Gun Saves St. Louis Cabbies Life

It has been about a week but a St. Louis cab drivers life was saved after he shot a teenager with a sawed-off shotgun who was attempting to rob him. Now, this must mystify those who say that guns cannot make you safer or that no one is ever saved by guns. If the driver wouldn’t have had a gun he would have been killed; it is just that simple.

The juvenile who was killed was picked up in the Northern suburbs of St. Louis and brought back to south city where he told the driver he had to go in the house and get the money. When he came out he was with his friend and one of them had a sawed-off shotgun. Now the family was on TV talking about what a great kid their son was, but he was seconds away from blowing a drivers head off and had been involved in the Juvenile Justice system prior to that and involved in gang activities.

When I see the diver his next meal is on me and he sent a message; drivers got guns too and if you wanna fuck with us tell that crackhead bitch you call mamma you love her before you step to us because she won’t be seeing your raggedy ass again.

Three Films and a Message

Shit has been kind of crazy lately and I have left my apartment but am still not settled in anywhere and have some debts that I need to pay off before leaving I am missing blogging everyday and there are so many things that I would like to talk about and have thought about since I have been gone from how Muslims dress ( inspired by another blog, Avari) to the Jill Carroll kidnapping to the axis of the three Republican insiders Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reid and how that affects Muslims ( Norquist has been very close to many Muslim leaders while Reid is an Evangelical enemy of Muslims and Abramoff has a cozy relationship with Israeli-extremists). As a matter of fact while ridding in my cab I keep a notepad and wrote down things that I would like to blog about, so don’t worry, if anyone is, I will be back blogging everyday soon and I am missing reading Abu Sinan, Umm Zaid and others daily as well as reading the comments that I get. I have no computer everyday now so its kind of like a dopefeind missin his crack.

On another note a few things have caught my interest as of late. In the past week or so I have saw three films; the Albert Brooks film Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, the horror film Hostel and the New World.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World deal with an interesting topic, reaching out to others via comedy and trying to find out what makes others laugh. In order to do this Brooks heads to India and Pakistan to learn what makes Muslims laugh but spends most of his time with Hindus. It is a funny film but it doesn’t really address any pertinent issues in an enlightened way or give the viewer any information about Muslims they didn’t already know. It does highlight an issue I have experience with, the seemingly lack of humor amongst many from the sub-continent or lack of any humor I can relate to, and there are some funny scenes around that. Of course if he would have went to the Arab world in a fictionalized account he would have found that Arabs as a rule love to joke and laugh. There are other funny scene of course such as Al-Jazeera pitching Brooks as show that would be called That Darn Jew. Its not a great film but it does give the viewer a few laughs.

Hostel is basically juts another dumb horror film, and it could have been great because it dealt with a topic, sex tourism and the decadent sexual desires of many in the West that is worth exploring especially after the cannibalism scandal in Germany recently. The only thing that makes Hostel different is the hundreds of naked European women one can see in the film.

The New World is a very slow paced but beautifully done film that attempts to give a realistic portrayal of the until now idealized account of the Native American princess Pocahontas and it is another film that while not great is worth seeing and is well done. I especially like the fact that the Native American characters do not speak in English and the gritty nature of both the Natives and the English is shown.

On another note, and since I am on a library computer and running out of time I do not have the time to get into it too deep right now, but I saw the guy who used to be a CIA agent who wrote books under the name of anonymous the other day on the Bill O’Reilly Show and he said bin Laden is only fighting his war the same way Americans didn’t until after WWII and have lost every war since they stopped fighting like bin Laden, interesting.

Qadr of Allah and Hajj

I felt like my grandfather the other night who used to come home from the race track (the ponies) and go on and on about how he could have won if he would have played the bet he was thinking of playing. Broke as hell, I was out driving in North ST. Louis at one in the morning the nigh before last when a call came out and it turned out that someone needed a cab from St. Louis to New Orleans which is a $1,500 trip which to me at this point is about liking winning the lottery. But, I didn’t get it, and spent the rest of the night juts saying “qadr of Allah MaSha’Allah and trying not to be pissed off.

The days after Eid are a festive time for Muslims, but in much of Muslim America brothers and sisters fake like they are festive when they know damn well this is juts another day for them. This time of years also brings us the annual; stories of catastrophes and death at hajj, and you will see that the media only covers what is bad and shies away from what is good at hajj, and this leads many to criticize the Saudi Authorities.

Those in charges of running the hajj in the KSA have a lot of faults but they have improved a lot over the years, you also know that no matter how organized the event is that there will be problems and that many of those performing hajj come from backgrounds where following the rules is considered backwards and where there is no order so even if you have a perfect system in place they will not follow it. The stampeded that has juts occurred is a tragedy, but the mentality of the stampede is also a tragedy and is you have spent any time in the middle-east you know the mentality.

