In the Name of Almighty God, The Merciful, The Compassionate

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

Salaam Aleikum (Peace be with you)! I hope you may gain some insight from my work here. Remember, I'm not a scholar and don't claim to be. I only claim to be a person who has a passion for both Islam and this great republic in which I live and wish to share my thoughts with others. Remember that anything good you find in this blog is from Allah, and anything wrong or bad is from my own flawed self.

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The Holy Ka'aba

The Holy Ka'aba
The House of God built by Abraham (peace be upon him)

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance
take out the 9th line, and it would be haram (forbidden) to say this.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Friend in Crisis

In the name of Almighty God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Yesterday I received an email from a good friend and drummer colleague of mine with an attachment to a New York Post story run yesterday on a Muslim prison chaplain, Imam Zul Qarnain Abdu Shahih had been arrested for bringing razor blades and scissors into the prison where he worked; charged with four counts of promoting prison contraband. The thing is that Zul Qarnain is a good friend of mine. In addition to being an Imam, he's a very talented conguero (conga player) who has toured with Native Deen and Seven8Six alongside me. He is not only a colleague of mine but a very dear friend as well. Though he lives in New York City and I live in Ohio, we have shared many memorable experiences in our travels across the globe playing behind Native Deen.

The article points to the fact that Zul Qarnain actually spent 14 years in prison himself after being convicted of murder and robbery (along with three others) in 1979 for a grocery store robbery in which a customer was shot to death. At that time his name was Paul Pitts. So, understandably, the article begs the question 'how does a convicted ex-con get hired as a prison chaplain?' Well I don't know all the details but I do remember when he got that job and he said that he had volunteered at the prison for so long that he was hired based on their experience with him.

The article also points out that the blades and scissors were discovered when he was going through a security checkpoint and the x-ray machine indicated that metal was in the bag. He was actually at first admitted into the prison because the officers believed that he didn't know that the objects (which to clarify was three injector blades for an injector razor or a typical shaving razor) were in his bag. Then, apparently later, another corrections officer called the authorities and that was all she wrote.

It should be noted that he is NOT being officially charged with anything to do with promoting violence (promoting contraband does not have anything to do with promoting violence) however an anonymous city Corrections source said, "it's a disgrace that taxpayers are funding Muslim chaplains who not only have criminal records, but are promoting violence." This brings me to my point. Because he is a Muslim imam, and the fact that he does have criminal record, he will be crucified in the media as being a 'radical hate preaching, violence promoting' imam. The right wing media outlets such as Fox News (if they pick up on the story) would depict him as such because their agenda is that Muslims are the new 'commies' and all are to be regarded with suspicion, and the left wing liberal media outlets such as CNN (if they pick up on the story) will depict him as such because liberals are anti-religion in general.

As someone who knows this man personally, I would believe that he forgot or didn't even know it was in his bag. I might even believe if it was said that out of mercy to an inmate he might bring something like that in (it would be wrong but I might believe that) but I would never in a million years believe that those things were ever brought in with the intention to facilitate violence against anyone. This man, as far as I could tell, doesn't have a violent bone in his body, at least not anymore. He spoke very positively about Christians and Jews and was frequently involved in establishing relations with them. That's not the behavior of an extremist. Anyone who knows him personally knows that the idea of him promoting violence is just silly. Even the corrections officers who initially searched him at the checkpoint seemed to know him well enough to believe it was an honest mistake. He loves people, all people. He is genuinely one of the most loving and lovable people I've ever met. My heart fell to my feet when I read this story. Insha'Allah (God willing) I will try to contact him, but in the mean time, if he ever reads this, I pray that he knows that we all are praying for him. May Allah give him patience and guidance through this difficult time, and may justice be done. You can see the NY Post story by following the link that I included in the story.

...And Allah Knows Best...

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