Yahya Parkinson

Yahya Parkinson (1874-1918), Scottish Muslim poet, essayist, and critic. Born in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland, of Irish descent. Born John Parkinson, and adopted the name Yehya-en-Nasr after converting to Islam, c.1900. Although relatively isolated in Scotland, Parkinson maintained contact with the Liverpool Muslim Institute between 1901 and 1908 which helped to establish his literary reputation by publishing his early work, after which he developed connections with literary and learned Muslim circles in British India (in Lahore, Calcutta and Rangoon), as well others closer to home in London and Woking, Surrey. His published books and pamphlets included Lays of Love and War (Ardrossan, 1904), Muslim Chivalry (Rangoon, 1909), Essays on Muslim Philosophy (Rangoon, 1909), Outward Bound (Rangoon, 1909) and Al-Ghazali (Woking, c.1913). He was a regular contributor of poetry and prose to a number of journals including The Islamic World (Liverpool), The Crescent (Liverpool), Journal of the Moslem Institute (Calcutta), Crescent (Lahore), The Review of Religions (Qadian, Punjab) and The Islamic Review (Woking). Parkinson worked for nearly all of his adult life as a wool-spinner at the Busby Spinning Company with a two-year sojourn in Burma as a deputy editor of a Rangoon newspaper in 1908-10; ill-health forced him to return to Scotland. He died in December 1918 after a short bout of pneumonia.

While he achieved some fame within local and some international Muslim literary circles, Parkinson has been largely forgotten until a recent revival of interest in his work among historians including Timothy Winter (Cambridge), Yaqub Zaki (Scotland) and Brent D. Singleton (California). Singleton recently republished a number of Parkinson's poems in an anthology of poems by Muslim converts during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, The Convert's Passion (2009), and a number of them have also been set to music by Abdal Hakim Murad in Muslim Songs of the British Isles (2005).

Further Reading
Murad, Abdal Hakim (2005) Muslim Songs of the British Isles (London: Quilliam Press).
Singleton, Brent D. (2009) The Convert's Passion: An Anthology of Islamic Poetry from Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain (USA: Borgo Press).
Zaki, Yaqub (forthcoming) "The Other Ayrshire Bard", The Shadow of the Crescent, Ch.29.

British Muslim Heritage An online archive of Parkinson's poetry, prose and some press reports about him.
British Muslim Song Some of Parkinson's poems set to song.
The Islamic Review Archive Articles by Parkinson were published between 1913-1918 in the Islamic Review.
John Yehya-en-Nasr Parkinson Short obituary and notices on Parkinson in the Islamic Review and a rare photograph.

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