I witnessed a stampeded and what caused it? Well, there was a minor event several hundred yards away and people starting talking about this and this caused the women in the crowd to start wailing and pulling their hair and they began running down the street and yelling that everyone was going to die, so everyone juts followed these lunatics running down the street and began yelling themselves.

I was taught that the third meaning of the word deen is though and action and I was taught on the street that when you move you move to win. You have a lot of people in the Muslim World who can be whipped up in an emotional frenzy from everything to the political to the mundane and they don’t think before they act, because they have to be outrageous in their actions to show others they actually care more than they do, and this often results in tragedy.

Remember everything is between the kaf and the nun and Allah can say be and it is so everything is for a reason. Death is as natural as birth and we go when it is our time and we cannot prolong the moment.

BTW, I will not have my own computer again for several weeks, so look for my posts to be shorter and less frequent.

Taqabbala Allaah Minna wa Minkum


In St. Louis we are observing Eid today and in Da Lou Eid basically is not that festive or great. So I have made lunch plans with a non-Muslim friend and will work the rest of the day after I go to the prayer in the morning.For a Muslim in this country I believe the number one reason for living in a certain area is not family or work, but the deen, and that is why I am leaving here and advise others ins a similar situation to do the same (I also happen to believe that the Muslim population here is too spread out and needs to be more clustered for numerous reasons). Please keep in mind those who are less fortunate and cannot enjoy a good meal at Eid today and invite them for food Insha’Allah and/or invite non-Muslim friends and neighbors to any gatherings you are having.

And Non-Eid Stuff and Stories…

Yesterday I did a lot of moving stuff and I am a little tired. A Muslim brother helped me move who I was able to have a great conversation with.He is an African-American brother who had served 18 years in prison for murder. While in prison the brother was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America which is a pseudo-Islamic cult based roughly on the teachings of a false prophet named Noble Drew Ali. The Moors, who call themselves Moslems and not Muslims, typically keep their last names but ad a hyphenated El or Bey to the end of the name. The majority of its adherents are in prisons particularly in the Midwest and South and they have very little infrastructure outside of prisons. In St. Louis they are notorious for their involvement with drug-dealing and gang activity and were former led by a man named the Grand Sheikh Jerry Lewis-Bey who for years was the top dealer in St. Louis and for a while he was also a major player in local politics. About a decade ago he was sentenced to life in prison with more than a dozen other Moors for their drug-dealing and role in countless murders.

My friend who was helping me move was the leader of the Moors in a Missouri prison and navigated the tricky and dangerous waters of penitentiary politics where you had Moors competing with the Nation of Islam and Sunni Muslims and internal beefs in all camps between the St. Louis and Kansas City crowd. Before getting out of prison he was handed a Quran by another prisoner which he read after being released and he eventually met a Muslim brother here in St. Louis who led him to the deen (FYI, the brother of the brother who along with Zaid Shakir gave Imam Abu Muslima of East Orange, NJ, the Imam of the largest African-American Masjid in America and a Salafi Masjid, shahadah).

Today this brother who was once a stone-killer and hardcore thug destined for life in prison or the graveyard now has a very calm and gentle manner and spends much of his time listening to lectures of Sheikh Bilal Phillips. Islam has transformed this brother as it has countless other brothers who have been incarcerated and it is important that the Muslim community opens its arms, in a firm but fair way, to these brothers and sisters because once you do time in America you never finish your time and you will never be allowed to full reintegrate into society so we must pick up the void.

It is also important to note that I have seen many social service agencies dealing with people getting out of prison and I have never seen any that did anything more than line the pockets of bureaucrats and pay the salaries of social workers. The guys game the system and get what they can get and are either scamming gullible do-gooders (disproportionately women) or playing the game along with politically connected cheats.

The social workers think the problem is the lack of money and look at the problem strictly through Western soulless and materialistic lenses (just as they look at the crisis in public education and homelessness). In reality, if the heart has not changed, then giving a homeless parolee an apartment just gives him a fuck-pad or a dope-den and giving him a source of income just gives him greater access to things that are bad for him. If the heart and soul are not changed then everything else is meaningless and this is what the social workers are not taught in school.

I can give you one more example of this from a girl I had in my cab the other night. She is a teen mother and went through some Catholic social service program, that if she completes, will give her an apartment and a monthly stipend. Did she speak to me in terms of this being a great blessing for her and her child or of how glad she was to get this opportunity? No, she spoke to me in terms of how she hated the program and thought the people were full of shit and couldn’t wait to get a crib were she could smoke weed in and nobody would bother her and her baby-daddy could come over and spend more time with her (and if he disappears, which I am betting he will, another will soon take his place thanks to the program).

