Insha’Allah I will finish the Sharia post when I have time. I have been working so many hours lately I am fatigued and do not have he mental energy when I am off work to tackle such a serious issue.
Business has been slow so I have to work longer hours and besides, with the pregnancy of my wife, my expenses are going up. Maybe these days I am looking a little more intense than I have at other times in my life. A high school teacher once told me that I was one of those students who teachers would never forget because of the intensity of my eyes (whatever that means).
Maybe it was this intense look to lead an elderly black female passenger leaving her home to give me a dirty look before she got into the cab. Before she got in she said “yea I know you…take your hat off…are you a black boy?”
Once she got in she went on a tirade “you are full of evil and you are trying to fool people but you cannot fool me. You have done terrible things and are going to do more terrible things in a few days.” A few moments later she took both of her arms ad put them around my neck and put them on my chest and told me “I don’t want you I am gonna take the devil out of you” and at this point I had been driving about 20 hours with only short breaks for the essentials and I pulled over and told her she had to get out.
That was on Friday and despite having that deranged older lady wanting to perform an exorcism on me, the day ended up pretty good. Things went downhill on Saturday as I just could not catch a decent trip until the end of the night, and by that time I didn’t want it because by that time I was so tired I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay awake to make it home.
When I left the guys house I was dropping off I stopped at a gas station around the corner and it just so happened that anther driver for my company was there getting gas. He comes from an Iraqi Shia family and came to America as a refugee about ten years ago. He has converted to Evangelical Christianity, Americanized his name, and refuses to speak Arabic in public, and when only admit his heritage if he is pressed on the matter.
Why this is the case I do not know. Regarding the conversion, some people convert because they genuinely believe that they have found a better path. In America it is not uncommon for people to change their religion. I was a Christian and now I am a Muslim and there are hundreds of thousands of people like me in America who have that shared experience of converting to Islam.
However, as Muslims in America we are going to have to brace ourselves that with our new found numerical strength in America, we are going to face the fact that there will be many who leave Islam. Those who I know who have left Islam for the most part are influenced by their secular educations. They stop practicing Islam or identifying themselves as Muslims and live their lives as secular humanists, as they see Islam as retrograde, chauvinistic and misogynistic ( along with other religions). Guys like this Iraqi driver who became a Christian largely fall into two categories; the poor, uneducated and needy who are evangelized by charitable organizations, and those seeking social acceptance because they do not have the intestinal fortitude to live as strangers in America.
In a place like St. Louis (or many other places most notably in the South and Midwest) where there has not historically been a great deal of diversity, and ethnic identification is very weak, there is a tremendous social pressure to drop anything from your religion or culture that seems strange or out of place. That is why you will find that the Jewish community, as an example, in a place like St. Louis is facing a severe threat of dying out in the next 20 to 30 years as the older generation dies out and there is no one to take their place. Muslim communities tend to be strong in places where ethnic identity is strong and difference is accepted, and weak in other places.
Not too long ago I was talking to Tariq and we both said that in the 1990’s at the height of the Salafi movement in America we were both convinced that one day in the not too distant future Muslims would be a major force in every American city and that one day eventually America would be a Muslim nation. This is not something unique to Salafis though. My wife grew up in an African-American Sufi Muslim group that follows a Pakistani cleric. She tells me she heard the exact kind of talk when she was growing up.
I do not feel that way now. Fifty years from now I see strong Muslim communities in the Northeast (New York, New Jersey, Philly, Boston, Baltimore, and the DC Metro Area), Chicago, Michigan, and the New Black South fueled by black Northeastern transplants and their offspring in places like Atlanta, Florida, and North Carolina. Houston and Dallas I am not sure of; there are a lot of Muslims there and some of the best leadership in the American-Muslim community has came out of Dallas and Houston, so despite the social pressure of Texas they may be able to hold on. I see the rest of the American-Muslim community spread too thin and being too isolated in non-diverse areas in the South, Midwest and West eventually dying out. Maybe in some of these places they will have a “progressive masjid” or something and a handful of the faithful on those lines but that will be about it. I also suspect that California, a land that is diverse but for the most part shallow, decadent, non-traditional, and materialistic, will have very few traditional Muslims and an abundance of Muslim-style New Age Kabala crap.
Message I take from this? If you are raising kids raise them in places where there their deen can grow strong and they will not be socially isolated. Muslims in America need to cluster; Muslims with children almost have to cluster if the preservation of their deen is the goal.
These thoughts kept me awake as I drove home to go to sleep. I missed the Ricky Hatton fight but I heard he looked great; but not better than my bed looked after a long day.