N. Phila. Man Charged In Al-faruqi Slayings

Posted: January 17, 1987

A North Philadelphia man has been charged with the grisly stabbing deaths last May of Temple University religion professor and world-renowned Islamic expert Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi and his wife inside their spacious Montgomery County home, police said.

Joseph Louis Young, 40, of Mellon Terrace near 7th Street, was arrested last night at the city's newest prison - the Philadelphia Industrial Training Center - where he was awaiting trial in connection with an unrelated shooting incident in October. Young had been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly wounding his former wife, whom police did not identify.

Al-Faruqi, 65, and his wife, Lois, 60, died of multiple stab wounds inflicted during a vicious predawn attack in their secluded, three-story home on Bent Road near Church in the affluent Wyncote section of Cheltenham Township.

Police said the assailant slashed and stabbed the couple repeatedly with a survival-type knife - with a 10-inch blade - that was found lying next to the professor's body in the blood-splattered house.

The al-Faruqis' eldest daughter, Anmar el-Zein, 27, of Cleveland, Ohio - who was visiting her parents at the time - was seriously wounded in the attack. El-Zein, who was stabbed in the chest and arms, was two months' pregnant at the time. It took 200 stitches to close her wounds, but the baby survived.

Their youngest daughter, Tyma, 21, escaped injury by hiding in a bedroom closet with el-Zein's 18-month-old son.

The slayings shocked the Islamic community throughout the world. Many believed the al-Faruqis were assassinated for the professor's vocal pro- Palestinian viewpoint or due to factionalism within the Muslim community. Many were outraged that the attacks occurred during Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims when the faithful fast by day to purify themselves for the grace of Allah.

Al-Faruqi had been a professor of religion at Temple University since 1968 and was described as one of the world's leading Islamic scholars. Although he did not consider himself a political person, he occasionally counseled Islamic countries on religious policies.

His wife was an accomplished pianist and also earned worldwide acclaim for her expertise on Islamic art.

Shortly after the slayings, Montgomery County Coroner Theodore Garcia said the attack was the result of "premeditated, vengeful rage."

Authorities ruled out robbery as a motive because the intruder sought out his victims in separate areas of the house and stabbed them repeatedly. Whoever came to the al-Faruqi home that morning came there for one reason, authorities said - to kill.

Philadelphia and Cheltenham police would not divulge a motive or say how their joint investigation led them to Young, who was arrested about 7 p.m.

"Tomorrow I'll have a better handle on things," Cheltenham Township police Lt. Robert Krauser last night. "I have to be very careful about what (information) goes out."

Young was arraigned on fugitive charges at the Police Administration Building, 8th and Race streets, early today. He waived a bail hearing and was taken to Montgomery County, where he was held without bail to face charges in the slayings.

Dressed in a brown sweater and pants, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound suspect displayed no emotion as he stood before Bail Commissioner Margaret McCook at police headquarters. He simply answered "yes" when McCook asked if he understood the charges against him during the brief arraignment.

Young was then led away in handcuffs and shackles to be bound over to Montgomery County authorities.

Krauser said Young has been charged with first-, second- and third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, attempted murder, weapons offenses, simple assault, aggravated assault, burglary, criminal trespass and robbery.

Young will be held at the Montgomery County Prison, pending a preliminary hearing Jan. 27, Krauser said.

Police believe Young used a screwdriver to force entry into the al-Faruqi home about 3 a.m. May 27 and stabbed Lois al-Faruqi inside a kitchen shed when she went to investigate a noise. El-Zein, apparently aroused by the commotion, came to her mother's aid and was wounded before retreating to an upstairs bedroom.

According to police, Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi was slashed and stabbed at the top of the stairs when he went to investigate. The assailant then tracked el- Zein to the bedroom where he continued his assault on her.

Meanwhile, Tyma el-Faruqi grabbed el-Zien's son and hid in a closet.

Police theorize the attacker then returned to the professor, possibly stabbing him several more times before leaving the knife beside his lifeless body and fleeing the house.

El-Zein was able to help police make a composite sketch of her assailant. The suspect, who covered his face with a bandit-style kerchief, was described as a black man, about 5-foot-10 and weighing about 200 pounds.

A prolific writer, professor al-Faruqi authored several books about Islam and had translated several Islamic manuscripts into English. He was awaiting the release of yet another book at the time of his death.

Al-Faruqi was born in Jaffa, which was a part of Palestine. He was the last governor of Galilee and the last mayor of Nazareth under Arab rule. His family settled in Lebanon, but al-Faruqi immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1973.

After receiving his bachelor of arts degree from the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, al-Faruqi went on to collect master's degrees from Indiana University and Harvard University, and a doctorate degree from Indiana. He also earned a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and traveled the globe teaching at the Central Institution of Islamic Research in Pakistan, the University of Cairo and McGill University in Montreal. He also taught at Syracuse University.

He served on the editorial boards of seven scholarly journals and was president of the Muslim Community of Greater Montreal and of the National Association of Muslim Social Scientists.

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