Friday, April 17, 2020

Obituary: Marjorie Karim, A Beautiful Servant Returns to Allah

By Jamillah Karim
Featuring Khalijah Karim





Hajjah Marjorie Shukriyyah Karim, the mother of Khalil, Sultan, Jamillah and Ayisha Karim, and the daughter of Lawrence Winters, Sr., and Angeletta Tilghman Winters, returned to Allah on April 14, 2020, in Sha’ban, “the month of the Prophet Muhammad” (may Allah bless him and give him peace). Marjorie was a beautiful soul with an illuminating smile, a vast heart, a generous hand, a brilliant mind, and a pure spirit dedicated to attaining the pleasure of her Most Bountiful Lord. She spread the salam most sweetly, she fed the hungry tirelessly, and she prayed in the night devotedly—all acts for which her beloved Prophet Muhammad (S) promised Paradise.


Each pillar of her faith, Marjorie embodied exceptionally. Born and raised a devout Catholic, she courageously embraced Islam for its message of self-love and liberation, and later inspired her sister, Jonetta, to become Muslim. In a community known for its unique transition to Al-Islam, she humbly led in establishing the five daily prayers in her home. 

Marjorie and Jonetta - On their way to Mecca and Cairo, Umrah 2018


Hajj 2004


So generous and unfailing was her charity that her masjid, the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, awarded her “The Maintainer Award.” So far-reaching was her reputation for feeding the homeless that CNN featured her philanthropy as capturing the spirit of Ramadan—like the Prophet Muhammad (S) in Ramadan, “more generous than the free blowing wind.” So beloved was she to her Lord that five times He invited her as a guest to His holy House (the Ka’ba in Mecca), one of those times to accompany her sister and another time on behalf of a sister in faith.


1990s. In front of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam

Ramadan 2007




Marjorie was born Marjorie Elizabeth Winters in Washington, D.C., on October 4, 1952. She was the third of five children, all of whom attended catechism classes at St. Cyprian and Holy Name Catholic Churches. From an early age, women exemplars of piety impressed her, especially her grandmother Clara. In Marjorie’s innocent eyes, “a great woman” meant “being pious.”  

Senior Picture, McKinley Tech High School, 1970
Marjorie was graced not only with the greatness of piety but also professional success. With a knack for higher mathematics, she excelled in school and in her career. After graduating from McKinley Tech High School in 1970, she matriculated at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania on a full scholarship. 

Marjorie, left, connected with Pan-Africanists in her first year of college, 1970-1971


Family and community interests, however, led her to take a break from her studies. She joined the Nation of Islam in 1971 and married Howard University graduate Harvey 2X from Atlanta, GA, where she eventually moved in 1973 with the couple’s firstborn, Khalil. She gave birth to her second son, Sultan, in 1974, and was dedicated to “being there” for her “babies,” despite the financial constraints her husband met, only "working for self.” In 1975, when Imam W.D. Mohammed (R) made the transition to Al-Islam, he personally gave her husband, a minister at the time, the name Ahmad Karim. Marjorie cherished the name Karim, and humbly lived its meaning--generous and noble.

Marjorie wanted to be a nun but she also wanted to have children. The Nation of Islam was her answer: "You got to wear all the different colors and still look modest like nuns, and I could have babies." Marjorie is holding a friend's son. 1972

Marjorie in her MGT&GCC Uniform (Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization  Class), 1975

Khalil and Sultan, 1975. Marjorie made the bow tie that Khalil is wearing. She made bow ties, money pouches, and sandwiches for her husband to sell- all skills learned in the Muslim Girls Training (MGT) class in the Nation of Islam. According to Ahmad Karim, "Her bow ties were the best bow ties ever made in the world."
Marjorie made her own dresses, like many women in the Nation of Islam.

Marjorie's in-law's house (Granny's house), 1978
Jamillah and Ayisha, 1979

After a decade of mothering small children--including birthing her two daughters, Jamillah and Ayisha--Marjorie stunned everyone when she decided to return to school in 1981. “Making straight As,” she also worked part-time, including tutoring students in computer programming. Marjorie completed her Bachelors in Business Administration at Georgia State University within five years and landed her first job as a project manager in 1988 at Bell South which later became AT&T, from which she retired in 2015.


