A Ramadan Reflection: IANA, the 90’s and a Homeless Brother

I want to tell you the story of a homeless Muslim brother. First off though I must briefly tell the story of the 1995 Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) convention in Dearborn, Michigan. I would meet many major figures in Islam in the West and make some good friends for life including Tariq Nelson. There are those on my Facebook friends list I met at that convention including Abu Noor Abdul-Malik Ryan and Abdul Aziz Suraqah.

Speakers at this convention from America included Sheikh Ali al-Timimi, Jaffar Sheikh Idris, Jamal Zarabozo, Idris Palmer, Mukhtar Curtis, Salim Morgan, and a young dynamic graduate of the Islamic University of Medinah bringing an enthusiastic following by the name of Abu Muslimah of East Orange, New Jersey. On the international side scholars such as Suhaib Hasan from the UK and Abdur-Rahman Abdul-Khalaq of Kuwait attended.

A lot of knowledge was being dropped. Imagine me a kid from St. Louis who attended a masjid where few brothers knew the word fiqh or Aqeedah and had never seen a niqaabi in person now surrounded by Arabic, ‘ilm, beards, niqaabs, and smiles. Being that this was the 90’s and pre-911 you also had a little edge to some attendees. A clueless young American I sat and listened to a private discussion between Taliban reps trying to convince Saudis their group was the right group to invest in. I met the Arab Amir of the Mujahideen in Bosnia and was invited to Kashmir as his guest. This was before I put on weight and I was still in wrestling shape which prompted several brothers to suggest I go overseas and fight.

I drove back to St. Louis with a Palestinian brother, Ismail Royer, and one other person I can’t remember. We left with contacts with other American brothers, cassette tapes, books and memories. One brother I met stood out though.

Brother R was a smooth talking tall and slim cat from DC. Beard was on point, thobe above the ankles, and brand new white socks. I told him I’d be traveling to DC soon to visit Ismail who was attending American University and he gave me his number.

When I got to DC I met up with R. He had a van and worked as a street-vendor mostly selling clothing. He told me he was born and raised in DC, had done some time; but took shahadah, married a Moroccan and was now raising his kids in the Virginia suburbs. He gave me the DC Muslim tour and I put a visual to the places Zaid al-Timimi had been telling me about during our after halaqa sessions at Steak’n Shake. The brother seemed to really have it together and he was respected in the community.

On my several different stints living in DC-VA (which is really a second home to me) I would always see that brother and he seemed to be doing good. A few years ago things began to change. He was having trouble in his marriage. Then he was divorced. Next thing he wasn’t looking too sharp. Then he was homeless. Next thing he was on drugs, begging for money and brothers told me they saw him standing in food lines.

In the DC area you can hardly get an apartment for under $1,000 per month. It’s also been ranked the worst area for non college-graduates in America. Massive gentrification. How does a brother like that get better even if he gets off drugs? And who is even going to help him get clean?

Thinking of Brother R makes me think of so many things. How special the 90’s were in the American-Muslim community, divorce, drug-addiction, gentrification, homelessness and the lack of services we have in our community. I wouldn’t know how to reach him and get him help at this moment. All I can ask for is that this Ramadan you keep Brother R in your prayers.

Jummah Solution: Jummah at the Crib

There are maybe like 5 people that keep me on twitter. Probably more like two. Boxing writer Dougie Fischer and a young sage soul sister out of Chicago if you don ‘t include some young St. Louis journalists I like. My old Twitter had 500 or 600 followers. My new one (@STLAbuBadu) I can’t seem to pick up steam. So, I basically just use it to talk shit about my passengers, rant and follow boxing news.

So the sister gave me an idea. I told her I don’t go to jummah anymore. I aint gonna lie. I don’t answer my phone during jummah and I don’t engage in social media. People think im at jummah. I say I was. But I aint at jummah. If I do go it is to meet a brother.