Now of this woman would have been given the harsh and tough love that many are getting in the same situation in inner-city African-American (mostly, but not all, Salafi Masjids, you have to also include traditional Sunni conservative Masjids like Masjid al-Taqwa in Brooklyn where Siraj Wahhaj is Imam, those of Jamil al-Amin, Abdul-Alim Musa, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman and the Sufi Fuqura) across the country she would be forced to get down with the program, with no excuses, or go back out in the streets that have treated her so well in the first place. But then again there would also be some sucker she could scam again. We should be compassionate but not stupid and should open our arms until the trust is violated; we do not need to be accomplices to bad behavior. I have suffered in the past, and even now, because of bad behavior, and in Islam suffering is not always something bad; it is something that can teach patience and can build character if the believer keeps the proper perspective and has those around them who can help to guide them in the right path insha’Allah.

On Being Nomadic and School

I remember seeing something on TV about the Travelers in Ireland. Now I am no expert on the Travelers but I do know that they are basically a group of people who live in Ireland and have a nomadic lifestyle and they travel in caravans and deal in horses a lot. Over the last several decades the Irish government has tried to get them to settle into public housing complexes that look like belong in Brownsville Brooklyn and this has led to problems. Every time I look or see something about Travelers I think that those must have been my people and I must descend from them.

Most people do not like to move, but I like to move often. Most people like to settle down in one city; I like to move around and try as many cities as I can (and know my way around numerous cities). Do not get me wrong, I hate the physical act of moving and packing and lifting boxes and all that shit; but I enjoy the getting settled into a new place and learning a new area and getting to know the brothers at a new Masjid and finding a barber and a good place to shop and eat. If I had money, which I do not, I would probably just be like Ibn Batutta and travel the world constantly.

Sheikh Abdul-Rahman used to call me Abu Badu (the father of the Bedouins) because I used to travel so much. On Monday I may be in New York, Tuesday in Virginia, Wednesday in Chicago and spend the rest of the week with the sheikh in Oklahoma. He always said that he liked my lifestyle and said “Islam is a movement and in order to have a movement you have to move.” I spent my twenties in various Muslim communities trying to build this or that Masjid or trying to advance the cause of Islam as we saw it and didn’t really worry about money or getting an education. In my mind what I was doing was real and what they were teaching in school was some bullshit.

My lifestyle caused many in the Muslim community to believe that I was a spy (these brothers had little imagination). They would say “why is that brother everywhere and how does he know everybody?” Others didn’t think I was a spy; but they did advise me to settle down and find a good Muslim sister. Sometimes I would say “ok, how about your sister?”

In New York it was not uncommon for me to go without sleeping for days as I ran the streets until my body couldn’t take it anymore. I would pray Maghrib and Isha at the Masjid and maybe go out for some halal Chinese afterwards; but would run the streets all night from the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn to the Soundview Projects in the Bronx. In the morning I would begin hustling, maybe selling bottled water at the Holland Tunnel with the Salafi brothers from East Orange, or selling clothes in Manhattan or making cash in the Garment District. Then I may go to the library or bookstore and read, check out an indie or foreign film (which I would usually get in for free because I always ferment relationships with theatre employees) or go to a lecture somewhere in the city and go back to the Masjid at night and that was my thing.

Here in St. Louis my life is much slower, there are fewer places to go, things to do and people to see. The people are laid back here so I am laid back. Consequently I have put on a lot of weight since being back in St. Louis. In New York I walked 5 to 10 miles a day; here I doubt I walk a quarter a mile a day and I still eat a bad diet.

One of the things I liked about the DC area was the fact that it is in between New York and a place like St. Louis. There is a lot to do, but not too much, and the population is very diverse with a vibrant Muslim community. What I do not like about the DC area is that there are no real working-class areas, it is too damn expensive, you need a car, and the Muslim community is concentrated in the suburbs.

Anyway I am getting ready to move on. The Muslim community in St. Louis sucks and there is ijmaa on this. I mean, it is almost impossible to describe how dead this community is, and of how it led Ismail Royer to describe it as the “armpit of America”. I will not go that far, I like St. Louis, and there are a lot of places and people here I really like and I definitely think this city is heading in a positive direction, but because of the weakness of the Muslim community and other factors I will not be staying here that much longer.

Where am I going? Well I have a short list, but have made no final decisions. It will be in the Northeast, but that is all I know for sure right now. It needs to be a place where I can have easy access to three cities; NYC, Boston and Northern Virginia because I have things to do in all three places.