Marjorie’s community work, however, was her soul work. Not just a committed worker was she, but a pioneer. In the 1980s, she worked in the masjid kitchen during her birth month, carrying the Nation legacy of women’s fundraising--the backstory to her fame for her heavenly whole wheat carrot cake; she co-led an effort to feed the homeless at a women’s shelter in an urban church; and she served on the board of Sister Clara Muhammad School when it was courageously expanded into a high school, faithfully enrolling her son in the first class of W.D. Mohammed High School.


Annual Mosque Cares Convention - Youth Banquet


In the 1990s, she co-founded M.O.R.E. for Youth, the Muslim Organization Representing Excellence for Youth, where she mentored and inspired hundreds of young people through various projects including a Muslim teen cable talk show and organizing the youth conference of the Annual Mosque Cares National Convention, where Marjorie’s guidance and warm hugs reached across the Nation. 

Marjorie with Sister Khayriyyah, founding president of Sisters United- now together with Allah. 
Rites of Unthaa


The last two decades of Marjorie’s life were filled with service through the organization dearest to her heart, Sisters United in Human Service, Inc., of which she was a founding member. Faithfully and dutifully, she worked long hours serving on the board as treasurer, organizing an annual interfaith health conference, co-coordinating homeless feedings, and in other capacities too long to list. Her high station as “Mother of the Youth” was fortified through her twenty years at the forefront in coordinating Rites of Unthaa, a program guiding girls in their development into virtuous women. We cannot enumerate the souls she touched.


Arizona Thanksgiving, 2019



Without question, her greatest impact was on us, her children and grandchildren. Any excellence you see in us is her finest legacy. And therefore, what we witnessed of her intimately is the truest testimony of her excellence: Walking distances with us to catch the bus because she didn’t have a car. And when she finally did, offering ride after ride to sisters in need. Moving into her own house after her divorce and struggling to manage the needed repairs. Teaching us to obey Allah, reminding us when we failed, holding us through the hardship, and lifting us when we turned back to God. Treating strangers as they were old friends, and providing a warm bed and unforgettable meals for extended family and new acquaintances. 






Memories of the sweet companionship she offered us in travel as far as Malaysia and a little closer in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Of the affection and gifts she lavished on her grandchildren, even making her perfected whole wheat carrot cake gluten-free, all out of love. Of the radical changes she made to her diet and the constant reminders to eat well, in hopes that we not suffer as she did. Of her loading tables and trays of food into her car, even when she was ill, to transport to the homeless. Truly, in her deepest suffering, she did everything in her power to lighten the burdens of others, until she just couldn’t do it anymore. 









In a letter to Nana, Marjorie’s third oldest granddaughter, Khalijah, amazingly captures everything about Marjorie that we have attempted to share here, and more.  


To Nana Marjorie 💜,
I honestly wish I would’ve written this when your vessel, mind and soul was still here on earth but procrastination got the best of me. 2013 is when you got diagnosed. Your children didn’t know for three years and your grandchildren for five. When I found out, I laid in bed and let out a soft cry. It was early in the morning, and I didn’t want to wake up anyone in the house. As I laid there, my mind almost immediately took me back to my 12th grade year. It was the day I was really sick; every step I took felt like I was going to pass out. Dear Bro.Siddiq (May he Rest In Peace) noticed and called my parents. My mom didn’t pick up, and my Dad was away at work. When Bro.Siddiq got a hold of you, not even two minutes into the conversation, you were on your way. When you got to the school and realized how weak and drained I looked, you didn’t take me home but you took me to get breakfast and then straight to the doctor’s. We waited and talked in the waiting room until the results came back. When the doctor finally approached us, she informed you that I had to be sent to the E.R. right away because my blood was way too low. You were so worried. Nevertheless, you were with me every step of the way. You were there until my parents came, and even then you still stayed for a while. After that, you took me to my checkups. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Just me and you. Even one of the checkups, you let me get Zaxby’s- salad of course- but I was still happy. You helped me keep my blood up, and put me on to kale heavy. The liver, not so much 💜This was in 2015, two years into your illness. Now there’s a lot, and I mean A LOT of memories I could write about, but this one in particular came to my mind that day, and now as I write this, because it highlights your selflessness. You were fighting a serious battle but were right by my side when I fell temporarily ill, and I will be forever grateful here and beyond. Even though tears may fall from my eyes on the paper as I write this, diluting the ink of my pen- yes, some may be of sadness- but most of it is happiness because you won’t have to suffer or be in pain anymore. You are now up with Allah 💜. I know you will fit right in because that’s where Angels belong. I love you sweet sweetie Nana Marjorie.
From: Your Khalijah Boo

May the angels perfume Mama Marjorie’s path to the Highest Paradise.





















