Imam Zaid Shakir’s Story – Interview
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
File Size: 70.82MB
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Alhamdulillah our message to the east Plano and we thank Allah for having finished Ocelot Alicia and for waiting here for no other reason except to be reminded of him except for the brotherhood of Islam except to be in the presence of one of inshallah the inheritors of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, our Senior and our elder Imam Zaid Shaka, who has traveled all the way while he was in Houston. Before that he's in Connecticut in California. He has traveled to the city just to be with us tonight. And he's heading back to Houston giving giving the hook over here. It was just a personal favorite to us in this community. So we really appreciate your mom's aides coming all over
this way to be amongst us. So welcome to our community mom say
hamdulillah so honored to be here and I love this everybody. This
sacrifice to make this center possible May Allah give them a big edger and all of you who take time from your busy comings and goings to come to the masjid to pray. Solomonic rahmatullah wa barakato.
So Imam say we have a custom of sometimes going a typic with our guests, people listen to your footballs and gurus online and on YouTube. But when we invite our guests we go a little bit deeper. We want to know who our guests are. So we're going to be putting you on the spot this is actually not the comfortable seat. This is the hot seat. If we can take the heat don't get in the kitchen.
So we're gonna put you on the hot seat and ask you a little bit more we want to know we want to know more about the Imam Zaid behind the scenes we want to know about Zaid Shakur, pre Islam, early Islam studying Islam, and then finally shares an Imam and Mufti Anamika. Allah ze shocker, so we're gonna, we're gonna go all the way back to the beginning. Imam Zaid, can you tell us a little bit about where you were born? And your upbringing and how life was for you? You were born in the 60s, is that correct? No.
50s 50s 50s Okay, so I You look younger than I thought, okay.
So born in the 50s. So tell us a little bit about your pre Islamic upbringing in sha Allah. Okay. Just mean there are mon Rahim Al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil aalameen. Also, that was
Allah say he didn't we're sitting CD now Mohamed while and he was on he was telling him that I was
on my mother was one of 13 kids. And my father was one of five. And I don't know a lot about my father's family. That as much as I should, because most of my childhood he wasn't there. But Hamdulillah we, we patched up so but my mother's side. I do know that she was born in Hamilton, Georgia. He was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, which is home of post sirios and Cal General Foods, Kellogg's post the cereal capital of the world. So it attracted a lot of people from from the south. And any case,
so they got married. And
my father joined the Navy. So I was actually born in Berkeley, California. My father was in the Navy on the West Coast, and he was stationed in San Diego. And when he finished his military service, they stayed there. So I was born in California and
one my oldest sister, I'm the second oldest of seven was born in California. And I think my brother under me was born there. And then a couple were born. So then he went back to Michigan, and they separate it. And
so six of us were born before kind of the definitive separation. So my mother,
she went back home to Georgia. And we eventually she was born in a place called Hamilton, Georgia near the Alabama border, and the hot heart of the Cotton Belt.
her her Actually, her mother married twice so our families
Johnson Spence and Whitaker's. So my grandmother is a Spence and my her first husband as a Johnson then he passed away and then she married
of Whitaker, summer Spence and of Whitaker and did Johnson side.
Her first husband, his brother, killed
Whiteman and Georgia and fled to Alabama and hit. His name is he was Uncle trigger.
Anyway, so you want family lore.
So, so then they so my youngest sister was born in Atlanta, then
she was pregnant when she left Michigan. And they reconcile and we move to Connecticut here gonna job at Sears and as a mechanic in West Hartford, Connecticut. When do we move to her New Britain, which has a nickname of hard hitting New Britain. It's also called the hardware capital of the world. It was just like World War factories, and most of the African American population came from Georgia and South Carolina, to that city. Anyway.
Long story short, so then they reconciled and split for good. And then when they split it up, we were kind of stuck in Connecticut. So we lived in a large public housing project called Pinnacle heights. They subsequently toured down now it's a big, huge magnet school and looks nice. Anyway, so you know, we grew up so then my mother had another child, my youngest brother Jeffrey. So there's seven of us. So we grew up without a father. So it was from the outside looking in, it was probably look like rough circumstances. But when you live in, and you're young, you know, everything's an adventure. So
it was an adventure.
And was she religious was their family religious growing up, my mother was religious, but she went to church every Sunday, she came out of the Southern Baptist tradition. But she, she, she, she had our moments of skepticism, I'm sure if she she died in 1975. The year after I graduated high school, my first year of college, I local college, Central Connecticut State. And
I'm sure if she I hadn't taken shahada yet, I'm totally confident if she had been exposed to Islam, she would have accepted because there were a nation of Islam was in, in our neighborhood, there was some brothers she admired them, because one was just a thug. Because he moved like, up there from from Brooklyn. And, you know, you come from Brooklyn to Connecticut, you you, you have to terrorize everybody to establish your reputation, so no one will bother you. So this guy was a terror. And then he joined the Nation of Islam, he became like one of the nicest guys who would give us free papers. Because sometimes my mother didn't have a quarter to get the paper he gave free papers bring
fish. At that time, the Nation of Islam had what they called the fish force, waiting HMG so it was waiting there were importing from Peru and then from Japan, and selling it all over poor communities in the United States. And their motto was waiting H and G straight from the sea, import it from from Peru just for you.
And so, so she admired him tremendously, but she couldn't accept the the theology like the Creed was just so crazy. Dr. Yaku, the big hub, black scientists who grafted the white race on the island of Patmos of the course of 10,000 years and the white man is the devil and Elijah Muhammad the Prophet and foreign Muhammad was God. She couldn't just get with that. She tried but she just couldn't choose. Was this your first exposure to the name Islam, the Nation of Islam it was but I'll tell you an interesting story. Like when I was in like third or fourth grade, we still have prayer in school every Wednesday. This is before the Supreme Court decision. See, I'm Dad Oh.
