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.