Yahya Parkinson (lived 1874-1918 CE (ra) was a notable British Muslim of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. A Scotsman (of Irish ancestry) he was a poet, a writer, a critic, a newspaper editor and for much of his life a wool spinner. Born in Kilwinning in Ayrshire, his first given name was John and it was this name he kept. When he returned to Islam (became a Muslim) around the turn of the century, he Arabised his name to Yahya (the way of saying John in Arabic). Although generally a resident of Scotland, Yahya Parkinson was a figure associated the the British Muslim community in Liverpool and the Woking Muslim Mission in Surrey. He became popular in intellectual British Muslim circles and among the English speaking Muslim intellectuals of British India. An impressive author, who wrote on various subjects (including Islamic Chivalry and Imam Al Ghazali (ra), his writing and poetry were featured in several English language Muslim periodicals of the era. He was well missed when he passed away (whist still only in his early middle age) in the year 1918 CE.
Lady Evelyn Cobbold (1867-1963 CE (ra) was one of the first recorded British women to perform the Hajj pilgrimage in the Holy City of Makkah. She was assisted in making the arrangements for her Hajj by the British Muslim Harry St. John Abdullah Philby who was a friend of the Al-Sauds and lived in Jiddah.
The Saudis treated her as an humored visitor. Of noble Scottish stock, Lady Evelyn was the child of Charles Adolphus Murray the 7th Earl of Dunmore and Lady Gertrude Coke, who was the daughter of the Second Earl of Leicester.
Lady Evelyn was a skilled lady, a fluent Arabic speaker, a gardener and a capable deerstalker and angler. She was always connected to Islam, having spent time in Algiers, cared for by Muslim nannies, as a child and she was a Muslim as far back as she could remember.
Later in life she met the Pope whilst in Rome, he asked her if she was a Catholic and she surprised him by explaining that she was a Muslim. She wrote a number of books and was an associate of Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, the great British translator of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an into English.
She was an important ground breaker and an inspirational British Muslim lady. Several of her fascinating books can be found with booksellers such as Amazon.
Muhammad Assad – Leopold Weiss (ra) was a notable Austrian revert to Islam from Jewish origins, he was an important journalist, statesman, Muslim scholar, traveler and a writer. Born in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1900 CE he lived much of his life in Spain and Pakistan (his adopted nationality was Pakistani). He was a Muslim thinker and scholar with somewhat Modernist leanings, one of the most influential European Muslims in the 20th century CE.
Muhammad Assad became a Muslim in 1926 CE after coming to the conclusion that Islam is like a perfect work of architecture, harmoniously conceived, with nothing superfluous and nothing lacking. He spent time traveling in the Muslim lands during the colonial era and the imperialist authorities saw him as a potential troublemaker. In 1932 CE he came into contact with the Muslim poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal who encouraged him to remain in India and help work for a Muslim state in the continent.
During WWII the British incarcerated Muhammad Assad for three years due to his Austrian origins, despite him being of Jewish stock. During the war his parents were murdered by the Nazis. He was given the post of Director of the Department of Islamic Reconstruction by the fledgling Government of Pakistan soon after partition and later he served in Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He knew Hebrew and Aramaic and had a strong knowledge of the Old Testament, coming from a long line of Rabbis. He wrote an account of his journey from Judaism to Islam, called ‘The Road to Mecca’ and also ‘The Message of the Qur’an’, which is a translation and commentary on the meanings of the Holy Qur’an. He was living in Spain when he passed away in 1992 CE and was buried in the Muslim cemetery of Granada, in what was once the Muslim land of Andalusia. His son Talal Asad is an eminent anthropologist.