School

I started college twice, and hated it. Besides in my twenties I was too busy and didn’t have time for school. There was no way I was going to sit for years in any one place and do one thing all the time unless I was promised a parade of virgins that would be updated weekly fresh from the stock of the Saudi Royal family. Now, I think that I can sit in one place for that long, and I think that going back to school is something that I need to do. I will still not look at the teachers as deities and definitely will think that the majority of the things in the books is bullshit; but to me going to college is not about learning but is about getting that paper that can increase your earning potential. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to learn in school, I just think it pales in comparison to what you can learn in life; but I think that for me it would be a major personal accomplishment to go back to school and complete my studies. How many people who spent there seventeenth birthday in prison can sport a college degree? I think it would be something good and that is why I have decided to go back to school starting in the fall semester if only part-time wherever I am and have my eye on something I want to study.

How The Muslim Convert is Perceived Within the Community

Although I am normally not a great friend of the police I will begin this with a quote from the Boston Chief of Police. In response to a group of bored bobos who felt violated because they had to sit behind protective barriers in Boston taxis the chief said “Ok, Ill tell you what, we will remove the barriers in ten or fifteen of the cabs for a two year period and see how it works; but you have to drive them.” This of course almost caused the bobos to choke on their cappuccino, and the mere thought of this probably sent a few into extra sessions with their therapists or dominatrixes. Such a barrier, which has been banned in St. Louis because the powers that be say it would promote the image that St. Louis is a violent and crime-ridden city (which it is), would have stopped a drunk AIDS victim from reaching over the seat and trying to give me a kiss the other night and would have stopped assaults on numerous drivers in St. Louis, But hey, who gives a shit about the drivers, as long as the bobos in the backseat have a comfortable view of urban decay on the way to a jazz bistro.

Now before I go into this long rant, about the perceptions of Muslim converts from born Muslims, I will have to say something. Over the next week or so I may not be able to post everyday as my situation is not going to be that stable during that time and I have a lot of things to do and may be zipping around the country.

There has been a lot of discussion on Muslim blogs of late, particularly on the blogs of Umm Zaid and Abu Sinan, and the blog of Yusuf Smith for that matter, about Muslim convert issues. One thing that has not been addressed in full detail is the attitudes of existing Muslims towards converts and if it has then I was not able to read it.

From my experience the attitudes of born and raised Muslims towards converts can be broke down into these categories;

The Sincere Practicing Muslims

This Muslim is exhilarated by the fact that you have accepted Islam. They will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and may make feeling you welcomed into the community, and learning the deen, a top priority for them and their families and I have known many Muslims like this. To them you have not joined some kind of a club; rather you have accepted the kalima and found the correct path of Allah. They view you as someone who is more enlightened than the masses and as someone with courage and accept you as a brother or sister even if they may make you feel uncomfortable at times or if there is a social and cultural divide at times.

The Muslim Activist

The Muslim activist is also happy to see you become Muslim but the activist is not like the first group and more likely than not will not sit around and teach you al-Fatihah or small Suras. The activist is thinking about how to recruit you before someone else does and how to get you involved. If you have a particular talent, or degree of education, then the activist will covet you even more and as soon as you took shahadah was thinking about how your face would look on camera.

The Simple Muslim

The simple Muslim cannot quote the Tafseer of Ibn Kathir from heart and does not have the fatatwa of Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiya memorized (and maybe has never heard of him) but is pure of heart and is not corrupted by all of the false modern ism’s and knows that you have done a good thing by embracing Islam. Chances are the simple Muslim is busy with work and family and does not have the time to actually encourage you; but you can expect a warm greeting and smile when they see you.

The Self-Hating Muslim

The self-hating Muslim cannot escape their identity and background; but is miserable that they were born to Muslim parents. However, this Muslim is too lazy to make-up a new religion like the progressive Muslims and too afraid of their families to outright leave Islam, so they are stuck in a state of self-hatred and they look at you as pathetic for accepting the religion they wish they had no association with. They want to tell you that you should be going to the clubs they wish they had friends to take them to and having sex with the white girls they are at home jerking off to the thoughts of and think you are crazy for not fully indulging in every ill of this society.

The Modernist Muslim

The modernist Muslims may accept you; that is if you wear a suit, shave your beard, don’t study hadith, and are bringing in a six-figure income. If not they have no need for you and if you happen to have a beard and a love for the sunnah then they will see you as just one more dangerous fanatic and they curse the day you embraced Islam.

