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My name is Malik Ali and I am a Cherokee Blackfoot American Indian who is Muslim. I found your August 2000 issue at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed it very much.
There are other Muslims in our group. For the most part, not many people are aware of the Native American contact with Islam that began long ago by some of the early Muslim travelers who visited us. Some of these Muslim travelers ended up living among our people. For most Muslims and non-Muslims of today, this type of information is unknown and has never been mentioned in any of the history books. There are many documents, treaties, legislation and resolutions that were passed between the 1600s and 1800s that show that Muslims were in fact here and were very active in the communities in which they lived. Treaties such as Peace and Friendship that was signed on the Delaware River in the year 1787 bear the signatures of Abdel-Khak and Muhammad Ibn Abdullah. This treaty details our continued right to exist as a community in the areas of commerce, maritime shipping, current form of government at that time which was in accordance with Islam. According to a federal court case from the Continental Congress, we help put the breath of life into the newly framed Constitution. All of the documents are presently in the National Archives as well as the Library of Congress.
If you have access to records in the state of South Carolina, read the Moors Sundry Act of 1790. Almost all of the tribes vocabulary include the word Allah. The traditional dress code for Indian women includes long dresses. For men, standard fare is turbans and long tops that come down to the knees. If you were to look at any of the old books on Cherokee clothing up until the time of 1832, you will see the men wearing turbans and the women wearing long head coverings. The last Cherokee chief who had a Muslim name was Ramadan Ibn Wati of the Cherokees in 1866. Cities across the United States and Canada bear names that are of Indian and Islamic derivation. Have you ever wondered what the name Tallahassee means? It means that He, Allah, will deliver you sometime in the future.
My name is Ali. I'm a 27 year old Mexican American or as some would say a Chicano. I wanted to share the story of how I became a Muslim. My life before was bad. I had no direction in life. I was wasting my life away by dropping out of school in the 11th grade. I would hang out in the streets with my friends 'partying', getting high, drinking alcohol, and selling marijuana. Most of my friends were gang members. I, myself, was never in a gang. I knew most of them before they were criminals and drug dealers so it was not a problem. Soon afterwards, I began to use harder drugs. I had dreams but they seemed too far away to make them reality. The more I became depressed the more I turned to drugs as an escape. One day a friend told me he knew where to get some marijuana. I was eager to buy some so I agreed to go check it out. We arrived at an apartment where there were a couple of people. We sat, talked for a while and sampled the weed. My friend and I bought some and were starting to leave when my friend said one of the guys was inviting us to his apartment. When we got there, he gave my friend a book and asked him to read it, saying it might help him out with his problems.
On the way home I asked my friend to show me the book. The name of the book was the Qur'an (Koran). I had never heard of it before. So I read some pages and I knew instantly that what I was reading was true. It was like a wake up call. The Qur'an is so clear and easy to understand. I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.
The strangest thing is that I used to laugh at people who went to church, and I sometimes said that there was no God. As a child I always went to church. My mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday. I never was really religious and stopped going to church when I was about 14 or 15. The rest of my family is Catholic. I had always wondered why we were Seventh Day Adventist and the rest of my family was Catholic. When we would go visit my family back in Mexico, we went to a Catholic Church for weddings and Quenceniras (sweet 16 celebration).
I did months of research on Islam. I decided to go to the library and check out the Qur'an. I began to study it. I learned about Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the true story of Jesus son of Mary (Peace be upon him). The Qur'an stressed the fact that God was One and had no partners or a son, this was most interesting to me since I never understood the concept of the trinity. The Qur'an describes the birth of Prophet Jesus (P.B.U.H) and his mission. There is also a Surah (Chapter) called Mary and tells her story as well.
I also studied about World History and Islam's contributions to Medicine and Science. I learned that Spain was a Muslim country for about 800 years and that when the Muslims were expelled from Spain by the Christian King and Queen (Ferdinand and Isabela), the Christian Spainards came to Mexico and forced the Aztecs and others to become Catholic. History and my Islamic roots was all becoming clear to me. After months I could not deny the truth anymore. I had put it off too long, but was still living the life I had been living before. I knew that if I became Muslim I had to give all that up.
One day while reading the Qur'an I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the truth. I found out that there was a Mosque by my house so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their service. I saw that people from all races and colors attended the Mosque. They took off their shoes when entering and sat on the carpeted floor. A man got up and began to call the Adhan (call for prayer). When I heard it my eyes filled up with tears; it sounded so beautiful. It was all so strange at first but seemed so right at the same time. Islam is not just a religion but a way of life. After attending Jumha a few times, I was ready to be a Muslim and say my Shahada, declaration of faith.
I told the Imam (prayer leader) that I wanted to be a Muslim. The following Friday in front of the community I said my Shahada -first in Arabic, then in English: I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is God's Prophet and Messenger. When I finished, a Brother shouted 'Takbir!' And all the community said 'Allah-Hu Akbar' (God is great!) a few times. Then all the Brothers came and hugged me. I never received so many hugs before. I will never forget that day. It was great! I have been a Muslim since 1997. I'm now at peace with myself and clear in my religion. Being a Muslim has really changed my life for the better -- thanks to Almighty God. I hope my story Insha-Allah (God willing), will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the light of Islam.
Ali, El Mexicano
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|Note from the Editor|
|Letters to the Editor|
|Islamic World News|
on Our Heart
of the Heart
|She's My Sister|
A True Story
|Stories of the Sahaba|
|Women in Islam|
|How to Lower|
|Ten Things We Waste|
|Cultivating Your Spiritual Life|
|Du'aas / Prayers|
|99 Names of Allah|
|Quran & Science|
|Why I Embraced Islam|
|The Tricks of Shaytaan|