Let me be clear. I don’t mean that in a hypothetical, empathic “I am Spartacus” sort of way.
I mean that one morning a couple of Septembers ago, I faced Mecca, prostrated myself before Allah and said the following:
“There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”
That’s it. That’s all I had to do. In my naivete when I did it, I was under the impression that I needed Muslim witnesses, but I found out later that Allah is the only witness I needed. So it was done.
But why Islam?, you might be asking. The short answer, like many things in life, is “I don’t really know.”
I’ve been fascinated with Islam since I was in High School; buried deep in my library are many books about the faith, what it means, who Muslims are, and many other things. Perhaps it wasn’t until the 90s when I had several friends that were members of the Nation of Islam. They always considered me a ‘brother’ and often tried to get me to go to Don Mohammed’s Mosque in this city [Boston]. Like many other things, over time we drifted away and I’ve since lost touch with them. But reading the Final Call every week actually re-kindled the dormant interest of mine. But that’s a particular brand of narrow-focus Islam. I did start reading and exploring more after that, but never did go with them to a meeting.
In my life, I’ve been Methodist, Protestant, Agnostic, Atheist, and an actual, confirmed Roman Catholic (primarily to get married.) During our fertility troubles in the late 1990s, I developed a bitter hatred of the Pope and the Catholic Church’s policies in that regard…it’s the law of unintended consequences. Birth control is illegal, but as it turns out, so are most advanced reproductive therapies under Catholic Dogma. By the mere fact of wanting to procreate “in the prescribed manner” (albeit with modern man’s help), Mrs. TriSec and I were de facto excommunicated by the church in 1999. While we went through the motions to go through the adoption process in the early 2000s, in my heart I knew I wasn’t a Catholic anymore, and never could be again. Being here at Ground Zero for the global child-sex scandal further cemented that decision.
So for the better part of the last decade, it’s been a rudderless spiritual existence for me. We visited the Lutherans for almost a year, and very nearly made that one official, but over time we drifted away from that. We had one visit to the Unitarians, and that was that. A while ago now, to fulfill our last obligation to the Heart of Mary Villa where Javier was adopted from, we briefly went back to Catholic Church and had Javier go through First Communion. Fortunately, the priest at our neighborhood parish is a Franciscan, a denomination I have far less problems with. But I wasn’t happy about it.
But why Islam? I can’t really say. Perhaps I’m genetically predisposed to it. My family is from the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, a longtime Muslim area. I’ve had Muslim friends off and on, and there have even been a couple that have passed through my Cub Pack. (Converts at that.) Perhaps it’s the “purity” of the Koran that appeals to me….while the Bible was written by man many years after the fact, the Koran is the revelations of the Archangel Gabriel (yes, the same one) to Mohammed, and were written down at the time they happened. Perhaps it’s something I heard from a Muslim Scholar a while back. Because the Koran came later than the Bible, its Allah’s attempt to ‘correct’ what man got wrong. Where the Koran and the Bible agree, both are correct. Where the Koran is different, because it came after the Bible, that’s the correct version. I would urge all of you to look up the Koran online and just read some passages…the similarity between both documents is striking.
But at the end of the day, does it matter which prophet’s writings we choose to read and follow? If the entire concept of Monotheism is to be believed….it’s all the same God.
Buddhists…Sikhs…Jews…Christians…Shinto…Muslims…all the religious texts are written by different persons…but isn’t the essential truth the same?
So, I am a Muslim. To be sure, not a very good one…and hardly even a practicing one. At the time I made my pledge, it felt like the right thing to do. But I never really followed through. I’ve not been to a Mosque, nor have I made any of the real observations and actions that it means to be a true Muslim. Sure, I read the Koran, I pick up some podcasts, and I try to make at least the morning prayers, but not much else. But as I commented to someone a while back…Allah knows what is in my heart. It’s my weak mind and will that have yet to come around.
But the point of all of this is Muslims are everywhere. It could be your neighbor, a teacher, a fireman, a city official, any one of us here in these United States with the freedom to choose which God we follow and how we do it. Because of the ignorance and fear of a distinct minority, they have managed to hijack the national debate and turn it into what amounts to a witch hunt.
We've had witch hunts before. Look up Salem, MA or Tule Lake if you need concrete proof. The question now is, how far down this path are we going to go? Are we going to smash some storefronts, burn some Korans, execute a few innocents, round up a few thousand and send them to internment camps in the desert…or is there a new Wannsee Conference in the offing if the Republicans and the Religious Right have their way?