The Leftist/ Progressive Muslim

This Muslim, who is close to the modernist Muslim, is basically a bobo Muslim. That is they are educated, often urban, secular liberals. Since they have no actual belief in Islam, and are just maintaining the appearance of being Muslim out of some cultural sense of pride, then they look at you with a suspect eye for believing in something they do not and wanting to pick-up the faith of their backwards grandparents. If you do not accept their idols; the modern thinkers of the West, then you are an apostate. The Leftist Muslims, who more than likely do not practice the deen, look at you as fools for kicking Marx and Engeles to the curb and the passing over the bored suburban white kids movements of Anarchism and environmental extremism for the deen. They also may look at you as not real or authentic Muslims, even though they do not pray and may have little or no knowledge of the deen, and they may also think that you are engaging in cultural slumming and trying to be an Arab of Pakistani (which is ridiculous, given the fact that there are many, like myself, who for the most part hate modern Arabic culture). The bottom line is that they look at you with contempt; but would love you if you were an expert of modern art or a socialist activist.

One more thing, on this subject. I am glad that I did not enter Islam after passing through any other ism’s. I was not a leftist or a right-winger, I had not read the classical works of philosophy or the modern ones, I was involved with no group, and I had no interest in things going on outside of the US. Mine was a journey of trying to get closer to Allah and those that would come to influence me in my early days of the deen were all African-Americans. This has shaped the way that I think and the way that I view the deen and the world. I never rejected Western thought, because I never knew what it was; by the time I had read anything that one associates with a classical Western style education I had already read the classical Islamic works. Before I knew what post-modernism was I knew what neo-salafis were and before I read Marx I read Qutb.

New York Stories: Boricua Girl, Yiddish Muslim and Uncle Omar

I love New York. In New York I feel alive and I feel that there are no limitations on my dreams and my achievements. In New York I can be me, and no one will look at me with that judgmental eye because they have seen it all before, and in New York all things seem possible.

Of course my New York is not what you see on Sex in the City, Seinfeld and Friends; you will not see it on TV or read about it unless you look very hard. The New York I know is in the outer-boroughs, amongst the people; where it isn’t uncommon to see packs of Muslim sisters in niqaab walking down the street passing by Jamaican food stands, kosher delis full of observant Jews, halal diners serving everything from fried chicken to shawarmas with brothers with big beards and kufees outside sellin incense and oil, Latino Pentecostal churches, Puerto Rican girls with all the right assets, dollar cabs with Haitian or Bengali drivers going like crazy up the street, Yemeni and Dominican bodegas, pizzerias ran by Albanians or old school Italians, delis ran by Greeks, Irish cops gawking with menacing looks, groups of young men marking their territory on the corners, kids playing wherever they can find a few extra feet and the like. Of course this New York that I love may not be long for this world; as bobos are arriving in NYC in droves and driving the working-poor and middle-class out of the city. But for now; this is the New York I love.

In this New York, like anywhere else, there are problems. Over the last few days as I plan to visit New York I have been briefed on a few such problems. For those of you unfamiliar with some of the more grimy stuff that goes on in the Muslim community, especially as it relates to the thoughts and actions of horny Muslim men, allow me to take you where you have not been.
The Muslim convert woman is coveted amongst the men in the Muslim community like a Yemeni bodega owner covets the next shipment of khat. If the sister looks good then she will receive the attention not only of single brothers, but of many married brothers who are looking to pick up a deuce to have something halal to hit on the side. Now, if she doesn’t look that good, then she will become the target of older men, broke men, and brothers looking for a Green Card.
A young eighteen year old Boricua Girl in the Bronx just took shahadah. Now, like many men (including myself) a lot of Muslim men love Latin women. When a Latina sister converts she is often the object of fierce competition amongst the brothers as to who will marry her. When the girl is eighteen, and men being men (no matter the religion) then the desire becomes even more intense. Unfortunately when these sisters first become Muslim they are relatively naïve and maybe they trust people they shouldn’t trust. The men they may be trusting may be plotting on their bodies in reality or may be trying to hook-up one of their friends.

It would be better if some responsible people in the community would sit these sisters down and tell them to wait on getting married, they will not explode if they go a year without being married. Learn the deen, befriend some Muslimas with knowledge, and then make a wise choice on who you marry. The reason this does not happen is that many of these Masjids are ran as boys clubs and they are all trying to hook up their boys. Apparently in the case of this sister, she got dawah from some hardcore Salafis from a Masjid I know well (and like most of the brothers) and she has said that she will not marry any brother who even trims his beard, which is her right, and she is looking for a brother “on the dawah” as they say. I just hope that she is careful insha’Allah.

