Finding a Home in Islam By: Abe Levy Source: The Wichita Eagle Jul 23, 2003 33 Comments Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society Topics: Islam Views: 10597 The days of Damian Williams running with his fellow rappers, pursuing fame, women and a hip-hop image are over. The 26-year-old turned in baggy jeans for long robes around the house. He sports a curly beard and is studying Arabic with his wife so they can read the Quran together. Williams, who now goes by Shaheed, is a convert to Islam, a religion that has brought a sense of truth and direction the Christianity of his youth and reviews of other religions didn't provide, he said. Now, he speaks periodically at the Muslim Community Center in north Wichita as one of an estimated 5,000 Muslims in the Wichita area. His discovery of Islam started with his childhood comic book collection, he said. A fan of the "X-Men," Williams learned of the character "Thor," the god of thunder from Norse mythology. It expanded his view of the world and religions beyond his Sunday school and youth group upbringing at St. Paul AME Church in Wichita. When he was in high school, a member told him about an Old Testament verse that prohibited eating pork. It surprised Williams and made him more curious about the Bible. Later, he found verses about honoring the Sabbath, which he also didn't think Christians observed. By mid-high school, he told his father he would no longer go to church. He was an agnostic. His passion became the Flatland Brigade, a local group of about eight rappers, who performed at parties. There was drinking, carousing and talk of pimping. The lifestyle smacked of arrogance, he said. "I despise that behavior," he said. "That's not being a man. They think it's being in a gang or having a gun or going to prison or mistreating a woman." Williams' older brother told him about the Nation of Islam, a controversial movement of some African-American Muslims. Williams never joined. A fellow rapper who had converted to orthodox Islam talked to Williams about the faith. Williams began to study Islam seriously and was soon persuaded by its teaching that there is one God to whom he could pray without a mediator. He admired the closeness among brothers and sisters of Islam despite their national and cultural differences. It was a religion of structure that he knew he needed. It taught obedience and submission to God and his law. And he was persuaded by Islam's teaching that people ought to be accountable to God for their actions. The Christian idea of Christ bearing sins on people's behalf, he said, weakened personal accountability. "There's no free ride," he said of Islam, unlike Christianity's teachings on grace and sin. For weeks, Williams' friend would ask if he was ready to accept Islam. Finally, in 1996, at age 19, Williams met with an imam, a Muslim leader. After speaking with him, Williams recited the "shahada," a statement of faith that is the first step in accepting Islam: "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." The room full of men now became a room of brothers who came up one by one to hug and congratulate him. He took a bath when he returned home as is customary for new converts. Still, it would take another three years, he said, before his new faith took hold of his life. "I just got fed up with feeling regret with the way my life was going," he said. "You never know which day is going to be your last." He listened to more sermons on tape, read books and attended services at the mosque, sometimes staying there overnight to pray and meditate. As a Muslim, he knew promiscuity was wrong and wanted to marry and start a family. He followed traditional Islamic customs in seeking out a wife. He spoke with several women about marriage, including a former co-worker, Nicole Childers, who was often at parties where he rapped. She had also converted to Islam from Christianity the year after he had. He proposed to her on a Tuesday and on Saturday they were married. She had accepted his dowry of $200, a silver necklace that said "Allah" on it and fragrant oil, among other gifts. During the five-minute ceremony, no rings were exchanged. She stood in a room nearby within earshot of the imam and her future husband. Today, they have three children, ages 3, 2 and six months. Williams works as a water meter reader for the city of Wichita. The hip-hop life is gone. A bookcase full of Islamic teachings and the Quran are his focus these days. "To me, Islam has the answer to racism, discrimination, feminism, abortion, high murder