41 comments:

  1. I will miss her. She will always be an inspiration.

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  2. Beautiful. Peace and blessings to you on your journey, Ms. Karim.

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  3. Beautiful. She will be sorely missed and she left huge shoes to fill. May she continue to be an example for us all.

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  4. Alhamdulillahi Peace and Blessings to you all at this time

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  5. Beautiful life. Beautiful tribute.

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  6. My heart is with Marjorie's family during this time. May Allah bestow His mercy on you & bless you to benefit from Marjorie's presence among you.

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    1. My heart is with Marjorie's family during this time of your grief! May Allah bestow His mercy on you & bless you to benefit from the good of Marjorie's life. She is a truely beautiful person, may Allah bless her handsomely in this life & the next! Ameen. Wajeedah Bilal

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  7. Ahhhh!!! JAMILLAH THIS IS PERFECT!!! And KHALIL's comments were OUTSTANDING as well!!! Thank you for all sharing such a BEAUTIFUL, INSPIRATIONAL, CELEBATION OF HER LIFE with us!!! Sister Marjorie's body is gone BUT the unforgettable impact of her heart, soul, spirit, faith, kindness, acts of service, and warm smile & hugs will remain with us all FOREVER!!! They all live on through you, your siblings, her sister, your children, friends and community memebers, etc, etc!!! May Allah Reward her for all of the good that she has done and for being firm and patient and faithful throughout ALL of her tests which the Believers are promised!!! G-d's Promise is true!!! The Believers will win through!!! Sister Marjorie has won insha'Allah!!! Ameen!!! G-d is with those who Believe, have Faith & put their Trust in Him!!! I LOVE YOU ALL!!! ALWAYS!!! Peace, Love & (((HUGS))) Aqueelah & Family

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  8. May Allah forgive her of all of her sins, make her grave spacious, and elevate her to the highest level of Paradise. Ameen

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  9. Such a beautiful tribute. I love you all. ❤

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  10. I thank Allah for sharing such a beautiful spirit with us. I thank your Family for honoring your Mother in such a loving way! She was always so sweet and special. Always so pleasant that you couldn't help but feel good about everything. You will be missed. Rest in peace. Cassandra El-Amin

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  11. My first cousin. My childhood friend. Beautiful spirit. Generous heart. The testaments of her children and grandchildren reveal a life lived in service and kindness. May it be said of all of us that we followed her stellar example. Joan F. Tilghman

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  12. Allah says "Say not of my servants who die in my way, they are dead. For they are alive, you just don't perceive it." May Allah give you a beautiful afterlife in Jannah.

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  14. I am so heartbroken. I remember Marjorie and her sister. She was so kind and nice to everyone. May Allah give her the highest place in heaven and forgive her sins. Amin.

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  15. May Allah reward Sis. Marjorie with the highest level of paradise. Ameen. This is a beautiful testimony.

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  16. My heart and prayers go out to the family. Your mom and nana has left a beautiful legacy behind, and humble indeed she was. Rest in peace sister Marjorie, may Allah be pleased with you.

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  17. Prayers that the love of Allah encases you during your difficult times.

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  18. Alhamduallah. Such a beautiful tribute.May Allah's mercy comfort the family as the move forward.

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  19. Thank you for sharing the beautiful memories of your mother. I always appreciated the love and caring she showed towards me and my family. I pray her soul is at peace in paradise. Sis. Marjorie will always be in my heart. Amen. Peace and blessings...

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  20. May Allah (swt) grant your mom the Paradise. May Allah comfort you all. A beautiful soul indeed. With Love from Miami, FL

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  21. Such a Phenomenal Tribute and Legacy for such an Honorable Sweet Soul. May Her Grave be ever spacious with illuminating light as Marjorie Attains the Highest Station in Jennah...

