Hollywood Actress Emilie Francois, Now a Muslim, Speaks of Social Justice in Islam

Collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

Forty Hadiths or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad about Compassionate Living

The Quran Applauded as a Landmark Contribution to ‘Words of Justice’ by Harvard

A British Convert to Islam: ‘I found Qur’an mother of all philosophies’

The Concept of Justice in Islam by Sir Zafrulla Khan


Myriam Francois-Cerrah

From Wikipedia

Myriam Francois-Cerrah (born Emilie François; 1983) is a Franco-British writer,[1] broadcaster and academic on issues related to Islam, France and the Middle East. She writes a monthly column for the New Statesman online and is also a regular contributor to Middle East Eye.




Francois-Cerrah currently works as a freelance journalist, in both print and broadcast media. Her articles have been featured in The Guardian,[2] The Huffington Post,[3] New Statesman,[4] Your Middle East,[5] The London Paper, Jadaliyya,[6] ABC,[7] The Daily Telegraph,[8] Salon,[9] Index on Censorship,[10] the F-Word[11] and the magazine Emel.[12]

She is the presenter of a BBC documentary on the genocide at Srebrenica,[13] which aired on BBC 1 on Monday 6 July 2015.

She is a former correspondent for the Huffington Post (2014-2015), where she broke a headline story on an exclusive 36-page document written by alleged al-Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,.[14]

She has worked as a programme researcher at the BBC, and currently works as a freelance programme producer on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head (2013-).

She is former assistant editor and features writer at Emel magazine (2008–2009).

She is a regular guest on BBC Big Questions (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)[15] and Sunday Morning Live.

She has appeared on Newsnight (2009), 4thought.tv (2011),[16] BBC News (2010),[17] Crosstalk (2010), BBC Radio (2012), Sky News[18] and documentaries including Divine Women, presented by Bettany Hughes.[19] In 2012, she commented the French presidential elections for Sky News, as well as the French presidential inauguration and 2012 local elections and regularly comments on current affairs, in particular related to France or the Middle East. She has been a frequent guest on Tariq Ramadan’s television show Islam & Life broadcast by Iran’s PressTV.


A former actress, her screen career began at age 12 in Ang Lee‘s Sense and Sensibility (1995) in which she played Margaret Dashwood alongside Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.[20][21] She went on to star in Paws (1997) alongside Nathan Cavaleri and Heath Ledger, and New Year’s Day (2000), in which she played Heather.[citation needed]


She is currently a Research Associate at SOAS, in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East where her work focuses on issues related to British Muslims, integration and racism.

She previously worked as a Research Assistant at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), Georgetown University (2005-2007) in Washington DC. While undertaking her doctorate, Francois also works as an academic tutor in the Oxford University Department for Politics and International Relations, where she teaches Middle East politics.

She has guest lectured at universities including Harvard University (2014), Birmingham, (2014), Luther College (2015) and an annual guest lecture at Kingston University, UK (2012-2014). She is due to deliver a lecture as part of the 2015-16 Ebor Series at York St John University.


Francois-Cerrah is studying for a PhD at Oxford University in Oriental Studies focused on Islamic political movements in Morocco.[22]

She has an MA with honours in Middle East politics from Georgetown University, and a BA from Cambridge University in Social and Political science.[citation needed]

Personal Life

In 2003, at 21 years old, Francois-Cerrah became a Muslim after graduating from Cambridge. At the time, she was a skeptical Roman Catholic. She rejects the use of the words “convert” or “revert” as “exclusionary”, describing herself as “just Muslim”.[23]


External links


20 replies

  1. its mere blessing of Allah who directs one to the right path,may she remain steadfast on the path she has choosen,

  2. “Muslims are part and parcel of the American and European scene.”

    John Esposito, the scholar of Islam and International Affairs at Georgetown, concludes,

    “Therefore, any talk of Islam and the West must be complemented by our recognition of Islam in the West.”

    If Islam is currently in America, America, in dealing with Islam, should learn about its own unique experience and the challenges Muslims face. At least two features distinguish American Muslims from their European counterparts. Traditionally, most Muslim immigrants to the USA were professionals while in Europe most were from the working class. Perhaps, most importantly, African-Americans created a new image of Islam that was absent in Europe. Let us focus on this latter point.