rates and drug selling," he said, "because it's trying to show human beings how to live their lives right." Source: Wichita Eagle Related posts from similar topics: What's in a name? Islam, History, and Identity The Bible Led me to Islam Universal Beauty of Islam 11 reasons to explore Islam Jesus in Islam How is Islam similar to Christianity and Judaism? Disclaimer The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml If you wish to use any copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 33 Comments Comment sofiah nur from malaysia February 27th, 2009 mashallah..it was so fantastic.. BABIRYE SUMAYA MULUMBA from UGANDA,EAST AFRICA. December 17th, 2007 ALHAMDULILLAH THIS STORY IS VERY INSPIRATIONAL.I WOULD LIKE TO PRINT IT AND SEND IT TO YOUTH ALL OVER UGANDA,MANY ARE MUSLIMS BUT DO NOT KNOW THE VALUE OF ISLAM. yasmeen Rafeeq Ahmed from India November 26th, 2006 Mashallah!! May Allah the Almighty gives Tawfeeq/Hidaya to many more. The Ummah of Prophet (s.a.w) should increase every second with Allah's (s.a) Rahamah. Ameen. K.Hasan from USA November 18th, 2006 Alhamdullillah, this article brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of my own reversion to Islam, twenty + years ago. Mainly, the feelings of true faith in finding Islam. Thank you, Bro. Damian and Islamicity for posting this. We all need to remember the sweet fragrance of Allah's grace, in bringing us "Home to Islam". As Salaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatu! sister Z. from India October 15th, 2006 Mashallah! May Allah (SWT) bring happiness, to all Ameen, this article brought tears in my eyes. Mashallah! Mustafaa Madyun from USA October 3rd, 2005 ASA I am muslim but I felt a little sad at the end of the story because it almost suggest that he traded in a life of excitement for a dull life of obscurity, which the life of a muslim is anything but. It also implied that hip-hop in general is a negative life -- again, not necessarily so. It would be nice to highlight some very active muslims who are engaged in positive systemic change or development... muslims who are making significant contributions to society ... not just those who give up the world but those who do something to improve or contribute to it. Asmau said from Nigeria August 16th, 2005 Islam is the only answer tohuman misery.It is the key to live a fufilled life,Follow islamic ways and have inner joy,peace,in this world,and the hereafter.Peace be upon you brothers and sisters in islam. Yahya Bergum from USA August 8th, 2003 Sherif Yousef - do you not fear God - and follow a sin with a good deed? Peace be upon him, to whom I would attribute that sort of advise. By calling themselves Christians, do Christians no longer need to fear God? According to whom? Peace be with you. ABUDUL RAHIM from JAPAN August 3rd, 2003 Islam: Nature of Man I mean no disrespect, but Islam did not begin in Arabia. Islam begins with Allah (God),Himself. Islam is not 1,400 years old; Islam is as old as Allah (God),Himself. Even though we grew up in the west as a Christians , We are not convert to Islam,for the Quran teaches us that Islam is the nature of Allah (God), and it is the nature in which we were created. If it is Allah nature,and it is my nature, then we as Black people have accepted to be what our creator created us to be. So do not make us in the image of an Arab. Do not make me in the image of a britisher or a white American. I am an African, so let me be my self. Our nature is to submit to Allah (God). Islam does not come from a book. Islam comes from the nature in which you and I are created, so the the book comes from within yourself. But, when we lost the path, then Allah sends a prophet with the guidance and a book to guide us back to our nature that we have violated. So brother williams and his family are not convert, but just coming bact to the path which is their nature. As muslems we are not to base our opinion on sumptions. Some one was talking about the personal wealth of Minister Farrakhan that it came from his followers. I think the brother should seek Allahs forgivness for saing something like that about another mulem brother. Please study the Minister as a muslem. the teachings are not shirk. Any one who can reform millions of people who are considered mentaly and spiritualy dead in the name of Allah is not teaching shirk. Do feel threaten when he says God is Black? let the almighty Allah take it up with him. He is a leader who teaches his following to do for self and you think he will ask them for handouts? Please read about the