“After accepting Islam as her ultimate way of life, Dr. Jamilah Linda Kay Kolocotronis Jitmoud diligently dedicated her services to raising our six sons, to promoting Islamic education and finally authored Islamic novels that have touched Muslims and non-Muslims all around the world, Alhamdulillah.” – Dr. Abdul-Mun’im Sombat Jitmoud
He said: “This is a mercy from my Lord…”
It all began in 1396 of the Islamic calendar (1976) when we met each other at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. I was pursuing my MA in Social Science Education and she was studying her BA in Philosophy and Religion. I introduced myself to her as a Muslim from Thailand. My God was known as Allah (SWT) and my religion was Islam. She had never heard about Muslims, Islam or Allah (SWT) before. There were about 50 Muslim students from many countries attending the university, but there was no organised Islamic activity. Allah (SWT) guided me to lead the Muslim students to set up the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and we had started to offer Jumu’ah prayers on campus. Linda asked me for permission to attend the prayers. Slowly, she began to research more about Islam as part of her Master’s degree program. Reading the Noble Qur’an, along with other religious scriptures, was part of her pursuit for the true guidance (al-hidayah). In her reading of the Qur’an, she came upon an ayah that resonated so strongly with her familiar Christian beliefs that it made an opening in her heart into which the light of Islam would enter:
“It is He who created the heavens and the earth in truth.
The day He says ‘Be’ and it is. His word is the truth. His will be the dominion the day the trumpet will be blown. He knows the unseen and the seen. And He is the wise, the well-acquainted”
On Ramadhan 19, 1400 (July 31, 1980), Allah Almighty finally guided her to accept Islam as her ultimate way of life. I still remember that important moment of truth. That Ramadhan morning, Brother Adel from Egypt, Brother Mahmoud from Jordan and I had just finished having our suhoor and were preparing for salatul fajr. We heard a knock at the door and when I opened it I found Linda. She handed me an envelope and inside was a letter that she was going to send to her pastor saying, “I want to become a Muslim.” We invited her in. Brother Adel gave her “shahadah.” I suggested that her name be “Jamilah,” the Arabic equivalent of the Spanish name Linda – “beautiful.” Besides, my youngest sister in Thailand was named “Jamilah”. She loved her new name, but preferred to keep the old one as well. She told me years later that when she first met me she tried to convert me to Christianity, but through her efforts and searching, not only did she find Islam, but a friend of hers also accepted Islam that same year.
After graduating from Truman State with an Ed.S. degree in Education Administration, I was accepted to pursue my doctorate degree at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. A year later, Jamilah also came to study for her Ph.D., majoring in Social Science Education and American History. Her doctoral dissertation was entitled “An Intellectual Historical Study of Islamic Jihad During the Life of Muhammad and in the Twentieth Century.” It was later published as her only non-fiction book by Islamic Book Service. On September 1981, we decided to get married. Together, we were very active in promoting Islam through the MSA. While I was the president of MSA, she helped me to plan and organise MSA activities and was instrumental in purchasing a church near the campus and converting it into a masjid. By 1405 (1985), when she graduated with her Ph.D., we had two sons, and it was then that our involvement in Islamic education emerged. We moved from Muncie, Indiana, to San Diego, California, to look for work. While I searched for a job, she looked for a school for our sons.
Jamilah’s contribution to Islamic education began in the summer of 1406 (1986). She was looking for a school for our eldest son who was four years old at the time. Ahmad was the type of boy who had a mind like a sponge and absorbed everything quickly. Jamilah didn’t feel that simply any American preschool would be an option. She asked Allah (SWT) for guidance to help her find a proper alternative for Ahmad’s education.
As she was looking through ISNA’s Islamic Horizon magazine, she found a job opening for a principal position at the Islamic School of Seattle, Washington. “This is an interesting educational concept,” she thought to herself. She brought this to my attention, and upon her request, I applied for the position. The Islamic School of Seattle became a starting point for our family. She and I would be partners in Islamic education from that day onward.
Three years later, in 1410 (1989), with our family growing, she was again instrumental in establishing the Islamic school in Kansas City, Missouri, which all of our six sons would eventually attend. In the early years, she taught students in the first grade and onward, and she later taught social studies in middle school and high school and became the high school coordinator. The school went on to become the first accredited Islamic school in the state of Missouri. In her 12 years of teaching at the Islamic School of Kansas City, she developed an Islamised social studies curriculum. Also, in 1411 (1990), we helped open an Islamic school in a suburb of Bangkok, Thailand, a school which is now growing, to the benefit of many hundreds of Thai students.
After the events of September 11, 2001, Jamilah realised that life was too short to postpone her lifelong dream of being a writer, so she resigned from full time teaching in 1423 (2002) and dedicated her knowledge and talents to the authoring of Islamic fiction. She would eventually publish six novels about the lives of Muslims in America, all of which have received wide acclaim in the United States as well as in countries around the globe, among both Muslim and non-Muslim readers.
While she was in the process of working on her new novel “Mary”, reviving “Innocent People” and “Islamic Jihad”, she became seriously ill. Dr. Jamilah Linda Kay Kolocotronis Jitmoud returned to the mercy of her Lord on Safar 30, 1434 (January 12, 2013), in her hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri, after several years of living with leukemia and multiple chemical sensitivities. I was blessed and honoured to witness 36 years of her life while she was searching for Islam, entering the fold of Islam, serving Islam, and returning finally to her Most Merciful Lord. We pray that Allah Almighty accepts her works and grants her the highest places in Jannatul Firdous Al’Alaa. Amin. She leaves behind our six sons, who have the same desire to promote Islam with a sense of vigour to complement that of their mother’s. May Allah Almighty guide them to achieve their mother’s aspiration. Amin!
Dr. Abdul-Mun’im Jitmoud still cherishes the noble relationship he had with his wife and misses her very much and forever. He is currently the principal of Lexington Universal Academy. For more information, please visit www.luaky.com.