Reflections on the Life of Maryam Funches, Ed.D.

Those of us in the metal building missed this.

Reflections on the Life of Maryam Funches, Ed.D.
By her daughter Zanjabil Williams-White
(As read at the Janazah Prayers, ICM, January 14, 2007)

Mary, Mert, MerNell, Auntie, Mimi, Nana, Sister Maryam or Mommy – no matter which name you knew her by, you knew and loved her well.

She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece and a cousin. She loved and cherished her family tremendously. They were her foundation, her building blocks of her love of God. She was always eager to be with them to sit and talk, laugh and sometimes argue, but most of all just to love.

She was a friend and a close Muslim sister to many, making friends wherever she would go. Most importantly she kept them––managing to give lasting love, support, advice and sisterhood to each of the countless people.

She was more than a community activist; for a lot of people she was their community. She worked tirelessly not only for numerous blessed and worthy causes, but also for individuals, families and friends by opening her home to anyone in need and by giving generously from what Allah provided her. Many times she gave up the comforts of her own bed (and that or our beds also) to facilitate the needs of others.

She was a grandmother –– enjoying her time shared with her grandkids, showering them with love and affection and spoiling them like only a grandparent can.

She gave birth to four children, but she was a mother to many, many more –-touching the lives of all of our friends and countless others. She naturally took the youth under her wing –– teaching, advising, inspiring and admonishing them like a second mother and like the mother some never had.

Undoubtedly she faced some of her greatest challenges with my brothers and me, but these challenges she met with courage. We all grew closer and closer to our mother as we matured and as she taught us how to better love each other, forgive more, and accept and appreciate people as they are. Her remedy to most problems we talked and called about was to Dhikir (or remember Allah). Even though we didn’t believe it was that simple––it always was.

All of the love she showed, which we were sometimes too blind to see, InshaAllah, we all felt and understood near the end. She became no longer just our Mother, nor just our Muslim sister in Islam, she truly became our Best Friend.

Finally, and I believe most importantly (and I know she’d agree), she was a Muslim: she didn’t claim one group of Muslims over another; she did not label herself as any particular kind of Muslim; she was simply a Muslim. She prayed in many masjids no matter the “school of thought.” She traveled in many circles and mingled effortlessly with most Muslims, and she supported the growth and establishment of Islam anywhere.

Being raised in a strong and loving household enabled her to answer the call from God to Islam. She understood and recognized the beauty of Islam and the unity it offered to communities and to the world.

The shock and great sadness that some may have felt at the news of her passing perhaps may have had less to do with the suddenness of her death, but more to do with the loss of such a vibrant, wonderfully bright Light in our lives. My mother would want us all to remember her good works, remember her giving and loving heart, remember her warm and friendly smile, and to work towards the unity with each other that she practiced among so many. Let her light live on in all of us; pray for her forgiveness, and pray for her entry into Paradise so that one day we too may realize the fulfillment of these ayats of the Quran that she so embodied:

“Say, Truly my prayer and service of sacrifice, my life and death are all for Allah, Lord of the Worlds: no partner has He: this I am commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His Will.” [6:162-163]


  1. inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raj’ioon. May Allah forgive her sins and make her among the abraar, and may He ta’ala reunite her with her family and those whom she touched in Jannatul Firdaws. ameen
    May Allah forgive the sins of the other sister who passed away and may He place a light in her grave and widen it for her, and bless her with the glad tidings of Jannatul Firdaws. ameen

  2. I would like to say “Thank You” for remembering the life of my dear Cousin MerNell (Sis. Maryam Funches). Please continue to pray for the Funches Family.

  3. Thank you for visiting, I’m quite sure your cousin and our sister will not be forgotten anytime soon. You can often tell about a life well-lived and the good a person has done when you see how in their life they were able touch so many people. Our prayers are for her and her loved ones.

  4. I knew Marynell as a classmate and friend. Also, her neices are my neices because my brother was married to her younger sister. I am just learning of her demise. She was a beautiful person (inside and out). My condolences go to her children and immediate family.

  5. May Allah forgive Sister Maryam for her sins and open the gates of paradise to her. I count Maryam as one of my best friends and continue to think and miss her spirit. We pray that Allah watches over her family. Please remember to keep Sister Maryam in your prayers.

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