Minister well and know what he stands for not with a bais mind but a mind of a muslem. Peace be unto the world. sherif Yousef from CANADA July 30th, 2003 The only comment for this young man who was converted to Islam,is that he did not give himself any chance to read about Jesus and the whole bible, all what he learned was about pork and observing Sabbath!! God is a Spirit and should be worshiped with spirit and truth. God is love as well, so He forgives us because He loves us and never because our good deeds. We are sinners by nature, so what is the end result for our eternity if Jesus did not pay that in full? My advise to him is think again and double check what is Christianity all about. May the Lord of love and grace open your heart. Amen. Abdiladif from USA July 28th, 2003 Assalamu Alaikum. Welcome home brother. Regardless of race, sex, or national origon we are brothers and sisters in Islam. Welcome home again and may Allah bless you and guide us the right bath at all times. Shuja Syed from Toronto, Canada July 28th, 2003 Muslims are very unique people. They want the whole world to accept Islam, but would hardly render their energies to embrace these new brothers and sisters practically. What does it meant by practically? Many reverts face persecution at the hands of their relatives and friends and come to Islam out of poverty, drug problems and other social problems. We Muslims do not have solutions for them. They have to find solutions by themselves. I am a Pakistani first, Indian first, Arab first, Turkish first and African first and I love my culture, stupid languages above the unity of Islam. Many neo-Muslims get shocked when they find the cultural bagges of the old fools. Do we invite new Muslims to our homes? NO. Do we provide them shelter, jobs, company, moral support? NO. But we have all the time to say Takbeer when somebody accepts Islam. Many new converts went back to their religion or culture and guess what? They will never come back again. I urge Muslims instead of telling Mahsallah, subhanallah, inshallah, please take some practical steps to be inclusive of these new brothers and sisters. Stop talking in Urdu, Arabic or whatever when they are around. We should learn manners first. We are lacking wisdom. Just emotional rhetorics are not going to help us. Syed Syed Shuja Syed from Toronto, Canada July 27th, 2003 Welcome home! Islam needs new faces, new blood, new enthusiasm, new ideas, new Abu Bakrs, new Omars, new Othmans, new Alis. We, the born Muslims are decaying fast. We are no more fit to carry the flag of Islam. I am happy to see the new blood is coming every day, but I am sad that, we, the born Muslims are gradually being replaced. We have not justified the beauty of Islam for centuries. We have not come to the terms and requirements of Islam for centuries. I pray 5 times, but I have little hypocricy in me. I pay Zakat, but my Imaan is not to that level. We need new blood, new Sirajs, and Siraj means light also. We need to reach out to millions of non-Muslims who will do a better job than us in carrying the flag of Islam. Shuja Syed Liban from Canada July 26th, 2003 Brother, Peace be upon you and your family. I pray that Allah smooths the rough terrain which you are about to cross. Inshallah, you will find peace for you and your family. May the blessings of God almighty reach you. Send Salams To your Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Aalihi Wa Sahbihi Wa Salamal maula Muhammed) and he will surely reciprocate the gesture. Macasalama My brother in Islam. Pass it on to your family. Ezaz from USA July 26th, 2003 Alhumdulilla Brother Williams. Welcome to the family. You already must have reached a lavel where my comment may be useless. But brother, My best wishes always with you and your family. May Allah Shubhanu-wa-ta'ala keeps you in straight path always. Salaam Mariam Warsame from North America (USA) July 25th, 2003 Assalamualaykum, I just wanted to say Ma'shallah for converting to Islam. May Allah(SWT's) peace and blessings be with you and your family. Your article is very interesting. Akil Mawuli from USA July 25th, 2003 As Salaam Alaikum rahmatullah wa barakatu! The descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the Northern Hemisphere (the Americas) and persecuted for over 400+ years are slowly but surely discovering their historical roots. After 441 years of enslavement and brainwashing, the African American is slowly learning they are descendants of the "people of the Book." Unfortunately, some people (including fellow Muslims) have