And so I used to say listen, we have to face the east and pray to Mecca. I don't know where that came from. But when we were doing the school prayer on Wednesdays, if we have to face the east and pray to Mecca
But the nation was the first formal exposure. So I never joined. But a lot of my friends there in the nation, then I did think that the things that nation were doing, that's what Muslims had to do. So when I took shahada like we we started making a newspaper to go sell to people. And, you know, we thought that's what that's what Muslims do. You have to go make Dawa. You have to get people to join. And,
and then another I'll tell you another story when I took shahada, I was in the Air Force. So So So what happened?
So my mother died. And when my mother died, it was like,
Okay, so we're in the project, and my sister moved in. And she had two kids at that point. So I just gave them my room and I was kind of homeless for a minute. And then I tried to go live with my father that didn't work out. And so I joined the military.
so I wanted to I was playing football and track in high school, but I hurt my shoulder fifth grade of the senior year. We had a terrible coach. He didn't even tell them tell. Tell Malka get surgery. He's just like, This guy was so terrible. He will come to the projects get all the kids and I we were like winning games for them.
And after your after your seeing last game of your senior year this guided and no, you literally he wouldn't try to get you a scholarship. He would he will pass you in the hallway and not even speak and he will come with his car to pick us up and the project and drive us to school.
All our junior senior year after this is a terrible person but he didn't even say you could get surgery is like just okay. Thank you for your service, like the US military.
Anyway, and so I just started to go to college. I flunked out, because I had no study habits. I only went to school to play sports. If it weren't for sports, I probably wouldn't even have a high school degree. And then I went to college. I had no study habits. I flunked everything. So the midterms came I flunked everything itself weightlifting,
I got an A in weightlifting, I flunked everything else. And then I got a job as a janitor at Southern southern turn. You've probably been to southern Connecticut hospital. And this is it. I was mopping the floor of the lab.
And the lab technicians they were stuck. They couldn't make. They didn't know how to do this particular slide for what they were trying to look at. So we had had a laboratory techniques course in high school. I actually showed them how to make this lie. I quit the next day, as I should be in the lab. They should be mopping the floor.
Seriously, and then so I went back to school and I just had to teach myself how to study how to do research. Like there was no one helping you. There was no kind of mentorship program though. And then that spring soda fall semester I dropped out I got a job as a janitor. And then I went, you know, went back in the spring and then at towards the end of March, my mother died.
It's interesting because she was she like squirreling away a little bit of money from welfare checks,
which was nothing but she's squirreling away to buy a whole new living room set. And she finally got enough money. And the day they moved all the furniture in she had a massive aneurysm. And then they took her to the hospital and she died a couple of days later. And so then I just
I didn't even know if I finished that semester. No, no, I did. And, but I didn't know then, like I said, my sister moved in. So I was just knocking around here and there and tried to go live my father. That wasn't neither one of us was ready for that, at that point, and so I said, I'll just go in the military. So it's called the poverty draft. So you get a free education, GI bill to pay for your college and you have a roof over your head you have food to eat Vietnam War was over. You didn't have to go kill anybody or be killed. It's a two way street.
All right before we get there, so this is now the 70s. Right? Go into it right? I'm going into it. All right, yellow. So, any, this is like 1975 76. Okay, so you have heard of the nation you have a positive impression of the Nation of Islam. How about Malcolm X Muhammad Ali Kareem Abdul Jabbar, you know the Muslim names of that time? Yeah. Muhammad Ali definitely was a major figure because his his case, you know, he was the people's champ.
But my my mentality when the ALI Frazier Fight of the Century happened, I was actually rooting for at that point for Joe Frazier, because I was like, I was in this
kind of underdog mentality.
But when I'm winning the military, denied, I took shahada at that point, it was the world community of Alice Nam In the West under the leadership of the man worth that D Mohammed. And then we were like called Bilal aliens. Some of you might be familiar with that history. What year is this? This is like a 1977. So you converted 1977 In the military, while I was in the military, based where? Shreveport Louisiana where did you hear about it? Where what was the catalyst in 77 Shreveport, Louisiana, and then I started somewhere, you saw that CBS thing they did with a head like 25 of us, what was one of your pivotal moments. So during that
period, when I had no study habits, I went to a party. The college was like partying. I wasn't Muslim at that point, folks. Someone's gonna tweet out Imam say it's a Muslim show party. As
I'm telling you, his stuff is crazy. I'll preempt *gy Assad. Right. I use. I recently did a podcast right. And I said Muslims shouldn't advocate for LGBTQ rights as sodomy is haram. I said
transgender women competing against girls in sports is insane.
So all this stuff and it is up.
Imam Zaid is supporting gay rights, you know, so what was I going to say before that?
77 Shreveport. Right, right. What's going on? Yeah. Shreveport, Louisiana. So, yeah. The catalyst story. How did you convert? Right, right. So I was at the party. So I was not Muslim folks recording. I was not Muslim at the party. Alright. So all of you Twitter, people and Instagram people and Facebook people. I was not Muslim. I was at the party. And the party was in Mount Pleasant. Is this another project? So we our city had like, three projects, they were all black and Puerto Rican. And then all the rest that houses will fight folks. So we had Corbin heights actually, for mela Koski circle, Corbin heights, Pinnacle heights. That's where we live in Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant, we call sparkle city. Because at that time, there was a commercial make all of America sparkle city. And so it was so rough there. They couldn't keep getting the grass to grow because the kids would tear it up. And so they paved all the grassy areas and painted green. And so much glass was broken on it when when the streetlights and the lights hit it is sparkle. So we call it Mount Pleasant sparkle city. So I was in sparkle city at this party. And it was real cold. So it was probably like December back. This was pre global warning warming. And my mother was one of the first people to predict global warming.
And this how she predicted it.
