Finding a Home in Islam
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
Ameen, this article brought tears in my eyes. Mashallah!
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.
By calling themselves Christians, do Christians no longer need to fear God? According to whom? Peace be with you.
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.
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.
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.
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
your sister, Hana.
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.
The beauty of Islam - once you became a Muslim you are entering the Global Brotherhood.
author. can you please pass along his email
or phone number? thanks and salaam
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!