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Margaret Marcus – Mariam Jamila
It was surprising to a lot of people the spread of Islam among women. Their numbers have exceeded by far that of menin most countries. The whole worldin general is experiencing a steady increase in the number of new adherents of Islam.
People have long questioned the reasons behind the transition made by women. They have moved from the life of fun and embellishment to a restricted and controlled life. Once she becomes a Muslim, a woman must cover herself and stop mixing with men. Now, how could these women embrace Islam while propagandists keep spreading its alleged persecution and the violation of their rights?Sura Al-Anfal, verse 30 mentions: “They plot and plan, and Allah too plans; but the best of planners is Allah.”"Margaret Marcus" or "Mariam Jamila" is one of these women who had heard a lot of false rumors about Islam. She has been born in 1934 to Jewish parents of German descent. However, it didn’t take long for her and her family to embrace the doctrine of atheism, run by an organization called Ethical Culture Society.This group promotes the idea of changing values and ethics, according to time and place.According to them, what would be considered a virtue in a society may be seen as vice in another community or at another time.
After wasting ten years with this association; Margaret's family decided to return to Christianity and join the reformist church that rejects trinity.
However, Margaret did not follow her family in this shift. She chose instead to embrace the Baha'i faith. It has attracted her by alleging to unify the human race and fuse all religions into one that would accommodate everyone's calling. She immersed herself into for a full year before deciding to leave it to go back to Judaism. The New York University Professor Rabbi Koch has influenced her decision. Earlier, she has followed a course on Islam and Judaism by the said Rabbi, whomhe summed up saying: Islam is a religion adapted from Judaism and various ancient Christian sects.
Despite the influenced by the rabbi Koch; Margaret did not see these alleged similarities. Her love of reading has led her to discover an important fact. Islam is different in principles and branches from the Religions of the Book. It rejects all forms of likening God to His creation, which the Jewish books are filled with.Furthermore, Islam doesn’t contain any of the biblical myths, historical and scientific errors that fill the books of the Bible.
Margaret listened to the Qur'an for the first time because of her penchant for Arabic music.She used to search for Arabic music broadcasted in radio stations. She liked the recitation she has heard without understanding its meaning or listening to its calls.
Margaret got sick, stricken by an illness that kept her in the hospital bed for two years. For the first time, her sickness provided her with the opportunity to read a translation of the Qur'an. Unfortunately, she was a victim of a distorted translation by the Orientalist George Seale. It has been filled with prejudice and false allegation son the Qur’an. This has persuaded Margaret –even for a moment - that it has been adapted from the legends of the People of the Book.
And, because God has good things in store for her as foretold in her destiny, Margaret realized George Seale’s unbiased stance on the Qur’an. She refused his claims, and got rid of the illusions shrouding her mind. She got hold of the translation of the Holy Quran prepared by the convert to Islam, Muhammad Marmaduke Pikthall. Margaret loved this translation. It has led to see the real implications of this great Qur’an. Pikthall hasn’t translated the Qur’an in the weak apologetic style the way some Muslims who are culturally defeated had done in their interpretation thereof.They have even changed its provisions to reconcile them with Western materialistic values.
Margaret Marcus realized that the Qur'an is the revelation of Allah.This book has elevated the Arabs; it made them into a vibrant nation in history; built on the ruins of rivaling tribes mired in ignorance and idolatry. Margaret says: “Islam is the only element that molded the Arabs into a grand nation. If it hadn't been for the Qur'an, this Arabic language would have been extinct by now. At best, without it this language wouldn't be as famous as Zulu. The arts and culture are indebted to the Qur'an, and rely on it to flourish. Without it, arts and culture would have been worthless.”
Margaret embarked on a comparison between the Qur'an and the books of the Torah. Both Jews and Christians believe in the old and new testaments. Furthermore, the concepts of death and resurrection that have baffled Margaret have been shrouded in mystery in the Bible, yet absent in the Torah. It is, however, clearly defined in the Qur'an. She found in its Suras convincing answers to the big problems of life and to various others that frustrated her during her browsing between religions and beliefs; Judaism and atheism, and Baha'i.
Each passing day takes Margaret away from the miserable Western life.Mawdudi has described it as“tropical bush planted in the polar region.”She wouldn’t have prevailed -a weak female- to face this reality alone. She broke the barrier of isolation that’s enveloping her. She began writing to famous Muslim intellectuals around the world. She requested them to provide her with answers that would appease her restless mind and the spiritual turmoil she is in.Their answers came as a booster shot and gave her the peace of mind she was seeking. Their answers presented her great benefits that helped her in the way of her journey to discover the truth.
Perhaps the Imam reformer Abu Ala Mawdudi was the most distinguished scholar Mariam Jamila has written to. He was also very influential in her life. He has donated his books to her. Throughout the pages, his pride in Islam and his transcendence on the physical matters shone through. She had great admiration for this man. Her correspondence has been characterized by honesty and objectivity worthy of a man in the caliber of Mawdudi, God's mercy on his soul. That correspondence between them has been published in a special book, on the Internet.
Despite her Jewish origins, her humanitarian feelings shone through when she has expressed her rejection of the occupation of the land of the Arabs in Palestine.Her co-religionists' Jews were the culprit of such crime.In her novel titled "Ahmed Khalil," she tells the story of a Palestinian boy expelled from his village. The latter has been destroyed by the Zionists occupation’s machine of tyranny and oppression. This machine has the full backing of Western colonial powers.