She said that
the last couple of winters the water and that will drain out of the bathtub so slow, it will actually freeze. And she said I noticed the last couple of winters the water hasn't been freezing. So that was the first indicators of global warming. Okay, so this the mid 70s, early 70s, folks, so uh, my mother was one of the first people to predict global warming. Anyway, so I'm a soul Rasulillah so I was leaving.
And then this this little girl, so from from our accent, I assume she was Puerto Rican. And she was out of her house like and just her pajamas is freezing cold.
And she's screaming. Why doesn't anyone
Love me, Why doesn't anyone love me? And man, it just, it just touched my heart. So, so bad. And I say, you know, we have to do something, we got to change these conditions. People, no, no girl 910 years old, should be at this point of despair, where, and her voice, like the pain, and just whatever drove her to run out into that code. Like I said to myself, like, we got to change this. And that's really started me searching. So my first thought it has to be on religion. So we like I said, we came up with a Southern Baptist kind of tradition, and said, has it been religion? I didn't know anything about what Baptists was, what it meant to be a Baptist. Why is it Baptists different
from a Catholic Pentecostal.
Lutheran Presbyterians I started studying and when I started studying the Bible, the contradictions were like, so great. Just one quick example. And Matthew, it says, In delineating each generation, and he begat him and he was the son of this, from from Abraham to Jesus is 42 generations, then in Luke, from Abraham, did Jesus have 56 generations, and I those kinds of things I just concluded this can't be from God is it wouldn't be these kinds of internal contradictions. And so I started looking at the Eastern religions, I went through a phase of Transcendental Meditation. I paid the Maharishi like, $300, to get a mantra, we were like paying a shake to get your vicar like, my help to do by
his 90th Rolls Royce. But I got my mantra, and I'm meditating. I was actually meditating under a tree when my wife first saw me. She's like, that brother looks interesting.
Then I went to this English class, and she was in the class, you know, you too, brother that was meditating on the tree. So yeah, that's me. And then like, so she became my girlfriend. Then when I took shahada, they're like, No, you can have a girlfriend. Like so what are we supposed to do? You like man, you got to marry her dumper.
I take option A like how do you get married? You got to go to the mom's house. Like, I went to the mom's house probably the next weekend. And I got married and live happily ever after. Mashallah, so that's a romantic.
But you're giving ideas to the youth. As we go out. He's telling kids to meditate under the tree suffered a broken jaw. No.
Allahumma salli ala Sayyidina. Muhammad. Anyways, so yeah, so. So then I started the Eastern religions, I was really deep into the transcendental meditation like this, if you didn't longer love you custom, levitating, lifting off. I was like a lift off stage, and I've been meditating
like, Man, this is really selfish. But I feel so good. I'm getting ready to lift off and but it's not doing anything for the people. And that the urge you go back to the little girl, like we have to change these conditions I grew up and the older you get, the more realize you realize stuff is wrong. So when you're young, you're like, Okay, I got friends, we haven't fun. You know, we are pet roaches.
Some you know about the pet roaches. And but when you start getting older, and you start seeing things, and you start seeing how certain things are designed to point you in a certain direction and delete certain outcomes, then you realize things have to be changed. And so that just the Transcendental Meditation part, it was really nice. Really, honestly, I felt so good.
But it wasn't doing anything. It had no social program. And then at that point, I got a book on Islam caught Islam and focus, you can still find it on the internet. But Hammoud Abdullah, I studied that book as a child that got me into Islam and Islam and focus. I read that I said, it's all here. Because I wanted to know who God was. I forgot an interest of time I'll spare he also went through this communist phase like we're going to change things with a violent revolution. So I went through that phase two.
Anyway, but then when I just who is God
What does he want from us? What should be our relationship with God? You know is Jesus God? It just was a very powerful and moving text so share let me use I took shahada and really lived happily ever after. How the hell that's true never doubted never final and never doubt it and I mean I know a lot of people doubting going through the I never had one doubt about Islam no faith crisis no nothing It was like hamdulillah Allah save me That's it. I found the water so I'm not looking for another beverage hamdulillah so chef you literally found Islam by consciously searching for the truth. Absolutely. Mashallah. That's a beautiful conversion story shift. You went over multiple books,
reading, thinking, meditating, contemplating and then it wasn't even a friend. It was literally searching for the truth and reading until finally, you found a book on Islam and embraced Islam. And mashallah, Mashallah. srif Portia, was there any Masjid? How did you convert what was the masjid in Shreveport? I was actually in Bowsher city on the other side of the Red River at Barksdale Air Force Base. And there was a masjid of the men worth the D, Muhammad, and Shreveport. So I used to go there, and
Hamdulillah. So how did you think of leaving all of that and studying? This is 77 at that stage, who's going to study abroad and studying in Syria? I mean, how did these ideas come to you back then? Well,
so when I got out of the Air Force, at first, or most of my siblings had moved from New Britain, Connecticut to New Haven. So I went to New Haven, but just for a minute, and then I got accepted into American University.
And so I moved to DC and finished my undergrad. I did two years in the military. And then I did two years at American University. And then when I finished American University, we were going to stay actually, I got the day before I was supposed to take the LSAT to go to law school. I decided I'm going to go to graduate school. I don't want to learn this cat for law.
Yeah, that's what happened. Yeah, I reflect on that moment.
You could have been a lawyer. I could have been a lawyer. So the day before the LSAT that said, I'm not going to do this. Well, I can be Manzella law.
Rule of Law, the moon fast.
I can't do it. Anyway, where do you take these ideas from Chef because you're with the water thing community. They're not preaching this stuff? Yeah, we read in the Quran, though. Okay, you can say
minion autodidact has been diverted away from law school. Anyway, just did you have a personal relationship with my water? Dean? Did you know him personally, or? No, I didn't meet him personally until like years later. Okay. So who's your main mentor during this phase in the late 70s, early 80s.
