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A Muslim Convert Story #04 – Embracing Islam Made Me Embrace My Culture

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Abdullah Oduro

Channel: Abdullah Oduro

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Episode Transcript

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When she told me I was on the phone with her, she said, I know you're Muslim, but you're going to have to come.

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At that point, I could have asked her, you know, Mom, what's gonna be done there? Are there gonna be any Shirky out there, you know, tribal practices that I can't participate in? No, the basis is that you obey your mother except that which is shirk, but obey her Be respectful. So I said to myself, I remember, put your head down, and just listen and do what your mother wants you to do. She already knew my position as Muslim. And she was respectful of that, based on the fact that I knew that, let's go, let's move, I have to serve my mother and serve my father in that which is good. She said, you're the oldest. So you have to come. This is a part of the culture that I embraced. And you even

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see within Islam, there's that element even of respecting the elders and having the elders of the children take responsibility. So when going to Ghana, that was a life changing experience. That was sewing martial arts, if you will, really recognizing where I came from going to Ghana, I got to meet my grandmother's, my grandmother, sisters, all of my nephews that been waiting to meet me, people that saw me when I was young, and I walk into certain stores, and they're like,

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um, do you know that color? My name has a new me before, even though I'm doing this show for Abdullah? But they knew me is that

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when they see me, and they speak the language, and I don't speak it, and they look at my mother, and they asked her, why isn't he speaking the language, they realize how Americanized that was. But being there, I realized how important it was for me to be a person that was understanding and knowing of his culture. So when going around and looking at these ceremonial practices, the majority of them didn't even have any polytheistic elements to them. But there was one incident amongst many of them that I wanted to capitalize on.

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Being that I was the oldest, I had to speak at a eulogize ad to speak at the eulogy. Being that my mother told them that Look, my son is a Muslim lawyer, you know, I graduated from the College of Sharia, that my son is someone that speaks Arabic, you know that he can speak the language, he teaches Arabic, and he preaches Islam around the world. I had to stand there with my sister, my father's coffin in front of me, and all of them sitting and listening. And I said to myself, you know, what I'm going to do.

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The sermon of need was to promise of lineups and the means to do so I decided this quarter, and I remember looking, and jaws were dropped. The king, the king was their jaw was dropped people looking at me and astonishment. I didn't know what to expect.

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Whereupon, after I was done, they were amazed that their son came to America, my mom, you know, her son, came to America, learned another language, became a lawyer, and is coming back and speaking in Arabic, been in America all his life, because their contexts of Muslims are only ghanians that went to Saudi Arabia to study to Egypt, to study to Malaysia, etc. But I came to America,

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land of the free Home of the Brave land of opportunity, and wanted to learn Islam and learn the Arabic language that was amazing to them. And seeing their amazement of me, even though a lot of them were not pleased with my decision, but the respect factor, because of my father, that was something of the custom that was amazing to me, when looking at my mother's relatives, and sitting down with a sheet of paper with my sister, mapping out all of the relatives that we had approximately 107 on my mother's side only of relatives, 11 brothers and sisters, looking at my mother, and how she argued with her little sister, in this three story mansion, looking at my

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grandmother, and seeing what are some Islamic principles I can practice. She would walk up the stairs, she had a severe case of diabetes, I would help her up when she would sit down and massage her leg. And I'm just getting to know her.

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She's understanding that it was Islam that made me good to her. And it was me and Islam wanting to learn the culture, asking her questions about her husband, asking her questions about, you know, how life was in Ghana. How my mom was when she was young, how the sisters are all talking and running around and arguing. There was a man that was coming to sell some cloth I had that recorded just looking at how they bargain with him. meeting my cousin from the UK who worked for Google decided to come back to Ghana. My first cousin

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All of this was a beautiful, life changing experience. And that was because I validated my culture, I realized who I was, I accepted it. And I took it on. In conclusion, when looking at this, it was something that was major for me because it was a paradigm shift, because you know, I have kids, and whether I like it or not, they're gonna have some kind of element of being Americanized, but it's my responsibility to make sure and teach them that it is from Islam, to know your culture. It's from Islam, to accept your culture. Because Islam beautifies your culture. The culture was there, as a manifestation of harmony for certain people in a certain locality. Now, some of those normal sees,

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may be of that which is not Islamic. But that's where we sift it out. But the also the basis is that we accept our culture, our food, our address, our means of communication, our means of financial transactions. All of this is a way of creating harmony amongst a people. And that was what was so beautiful to me, when I embraced Islam, recognizing that I had to learn who I was. And this was the process of learning who I was. Now when embracing other cultures is something that was interesting also as a convert to Islam. You know, I remember when coming back

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I remember when, when learning the Quran with my chef, and Tara we came around and they had the syrup, what was the serum called was called a rule of salt. You'll know what I'm talking about. And you know me, I'm a new Muslim, my first time learning you know, the Koran, Mashallah everyone's wearing Swamis, and my [???], you know, I loved him, I do anything for him. And Subhanallah I was thirsty. So I go and you know, near the shoe area, they had some, you know, some strawberry milk and some Kool Aid. So I thought, I get over there. I drink the Kool Aid. And I was surprised. It wasn't sweet. It was very different. You know, in the beginning, I'm like, What is this man? But this upon

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Allah, I realized this upon a lot. It was a different experience for me. It was not for me to belittle it. Now, it may not have tasted good to me. It's the first time I've tasted it. And I had certain certain sweet expectations. But it was an experience for me that realizing that this is something that was normal for them. And it's their culture, embracing that understanding that another occasion was to Pinilla. We had a potluck.

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And I wanted to make it a potluck to where the standard food of biryani of Mindy assembles. So most of you know these foods that were well aware of and well used to. I wanted to make sure that, you know, they got exposed to some of the foods that we grew up on as Americans. So we had the hotdogs, the hamburgers had to bring bean pies. When the bean pies were brought, ladies and gentlemen, so many of the brothers, the indo Pak brothers and the otter brothers came to me, what is this, particularly one brother, his mouth was full. And he was trying to ask me what is this? I said, I'm trying to tell you, you know what, jack Nicklaus, your Obama era, we made you nations and tribes to

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get to know one another. To get to know the elements of culture in order to appreciate one another that knowledge that you have of each other is an element for you to appreciate one another. So after all, this experience for me after embracing Islam, after going through the trial and error of throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it came to my culture of being American, and then my culture of being Ghanian, embracing all of that together, and realizing that all of that complements who I am as a black man on this earth, and my future children. That is what made me a well rounded Muslim.

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And with being a well rounded Muslim, that is where I understood the importance of cultural knowledge, cross cultural knowledge, appreciating each other, and as a result, appreciating the graciousness and blessings from Allah subhanho wa Taala. Thank you. I said I want a grommet to lay but it gets