Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 20 - Maryum Jameelah (a convert)

Maryam Jameelah (b. May 23, 1934) is a renowned author who has written over thirty books on Islamic culture and history. Born in New York, to a Jewish family, and named Margret Marcus at birth, Maryam Jameelah converted to Islam in 1961 and moved to Pakistan where she married Muhammad Yusuf Khan, a leading member of the political party, Jamaat-e-Islami and has five children.

Psychological illness or a struggle to find her faith:
Since childhood, Maryam was intuitive and a deep thinker, emotionally concerned easily about her surroundings affecting her psychological health. Images from the Holocaust, stories of Palestinian sufferings and Asian and Arab culture and history were all of deep interest to her. In university, she studied Reform Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, and even Ethical Culture and the Bahá'í Faith, but found them all unsatisfactory.

She was suffering psychological problems still and in the Summer of 1953, had a nervous breakdown during which time, she began to study Islam and the Qur'an again. Muhammad Asad's The Road to Mecca, was an inspiration to her and while at NYU, a course taught by a Rabbi on Judaism's influence on Islam brought her even closer to Islam. However, due to her ill-health she left university in 1956, and a year later was hospitalized for schizophrenia.

Conversing with Maulana Maududi:
On her return home in 1959, Maryam Jameelah involved herself with various Islamic organizations. She even began corresponding with Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, a leading thinker and head of Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan. She reverted to Islam on May 24, 1961 and accepted Maududi's invitation to reside in Pakistan with his family. This was before she married Muhammad Yusuf Khan in 1963. Jameelah regards these years (1962-64) to be the formative period of her life during which she matured and began her life's work as a Muslim defender of conservative Islam.

Jameelah's writing career:
Jameelah is a prolific author, offering a conservative defense of Islamic values and culture and deeply opposed to globalization and secularism. Her books and articles have been translated into several languages around the world including Turkish, Urdu, Persian, Bengali and Bahasa of Indonesia. The collection of her work including correspondence, manuscripts, speeches, published articles and artwork besides videos etc are included in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library collection of the New York Public Library.

Some of the books that she has written are:
  • Islam and Modernism
  • Westernization and Human Welfare
  • Three Great Islamic Movements in the Arab World of the Recent Past
  • The Generation Gap - Its Causes and Consequences



  1. I just want to tell the author of this blog that you done an awesome job masha'Allah this Ramadan trying to inform us of the influential role Muslim women have played in Islamic history and still play today, and in doing so have dispelled many of the common misconceptions about women in Islam. JazakAllah Khair. May Allah grant you success in your endeavours and allow you to write more posts like this. Keep it Up!!

  2. JazakAllah khair for your lovely comment and encouragement. I hope I can continue with such efforts in the future too. Please do remember me in your duas.