I would say malmsey Raj, who had really a must, because what happened? He was just here two weeks ago on your seat. I'm going to tell you what happened. So I'm from Connecticut. My wife's from New York. We met in Louisiana at Barksdale Air Force Base under a tree. Well, I was under the tree she first she first spotted me under a tree she was driving a military pickup truck and just stopped mashallah, it gets even more romantic. Yeah. Interesting and then kept going. And then we met in the English class. Okay. And but So, anyways, so the masjid though was a mount Martha de Mohammed and 19. So when we went home, we will go to mesta Toccoa
Subhan. Allah was she She, at that point, she was born in Manhattan and moved to Queens then moved to Long Island, but she had joined the nation and she was part of the it was a temple number seven, the big one in Manhattan that Malcolm was over number seven, and so by then, she had made the transition so we will go to mamsa Rogers masjid, and around 1977 Imam Siraj left the movement of Mailwasher Deen Mohammed and started messy taco. So we will go there and listening Imam Suraj and I was I just be way in the back in the crowd. No one knew me and listening but I was really taken by Imam Siraj. His teachings then when I went to Rutgers for graduate school. So I like so I didn't do
the law school and American University. So I swore we're gonna
go to grad school. So I'm from Connecticut and she's from New York. And so I went to Connecticut. Her family's gonna get mad at went to New York, my family was gonna get mad. So I went to New Jersey to Rutgers and nobody got mad Michelle and but we will go to New York for Juma once in a while we bring Imam Suraj to campus, their Rutgers University in New Jersey. And so I would say Imam Siraj now what how I got moved away from the Imam wertha de Mohammed and 1979 I went for Hajj, but the Hajj I went I was I was in the military at that point. So when I took shahada I thought you couldn't be in the military because the the case of
Muhammad Ali and the Supreme Court in the vindication, so I, I tried to get out as a conscientious objector. But they said we're not at war right now. Because Ali was objecting to Vietnam. There was a war that said in the war, how could you object to war but not fighting a war? So I said and send me to a Muslim country. So they sent me to Turkey so fast, even though a secular, but the people are Muslim, and no one wanted to go to a Muslim country because you couldn't party you can chase the girls, you can do those things. And they want to go to Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, said this fool wants to go to Turkey, send them before he changes his mind. So I went to Turkey and while I
was in Turkey, with my wife, my former girlfriend, we made Hodge on the bus and by car to Turkey. I'm from Turkey, you could still do that in those days. This was 1979 and we stopped in Medina because a lot of the students from Medina University will come to Turkey in the summertime because it's so hot down there. And I met this bad brother from Uganda Mohammed tahu bago I remember his name. And so I said I'll come visit you. And so when we were driving we drove from a man to Tabuk and then from Tabuk to Medina. And I actually I had dinner mmm Mrs. House on one wine, Haman and they were they were like struggling you look at a memoir they talk about a family sacrificing for
the dean for the kids. Imam Anwar is one of the first American Graduate somebody in a way senior to me so met him in the Seven Wonders first African American who FOV
high fever Hola. So I actually visited him. So I was coming out of his house and then his group of brothers from Medina University. Were at the door they will come to visit I was leaving. And one of them was a brother. Salahuddin from Miami a big brother and that thing now he's from Springfield, Mass and moved back to Springfield. Anyway, so these brothers, they basically ambushed me. So they they asked me what was etcetera, etcetera. Then what was I doing? I'm going to hij and we're going to hook up with a delegation from the world community of Alice Nam In the West and when we get to Jeddah, that was the plan and you follow him well worth the Mohammed Amen. I got beat down because
at that point, you know, the man was it was the end of the transition. So he was saying some controversial things. And then and
then I was all shaking. I'm like telling my wife You know, I don't know. I can do this. My wife was defiant. I don't care what you do. If the man goes to Africa I'm going with you like my wife is gonna leave me for work that day. Mohammed I'm following the man that he goes Africa I'm going to Africa with him. I don't care what you do. Okay.
I hope to see this podcast delete that part
so anyway, it's been 40 years you're still scared
we pass badges for survived guys, even though we passed that we pass on that. Anyway. So So you know, I got to kind of skeptical and then the mamsa Raj had left a couple years before that. And I kind of drifted away. Then we got involved with this movement. Actually, I found out later that kind of were like the wattage like their slogan was ended up with allele lair
and, and they were they they were like against the Sunni's against
She and I might man was this joy man's group eventually dry man's group No no no no this was in the states on the states Okay, yeah regimented Medina guys I won't even say the leader of the but the it was it was a big group and then after that then the Iranian Revolution jumped off and I we were all down in support of the Revolution like it was like you know water bottle I'm recall more water
food I could I could I could I can Tiller be can you help me Mandy Khomeini Iran Oh God our as
we were like into it because it's like you know that was the revolutionary Marxist part was like resurfacing with an Islamic veneer
that was a phase I people out there all you bloggers and tweeters
are the ones who want to find fault will find fault. There's no point discovery self qualifying for the record. So you know, for the record, that was a phase and then we went through the selfie phase. So do so.
And then noxee bendy phase, you're not gonna get that faster.
Because see, and Turkey now Turkey default. Default Islam is Hanafi madhhab noxee. bendy, tariqa and urba con was he his shift was a Nazi bendy shift. So we're in Turkey and say,
Oh, no, no, no, no, they were nurses, one of the Nazi bondage and Istanbul. So you know, so we're in Turkey. So we're, we're on time off we're going all over visiting these families. We went to their they had this Thursday night vicar gathering they go and they do the dhikr and then they read read Quran to the vicar and then give everyone some soup. So like a free meal. That wasn't a military mess hall foods. Oh, man. That was the place to be on Thursday night. So we go in all around, then they cause Milly salamat po TC was a party and they were vying for
leadership in Turkey. So herb icon, I think is later even was briefly the prime minister. And so they will go to the villages. They're making Dawa. They're educating the people. So we will go on these excursions with them. And so we didn't know about de facto since we because we've just had converted recently we were Hanafi noxee Bondi Muslims, but we didn't know we just thought we were muslims. Probably like the average Turk. That's Islam. And when so we came back to America. So and I go to DC DC was the Iranian Revolutionary phase, then 1983 So we go to Jersey, and then got ambushed by the selfies. 83 That's very early. Wow. 1983 Okay, which which selfie figure was that? I don't
know, if you remember, Abdullah McAfee. And they had
the little magazine.
