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.


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.


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