Why? You may ask. You know and I know the imam ( or whoever they let give the khutbah) aint talking about shit. With all the problems in our lives, all the pain, all the social problems in our society, all the wars and the imam talking about some irrelevant b******* or quoting some medieval scholar. If the imam even speaks English. Half the congregation is fighting off sleep. The other half thinking about paying the bills or what they want for lunch. seldom do you get a good khutbah. Now if you are blessed to live in Brooklyn, Philly, North Jersey, DC, ATL, the Chi or the Bay you may have some good options. other than that you’re pretty much f*****. In St. Louis im better off talking to myself or listening to a YouTube lecture. Or reading a book. that has to be more beneficial then going to a place where half the people hate each other and the imam uses the khutbah to talk s*** about his enemies. Or you are told it’s hopeless and you are going to hell!

So, the sister said, why not just have jummah at your house? Invite four or five brothers? 

I think it’s a brilliant idea. Not just for me. Not just for brothers. for anyone left out. Anyone not being served by the community.

Brother coming from the streets who need love and support. Instead of some FOB or Madkhali masjid giving you the latest from the KSA why not just invite a few brothers over going through the same struggle and have jummah in your living room?

The young Muslim brother who grew up here whose parents came from Egypt or Pakistan who is not feeling the uncle’s khutbahs. they not even addressing whats real to him. Just have the brothers over for jummah.

The sisters who don’t wanna be shoved into a basement or closet by some imam or administration talking about women’s rights and yet they are told to be unseen unheard. Why not have the sisters over for jummah? Why does some man who doesn’t know your struggle have to be preaching to you?

you don’t need buildings, budgets, boards and bureaucracy. You just need a living room or a basement. you are the community.

Somewhere to go without all the hypocricy. Somewhere you don’t have to lie. You have a girlfriend or boyfriend. OK, let’s talk about it. Bring them too. You like to smoke. Pass it to the right. You saw an interesting documentary. Let’s watch it together. How do I reconcile deen with secular knowledge and modern society? Who knows: but lets discuss. You hate Obama, love Obama, want revolution, in the damn Tea Party, that’s cool.

Are our masjids open like this? Our sisters, on balance, are smarter, better read and have more to offer. Yet their voices are not heard. A sister steps in the dunya and has a boyfriend, a phase, a love, a whatever, she is done in the community. Allah can forgive. The community won’t. They always worried about some girls p**** and what she doing with it. Worry about your own damn p****? They act like it’s a loaf of bread with an expiration date. Most of these niqaabied or supersunnah sisters not really about that life anyway. The shit just hidden. A lifestyle of sexual hypocricy. Oh brother estafurallah I bumped into you. Oh, my niqaab slipped, you saw my nose can you control yourself? And she textin the imam nude pix dying to be his deuce. Not all. Not a few.

The brothers f****** everything that walks Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Zorastian, Caucasian heathens then go hysterical when a sister not wearing “proper” hijab. let’s just meet together. talk with one another. be real. you like girls, you have girlfriends, but you really wanna be a good Muslim family man. You want love. Nobody ever showed you how to love or what family is. We in the boat together let’s talk about it together. You think the imam married to his cousin has something to offer to this conversation?