I think it would have called the magazine. He he I don't know. Because then we're not when I got back from
Egypt. So So anyway, so we got the selfie beat down the HANA fees and Abu Hanifa and his method is not based on Hadith and yada yada yada. And so, so we started getting into the selfie part where we retain that ticker. So we were like bickering selfies
you need some, some escape. Anyway, so
so we got into that. And almost Soto's so Lila. Then what happened with that was in the fit class we use in thick Asuna say it's up, say it sabot and I fit class. And then so we move in through the 80s and we're doing all this work in New Haven. I mean, we're doing a lot of work. We were very, very active like in the schools and we were doing a lot of work. We had a full program because I was working at that point. So I finished grad school did my year in Egypt came back, went back home to Connecticut. And we started mess yet Alice Nam. The first thing I did, I don't even want to say what I did because I went to a masjid or was closed and then we started going to West Haven. Because the
masjid in New Haven went to it. It was closed on Friday for Juma and West Haven some people
Some brothers and sisters who are come out of the with Muhammad movement, they said we need a master. We didn't like Tao only and so we started going to their gatherings and brother Rashid's house. I don't remember sister Jamila Rashid and brother Rashid, they had a gathering of five or six people who had been work still affiliated with the memoir named Mohammed but they wanted to be active in the city, and we started messing it Alice Nam, Imam Suraj was at the grand opening to Grand OPA was a storefront about the size of this balcony back here. But Imam Suraj was there we outgrew that moved across the street to how many people first Juma? The first Juma I forget but the
second Juma I remember the second Juma was three people three people because of a big snowstorm
it was a big snowstorm. And myself my wife and sister, amen. Sister, amen. From New Haven, and out but then it grew. And we outgrew that space, which was a blessing, because it was us. And then the convenience store and then the nightclub. And like the music from the nightclub when over the roof of the convenient, these are connected. And like you in the master trying to play in this one rock with you. oh nine, you try to pray. And so Hamdulillah that only lasted for a year. Then we moved across the street to the front of the horses how Islam began in North America, we move
to a storefront in front of Ford sheetmetal shop on the backside with a sheet metal shop. The front side was a masjid. Now this this, this, this story is gonna blow your mind. So on
June 10, I think it was June 10 1989. A tornado came through that area. I was actually at that point I was teaching political sciences southern Connecticut State University I was sitting in my office and these huge windows blew off the end of the building and it got green the sky got green and we woke up it was like a mess like this is I wish would have preserved this picture. Like the building to the right of the masjid got totally demolished. The building to the left of the masjid got totally demolished. The the sheetmetal shop that was connected to the masjid the roof got torn off.
And it actually landed on the masjid roof. And so the only damage that the masjid has no broken windows was a little leak where the roof had punctured the masjid roof. And that was it. It was it was incredible, not not even a broken window.
And so in any case,
so then we eventually that was rental property and then eventually bought the building on George Street. And then by that time I left to go to Syria. So actually Suraj Muhammad and say for Dean, Hassan, those guys kind of brought that to closure. If you're going to Syria, let's get to this stage now. What prompted you to go and why Syria, so I was working this whole time. So we had I was the Imam of the masjid because I had gone to Egypt for a year and do a little bit of Arabic and as her err on the side just because it was my HUD Institute affiliated with as hot as hell, I'm sorry. And and so went there for a year and came back. So I knew a little bit in the valley of the blind.
The one eyed man is king. But I'm working the whole time. Full time I worked at Yale Medical bookstore. I knew the whole medical library. I could have been a doctor.
No I knew there netters Grey's Anatomy, the mercury manual, the whole gamut. You know everything from A to Z, Allah chose you or something better than being a doctor or a lawyer. Or the best profession. hamdu Lillahi Rabbil aalameen. But so I'm working now. And and but it became apparent and on the weekend, we're going all over the Northeast. These different programs are going to UN to protest we bring busloads of people from Connecticut we bring more people than New York, the whole city, we really active and so at a certain point, it dawned on me and I'm getting to my 30s Now, as I man this probably going to be your life. If that's the case, I need to go and learn more about the
religion and so on.
I applied to Islamic Medina, my Abul Muslim took shahada in my house in college Subhanallah Wow. So I gave him shahada
in my house in New bronze, he was undergrad, I was in graduate school. And so we had this house, we were on the second floor, we rented out to Abu Muslimah, this brother from Burma, actually Burmese Muslim brother, and we moved into the attic. Stealth wise, we like closed the windows so they wouldn't see light at night and rent at the bottom to help pay off augment the expenses of college life. And so myself and Abal Muslim, we apply to Islamic University of Medina.
And as was their want at that point in time, they were slow in responding. So I decided I'll just go to Egypt and study in Egypt. So I went to Egypt, and was at this institute was a four year and then the SSR Institute. And he waited and then three weeks after I got to Egypt two or three weeks.