been taught falsely concerning Africa and the Africans. In truth some of Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH) fist followers were men and women of African descent. Also, the people of the Arabian peninsula are in fact descendants of Africans, Europeans and Asians. They are what we would call a mixed multitude... Side Note: During the Hijra many Muslims fled into Ethiopia or North Africa today to find refuge from persecution and murder. According to my knowldge, a persons ethnic or racial origin is not a pre-qualification to be rewarded salvation from Allah(SWT). So, identifying yourself as a black, white, Asian, Arab, Sunni, Shiite Muslim will not be rewarded. If there are people, to include Muslims, in the world who do not accept you as an individual because of their ethnic origin (or if you are a convert)...so what! Were we created to please human beings or Allah(SWT)? Pray for these people and continue to do what you know is correct for the sake of Allah(SWT). Concerning the National of Islam. Only Allah(SWT) can judge its worthiness. My personal opinion is that many African Americans have changed their life for the better because the teachings empower them to lift their head up high. However, the teachings are dangerous because it teaches (1) Allah(SWT) is a black man, (2) the Honorable Elijah Muhommad is the last messenger of Allah(SWT), (3) teaches doing for self, yet Minister Farrakhan's personal wealth is derived from the pockets of his followers..The teachings are Shirk. Seek Islam and follow the Sunnah Qassem Omowale from U.S.A. July 25th, 2003 All praise & mercy belongs to Allah! Once again, Allah's goodness is shown in the testimony of Brother Shaheed & his wife. May Brother Shaheed continue to stay on the path to Paradise that Allah has provided to all Mankind! I also thank Allah for the positive work of IslamiCity in showing the beauty & challenges facing Islam in the 21st Century. Keep the faith. The world needs your faithful witness (now more than ever)! As Salaam Alaikum! hakim k. qureshi from india July 25th, 2003 I sallute williams for having guts to accept the truth and live life as per rule of allah shown by mohmmed (pbuh). Hana Mohamed from Canada July 24th, 2003 I am a black muslim. I inherited Islam from my Forefathers. AS a somalian, my islam is just not as strong and committed as it should. I feel embarrasses by the dedication of new converts who see to show more respect to the religion they just embraced than me , who was bron and raised as a muslim. I sincerely congragulate my dear brother and his wife and wish them Allah`s forgivness and ultimate reward in the hereafter. I would also like to say that their story has inspired me to be a better muslim and taught me that as a person , I should fullfill my duties to Allah Almighty in order to reach success and attain forgivness. I thank you all deeply and pray to Allah to support all the way. your sister, Hana. Asad Siddiqi from England July 24th, 2003 All Praise to ALLAH.....Your story is a reflection of many similar accounts happening or about to blossom in todays Western society....I have always found that once young people realise that Islam is not backward or oppressive but a just fair way of life that fulfils all of lifes needs that they can relate too and not lablled as a taboo 'religion' that offers answers to modern mans dilema's there is not much standing in their way from atleast recognising it's divine benefits....May ALLAH swt increase your Iman hodan from australiya July 24th, 2003 asaamu caleykum dear brather this is very nice story to haer. my ayes was tearful.my allah bless all muslim. Muhammad Evan Tate from Germany July 24th, 2003 Al-Hamdulillah! May more and more people in the USA find the Light of Islam as this brother did. Wasalaam! ADAM from BORNEO July 23rd, 2003 AL HAMDULILLAH...MAY ALLAH BLESS OUR LIFE.. ABUDUL RAHIM from JAPAN July 23rd, 2003 These are the very lines i disagree with. Williams' older brother told him about the Nation of Islam, a contoversial movement of some African-American Muslims. Williams never joined. It's very hard for some people to understand both the teachings of the Elijah and Farahkhan. Nobody in the world came to the aid of the so called slaves or Nigros when they were under oppression and constant killings. And Allah said he will raise one from among their kind who will teach and guid them to the straight part. You can tell a tree by the froot it bers, look at them and give give praises to Allah for Allah is working in the dispised,the