You don’t pray, you drink, you can’t f****** stand your mother, you are s*** as a father, but you have to lie about all these things at the masjid. Just say mashaallah, alhamdulilah, yeah yeah. Naw akh, let’s talk real. You got HIV we can talk….you aint seen your kids in years we can talk….you high? Still come. addicted to video games. addicted to pornography. Don’t come to lie. Don’t come and tell me you don’t listen to music. You don’t know who Jay-Z is. Come and be real. Come and tell me the feds are f****** with you because you are Muslim. That you are black and don’t wanna be treated like an abd. That you are white and don’t wanna be a mascot. That you a Desi but don’t know s*** about Pakistan. That,when you were young and dumb you thought of blowing yourself up. That you went to ISNA and were bored by the lectures but fiended for the Desi girls. That you dropped a body years ago and it still stares at you in your sleep. That you feel death is near. That you don’t make plans because you don’t plan to live. That the jones is too sweet. That you cry in your car to sad songs. That sometimes you felt more at peace in prison. That you drank 40 ounces, smoked one more and then read 40 hadith. That you love Rasulullah but you love Nietzsche. Or Kafka. or brother George Jackson. Or Howard Zinn. Or Russell Kirk. Or Ayn Rand. Or Pac. That you think like Lupe but act like Beanie. That you wish Ramadan was all year. That you love oud and the smell of the masjid but hard to stay on deen poppin codeine. Got Allah to thank but high off the purple drank. The Sunnah smell sweet like a rose but the browngirl going up your nose. That you came to the masjid to be close to Allah and got further away. That you don’t have the answers. We don’t either. It’s an idea. maybe your living room. maybe mine. maybe under a tree. maybe at the beach. maybe at a park. maybe we can just talk……

Chicago and St. Louis: A Comparative Look

I spent last weekend in Chicago. Only a four to five hour drive and cheap bus and train ride from St. Louis it is a city I have been to many times. My first trip to Chicago I was maybe 18 and travelled there with a taabliqui jamaat. Later I would come to visit MCC on Elston and Pulaski and sit with Amir Ali (R.I.P.) at the Reading Room with Ismail Royer.

Ismail dreamed of going to study at the University of Chicago. When he was not accepted he was really sad until he was accepted at American University in DC.

A lot of St. Louis kids move to Chicago. It’s bigger, more vibrant, more opportunity, close to home and maybe far enough away from exes, family drama and undisclosed baggage.

I see Chicago as being better than St. Louis in many ways and in other ways lacking. Here are the pluses:

Muslim Community: There is really no comparison between the Muslim community of St. Louis and Chicago. While indigenous Sunni Islam in Chicago has lagged behind the East Coast Sunni Muslim pioneers it has excelled in other ways and is decades more advanced than St. Louis.

In St. Louis the reality of indigenous Islam is you have masjids of old and dying WDers, a small Salafi Madkhali prison gang masjid, and a masjid of mostly heroin-addicts, the homeless, and crackheads. There are also the indigenous beggars who frequent the immigrant masjids. Mixed in are a small sprinkling of educated professionals and guys like me just barely holding on and not that active.

The immigrant Muslim community in the city is heavily made up of students, just trying to get their education, and refugees just trying to establish themselves. No real community life outside of their ethnicities. In the suburbs the Muslim community is rapidly growing and there is a lot of progress. Similar to 1980’s Chicago or 1970’s Brooklyn in terms of development.

In Chicago you have a variety of indigenous masjids on the south and west sides. IMAN with it’s pioneering mission. I may have got a little pissed when Rami Nashishibi taught his American-Muslim history class and didn’t give the pioneers in NYC and Philly their just due (the Dar al Islam, Islamic Party, MIB, MOA, Hanafis, Imam Jamil, etc.): but there is no doubt he has helped to establish a good and much needed thing. IMAN is the only organization I know of that can bring disaffected second-gen immigrant Muslim youth together with indigenous Muslims for dialouge and community engagement.

Ubaydullah Evans to me the best young man in Muslim America. Now because he is black (and cant pass a paper bag test) he wont get that much push from the major organizations who are looking for white,beige and brown faces to promote. Nonetheless he is in Chicago and if you are there you can benefit from his knowledge.

My brother Abu Noor Ryan, another one of the most brilliant minds of Islam in America, is now the chaplain at DePaul and basically rewriting the book and taking Muslim campus life to the next level.

There is also the American Islamic College, Usama Cannon coming in for Taleef talks, and the legacy of Imam Mohammed. From indigenous perspective there is just not comparing the two. (Let’s also  keep in mind the study and practice of traditional Sunni Islam is only 20 years old in St. Louis. Only beginning with the return of Mukhtar Abdul-Malik from the East Coast in 1992 and Mujaheed Abdul-Qadeer aq-Menepta and Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Baseer teaching at Masjid at-Taqwa wa-Jihad and later Geraldine in 1993.)