    (1) Around two-thirds (60%) of America’s Muslims are from immigrant families; the others are converts, primarily African-American.

    African-American Islam emerged in the early twentieth century when many Blacks converted to Islam, what they conceived as a return to their authentic spiritual and cultural roots.

    This turn was a selective mix of Islamic symbols and Black Nationalism. American Muslims still must deal with this mix to develop a more constructive Islam. The Nation of Islam represents this movement which consisted of both very negative and very positive aspects and took a long time to define itself in a peaceful and constructive way.

    It started with an egalitarian message for social justice. First, Wallace D. Fard Muhammad (disappeared in 1934), initiated a black liberation movement, in the ghetto of Detroit. Although he was recognized as the Islamic Messiah (the Great Mahdi, or saviour) he used Islam as a weapon for his ideological agenda, black nationalism, and against white people and Christianity.

    His successor Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975) corrupted Islam, identified Fard as Allah, which meant God was a black man. In turn, he made himself as the messenger of God. However, he gave to the marginalized poor with lower self-esteemed blacks a sense of identity, community, self-improvement, and empowerment to survive in a discriminating society.

    Still negative points remained, among them: black separatism and supremacy, excommunicating dissidents including his two sons. The Nation of Islam did not practice the major Islamic rituals, like many lay Talibans in Afghanistan who do not know about daily prayers!

    A major transition occurred in the Nation of Islam with Malcolm X (1925-65) and Wallace D. Muhammad (1933-2008), the son of Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm X brought the movements into line with the civil right movement, the Vietnam War Protest, and solidarity with liberation struggles in colonial Africa. Wallace D. Muhammad brought it closer to mainstream Islamic doctrines and practices and advanced the role of women in ministry.

    Passing many modifications and overcoming so many errors, African-Americans learned to adapt the new image of Islam and present their Islamic identity in helping to solve concrete problems like racism, poverty, crime, violence, and drugs.

    (2) Other American Muslims can learn much from this movement in adjusting their faith with American life, opportunities and challenges. As American Muslims’ stories vary from those of Europeans, so do they differ from those in Africa or Asia. Not only schedules, schooling, and vacations are different, but also parties, discipline, and parent-child relationships. So they must go further, in producing an American Islam.

    This calls for a harmony of Islamic and American values. Islamic law; Sharia, consists in a marriage between actual life and God’s commands. This is why it is believed that a rural Mufti’s (faith direction) reflects rural conditions and thus but it changed and adopted for the city-dweller. Thus, it is completely a faithful demand that American’s faith direction have to reflect realities here.

    American Islam does not mean necessarily observing Juma (community) prayer on Sunday instead of Friday-thus imitating US values; but it means developing institutions that are indigenously rooted and respond, not merely react, to realities; this must be adapted Islam to an American context.

    If the Quran encourages Muslims to

    “Listen to all words and follow the best ones,”

    (the Quran, 39:18) it suggests at least that Muslims should listen to non-Muslim Americans and learn from them. If the Quran clearly calls for “Common Word” among Muslims, Christians, and Jews (3:64), it supports dialogue among different parts of American faithful culture. If the Prophet said,

    “Loving the hometown is a part of faith”

    this is a duty of American Imams to teach American Muslims to love their country. If God describes a hometown’s safety and good economy as Divinity’s bounty to a nation (106:4) it is the responsibility of American Imams to teach their students thanksgiving for their good economy and security.

    (3) Non-Muslim Americans too can learn from this narrative on the Nation of Islam. The movement had reactionary elements. Of the six million Muslims in America, more than the population of Libya, Kuwait, or Qatar, many serve as health-care professionals, managers, businessmen, professors and students, engineers, etc.

    In this new replacement of a predominantly Judeo-Christian mind set with a common Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, many things have to be done. Among them, two are most significant: definition of American Islam by Muslims and treating Muslims as a part of “Self” by non-Muslims.

    When Islam is seen as a “foreign religion” and Muslims as foreigners, it only alienates. If the transition from Judeo-Christian to Judeo-Christian-Islam is recognized it helps both Non-Muslims to enrich their culture and Muslims to learn from other faiths and their experiences in peaceful interpretations of the faith as well as modern values like humanism and rationalism, human rights, women’s rights, etc.

