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MARYAM JAMEELAH (May 23, 1934 – October 31, 2012), revivalist ideologist. Maryam Jameelah was born Margaret Marcus to a Jewish family in New Rochelle, New York on 23 May 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

Maryam Jameelah

Maryam Jameelah

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. Maryam 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 on Islam she developed a bond with that religion and soon became its spokesperson, 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. On 24 May 1961 she embraced Islam in New York, 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 its critics. Through this journal she became acquainted with the works of Mawlana Sayyid Abu alA’la Mawdudi (d. 1979), the founder and leader of the Jama’at-i Islami (Islamic Party) of Pakistan, who was also a contributor to the journal. Maryam Jameelah was impressed by Mawdfidi’s views and began to correspond with him. Their letters between 196o 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 Maryam Jameelah’s personal spiritual concerns. Maryam Jameelah’s attachment to Islam created great difficulties for her in her family and community; her anguish was relayed to Mawdudi, who advised her to move to Pakistan and live among Muslims.

Maryam Jameelah traveled to Pakistan in 1962 and joined the household of Mawlana Mawdudi in Lahore. She soon married a member of the Jama`at-i Islam!, Muhammad Yusuf Khan, as his second wife. Since settling in Pakistan she has written an impressive number of books, which have adumbrated Jama`at-i Islami’s ideology in a systematic fashion. Although she never formally joined the party, she became one of its chief ideologists. Maryam Jameelah has been particularly concerned with the debate between Islam and the West, an important, albeit not central, aspect of Mawdudi’s thought. She sharpened the focus of the Muslim polemic against the West and laid out the revivalist critique of Christianity, Judaism, and secular Western thought in methodic fashion. Her works often fall into the trap of citing the worst moral and ethical transgressions of the West-usually isolated incidents-to condemn the West in its entirety. Maryam Jameelah’s 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 ex ceeds the boundaries of Jama’at-i Islami and has beer important in the development of revivalist though across the Muslim world.

The logic of her discursive approach has recently led Maryam Jameelah away from revivalism and Jama`at-i Islam-i. 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 Jama’at-i 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.

[See also Jama’at-i Islami and the biography of Mawdudi.]


Correspondences between Maulana Maudoodi and Maryam Jameelah. 4th ed. Lahore, 1986. Outlines Maryam Jameelah’s first contacts with Jama’at-i Islami.

Maryam Jameelah. Is Western Civilization Universal? Lahore, 1969. Critique of modernism and its impact on Islamic societies. Maryam Jameelah. A Manifesto of the Islamic Movement. Lahore, 1969. One of Maryam Jameelah’s most lucid articulations of the objective of Islamic revivalism.

Maryam Jameelah. Islam in Theory and Practice. Lahore, 1973. Maryam Jameelah’s account of the ideology and operations of Jama’ati Islami.

Maryam Jameelah. “An Appraisal of Some Aspects of Maulana Sayyid Ala Maudoodi’s Life and Thought.” Islamic Quarterly 31.2 (1987): 116-130. Maryam Jameelah’s recent critique of Mawdudi. Maryam Jameelah. Islam and Orientalism. Reprint, Lahore, 1987. Critique of Western conceptions of Islam.

Maryam Jameelah. Islam and Modernism. Reprint, Lahore, 1988. Representative of Maryam Jameelah’s polemic against the West. Maryam Jameelah. Islam versus the West. Reprint, Lahore, 1988. One of Maryam Jameelah’s most celebrated works denouncing the West.


Her writings include marvelous religious and intellectual materials. A list of her articles and books is mentioned below,

  1. Islam and modernism
  2. Islam versus the west
  3. Islam in theory and practice
  4. Islam versus ahl al kitab past and present
  5. Ahmad khalil
  6. Islam and orientalism
  7. Western civilization condemned by itself
  8. Correspondence between maulana maudoodi and maryum jameelah
  9. Islam and western society
  10. A manifesto of the Islamic movement
  11. Is western civilization universal
  12. Who is Maudoodi ?
  13. Why I embraced Islam?
  14. Islam and the Muslim woman today
  15. Islam and social habits
  16. Islamic culture in theory and practice
  17. Three great Islamic movements in the Arab world of the recent past
  18. Shaikh hasan al banna and ikhwan al muslimun
  19. A great Islamic movement in turkey
  20. Two mujahidin of the recent past and their struggle for freedom against  foreign rule
  21. The generation gap its causes and consequences
  22. Westernization versus Muslims
  23. Westernization and human welfare
  24. Modern technology and the dehumanization of man
  25. Islam and modern man


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/maryam-jameelah/

  • writerPosted On: August 3, 2014
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