This brings me to the Yiddish Muslim. This brother from Brooklyn, whose name I will not reveal, is a real mensch, and one of the most intelligent, nice, and warm-hearted brothers you will ever meet. He grew-up in Boro Park Brooklyn to a middle-class Jewish family of liberal educators and he became Muslim at age fourteen after he was given dawah by some Yemeni bodega owners ( May Allah reward them). From that time on he studied Arabic, and within a couple of years he was speaking Arabic with no accent whatsoever. He then went to study at the Islamic University of Medina but dropped out in order to travel the desert and hang-out with the Bedouins which led him to Kuwait. He moves back to BK and then returns to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a brief stint as a student in Qatar. His Arabic by that time has picked-up a Gulf Arab accent and his knowledge of Islam has come to a very high level. In New York, he has a ton of Muslim friends because this brother is just so easy to love and so friendly. Speaking for myself, this brother is someone that thinks like me and has big dreams, unconventional thoughts, likes to study other cultures and likes to laugh. The American shabab love him; but many Arab Muslims see him as a novelty. Like 90% of Arabs I have ever met, the Arab Muslim brothers in Brooklyn are pathologically anti-Semitic, but nonetheless they enjoy the company of a Jewish kid who became Muslim. Do they like him for him like me and others who like him because he is the nice guy that he is or do they look at him as a freak novelty? When they first meet him they get a kick out of asking about how angry his family was at him for becoming a Muslim (and are let down when he tells them that his parents are relatively supportive) and stories of his previous Jewish life ( Did you really drink the goyim blood at Pesach, did you?). They take great pride in hearing him condemn Israel, or them calling for the destruction of Israel in front of him and looking for a reaction, and the like (although this brother has never been politically oriented and I haven’t heard him address this topic).

Unfortunately I know that many of these Arab brothers are fake. They have told me to watch out for him and say “you know brother he may be the Mossad” and I am not the only one who has been told this by people that were supposed to be his friends. It reminds me of a Muslim sister of a Jewish background in Maryland, who donated her kidney to a sick Muslim, and even after that was repeatedly accused of being the Mossad by many stupid and ignorant Muslims both Arabs and non-Arabs.

It makes me sad that this shy but bright Muslim brother, who can talk about anything at length and can keep you laughing all night long, has not found a wife even though he has desperately looked for one for years. Why? Well, for starters, those good Arab brothers who are supposed to love him so much will not even think about helping him to marry an Arab Muslima and this brother is too shy to go out and to try and find a wife by himself. So the brother is lonely and looking for a wife and I make duah that Allah will reward him with a good Muslima.

However, he now has more problems than trying to find a wife and being surrounded by a lot of fake Arabs (and for the record some of these Arab brothers really do love him I believe). Because of all the places he has traveled, and he is a Muslim, and he has a big beard, and he is the son of a well-known Jewish-leftist, the NYPD and the Feds are monitoring him and have came to his home on a number of occasions and this has the brother paranoid. He is now scared to talk to brothers he has known for years and doesn’t leave the house unless he has to. Believe me, this brother is about the farthest thing from a terrorist that you can find, but he fits some kind of a profile and they are watching. Such are the lives of Muslims in America.

This brings me to Uncle Omar. For the record, Omar is not my uncle, but is the uncle of a close friend of mine in the Bronx. He is the son of Turkish immigrants to the US who were hard-working people who found a home in a working-class section of the Bronx that at the time was all Italian but now is made up of mostly blacks from the Caribbean. His Turkish Muslim father was a World War II Vet, and Omar fought in Vietnam in the army himself. He grew-up surrounded by tough blue-collar kids in the Bronx as an outsider and had to be tough just to survive. After coming home from Vietnam Omar went into the grocery business and eventually owned two C-Towns (a popular supermarket chain in New York) and then sold those for a lucrative snack distribution route in the Bronx, Westchester County and Rockland County. Omar got married twice, once to an Italian daughter of a well-known mobster and once to an unfaithful Turkish girl and then he called it quits with marriage. He moved back in with his parents and took care of them in their old age until they died and this has now left him kind of old and lonely. The thing I always think of when I think of Omar is how he reminds me of myself; he is an avid reader like me, he thinks big but has often found nobody to discuss his ideas with, he has always been surrounded by people who have no interest in the things he is interested in, we both have bad experiences with women, and we both know a lot more than the people around us give us credit for including our families.

Driving on New Years Weekend

So its New Years Eve, and I am preparing for the big night of organized and planned foolishness. If I didn’t get a broad cross-section of Americans on this night then I don’t know who did.