object, the unwanted, the unloved, the hated to bring about love and peace in the world. No Arab muslem or so called orthodox muslem would have been able to come into the nature of black people and teach, guide and clean them up like what Elijah and Farahkhan has done cos we know our self better than any one. Our beloved prophet stood up and helped the Arab pagans of those days. And i believe black people could not have gone all the way to Arabia to teach our muslem brothers and sisters in those days. It took one from among the Arabs to guide them and it took one from among the blacks to teach, guide and clean the mentally dead orignal people of the earth. I am a muslem and I believe in any way Allah use to bring his people back from the dead to life. The prophet did not set up saudi arabia, Yemen, Jordan etc, etc, but he set up a or the Nation of islam, that means you don't have to be black, white, chinise, or any ethnic group to be in the nation of Islam or the Nation of rightiousness. The Nation is not a controversial movement but a nation Allah is using as a symbol for peace and love. May Allah bless all muslems to understand how he bring his lost once back to him and say Allahu a Kibir. K. Hasanee from Toronto, Canada July 23rd, 2003 Truth comes falsehood vanishes The beauty of Islam - once you became a Muslim you are entering the Global Brotherhood. claire hochachka from usa July 23rd, 2003 i like this story and would love to interview the author. can you please pass along his email or phone number? thanks and salaam aleikum. claire Said S from USA July 23rd, 2003 Salamu Alaikum brothers and sisters, What a beautiful story. No wonder, Islam is taking the world by storm. The author and his family are blessed. Given the logic of our great faith is one attribute which will convince all of humanity that Islam is the all-encompassing religion. Islam, indeed, explains all of the preceding religions and confirms their pre-existence, and it goes beyond that to unite all of humanity under one colossal banner: "There is no other deity but Allah (God) and that Mohammed is his messenger." Let it be known that we, Muslims, do respect Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) all equally. Now that Islam is put under the spot-light all over the world, there is no excuse for anyone not to wield an effort and study it and seek its truth. Islam is definitely the best solution for our country (the USA) and the whole world to lead a better life, one which condemns immorality including: abuse, promiscuity, homosexuality, alcohol, gambling, pornography, violence, crime, etc. Welcome brother to the religion of peace, the hear, and the hereafter. May God give you the guidance and the light to illuminate your life, those of your family members, and the ones you come across! Salamu Alaikum glenn churchill from usa July 23rd, 2003 Please come to Oakland and talk to the young people here about your experiences. Many of them are leading lives which will end in jail or an early grave. I think your example could help a lot of the young people here in Oakland. We need to put an end to this deadly foolishness. Thank you. We need help! FM Qureshi from India July 23rd, 2003 Ma'shallah, You have entered into paradise Yahya Bergum from USA July 22nd, 2003 Masha'Allah. May Allah bless this Muslim family and grant them peace. Abu Rahim from USA July 22nd, 2003 I must concur with this article. After living in America all my life and being part of this western/Christian/racist and in total denial society I cannot conceive of anything with the power of Islam to over come the social problems we face. The hip-hop generation is a cool bunch; but there is so much of life being missed by the absolute focus on music, dance, sex, and big parties. We were put on this earth for something bigger, better with more meaning: To serve Allah which in reality is a service to ones self which enables us to serve Allah even better; and that cycle continues until we are able to build that true society whereby Allah is the focus. H.A. from USA July 22nd, 2003 I completely agree with the author of this article. If the United States were based on Islam and NOT on Christianity (that's what the pundits claim), slavery would have never taken place and African Americans would have never suffered discriminations at the hands of the European Americans (Whites) because Islam teaches that if you do not like another person to drink from the same water fountain as you like to drink, then you are not one of the believers and absolutely NOT a Muslim.