In the 18th century, Islam in the Sub-continent was faced with menacing problems. Sectarian conflict, moral decline of the society, poor understanding of the Holy Quran, and general ignorance of Islam were just some of the issues which gave rise to fear that political collapse would be accompanied by religious disintegration. This did not happen; rather an era of religious regeneration was inaugurated, which was due more than anything else to the activities of one man, Shah Waliullah.
Shah Waliullah thought that the fundamental cause of moral decline of the Muslims of the subcontinent was their ignorance of Islam itself. An emphasis upon the teachings of the Quran would, therefore, help in the revival of Muslims in subcontinent. It would tend to alleviate sectarian differences and create feeling of solidarity because differences are mostly a matter of interpretation. Hence, it was necessary to popularize the Quran’s understanding among Muslim masses.
Shah Waliullah, therefore, translated the Holy Quran in Persian, a language which was the widely understood by the educated classes. His objective was that educated Muslims could understand the Quran themselves without depending on the so-called scholars who had opposed his reformatory measures. Some short sighted ulema considered it a sin to translate the Quran from Arabic to Persian and they even wanted to kill him. But he continued his noble task and completed it.
His son Shah Abdul Qadir and Shah Rafiuddin translated Quran into Urdu. It is because of him that outside Arabia, the Quran is best understood in the subcontinent.