From an immigrant Muslim standpoint Chicago is also way more advanced. Muslim schools, Muslim boarding schools, loads of masjids, a second-gen Muslim culture and lingo, it’s just more advanced due to sheer numbers and the time they have been there. Personally I don’t want to go to any of these masjids just saying their existence adds to the life.

Not that I am a strict halal eater anymore (I’ve gone Saudi): but a simple visit to Zabihah will show you Chicago is a great city to live in for a halal eater. St. Louis is making a lot of progress though but will probably never catch up due to low demand.

Diversity: St. Louis is still a black-white city. Blacks and blondes. I grew up in a racially-polarized segregated city and VERY little has changed in my lifetime. People who say race-relations are good in St. Louis are normally white people who don’t know shit, clueless folks, or people who seldom see or interact with people outside of their race. They are NEVER people like me from a racially-mixed family or who grew up in North County.

The brightest Muslim brothers left St. Louis. They felt unfulfilled. We have a big black “brain drain”. St. Louis has one of the smallest Latino populations in the country. Without an infusion of refugees fleeing war and ethnic-cleansing we wouldn’t have the small level of diversity we have now in south city. I have been saying for a while this city needs massive immigration to survive. Many agree. It just isn’t there yet.

Chicago reminds me of living in NYC and DC. Latino kids listening to hip-hop their mothers speaking to them in Spanish them answering in English. Desi kids in Bears jerseys. Hijabs, beards, turbans, kippahs, all common sites. Not just immigrant cultures. Arrived groups. Fully multi-lingual. Adding their flavor. People who see my beard and know I’m not Amish or in a biker gang. Not quite New York. Light-years ahead of St. Louis.

On a short walk I saw Romanian, Greek, Polish, and Ughyr restaurants. St. Louis was an ethnic city. In midwestern and “up south” fashion though it rapes anyone of their identity. The goal is blandness. Drowing in an ocean of whiteness. The Italian is just a hoosier with the vowel on the end of his name. The assimilated goyische Jew breaks his Yom Kippur fast with a pork steak and a Bud Light, the Romani kid told to never tell anyone he is a “gypsy”.

Street Tribes: There was a time the game in St. Louis was organized. Fat Woods running the Pruitt-Igoe, the Petty Brothers, Jerry Lewis-Bey and the Moors, the Conway Brothers and others before them in Kinloch, etc. . Crack killed all that. And it aint came back. The Street Tribes of Chicago from Jeff Fort and the el Rukn to the Folk Nation to the Peoples Nation to the Latin Kings provided structure and organization. It could be a positive force or negative force. The point is it provided structure. Which meant less violence. It also meant a structure for self governance was in place detached from the system. The government saw this as a threat. Destroying the leadership led to the removal of structure which has led to Chicago becoming the murder capitol. The ideas still exist though as do the tribes. That in itself gives Chicago a progressive advantage over the petty, chaotic and cannibalistic streets of St. Louis.

Modern: Chicago is a modern city in a modern America. A good portion of the St. Louis Metro has one agenda-the return of the 1950’s ( and that wasn’t a bad decade). They aint coming back though.

Culture: I’m not that well-cultured. I go to a museum every now and then, I like thr library and have a thing for flowers, old buildings, public radio and the symphony. That’s about it and I believe St. Louis competes well with Chicago on all of those if not better. The area where Chicago really kicks St. Louis ass is film. There was a time when the Tivoli, Hi-Pointe and Plaza Frontenac showed a lot of good foreign-films, documentaries, and edgy indie-fims. Not anymore. Even the St. Louis International Film Festival has went downhill. They all seem to be focused on yuppie love stories and gay or ironic comedies. Like Girls isn’t bad and white enough on the small screen. Every time I see a film I wanna see and it’s not here I look and it’s in Chicago.

