafsir answers contemporary questions, and makes the Qur'an fully relevant to the concerns of our day, yet it loses nothing of its timelessness nor sacrifices any of the traditional understanding. It demonstrates the unity and coherence of the Qur'an by centreing everything in it on its message, like gems hung on a single string. Each Surah is prefaced by an account of its background and teachings. Maps and indexes add greatly to the understanding.
To sum up: in this Tafsir, Sayyid Mawdudi is offering us what we need most to understand and live by the Qur'an.
THE ISLAMIC FOUNDATION is an educational and research organization devoted to making Islam a living reality in our age. For this purpose, it aims to improve human communication and develop a better understanding of Islam among all people of the world, Muslim and non-Muslim, so as to galvanize man to the message and ideal of One God and the unity of mankind, as brought by all the Prophets of God throughout the ages, last of whom was the Prophet Muhammad (blessings of Allah and peace be on him). The Foundation has research units in Islamic Economics, Christian-Muslim Relations, and Literature for Children. Its regular publications include Muslim World Book Review containing an Index of Islamic Literature (quarterly) and Encounters: Journal of Inter-Cultural Perspectives (bi-annually).