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  22. Sister Marjorie was a beautiful sister and will be missed by all. She contributed so much to our community. May Allah be pleased with her and grant her paradise. Arissa

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  23. She had such a beautiful soul.

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  24. When you left DC, we didn't talk much but the spirit that is exemplified in these comments let me know they knew you. Kindness and forthrightness was always your spirit. I will see you again where the sun is always shining and problems are no more.

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  25. Unfortunately, I did not know sister Majorie. After reading this obituary, I feel like I've missed out on meeting a great and special person. May Allah grant her the highest level of jannah, forgive her short comings and make her grave spacious. My sincere heartfelt condolences to the family.

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  26. Your mother had such an enormously radiant spirit. We pray we can continue to exemplify her energy throughout our community. Our deepest condolences to the family. Her greatest tribute is reflected by the excellence of her children. From Allah we come and to Him we are ever returning. We beg Allah to forgive her any errors and to reward her according to the very best of her deeds with the highest heavens! Peace and Blessings. Sis Coral Qadar

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    1. 🙏🏽❤🙏🏽 ..Ameen

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  27. She was always, consistently and enthusiastically, kind to me. May Allah be kind to her. She was a beautiful human being. May Allah grant her space in her grave and mercy mercy mercy. Sister Marjorie.... what a legacy.

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  28. She will be sooo missed❤ ..such a sweet soul consistently toward me and so many others ..May she receive paradise

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  29. Khalil, this tribute is absolutely beautiful, Khalijah's letter brought me to tears. I am so happy I had the pleasure of meeting her. She was loving and always so very kind. Her body will be missed but her spirit will forever be felt in the many lives that she touched. Well done, good and faithful servant Sis Marjorie. You will be missed.

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  30. Dear Jamillah, This is a glorious tribute to your mother, the etching of a life boldly and beautifully lived. In Paradise those who have believed and have done good are promised the front row, and your mother must have gotten a speedy passage to that special perch in Eternity. Thanks for sharing so much of her life with us, and also for embodying who she was in your own splendid life. Cheers, as always, Bruce

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  31. This brought tears to my eyes. How I miss Sister Marjorie and wish I could have spent more time with her. Something so radiant about the pioneering mothers of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. May Allah Ta'ala make her grave a garden of Paradise and grant her the highest station with Him, Ameen!

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  33. Such a beautiful tribute to such a beautiful soul, MashaAllah. May Allah accept her into His Nearest Loving Presence. I feel so privileged to have witnessed her excellent example of Muslim Womanhood and of Humanity. Love and Duas💜💜💜

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  34. Beautiful tribute to a truly inspirational member of our community. May Allah forgive her sins and grant her the highest station in paradise.

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  35. I'm crying as I read this... I loved Sister Marjorie. And just realizing how much I'm already missing her. Her spirit was so beautiful!

    May Allah have Mercy on her soul⚘...

    May Allah guide us, keep us strong in faith, and give us the wisdom to navigate these trying times.

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  36. I am in agreement with every soul that can attest to the kindness and beauty of every word that was written or spoken about Sister Marjorie, she gave light to the world because she walked in it.

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  37. My family and I just recently learned of Sis. Marjorie's passing. From Allah we come to Allah we return. May Allah continue to bestow his mercy and blessings upon Sis. Marjorie's beautiful spirit. Jazak Allah Khair, Mama Jameelah, Aziza, and Jala.

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  38. Bismillah, I am just reading my sweet Marjorie's obituary, the words of which sparked sadness, joy, humor, amazement, and an awareness of her that I had not known despite what I felt was a close kinship to her --- personally and as a member of SUIHS. Allahu Akbar. Marjorie was an angelic soul who always had words of kindness and encouragement for me. I was put to shame when I read how tirelessly she gave of herself to important causes, something that was just her...not contrived for show. And a 5-time Hajja! Subhanallah! I was inspired to give thought of returning again. May Allah forgive your smallest indiscretion and Grant her the highest realm of Jannah. Love you dearly sis.

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  39. Umi Marjorie, it is your words through birthday cards, mother's day gifts, texts, and emails that often keeps me going.

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