After ten years of research and scrutiny, study and correspondence with Mawdudi and other scholars and advocates of Islam, Margaret decided to become Mariam Jamila. She has declared her conversion to Islam. It happened on the blessed Eid al-Adha Day in 1961 in Brooklyn's mosque in New York. Mariam Jamila, the young lady who has been guided to this religion, will suffer more virulent and cruel treatment.Her alienation grew steadily, and her existence becomes unbearable in the society in which she lives in.
Shortly after embracing Islam, Mariam Jamila prepared a sermon.She has entitled the discourse “Could Islam be compatible with the spirit of the twentieth century?” In it, she has expressed her pride in her new faith.The speech has been delivered to the Friday sermon by one of the Egyptian students. It included the rejection of the alienation that has fascinated some intellectuals who call themselves progressive. These are demanding the replacement of the Moslem Sharia laws to man-made ones, and from Islamic brotherhood to nationalistic tendencies. In addition to all this, they demand what they call “the emancipation of women.”Sadly, their real intention has been the adoption of Western values and the woman’s isolation from her religion and Muslim values.
Mawdudi wrote congratulating her and expressed astonishment of this her great awareness. He replied saying:“I have analyzed your Friday speech carefully. And I assure you that what you have mentioned there in is the same request I have been repeating for thirty years.And that is the reason why modern innovators fear us as a threat to them. Additionally, I was wondering how could have been possible that a girl born and raised in America could accommodate the depth of this problem? Mentioning your speech has awakened in me but deep appreciation. I supplicate Allah to grant you wisdom and resilience to illuminate and support the cause of Islam.”
Mawdudi, may Allah bless his soul, invited her to migrate from America to Pakistan.And he even offered her to stay in his house with his family in Lahore. By this act, Mawdudi wanted to revive the Sira of the Ansar and the Muhajereen. The former, have opened wide their doors and homes to accommodate their brothers fleeing Makkah to safeguard their faith. Right off the bat, he was sincere with her. He told her about the difficulties, she would face coming to Pakistan. His country lacks a lot of luxury and civilian life Mariam has been accustomed to in America. However, in a letter addressed to her parents, he pledged to take care of her as one of his daughters. Her parents permitted her to travel. They wanted her to get rid of the alienation she feels in her own country and the burden of Western material life that she grew to hate. It is a life that does shorten the goals of creation and hopes of creaturesin an ephemeral world. Mariam chose to live among Muslim brothers, and with the blessed values of Islam. Later, she married Mr. Mohammed Yusuf Khan, and gave birth to four sons.
In Pakistan, Mariam Jamila began her life in study research, and writing in the Muslim community. She has enriched the Islamic library with ten books characterized by clarity and maturity and poise.The following four books are among the most important in Islam: (Islam Versus the West), and (My journey from Disbelief to Faith), and (Islam and Renewal) and (Islam in Theory and Practice). Her writings have exhibited a mature mentality and thoughtful and conscious mind. And this is especially evident as a result of her studies in Islam and its relationship to Biblical religions and Western philosophies. She has talked with a lot about pain about the images of cultural alienation and complexes of inferiority she saw with many Muslims infatuated with occidental civilization. Miss informed Muslims have listened carefully- even opened their hearts - to western allegations that “Islam is a thing of the past, and it is no longer suitable for this age.”She saw that some of the Muslims who agree with them are but satellites in the orbits of those Westerners, who have corrupted the cultural and educational life in the Muslim Levant. They will build a monument to any lowly man who accuses Islam of being reactionary and backward, yet claims to adhere to it. Mariam felt that these slanderers“suffer from a conflict of loyalty.They are the product of two quite opposite poles; even so, they don’t belong to neither… The outcome of this is a sharp psychosomatic pain. However, in order to achieve a mental relief, they tend to interpret Islam as a compatible way to the life they wish to lead.”
Twenty years after embracing Islam Mariam Jamila sent message of advice and compassion to her parents. In it, she describes occidental life and the causes of misery suffered by humanity. Such life has been seen in an advanced vision of western life. This existence is similar to that of ancient “Rome” that has faded and has become ruins. In her letter, she says: “Indeed, the decline has been clear since the First World War: moral chaos in the absence of any decent values, or constantstandards of ethics and behavior. Furthermore, corrupt sexual obsession, and its spread in the entertainment media; ill treatment of old people.Divorce rates are on the rise among current generations; hence, durable happy marriage has become rare.Add to all this, child abuse, environmental pollution, depletion of scarce and valuable resources, sexually transmitted disease; mental disorders, drug and alcohol addiction. Suicide has become a number-one elementas the causeof death. Crime, vandalism, government corruption, and contempt for the law in generalare the norms... The reason of all this is the failure of the secular system, obsession with materialism, the lack of moral values, and encroachment of the divine teachings andvirtuous values.”
Mariam Jamila sums up her story with Islam saying. She says: “Since starting reading the Qur’an, I come to realize that religion is not only necessary in life, it life itself.The more I studied the further I became certain that Islam alone is the one who has made the Arabs a great civilized nation that has dominated the world.”
We supplicate Allah to grant our sister Mariam His divine mercy, and make paradise her last abode.
Dr. Munqith Bin Mahmoud Al-Sakkar
Researcher at Muslim World League
Translated by Sadok Salehi
Translator at Muslim World League