Public Transit: I don’t think Chicago’s public transportation system is all that great. It definitely is not as good as NYC, Boston, DC or Philly. it also is not as pedestrian as the East Coast. Still, it isn’t bad, and it is way better than St. Louis (which doesn’t take much). Metro in St. Louis is for poor people. When I was poor I caught the bus and Metrolink. Now that I have a decent job I don’t. That simple. I don’t miss the unruly passengers, rude drivers, and being late everywhere. Chicago, while still kind of lacking, has more diversity on the train. Not just poor people. The city is also a lot more pedestrian. I love walking and in Chicago there are a lot of places to walk, a lot to see, and a lot to take in. you are also not the only person on the sidewalk. In New York I walked several miles a day. In St. Louis my fat ass only walks to the car (OK I go on nature walks when nothing is good on TV). I miss walking. Every time I go for a walk in my neighborhood I may have to beat a mother f****** ass or die trying.

St. Louis has many pluses. Great friends, favorite places to eat, family, familiarity. You are born here you die here. Few people surprise you in St. Louis or alter their destiny. They play the roles they were born to play.

Umar Lee Speaks

These are all the words I will speak for now. It is all peace and love. I am busy working with my mentor writing on my 21 years as a Muslim and the good and bad. I am finding it very therapeutic and I am still in 1999. In the spirit of the late Imam W.D. Mohammed we are called to be North American Spokesman for Human Salvation. Imam in the Streets. God bless America. God bless the poor. God bless those in the gutter. People not the powerful. Speak truth to power. The mainstream of America aint where it’s at ya Muslims. Grassroots indigenous Islam. Stop the infighting. Arguing over shit that don’t matter. Concentrate on family ( I speak to myself first). Stop the infighting. Akil told me “it may be true you don’t always have to say it”. Impulse control. Respect our elders. Screw the FSA and all that foreign jihad “GI Joe” fantasy bullshit. Feds need to stop harassing Muslims. Obama aint shit but a devil. Same as GOP.  Spread love. End the sexual hypocrisies. Urban sustainable pedestrian neighborhoods. Stop believing in conspiracy theories. Your’e not a scholar you just have Internet access. Obey the law and stay out of jail. Join the NRA. Bitter ex wives stop preventing fathers from seeing their children and include them in their lives. Fathers step up to the plate.

I was encouraged by the scholar Yasir Qadhi to make a video of recantation. I have been invited to go to Medinah by some beautiful brothers there. However, I cannot get my passport until I pay off some money owed to the government. I would very much like to go and study in the City of the Prophet. If anyone has deep pockets and can assist in that matter let me know. Do not put any money in my hands. There is a brother in DC handling this matter.

Two additional videos on Muslim issues on my youtube page regarding Muslims issues and Ismail Royer.

Umar Lee: the St. Louis Stranger, He That Walks Against the Wind, the Halal Honky, a North American Spokesman For Human Salvation, speaks about his last controversial video, Sending love to Muslims and non-Muslims alike and responding to friends and foes alike. Props to Muhammadabdullah al-Maliki in Chi-town, Abdul-Rahim Mathon in STL, and so many other brothers and those I talk about in the video who been by my side.

Peace and greetings to Anas Cannon, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, and the others. Oh yeah shout out to the Kansas City Kingpin Tarik Liwarau the “money makin madkahli” and Big Dirty D Dawud Adib and baby girl Tasneem.