The acceptance letter came so I actually got accepted to Islamic University of Medina sha Allah What year is this? This is 1986 Mashallah, I was in grade six at the time, Mashallah. Yeah. 19th. So Abu Muslim I have waited, so he went and then I had gone to Egypt, you could have been a graduate of Medina. Yeah. Mashallah. But you Allah chose another path for you and Allah chose another pound. If that letter came three weeks earlier, I would have gone to Medina hounded by the way, for those who don't know, is one of the earliest graduates as well and he graduated from a college that was known imam in New Jersey. So your college or he accepted Islam in your house. And then he went to Medina
now he's an active, yeah. So then instead of going to Medina, you chose to go to Egypt, Egypt, okay. And then how did Syria come about? So we stayed there for a year. And then when I came back, I became the Imam. And that's when it came, you know, I got a really seriously study this religion. And so there was a brother from Syria and my political science class that Southern of the fetac almost says complete now. He's in the states now, actually. And so I told him my plan, he was sky, he arranged everything by at the last minute, I lost his phone number. So I just went to Syria on a wing and prayer and ended up in certain circles and the rest is history, as they say, but I was
definitely gone to Medina because it was free, like Syrah you had to pay pay for everything. No, Egypt, we were I actually taught English in exchange for attending the schools Oh, to just take care of my family. So you had to, to work to in order to get some money to take every family there. How many years were you in Syria? Sure. Oh, I was there from 94 until 2001. Okay, and I came back right after 911 It was strange in the world. Because 11 happened and you were in Syria. I was in Syria. I was locked in the messages studying for the exam. Subhanallah because a lot of the messages don't they don't leave open between the prayers. So I just told the ma'am just locked me in after fattier
SOS you guys have
so then, probably about 10 in the morning, the kids in the neighborhood banging on the door probably won't shake.
men Amreeka Pentagon robot bar Jane from New York where Sears Tower miss out of it.
Okay, get the ma'am. You gotta let me out. We had this satellite television. And we never watched it for one minute. And so all this going on. So we got to turn on the TV. Susie had to focus the satellite and get everything and then we were CNN and the guys talking about Tom Clancy novel, like, is this life imitating art? Because Tom Clancy wrote the novel about the attack on and all this stuff. It was just so weird and the building smoking then the building collapses and
yeah, it was interesting. Subhan Allah actually mirrors my own story. When I was in Medina, we didn't have a TV 911 happened and a neighbor comes running and tells me you better Oh, you know, there's been a taxi what's happening? My wife and I rushed to a neighbor's house to see what's happening the exact same story Subhanallah at the time. So Johanna, you studied seven years? I read you're the first American Graduate of No, I was the second the second American Mr. Nidal Abdul movement who is the wife of Imam Tao
Gesine was the first Okay, so you're the second American Graduate semester one semester so same batch roughly inshallah the first or second American graduate from the Syrian University of Northern New Abu Nora, and then you came back here and zaytuna college to list them here. Yeah, I was actually going to come here to Dallas some people might know that story. I signed the contract actually. Whoa, we got it. We got to talk to some people what's going on here? Why why not? It's not their fault. It's not their fault. Yeah. I don't It's my fault. Actually. I don't even know what happened. I don't know how I ended up as a toner. I know I went to this program Shaykh Hamza was
there. It was in the mountains in Alberta, Canada. It was freezing cold until the Chinook came over the mountains and warmed everything that's the warm wind off the Pacific Ocean they called this gentle came this should look and he didn't make any kind of pitch or anything. The next thing I knew I was in California. Okay.
Dr. Use is gonna kill me.
Anyway, so Masha Allah, Akbar, Allahu Masha, Allah fine. So
time is limited. Let me get to some really deep questions in Sharla and then open the floor for some of you as well Inshallah, check. One thing that I noticed about your track record, and your lectures and your speeches, and by the way, I met him I was at my first semester at DL in New Haven. It just so happened as soon as he left, I took over my shoe that Islam and good food was there, but he will come visit. So literally this as soon as I came back, he left. Then when he came back, I came to Memphis but she had kind of one thing that I've always noticed even in our first meeting in my house, in Connecticut, and New Haven, I was always cognizant of the fact that unlike many other
people, including myself at the time, you were never sectarian.
And I really
took notice of that most of the data and I'll be the first to say yes myself as well. Coming from Medina, I had a mindset those coming from us had a mindset those coming of Syria had a mindset, they had a particular Philippa of particular narrow understanding, but I've always seen in you much more openness and broad mindedness which took me myself years of personal Dawa and training but you seem to have had it from before. Why and how do you think this is the case? And can you elaborate on that, that that acceptance and understanding that Islam is beyond just one narrows letter of interpretation?
I accepted Islam not a piece of it. So, you know, we all are influenced by different things, but you know, manakala La ilaha illa de Hillel Jana Lal, hello liontrust Paradise. So Yanni.
