Monday, January 5, 2009

What others say about MARYAM JAMEELAH'S books.

Maryam Jameelah (formerly Margaret Marcus) is quite a well-known figure in the Muslim world now. This book, comprising various essays by her, some of which were written even before she formally, embraced Islam. Starting with the story of how she got interested in Islam when in New York, the book is by and large a critical survey of the writings of modernist Muslims like Mr. A. A. Fyzee of India and Ziya Gokalp of Turkey. The writings of orientalists like Mr. Wilfred Cantwell Smith have also been critically examined. Maryam Jameelah is a great admirer of al Ikhwan al Muslimun of Egypt. The two Muslims of this century highly praised by her are Sayyid Qutb and Allama Muhammad lqbal. Towards the end of the book she has also treated in a philosophical vein such topics as the prohibition of pictures and the significance of "Taqbir." The book ends with a negative answer to the question, "Is Westernization inevitable?" The book is well bound and deserves wide publicity. 

The Radiance Viewsweekly, Delhi,

  In this collection of essays, she makes a brilliant analysis of the folly and futility of compromising the principles and spiritual values of Islam in a vain attempt to prove their compatibility with the material aspirations and drive or aggrandizement that set apart the spirit of the modern West. She is firmly opposed to the so-called westernizers within the fold of Islam and with eloquent reasoning, she argues that Islamic society can flourish and contribute its own in a technocratic civilization without having to sacrifice the inner principles of its being. 

Dawn, Karachi,

  It goes to the credit of an American-born convert that she made a searching criticism of the philosophical sources of western materialism, modern philosophy, and the fallacy of modernism. Showing the futility of the apologetic approach of Muslim modernists towards Islam, she demands that they should put an end once and for all interpreting Islam through foreign criteria and summon the courage to stand up and defend an unadulterated Islam. She upholds Islam in its pure form and stresses the necessity for a re-evaluation of Islamic history in that light. Written in a bitter tone but lucid style, the book makes very useful reading. 

The Pakistan Observer, Dacca.

  The book is extremely readable and thought provoking. Also it contains a number of seminal generalizations, each one of which asks for a book. Like all true Muslims, the author combines practice with preaching. Her photograph at the beginning of the book shows her enveloped from head to foot in Islamic Purdah. This eminent lady has proved that Purdah, if observed according to Allah's laws, cannot impede women's mental development but in fact is a sign of her dignity and nobility. 

The Criterion: Journal of the Islamic Research Academy, Karachi


  This is the inquiry of a restless soul, courageous and bold, frank and forthright, promising and challenging. The day of Islamic supremacy, this American-Jewish convert pleads, shall not be far away if only the Muslims realize their destiny, live up to the ideals of Islam, strive to uphold the Word of God in every walk of their lives to establish Islam in its entirety in political, social, economic cultural and all other aspects. Then Islam would be a living force and not just an academic proposition. As in other writings of hers, Maryam Jameelah is at her best when she takes to account Western philosophy, thought, ideals and practices. Her advantage is that she was brought up and nurtured in Western society and educated and trained in the Western tradition, so naturally she is better fitted to know its dark spots and the mainsprings of evil which have polluted Western society and which are now corroding the foundations of Muslim society with its obnoxious influences. The personalities, movements and parties dedicated to the cause of the revival of Islam, particularly in our own age, have been very ably summed up and the penetrating eyes of the author have been able to assess remarkably well the real worth and status of persons and parties of the recent past and present. Few writers on Islam have that balanced outlook, that courage to speak the truth, that integrity of mission, that maturity of thought and detailed grasp on the subject which this American-born lady displays in her short, terse essays. 

The Criterion, Karachi.


  Really! Amazing! Incredible! What? - are exclamations that come out often as one feels the impact of this great exposure and indictment of Zionism and the Christian church. The author conveys much of her points by the very words of the people she talks about. To avoid quoting out of context, she uses many lengthy extracts. The result is a very fair, balanced and objective presentation. None can deny that this is the greatest assault on Judaism and Christianity both in theory and practice coming from a Muslim pen for a very long time. How has she set about it? Firstly, it must be mentioned that the author's history places her at a position of advantage to perform such a task. She grew up in a Jewish family, a member of the Jewish minority in Christian America and then embraced Islam. Being a near insatiable bibliophile as well entitles her to a claim of inside knowledge of the three faiths. All these assets are brought into good use here. The lengthy chapter on Judaism is a well-documented outline of Jewish beliefs, culture, complexes, deviations and history. The author provides an analysis of the background to the rise of Zionism and how a racist religion, garbed with modern political and military sophistry and bred on the support of Western treachery and collusion, has grown into the menacing monstrosity of Zionism. The second chapter contains the post energetic refutation of Christianity that I have ever come across. It is a historical, a moral, an academic and indeed, an outright refutation of Christianity. The author answers the usual Christian accusations against Islam with even greater vehemence. In this, one sees how much she detests the apologetic approach of answering back. Rather she throws the whole table on the Christians. She gives a lucid and highly informative analysis of the aims and moods of operation of the Christian missionary. The last chapter rounds off beautifully her arguments against racist Judaism and neo-imperialist, man-made Christianity. She presents Islam as the only authentic religion through which mankind can be united. This book is Maryam Jameelah's best work to date. 

The Muslim: Journal of the Federation of Student Islamic societies in the United Kingdom and Eire, London.


  This nicely printed book has much to commend itself to readers. Since the story was written by a convert from Zionism who herself witnessed all the ups and downs, her treatment of the whole tale is superb. Besides the elements of suspense and surprise, vivid description and good characterization sustain the reader's interest at high pitch. The plot from beginning to end is so well woven that the reader's interest never sags. The pen-portraits of Ahmad Khalil, his brother, Khalifa and his cousin, Rashid are very well drawn and life- like. 

The Pakistan Review, Lahore

  Religious exaltation is well known but faith has its depths too when overwhelmed by suffering, pain and defeat, man is sustained by Allah's love. Ahmad Khalil in parts successfully conveys the quiet piety of those who live in true humility before Allah. The book catches the religious dignity or the common Muslim family living next to the soil where women are modest and hardworking and the men brave and industrious. The characterization of the sensitive boy, Khalifa, whose life is haunted by the brutality of the Israelis, shows that the author is capable of presenting psychological realities. Many people in the West believe that the Israelis have a better right than the Arabs to Palestine because they are "progressive" and have made the desert bloom. The poor and the backward deserve the worst that comes to them. Ahmad Khalil is a stirring repudiation of this theory of "progress". 

The Criterion, Karachi.


Anonymous said...

Ahmad Khalil is a literary prize! The depiction of a simple Muslim family at the backdrop of the Arab struggle against the Zionist onslauhght is captivating. From the accuracy of the details, the utter simplicity of Muslim's life, the family relationship to the mentally disturbed character, this book utterly surprises you. What makes this little book a wonder is the fact that it was written by a 17 year old jewish girl who never put a step in a Muslim home or a Muslim country.

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