The night began normal as I picked-up a guy from a wealthy suburb and took him to an upscale mall to meet his girlfriend, he told me that he would be spending the holiday with her and that he no longer drinks after being an alcoholic for thirty years and in and out of treatment centers and went on and on about the ills of alcohol and of how it is a deadly drug. Heading back to the city I picked up a middle-aged black woman who I knew. She works as a housekeeper at three different facilities and works seven days a week and told me she wanted to get home before shit started getting crazy. Things got boring for a while as I had a crazy old woman who went shopping for her cats and a couple I picked up from a beauty supply store; until I picked up a trauma center nurse. I was taking this nurse home, to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in St. Louis, and she told me that her landlord had neglected to pay the electric bill so the lights were off and she was going to have to pick up her two kids and take them someplace else. She also told me that even if the lights were on she wouldn’t be spending the night at home on New Years Eve. On the way to her home, as we passed drunk drivers, dope dealers and crack whores, she kept me entertained with stories about a mangled body from a train-wreck and a man who was so dirty he was rotting from the inside and had maggots in his legs.

Things started moving along more quickly and I picked-up a group of twenty something professionals to take to a party and I chatted with one of the women who was a P.H.D. student in history with a focus on the 1960’s Civil Rights and Black Power movement. We had a good conversation, and she knew a lot; but I was surprised that a graduate student in her field would not have heard of Franz Fanon and The Wretched of the Earth. When I told her that I first read Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver at age fourteen she was shocked and she was even more shocked when I told her that the Autobiography of Malcolm X was a major contribution to me becoming a Muslim. I got some boring people before getting a nice 79 year old man, who works as a security guard, who told me that since 1983 he has spent every New Years Eve eating at Bar Italia (a fancy Italian restaurant owned by Ethiopians; I ate in their once and was not at all comfortable, but it is a very nice place and the owners are very nice people, its just not my thing, my people work behind the counters and in the kitchen and don’t dine on fancy meals daily).

The night moved along with some more anonymous people until I had an obnoxious Indian guy who told stories about how wealthy his father was and about how some guy he knows has a father who medically tests him for alcohol everyday( the father will disown the son if he his caught drinking) . I picked up a young kid, like 18 maybe, from a group home who was with an older guy and they went to a gay club that is known for its rowdiness; Ill let you guess what I was thinking.

As the night goes on, and people are ready to party, there is a theme that keeps on reoccurring; men sitting in my cab who are waiting on their women to get ready and are bitching to me but too pussy-whipped to say anything to their woman. Do men today have any balls whatsoever? Or have all white men in America thrown in the towel (including most white Muslim men I know)? I move on to a Turkish psychiatrist, who is spending some time doing research in ST. Louis, and he wants to party but doesn’t know where to go, so I take him to the only bar he knows. On the way we chatted about Turkey, which he referred to as a model Muslim state and I told him of my experiences in Turkey; “Turkey is modern and clean, and much better organized than Arab societies, and the streets of Istanbul are not filthy like those of big Arab cities, but the Turks have lost Islam and they are not a warm and friendly people like the Arabs.” He told me that Turkey belongs in the EU and I told him that there were two issues; economically the EU would benefit from Turkey joining the EU, as would Turkey itself, but socially and culturally Europeans will not be able to accept Turks as equals even after they are allowed in.

Next I got an annoying yuppie couple who kept asking me personal questions before I dropped them at a nightclub well-known for drug-usage. That’s when things started coming over the radio; a shootout had occurred on or near Cherokee Street and the police had the area blocked off and a driver had just been robbed, the nuts were out. Midnight hit, and guns were blazin, and the cops went into hiding for half an hour or so. Along with the gunfire, fireworks could be seen from the First Night Celebration at Grand Center that caters to families and non-drunken idiots like the rest of the city was catering to.

Before I picked up a woman who stank like hell, and smelled like she had repeatedly pissed on a can of mackerels in her panties, I picked up some lazy Bobo who was complaining about having to walk ten feet and a guy from New York. A bar called the Tin Can was going crazy with people coming out and I picked-up two carloads and took them out of there. The first carload was of drunk young girls, one who cried because she had lost her cell phone while two in the back gave me complete opposite directions, while another was crying over some dude. The next group was a more cheerful group of med students.

Then came some major assholes. Two young white guys got in my cab and one immediately says “great we have a white cab driver, you don’t see that often.” The next thing out of this assholes mouth was, in response to me playing the BBC World Service radio was “are you a Hebrew or something, what are you listening to? Man you are a Hebrew. Or do you study the Quran?” When I asked him what the questions were about, how come I couldn’t be an American and want to listen to news programming or the BBC as opposed to the Top 100 Countdown and asked him if he voted for Bush he said “ I’m an American, and a Republican ( which I’m sure be believed are synonymous)”. The next thing I know this good Republican, who I am driving to a strip club, is telling me that he wants me to go to the club with him in order to get some “good ole American beaver in your face”. I declined, you know, Ill leave the worn-out, multiple STD infected, runaway Mormon girl for him. From then on all I got were drunks who could barely talk and who were all leaving the city for leafy suburbs.