Poem: St. Louis Summer, Window Units

STL all swell
Droppin science
Dawah Stick
La ilaha ilullah
Muhammadur Rasululah
Pass the ammunition
God bless America
Lips and hips
Pistols and hot sauce
frozen custard and donuts

gettin high down low
My city on that “ron”
dogfood they call it Ghadafi
American-cheered lynch mob

On the deen
Hoes in hijab
frauds in Holy Clothes
Father’s Day Child Support Day
Careerist Imams
Holsitic transforming crackers in kufis
Celebrity Imams
Islam as a Business
Post-011 Sellouts
Goofy White Liberals
Muhammad “first feminist” you must be high
“Green” Muslims in Loudon Co SUV’s and McMansions
Black “The white kafir in my cereal” conspiracy lunatics
Prison Shahdah’s
Homeless taabliqees
Sufi dirty underwear buyers
Your thobe aint high enough akh
Saudi dick ridin crowd
Hipster Islam Chomsky tafseer
Interfaith in nut hugger jeans
Gay atheist “Muslims” lookin for Paki daddy attention
Trim that beard
Hijab and tight jeans
She give oral but won’t fuck
Maybe let you go in the backdoor
Abeed not marrying my punjabi princess
Somali clit cutters
Masjid parking

white Muslim must be a fed
white Muslim don’t know shit make him mosque spokesman
White Muslim Girl: Khaleesi “white savior complex”
Piss off white daddy fuck an Arab
After green card he dump you for his cousin

FSA and govenment baby killers
lost whitegirl from Michigan dies
Don’t nobody in Syria give a fuck about you
“Die for Kashmir?” I asked Ismail
Mad love to Sheikh Ali al-Timimi
Good men in prison
Criminals roam free
drunk drivers and payday lenders
bloodsucking rent to own

Holy Hawaiian in office
Whiteboy came to Chicago
Bobby Rush kicked his ass
Loves him some drones
Jay-Z glorifies dopegame Barry lockin up dealers and users
Prison Industrial-complex
Barry never gonna do shit for no nigga
Just collect votes
W you knew what he was
GOP dreams of those lynchin trees
Choose between evils
corporate bloodsuckers
abortion clinic babybrain suckers
We livin in Latter Day Rome
Empire on it’s knees
Learn to speak Chinese

Love a big butt and a smile
Boricua, Cubana, Dominicana, Colombiana
Newstead and Natural Bridge or 57 Mable
Remember The Animal House
R.I.P Pac and Biggie

Wanted to fuck Left Eye
Arab girl Twerk Team
I know I aint right
These sisters be hoes for real
hijabis on Skype
Salat in the EBT line
more babies for the welfare
collect them “daddy” checks
Bitch fall in love with kafir dick

Crazy black folks seeing UFO’s
Ulama say the Earth is flat
San Francisco hippies
Rather recite Short Dawg than Rumi
Self-hating Men
Where is your Mark Twain
Jihad created Andalus they forget
Fatimah and Umar
Ayesha and Ali
Blood of Karbala
Rich brown kids get pimped by their white professors

St. Louis inferiority complex
Fuck Chicago cold-ass city
More Dixie than Diddy
Self-hating Hoosiers
Love thyself
No kisses on the cheeks
Country grammar and STL Swag
Up South
St. Pauls and Vess
Old Vienna and Goody Goody
West County Orange Girls with Yellow Tops-Candy Corn
Pork steak eatin Jews
A-rab store cats named Bobby and Dick
Old revolvers
Two-lane turners
Cherokee Street rebellions
South Side white settlers
Warm summer nights
sweat of the gym
taste of the Gin
overcome by jinn
Old North vacant lots
no place for tots
parks for dogs
stayin off that hog
Bus be slow as hell
South Grand and Delmar Loop walkin
Walnut Park stalkin
Ghosts of Kinloch
Robertson used to be
St. Chuck white flight
Missourah meth labs
Cummin like droves to the Grove
Place to feel normal
Cards games voice of Jack Buck
Music fills the summer air
Alderman needs money for tuition
Fund a cause and watch dogooders in Escalades
800 to 300 watch us slide
slow it down to a glide

Need money upfront
35 to the 42
bloody St. Louis summers
clothes come off those skeezers
gunshots soundtrack to the night
Sonny Liston’s home
Spinks Jinks
Ike Turner
Need a New Burner
Redd Foxx
Ced the Entertainer

Ice cream trucks and NSA
Children cant play