Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
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She married poet George Morris Kendrick in 1964 and had a son and daughter, but after his acceptance of Scientology they divorced in 1986. She converted to Islam later that year. In 1990 she married a Pakistani Waris Ali Maqsood who she divorced in 1999 when he married his young cousin in Pakistan, stepping aside to allow the new wife legal status in the UK. Before converting to Islam in 1986, she was a devout Christian who earned a degree in Christian theology in 1963 at Hull University, and the post-graduate certificate in education in 1964 with distinction in both theory and practice.
She wrote on Christian themes for several mainstream publishers, and her work featured on the recommended lists for GCE and GCSE boards, and has now written over forty books on various aspects of religion, concentrating on Islam since her conversion. Many of her books were published by Goodword Press of New Delhi, including Living Islam, The Muslim Prayer Encyclopedia, and books on counselling for Muslim teenagers, and for the bereaved and those facing death. She was invited by Hodder Headlines to write the book on Islam for the World Faiths section of the famous Teach Yourself series, now in its third edition and a best-seller. She has also created a course enabling students to study Islam for the GCSE, consisting of her textbook 'Islam' published by Heinemann Press originally in 1986 and since updated, and a Do-it-Yourself Coursebook to accompany it published by IPCI. The textbook has been used widely in UK schools for over 20 years, and the DIY study has now been taken up by many individuals, converts, and students at madrassah schools and in private groups not only in the UK but in several countries.
She was among the first UK Muslims to receive one of the Muslim News Awards for Excellence in 2001, the Muhammad Iqbal Award for Creativity in Islamic Thought, mainly for her work in education. She describes herself as a moderate Muslim and has a keen interest in Islamic history, especially the lives of the female companions of Muhammad, and the genealogies and intermarriages of Muhammad and his companions. Her main aims have been to promote knowledge of Islam to non-Muslims, and to counter Islamic extremism. Her other main interests include inter-faith dialogue, and the campaign against various abuses of Muslim women – such matters as forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and "honour" murders. Her latest book is 'Need to Know: Islam', for the HarperCollins series. Her major work on the Life of Muhammad is awaiting publication by the Islamic Research Institute of Islamabad. In 2008 she was one of four recipients of the Global Peace and Unity Lifetime Achievement Awards, in her case, for literature.