was 30 rhythm of theoretical rugby core agenda tin
or the heck out this summer wettable. So I need a Jenna. So Nikita to feed a tad dude. So the the indefinite conveys a meaning of plurality there's more than one gender, then alone genital genital adding genital name, gender to malware, gender to federal dollars and each one is more expensive than the Spence of heavens and earth. That's a lot of space. Why should we only want five people in
my show me and my my four students and everyone else can take a slow boat to the hot place. That's insane. You know and and you know, so, the 1400 years
the unity that this has despite the various differences we don't even have what we properly considered a sect and this in the Protestant Catholic Catholic sense as Muslims we all pray five prayers. Some of the she and if the in the Abadia they usually join for an officer and mogra Venetia, the end the congregations but everyone recognizes five prayers. We all we fast the same month of Ramadan all Muslims might have a day or difference their start a day difference you know you use that you start on Monday I start on Sunday. You say tomato I say tomato. You know we all go to the same Hodge at the same time. We all read the same Quran I've been to Iran there's no muss ha
Fatima the most half is printed in Beirut just like the ones we all read. And so I mean the Unity
His miraculous after 1400 years of Turks and Arabs and West Africans, North Africans, East African, Central Asian, Southeast Asians, Europeans and Lucia, the Balkans and all all of all of all of that and we still have that degree of unity is is not my place to like kick someone out of Islam because they maintain all that we have in common over some petty minor differences you know, I never made sense to me mashallah, it absolutely just never made sense. And I couldn't I couldn't do that. And I have to say in front of everybody that it was your presence and interacting with you when I because I had first come from Medina 2005 And I had started yield 2005 and imaams Eight visited me in my
house. So we had, it was the beginning of my own opening up and rethinking through so your presence and talking to you and, and seeing frankly, I mean, mashallah, you're so much senior to me, age wise, wisdom wise, talking with you, and interacting with you was one of the catalysts for me to also start rethinking through an opening up. So there you have had a very positive impact on my own development. So we always I always in my show, he is here because it takes a lot of courage to do what he did. So ask Allah for
Carlos, I won't say anymore $100 paycheck, so she's gonna another thing just um, let's get to one of the more interesting questions now. You've been active in America from the 70s Mashallah, you've seen the evolution of Islam, you've seen the growth of Islam? I asked him I said, I just similar question last year, similar question as well. What do you see as some of the challenges that we now have, that you guys didn't have back in the 70s? Some of the pros and cons some of the positives and negatives that mashallah, you've been a Muslim for 40 plus years, 45 years now, Michelle, you've been active, you've been living in different continents, you've been through multiple phases, as you
said, now that you look back with your wisdom with your experience 2022. Now, what are some of the lessons you can leave for the next generation? Some of the problems that you see that that, you know, we need to nip in the bud as they say, so can you can you help us navigate through the next phase Inshallah, this will monitor him, I think,
to just summarize, Muslims have to totally, even though some good things have come out of it,
but the danger, and the damage that we're seeing right now, so severe, Muslims have to totally, absolutely reject post modernism, and everything associated with it. Because at the end of the day, the whole postmodern project be that related to feminist studies that come out of it, Queer Studies, critical race theory.
Now, fat studies, all of it. Like I said, there's some good in there, but the project ultimately aims to center the margins. So all of these marginalized groups that claim historical oppression, be that around racial gender,
whatever lines, the whole project is designed to destroy traditional society. And there's probably no society more traditional than Islam. And if Muslims do not reject it, it will, it will destroy us now, I'm in this country, not in the world,
but in this country. And because a lot of people don't know this, but if you study deeply enough, one of the central figures actually two central figure Foucault and Deleuze these these people are deeply involved in the occult.
the ultimate objective
and, and traditional, particularly Abrahamic society
who is most marginalized?
I'm asking you guys
are you so women? Hmm
Nice, not not in this context. And you said an Abrahamic religions, right? No, but not in this context. Like women that could be a candidate.
The LGBTQI plus could be candidates, various racial ethnic groups, Native Americans, African Americans could be candidates.
Well, the most marginalized in other words, the most
reality to be placed at the center of society having been pushed to the margins is Satan shaped pawn.
And the ultimate end of the project is to center shaytaan.
And what does that mean? Do means to destroy and marginalize Abrahamic religion.
And that's what's happening
through all of these various doors. And so I don't use the language, you know, you don't hear me talking about privilege, and hegemony and intersectionality and Ally ship and all of this stuff. Because language is the gateway to your worldview.
And that's why you see, so many Muslims who are caught up in this worldview, and as a result,
are leaving the religion
either as active participants or altogether
through this particular
path. So I would say that's one of the greatest challenges. And the way that we avoid that is we have to hold fast to our language, we have to to our religion, we have to hold fast to the language of Scripture. And you know, when when people talk about the the the impact that the whole LGBTQI plus community has an our politics and society and our culture.
One of the projects was to take over the theology schools, I don't know if you've been recently to American Academy of Religion conference, I went when it was in San Francisco, because I was living out there, let me go see, it was all Foucault. It was all post modernism, there was no biblical language being spoken at all.
There was no biblical language, because the language of Scripture is always going to be problematic for homosexuals.
But the language of Foucault who himself was a homosexual, is going to be empowering.
And if you put that language in the theology schools, and replaced the language of Scripture, you're going to have a worldview that is conducive to redefining religion and the role of religion in society. And that's exactly what has happened and is happening. And for Muslims, to avoid it, we have to reject the whole project, we have to reject the language, we have to hold on and affirm our language, as its was his thesis like index of the ethical terms in Quran is that the Quranic language created a unique worldview.
And Rosenthal the same thing and knowledge triumphant. Islam is the first knowledge based civilization and at the foundation of that knowledge is as our as our language.
And if we if we adopt another language, to define the world, and to define how we relate with each other, as human beings, or we're inevitably going to end up with something that is not going to look
like Islam, as we have historically known it. So that's a controversial statement. But that's how I see it. So check. This is obviously we all agree on this. But as they say, the devil is in the details. So let this be the final question. I know it's getting sometimes the devil is out in the open. That's true to a very valid point. Should we all agree that we're not going to compromise on our theology on our language, you're not going to compromise on our morality, but in the political climate we live in, in order to gain our political freedoms to be Muslim to fight Islamophobia. Sometimes there are these marginalized groups that are willing to stand with us against the bigger
bully in terms of politics, and they want to be on our platforms, and they're more than happy to support our political freedoms. And there is this perception, therefore, that by allying with them to fight our bigger battles and Islamophobia or maybe even, you know, politics or domestic or foreign policies,
Now that we are compromising on our values, you understand what I'm saying? Obviously here, yeah, absolutely. So can you can you elaborate to the level of detail and explicitly, you want to leave it to you, you know, this is tiny nuance it will best be dealt with in writings. So it makes it less easier for people to misunderstand what you're saying. I, you know,
we, we are human beings, we have human relations. So I'm not, we don't as Muslims, we don't encourage bullying. We don't encourage people being bullied abused because of any particular attribute they might possess. So that's one thing a lot of times when you say,
you know, no, if I said, for example, we shouldn't ally with these groups, somebody who okay, then are you saying that we should reject them and abandon them? And let them be bullied? No, we don't encourage that at all. But I think we have to step back and look at the context that this question is asking. So I would I would say, for example, why are we only asking this question now? And we weren't asking this question 20 years ago, has society changed so drastically? That the enemies of Islam are so much more vicious or so much more threatening or so much more dangerous today, that we have to discuss allying ourselves with various marginal groups
that, that we didn't have to discuss allying ourselves with 20 years ago, what has happened in society? And so my argument would be exactly what I just said, what has happened has been really, the the fruits of the postmodern revolution, have have ripened and an entire generation of Muslim particular Muslim academics have gone through various levels of schooling and to including graduate school, under the influence of this particular way of looking at the world, who are telling us we have to do this.