    American and Islamic identities can be understood as stiff and narrow things which contradict each other and fuel extremism. Or, they can be understood as flexible and broad realities in which to shape American life. This would help to realize the American dream, and widen human horizons – a true expectation of American civilization.

  3. Embarrassing. The guy starting off as atheist doesn’t impress me. A little time in a library – doesn’t make him an expert on anything. Being a doctor of only one thing – again doesn’t impress me. As many doctors state a claim this year – and by next year retract it. I am glad he found faith. Whichever faith. As per the movie star – who? I work with celebrities – I have NEVER heard of her. Besides Hollywood is morally bankrupt. She was never religious – was likely never baptized – was culturally Catholic at best. She received no religious training over her lifetime – therefore she was agnostic or atheist. Being a librarian in a religious university wouldn’t make her religious either. Don’t sensationalize these people – they were not extraordinary. They weren’t even previously religious. This isn’t a victory of conversion. This is a victory of people that had no spirituality – and then found some. Found purpose. Found answers to questions man has been asking for millennia. God bless them both.

  4. @Mike Duffy Please watch the video by Prof. Bart Ehrman, How Jesus Became God, in the comments above and then you may see a different perspective on the success stories of Myriam Francois-Cerrah and Laurence Brown.

    • I will Mr. Shah! When I have more than a few moments. As a religious person – and educated – I already know that answer and it isn’t the answer several Muslim websites propose. What I’d love to know more about – is Khilafah. On paper it is complex – well thought out – an amazing system for everyone! But how – practically – do peoples Muslim and NON Muslim alike work towards it?

  5. There is goodness in every religion,one just needs an eye to see it,not all r bad not all r perfect … so one needs to take good frm all other whether frm other ppl or faiths or anything,it no bad if sm1 likes to hv a faith out of his/her will,goodness should follow it nt evil mindset.U r free to read n get inspire,I dont feel there is any need to change one’s religion,everything teaches us smthng,if Islam teaches devotion n justice ,then Christianity teaches to love others,to rise above the boundries,to b open,to live,inspire n let live n get inspired,Hinduism teaches tolerance,humanity on the whole,to adopt,to b flexible,to accept all … there is smthng or the other greatness tht every faith carries,it depends upon us,what appeal to us,what inspire us,what we feel the lack of in our lives.Goodness only should follow no matter what we do n where we go,but my heart says u dont need to do anything specific n go smwhere,u just need to b right,in ur human values,to b human only.Rest will itself follow,that is needed.

  6. Dear Zia Shah. I appreciate you encouraging me to dig deeper and explore! Keeps me honest! and learning and growing! Already in the first 5 mins of this interview from prof bart ehrman. I challenge several of his claims. Jesus was never a peasant – in a practical sense. A carpenter’s son – carpenter and later fisherman – were pretty middle class before the term existed. He is confident that he has done his homework – but I disagree. He represents an educated but narrow view from his undoubted protestant background. Islam and the Quran do a marvellous job having as few translations as possible. If Catholics had copyrighted their holy book and writings…all the other sects would hold no credibility and language changes and meanings. This guy is economically safe being granted tenure at a less than famous U.S. university. I would challenge him to a religious debate amongst other Christian writers and theologians and historians. He is accurate on many things – but overall – his arguments have been written and documented. It is next to impossible in this lifetime to read every book and article ever written. There are entire vast libraries in the UK and Normandy – written entirely in gaelic-celtic ( both insular and continental) that few people can read any more. Gaelic was dominant in europe for nearly 1600 years. It lends a lot of substance and and evidence to the original languages of the bible – hebrew latin and greek. I will look for this professors book – at a library or online – but I won’t put a dime into his pocket directly. There is a lot of money to be made challenging beliefs – and writings, and holy books – a circuit to lecture on – and free publicity for books and movies etc. Very much the American Way. But I do say this – if Islam, and the Quran are more accurate – and superior in more ways – then it will one day rule the world – and I would humbly accept my place under Allah (pbuh) and the new ruling system.

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