Monday, January 5, 2009

Short Biography Of Maryam Jameelah

Maryam Jameelah was born Margaret Marcus to a Jewish family in New Rochelle, NY, on May 23, 1934. She grew up in a secular environment, but at the age of nineteen, while a student at New York University, she developed a keen interest in religion.

Unable to find spiritual guidance in her immediate environment, she looked to other faiths. Her search brought her into contact with an array of spiritual orders, religious cults, and world religions; she became acquainted with Islam around 1954. She was then greatly impressed by Marmaduke Pickthall’s The Meaning of the Glorious Koran and by the works of Muhammad Asad, himself a convert from Judaism to Islam. Jameelah cites Asad’s The Road to Mecca and Islam at Crossroads as critical influences on her decision to become a Muslim.

Through her readings in Islam she developed a bond with the religion and became a vocal spokesperson for the faith, defending Muslim beliefs against Western criticism and championing such Muslim causes as that of the Palestinians. Her views created much tension in her personal life, but she continued to pursue her cause.

She embraced Islam in New York on May 24, 1961, and soon after began to write for the Muslim Digest of Durban, South Africa. Her articles outlined a pristine view of Islam and sought to establish the truth of the religion through debates with critics. Through the journal, Jameelah became acquainted with the works of Mawlana Sayyid Abu Ala Mawdudi, the founder of the Jamaati Islami (Islamic Party) of Pakistan, who was also a contributor to the journal.

Jameelah was impressed by Mawdudi’s views and began to correspond with him. Their letters between 1960 and 1962, later published in a volume entitled Correspondences between Maulana Mawdoodi and Maryam Jameelah, discussed a variety of issues from the discourse between Islam and the West, to Jameelah’s personal spiritual concerns.

Jameelah traveled to Pakistan in 1962 on Mawdudi’s advice and joined his household in Lahore. She soon married Muhammad Yusuf Khan, as his second wife.

Since settling in Pakistan, she has written an impressive number of books, which adumbrated the Jamaati Islami’s ideology in a systematic fashion. Although she never formally joined the party, she became one of its chief ideologists.

Jameelah has been particularly concerned with the debate between Islam and the West, an important, albeit not central, aspect of Mawdudi’s thought.

Her significance, however, does not lie in the force of her observations, but in the manner in which she articulates an internally consistent paradigm for revivalism’s rejection of the West. In this regard, her influence far exceeds the boundaries of the Jamaati Islami and has been important in the development of the Muslim world.

The logic of her discursive approach has recently led Jameelah away from revivalism and the Jamaati Islami. Increasingly aware of revivalism’s own borrowing from the West, she has distanced herself from the revivalist exegesis and has even criticized her mentor Mawdudi for his assimilation of modern concepts into Jamaati Islami’s ideology. Her writings in recent years embody this change in orientation and reveal the influence of traditional Islam.

Today she lives in Lahore and continues to write on Islamic thought and life.


M u s l im said...

Please make our beloved Sister-in-Islam's works available in Acrobat PDF Format.

Taimur said...

I created this blog becoz not much of the works of Maryam Jameelah was available on net. But these days i am a little busy with my studies and it becomes hard for me to give time to this job... i will Insha Allah do it as soon as possible...
P.S. Plz send me ur email id... or mail me at

afreen said...

AssalaamuAlaikum Taimur
thank you so much for putting up a blog
Maryam Jameelah is my favorite author
i would really want to read her latest work and her views about Pakistan and the world today

Muhammad Elijah said...

"she has distanced herself from the revivalist exegesis and has even criticized her mentor Mawdudi for his assimilation of modern concepts into Jamaati Islami’s ideology."
I myself am the son of a JI member but have over years have begun to appreciate that the criticism by traditional Deoband 'Ulamaa is valid. We need degree holder ‘Ulamaa who could translate the works of the great traditional ‘Ulamaa into accessible English for seekers of al-Haqq(The Truth) like our great Muhaajir and Mujaahidah sister Maryam.
"Her writings in recent years embody this change in orientation and reveal the influence of traditional Islam."
Can you specifically name a few?Or can you distinguish the recent ones from the following list made by a Muslimah sister living in Malaysia.(I have deliberately avoided using the adjective ‘Malaysian’)

Taimur Bhai, you have done a job of great Ajr.Any ideas how can we do the Da'wah work on internet in an organized and systematic manner.Is sister Maryam alive?
"But these days i am a little busy with my studies and it becomes hard for me to give time to this job..."
Dr. Israr, a student of Maulana Mawdudi, had said to Dr. Zakir,you can't simultaneously specialize in Da'wah as well as in medicine . Da'wah is a full-time job.I am planning to become a full-time Daa'ee InshaAllaah.

And, I haven't understood what exactly is 'revivalism'.I wanted to compare the traditional Muslim understanding of a Mujaddid with her understanding of 'revivalism'

May Allaah make all the Ummah as full time Muslims.May Allaah unite us with Rasool sall Allaahu 'alaihi wasallam and His As-haab radi Allaahu 'anhum in Jannah.Aameen

Anonymous said...

Salam...would to have her pdf books as well. Thank you.
Sorry for asking - is she still alive? and is there in any way I could get in touch with her?.

umair said...

plz. make documentary on her...
or atleast take her interview

umair said...

kindly make documentary on her
or atleast take her interview

Radouane said...

Thanks to Miryam Jameelah, I discovered who is Rabbi Abraham Isaac Katsh and what's Judaïsm. I am now a Jew. Peaceful wishes to all. Radouane.

habeeb said...

brother, Jazakallah khair for the excellent effort. Can you just elaborate on these lines you wrote in her biography.."The logic of her discursive approach has recently led Jameelah away from revivalism and the Jamaati Islami. Increasingly aware of revivalism’s own borrowing from the West, she has distanced herself from the revivalist exegesis and has even criticized her mentor Mawdudi for his assimilation of modern concepts into Jamaati Islami’s ideology. Her writings in recent years embody this change in orientation and reveal the influence of traditional Islam"

bhoomikka said...

thank u taimur for having shared the information bout maryam jameela. i recently read deborah baker's study on maryam. i wud like know more bout the controversial comments she ha made both bt maryam and moudoodi.cud u supply?

afifah said...

Thank you for your write about Maryam Jameelah...

ashraf said...

Allah says u walk one step towards Me, I shall come nearer to u by ten steps.So guides He whom He wills. May Allah bless Maryam Jameela in this world and hereafter Aameen!

Ben B said...

Hi Maryam and followers. Can you please tell me what the penalty for sin is for a muslim? is there forgiveness without punishment? Can a person be forgiven more than once for the same sin?

Ben B

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I have read certain works of this sister and would like to have a list of all her works. Secondly of her present status in Pakistan

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