AB: My family tried to.† I just canít understand that.† But you know what? †Thatís a trial.† Although Iíve changed my name for like 8 years now, they still run up calling me by my birth name.† Then itís, ďOh I forgot that youíre Muslim.Ē Then itís the pork jokes.† It never stops.
E: Itís one of those things where people laugh at what they donít understand.† Or they fear what they canít grasp.† The thing is that nobody can pretend that they donít understand it.† Because Iíve never come across anything more simple in my life.
Like I remember that when I sat down and asked, ďSo, what does a Muslim believe,Ē and I got the list run down to me.† I was like, ďYou donít put up the wall between Christianity and Judaism.Ē They were like, ďNah, itís all the same story.Ē
If when you finally get down to reading the Quran, the Bible and the Torah, which is pretty much just the Old Testament, you find that the Quran is just an affirmation of what is correct and isnít correct within those books (the Bible and the Torah).† And then you say to yourself, ďHow did that go down when these cats were all from different parts of the world?Ē †But they are all confirming each otherís story.
Iím reading a book right now called Muhammad: The Life of the Prophet, by Karen Armstrong.† It was written by a non-Muslim.† So far, Iím only about a quarter of the way through; but it starts out telling you how they originally tried to make Muhammad look like the most evil man on the earth; that he established Islam under the sword.† But then you learn that Muhammad only fought when he had to.† Muhammad only fought to defend Islam.† Itís a very good book about the man.† It just lets you know that this cat was a man.† We ainít trying to tell you that he was anything else but a man.† Weíre telling you as Muslims that he was the most perfect example of a man to walk the earth so far.† And from what Iíve read he is the last one to come of his kind.
When you get beyond being scared of Farrakhan and what heís sayiní -- and here as a white person Iím speaking -- when you get beyond the ignorance of believing that Islam has anything to do with just people that are blowing up things, that doesnít have anything to do with Islam.† They might do it in the name of Islam.† But it has nothing to do with Islam.† You canít argue with it.
When I explain Jesus to a Christian, he canít argue with me.† And I donít mean argue, saying, ďJesus isnít God!Ē †I mean, how much more sense does it make that heís a man? †If I was Christian, which to me means to be Christ-like, and God asks me, ďHey how come you werenít more like Jesus?Ē †Iíll say, I wasnít more like Jesus because you made him half of a God [and] Iím only a man?Ē †That doesnít make any sense.
God doesnít want things hard on us.† God wants things easy as possible.† God is going to make it as easy as possible.† If you ask and you are sincere, God will bring it to you.† He might throw some rocks on your path, to make you trip and stumble.† But itís gonna come to you.
AB: Talk to me about the first and second time you took your Shahadah (profession of faith).
E: Well the first time, it was right after I had heard a tape from Warith Deen Muhammad (son of Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad, who took most of the Nation of Islam into mainstream Islam).† That just kinda broke down the whole Jesus thing.† He explained that we (Muslims) do Christians a great favor by bringing Jesus down to the level of a man.† Why would God create a man who is half a God and compare us to him? †And it just sent off a bomb in my head.† So I took Shahadah.† And then the initial high wore off.
It was almost like a Christian who says that they accept Jesus.† Then they say, ďNo matter what I do now Iím saved.Ē ĎCause I was raised with that kinda mentality.† Like, ďOK, I accept the truth so let me just go out here and sin my butt off and Iím saved.Ē
I didnít really claim to be Muslim though at that time.† I picked and chose what I wanted to believe.† God gave me leeway for a time.† But eventually it was time to fish or cut the line.† I was coming to a point where I was unsatisfied emotionally, and spiritually.† I had money in the bank and a $100,000 car, women left and right -- everything that you think you want.† And then just sitting there being like, ďWhy am I unhappy?Ē †Finally that voice that talks to you -- not the whisper (of Satan) -- the voice said, ďWell, basically youíre unhappy because youíre living foul and youíre not trying to do anything about it.Ē
My stubbornness at that time wouldnít allow me to talk about it at that time.† You get in that state of mind where youíre like, ďI can figure this out all by myself.Ē
I finally got humble enough to talk to Divine and Abdullah about it.† They asked me, ďHow do you feel? †What do you think it is?Ē †So finally Iím sittiní there taking Shahadah again.† From that point on Iíve made a commitment where Iím going to try my best.† Iím gonna do my best to make my prayers, letís start there.† Letís not beat ourselves up because we went out last night and had a drink.† Letís make our prayers and pray for the strength to stop doing one thing at a time.† Thatís what Iím still dealing with.
You know, once you get over the big things, it becomes very subtle.† It can be as subtle as looking at a man, and not even speaking bad about him, but back-biting him in your mind.† The easy ones to beat -- well I shouldnít say easy -- the big ones are easy to notice.† Itís the subtle psychological stuff that helps you get into who really you are.† You gotta be able to face the truth of who you are.† If you are not able to face that truth of who you are, youíre gonna crumble, man.
People question me and go, ďYouíre Muslim?Ē †And Iím like, ďYeah Iím Muslim, but Iím also a professional sinner.Ē Iím tryiní to get over it, tryiní to retire.† I wonít front and say Iím better than you.† I just believe that Iíve been shown the truth and hopefully that will save me.Ē
Adisa Banjoko is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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