Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
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Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood (born 1942) is a British Muslim author who served as Head of Religious Studies at various tough UK inner-city secondary schools for over 30 years before retiring in 1996. Born Rosalyn Rushbrook, 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 married poet George Morris Kendrick in 1964 and had a son Daniel and daughter Frances, but after his acceptance of Scientology they divorced in 1986. She converted to Islam later that year. In 1990, on her travels, she met and married Waris Ali Maqsood in Pakistan, but they divorced in 1999.
She wrote on Christian themes for several mainstream publishers, and her work featured on the recommended lists for GCE and GCSE boards. Most of her work since 1986 has concentrated on introducing Islam to the non-Muslim world. She now has a list of some forty books. 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. 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 Goodword then updated by IPCI. The textbook has been used widely in UK schools for 30 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 collaborated with Ghulam Sarwar in writing Islam: Beliefs and Teachings for the UK Islamic Mission (UKIM).
Shaikh William Henry Abdullah Quilliam was an English solicitor and convert who founded the UK's first mosque in Liverpool at the end of the 19th century. On 10 October 1997, Ruqaiyyah and Patricia Gordon (Quilliam's granddaughter) were the guest speakers invited to open the restoration project.
In the 2000 Ramadan season she was one of the six Muslims chosen for a TV series called Faces of Islam. This was followed by a short film of her life story for Iranian TV.
Before and after retirement from teaching she travelled widely, and has lectured in many universities, Islamic societies and mosques in many countries from Singapore to the USA, including at the Islamic School in Zenica, Bosnia, just after the end of the Bosian War, the Indianapolis Islamic Centre, and a teaching session at the Dar-ul-Islam madrassah in Abiquiu, New Mexico, where she met Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and other inspiring preachers. (A panel discussion with herself, Hamza Yusuf and Hakim Archuletta can be seen on YouTube). We Will Inspire is a counter-terrorism and human rights organisation founded by Sara Khan which seeks to address inequalities facing British Muslim women, such matters as forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and "honour" murders. Ruqaiyyah's last public lecture - 'Common misconceptions about women arising from ahadith' was given on 4 June 2011 at the Inspire Conference - 'Speaking in God’s Name' and the launch of the Jihad Against Violence UK at the City Hall London. It gained widespread international media coverage and captured the imagination of bloggers across the globe; highlighting the dire necessity within society for a genuine and critical debate and examination of the texts. It may be heard on the We Will Inspire website. On 3 February 2012 the group Inspire also produced a Vimeo of her interview at the City Hall which can be seen on YouTube.
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. In 2008 she was one of four recipients of the Global Peace and Unity Lifetime Achievement awards, in her case for Islamic literature.
She has also written novels and poetry, and hopes that one day her two projects which have occupied her for countless years - a trilogy of historical novels on the life and loves of the Biblical King Herod and his descendants (ranging from 70 BCE to 70 CE), and a uniquely slanted work on the Life of the Prophet Muhammad with considerable research into genealogical material (always so revealing) and the parts played by his Companions, especially the female ones.
Even many Muslims do not realize how before the coming of Islam wealthy women could have multiple husbands and have children by them all, but after accepting Islam agreed to take only one at a time - and even so, many still managed to fit in four or five consecutive husbands. There was no particular stigma in divorce, and many of the Prophet's wives were divorced women or widows, and thought nothing of it. For example, the Prophet's Jewish wife Safiyyah was the pious and studious daughter of a famous Madinah rabbi, and wealthy heiress of two Jewish tribes. She first had contact with the Prophet when she was a child of 10, went on to marry an elderly Madinah Rabbi, then after divorce, his own grandson, Rabbi Kinanah (who was executed for his incitement to treason), and ended up married to the Prophet when she was still only 17.She was a war captive.
Sumayyah Meehan, of the Muslim Observer, 4 October 2007: Her books about Islam have helped millions, if not billions, of people learn about Islam. She has used her own life to spread the message of Islam far and wide. There are over forty books that she has penned which cover a range of Islamic issues from marriage to raising teenagers to life after death. Her name is Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood. Her latest book is 'Need to Know: Islam', for the HarperCollins series.