I worked almost eighteen hours that day and was tired. I thought New Years Day would be normal; but I left home and the first thing I get is a woman who is balling like crazy and telling me about how much of a jerk her boyfriend is and asks me for advice on how to deal with him. What am I supposed to tell her? Well, your relationship will start improving once you tip me better? I ended the night with a very attractive woman taking her cat from her condo in the city to a pet ER room deep in the southwestern suburbs and all I am thinking is this; you mean this cat can get better health care than half of the American population? These people care more for their pets than they do their fellow humans. I got all kind of things wrong with me and don’t even have access to a doctor; but this cat does? On the way there she was chatting to her cat and how badly I wanted to tell her “shut up woman, its an animal, it cant understand you.”

Prison Dreams, Street Realties

This is something I wrote in 2002 at the Easy Everything Internet Café in Times Square NYC. At the time I was broke, didn’t really have a place to stay, we were all being investigated and/ or arrested, and I was just feeling kind of low and this led me to write this. Some Muslims feel down and low and maybe that will lead them to leaving Muslim friends and maybe going out on a limb and jaywalking or drinking a glass of wine. When I start feeling down my thoughts are a little nastier and after having to sleep on the A Train (and the re-routed 1 Train) I was having nasty thoughts.

Prison Dreams, Street Realties

You are full of dreams. You are sitting everyday and thinking of ways of succeeding in life, searching for a better way, and praying that your dreams will come true. A date has been marked on the calendar, and that date will be the start of a new life. A different life, a life where you are an achiever and not struggling day to day.

Yes, you are in prison. You are in prison with a fierce desire to be free. Memories of the soft touch of a woman, a home cooked meal by your mother, an evening stroll on your favorite ave, and of friendships fill your mind. Waiting for that day.

Then the day comes. It comes and you greet it with excitement. Finally, I will walk the streets and be free.

However, your dreams soon come crashing up against reality. You have no money. No place to stay. No food. You have been given a bus ticket and $35 and been told good luck, and do not come back.

Now you are out. Out and looking at a world that you want to be a part of, but how do you enter this world? Watching people dine on good food, and you are hustling up the money for potato chips. Watching men walk down the street with beautiful women in their arms, and all you can do is reminisce on what you once had. Watching people walk by wearing the latest fashions, and all you can do is look in the mirror and hope that you do not look too bad.

They tell you do not come back to jail. Your family tells you that you need to get your life together, they tell you that you are getting too old to be in the streets. Their advice is taken, yourself you do not want to return to prison. Looking for a chance, but it never comes, looking for a way out but you cannot find it, looking for a different life, but it is becoming apparent that there is only one way to live for you.

Daily frustration. Internal contemplation leads to conclusions. Yes, I am a warrior, a thug, a soldier true to my code. You are not a part of this society, you are a leper, what need is there to participate in a society that doesn’t want you? A choice has been made, a recognition of the fact that your life will be the life of an outlaw until the last breath.

Plans are made, things are set into motion, and old friends are called. Returning to hot blocks, your heart is beating fast, mind is thinking quick, eyes are on the prize. Eyes are on the car you wanna ride in, the women you want to ride you, the clothes you want to wear, and the places you want to see.

A move is made. It is a good move. An initial success. Money is in your pocket, and you are feeling like a new man. Life is getting better, people are looking at you in a new light, looking at you with respect. The same muthafuckas who told you to do the right thing, now are plotting on how they can get a part of your ill-begotten gains. She wouldn’t look at you twice yesterday, now she is whispering sweet things in your ear. He played like he didn’t see you before, now he wants to talk about the old days in high school with you.

Yes, you have decided. I will live, and I will die, an outlaw. I will go out in a blaze of glory. Old age is not for you, cancer will not take you under, you will go out on a hot summer night on a blazing Brooklyn block and you are hoping you will take at least one with you. It has been decreed, your destiny must be faced.

Plans are made and moves are made, but there are other schemers out there. As your wealth increases you have jealousy as an enemy, the word is out and now you are a target of the schemers. As you face resistance from that side, you are facing resistance from the Law, they are watching. Watching and waiting. Waiting to bring you back home. The only question is: who will get you first?

These are our lives. This is our world. If you haven’t been there, you do not understand. We are our own nation of rebels and thugs. An angry nation. A multiplying nation. A nation ready to explode. A nation despised by the establishment, and not understood by the opposition, we live amongst ourselves, we retire to homes with bars and we come to cry at one another’s funerals.