You may remember the story of John Walker Lindh, the American Muslim convert who joined the Taliban in Afghanistan and was captured as an enemy combatant by U.S. forces shortly after 9/11. It is possible he found inspiration for his conversion in the former Margaret Marcus, a young Jewish girl from Larchmont, New York who converted to Islam, became Maryam Jameelah and moved to Pakistan in the early 1960s. The Convert is Deborah Baker's (A Blue Hand: The Beats in India) exploration of the life of Jameelah as she discovers it in an archive of her early journal writings and letters at the New York Public Library.
Jameelah's story is one of a highly sensitive, bookish young woman who finds herself ill-suited to modern Western culture. She becomes entranced by Islamic and Arabic culture and decides to take the bold step of moving permanently to a Muslim country. She later marries into a polygamous family and writes numerous highly influential books critical of the West. As Baker digs further and further into Jameelah's story fascinating details about her are revealed, painting a picture of a principled, yet conflicted woman whose spiritual journey is not as pure and transcendental as it would initially seem. Overall, this is a unique study of our modern cultural and religious conflicts within the soul of one person.
Submitted by Brett @ Central