And, and so that that's what's changed. The religion didn't change, the enemies of enemies of Islam didn't change. Our political system hasn't changed. But what has changed is how we Muslims, many of us, not all of us, view, our Situ that shows the situation politically and otherwise. So I'm not saying nay or Yea, I'm saying we have to really step back and begin to analyze what's going on in our society before we encourage Muslims to make these various decisions. Now saying that, I would say there are definitely areas
where we're going to find common cause with a lot of other people, for example, the preservation of the First Amendment
that allows us freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. And so if I'm advocating for the preservation of First Amendment rights, and some other group whose ideas might be antithetical to my ideas, or are advocating for the preservation of their rights, that's their constitutional duties. But I think we have to be careful is understanding what is our business and what what our what are our ultimate objectives and what is what is most threatened by these potential alliances. So despite recently the the great Egyptians Khalid Sheikh Ali Juma wanted to make the mocassin hefele higher over half the deen but that's, that's not a valid switch. Because
if you don't have Deen, if you don't have a connection to Allah, then life isn't worth living. And so, when we're essentially saying to preserve our lives, politically, and perhaps even physically good, because people have to, are getting so nasty, this might become very physically threatening. We have to place our religion in danger.
And I think that's the issue like are we legitimising
things that can end up either eroding or very rapidly?
our religion and our attachment to our religion? And how we answer that question, I think determines how we answer the question that you posed. In terms of aligning with various marginalized groups in society. This, the last thing I'll say, is, for what I see out there, this is my opinion,
that that necessity alliance is an based on a deep analysis of the mocassin of the religion. The overarching objectives of the religion is based by so many Muslims adopting the intersectional framework where we are intersectionally connected with other marginalized groups. So you have the Muslims, you have the Oh, GDP to community, you have women, you have various racial and ethnic minorities. And this intersectionality creates a natural ally ship. But that ally ship is not being defined by Muslims, that ally ships is being defined by others. From my experience, as soon as you
challenge certain aspects of the program of the agenda of others, you're viciously attacked, which indicates there's no true ally ship to begin with. Because the foundations,
are so different. So may Allah give us tawfeeq? I mean, and may Allah bless us to these quite decent questions, demand answers, but they have to be well considered answers. And so that's my precursor to an answer, not an actual answer. Some people would take it as an answer. But you know, at a certain point, we have to try to articulate the truth as best as we understand it, and just let the let the chips fall where they may. And may Allah protect us and give us autofeed? I mean, unless all of us and you guys are fortunate and blessed to have shake, yes, you're here. Because in his life, he's younger than me. He's gone through a lot of seen a lot of things and done a lot of things and
been exposed to a lot of intellectual religious currents. And so experiences. I would say to a lot of people who might say, oh, used to do this, and that Muhammad Ali said, a lot of profound things. And one of the things he said is a person who is the same views the world the same way to paraphrase him
when he's 50, that he that that that that he did when he was 20, has wasted 30 years of his life. And so we're growing, we're evolving, we're expired, we're exposed to different things. What I might say on a particular issue, even a controversial one, like we just touched on, two years from now could be totally different. And so we just pray that Allah guides us to truth. Well, I think one of the most relevant prayers that are relevant Well, one of the most relevant prayers that our Prophet taught us sallallahu alayhi wa sallam Allahumma, Erin and Hapa Hakan was, was was AppNeta out in about till about 10 and was up niched in was was it niche at NAB, or Allah show us truth as truth
and bless us to follow it. And this is the beauty of Islam. This is one thing that I got from Islam and focus Islam isn't just an idea, a pretty idea. It demands an ethical commitment. So not just knowing the truth, but following the truth, and not just recognizing falsehood but shunning falsehood. So we pray that Allah gives us all sound knowledge and blesses us with the courage to make ethical commitments and to make stands and to take stands even when they're unpopular. I mean, I mean, Zack Miller, aka chef, we wanted to talk to you so much more any Subhanallah Imam Zaid was the one who was with Muhammad Ali Rahim Allah to his auntie gave him the Kalama at the very end, it
was Imam Zaid that was there. He gave him the Kalima Imam Zaid spoke at Muhammad Ali's funeral as the chef and Imam of Muhammad Ali so much more can be said but time is limited here. But I need to extract a promise for you that you're going to come back to our community show. Inshallah, word inshallah Giacomo Allah hashanah for coming all this way here may Allah subhana wa Tada give you life in the long life and allow you to be a beacon and a role model for all of us. May Allah azza wa jal can continue to increase your Eman and your taco and your good deeds may Allah subhana wa Tada make the best of your years the final years may Allah subhanho wa Taala cause your ama to be
Sit by your servants and by ALLAH SubhanA wa Tada May Allah subhanho wa Taala grant you a Kenema to heat at the end of your life all of us may Allah subhanho wa Taala grant us the shofar of the prophets of Allah Almighty He was said on the Day of Judgment May Allah azza wa jal resurrect us under his shade when there is no shade other than his shade. May Allah azza wa jal causes to pass over the Surat with firmness and strength. Allah Allah was to be amongst the first of the batches to enter agenda with radiant faces. May Allah subhanho wa Taala grant us all the companionship of the prophets of Allah when he was in Jannah to fill those in Allah, which is Akuma La Jolla. Ron was
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