« on: February 14, 2011, 11:07:56 PM »
well i was raised in a very religious home, and as the son of a christian minister, i was inundated with church functions and surrounded by everything that has to do with the bible. i was also raised to have a very deep respect for the founding of the US, its foundational documents, and the history that surrounded it.
i grew up in the back woods, and we had a wood stove, so in the winter i would spend hrs on end near the stove reading. in our household we had a huge library for a somewhat humble family, so i picked up whatever caught my eye and devoured each page. many times i would fall asleep and find my mother had walked me to bed.
we were also home schooled, so we didn't get the same dull education as the other kids in the township. our education was very complete, and if we wanted to learn ouside of the curriculum we were always encouraged to do so.
for the short time we were in the public school system, i noticed they spent very little time on the history of the antiquities, so i have always had a soft spot for ancient history and knowing what really happened deep in the past, where we came from and what cool facts there were about ancient civilizations. my two favorite topics of interest were the Egyptians and the Sumerians, since neither one were given more than a paragraph in public school.
well, at the age of 17, i was sort of pushed out into the world. my father thought it would be a good idea to put me in school, so i went to college to study religion. while i was there i did pretty good for the first coupe of years, but something was missing. the classes they had on apologetics and other doctrinal classes were confusing. they made no sense. it was as if we were supposed to allow ourselves to be willingly brainwashed to tell people lies. they also had a very negative outlook on Islam. the attitude was to try and win them to conversion rather than really try to understand what their Qur'an was saying. later i found that a lot of the presumptions about Islam were complete lies and fabrications, but at that time i knew little of it except that they were wrong and needed Jesus. so i grew weary of school and decided to join the military. i dropped out and went to the army, where my life journey really took off.
i wanted to travel the world, be all i could be, and then some. so i thought maybe i could have my cake and eat it too.
i decided to join the national guard. after basic training and AIT, i got to participate in a lot of really interesting projects here in the US. as a result i was really on my own away from my family, away from religious peer pressure, and ready to party. so i got my feet wet, or rather i should say i jumped in with both feet. from then on for a long time it was women, drink and music. i was a party animal and loved it.
but it was not all fun and games. while i was there i took the officers placement battery, which was a measure of how good a candidate i would make for officers school. i aced it, top of the state. well the idea of OCS didn't really appeal to me, because i wanted to finish my degree in something, so i went to a local campus and was dead set on getting a degree in military science, focusing on military history through the ROTC program. i showed my face as often as i could, made friends with the professors, and was guaranteed a scholarship to become an officer in the army. then just a week before i would have begun my first classes, the funding was pulled by the state. so i decided i would transfer from the national guard, to the full time army.
they give you a wish list of places you want to go, so i put Germany down and my second choice was something i cant even remember now. well i got Germany no problem. and i was ecstatic. i was finally going to see Germany and the places of history there. i knew it was going to be a great trip.
when i first got there it was the dead of winter, so there was not much to do. i stayed to myself most of the time, and just tried to recover from jet lag, until eventually i was ready to hit the town. i went out after the orientation classes to mingle with the locals at the off base clubs. and this went on for a few weeks until i got assigned a unit.
once i went to my unit, spring began to peek out from behind the snow. little did i know i was walking into a very interesting chapter of my life at that point, but it was just the beginning.
i began to adjust to the day to day soldiering in the army, the weekend routine of clubs and dancing and alcohol. and i wanted something mroe than that. so on a suggestion from a few friends, i decided to go with them to see Nuremburg. what a city that was. red light districts, bars, pubs, outdoor beer gardens, you name it, everything was ripe for the picking. we strolled the city streets, looking at everything, snapping pictures like a buch of dumb tourists and enjoying the sights. then we decided it was time to visit one of the smaller clubs to see if we could pick up some girls. well that's where i met my ex wife. she actually was checking me out more than i was her. she didnt speak the best english, but i didnt care about that, it was fun to talk to someone from a different culture. so we hit it off.
eventually she came to visit me at the barracks. i was one of the few guys who had his own room, so she used to come over for the weekends and hang out with me.
one thing led to another and before you know it we were closer than just a dating couple. then one day, she told me she missed her period and i was floored. i was scared, but i was also excited. i was going to be a father.
so we made a lot of plans with her parents on getting the arrangements ready for a wedding. not exactly a shotgun wedding, but it was not really thought through on my part. i just wanted to do the right thing and start a family, and was blind to the problems that were already there.
eventually we went through with the wedding, and moved off base to a house in the country side. life seemed good. i had a wife, a home and a car and soon we would have a baby of our own. this was how it was supposed to be, right?
well then the orders came down for Bosnia. the former Yugoslavia had split up into several states that became warring factions, and we were finally going in to hep stabilize the region. i had to leave my new wife behind and go into a deadly war zone.
in Bosnia, i learned that the majority of people there were Muslim. well it just so happened we had a translator who was Muslim, so i got to talk to him about a lot of things pertaining to his experience as a Muslim. he was not the most religious man i ever met, in fact he explained that he was merely ethnically Muslim, and not really a devout believer. this was my first introduction to the difference between being Muslim and being born into a Muslim family. in fact he admitted that before the war, they would have barbecues with people of different ethnic backgrounds and even eat pork ribs and drink beer in the summer. well to me that sounded like a bunch of southern baptists. so i joked him about that.
now there were still a lot of practicing Muslims in the region, so it was very common early in the morning to hear the call to prayer from at least 5 different mosques over a loud speaker. often i would mimic the call to prayer and say the words "Allah u akbar, Allah u akbar, Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah, Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah, Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah, Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah..." but this was about all i had learned about Islam. usually this would land a pillow from a fellow soldier on my head for waking them up rudely. basically i knew the people were nice, not the terrorists we are told they are, and they really cared about family values. this was the first turning point in my view of Islam.
once i got back from Bosnia, i was shocked to find there was a really huge mismanagement of my savings account. i was left with little more than enough to get a decent used car, which i really needed, and not much else. i found my wife had been spending it all on her friends, clubs and other nonsense and i was furious. so we began having problems.
eventually i got out of the army, but i was still full time reserve in Germany. so i had to get a second job to be able to afford living on the German economy. this took me away from the home almost as much as Bosnia had. it also intensified the problems my marriage had. soon enough, i found my wife had run away with a soldier in another unit and was cheating on me. i was young and idealistic at the time, so i thought i could win her back, and i worked for a while, but i could see that in order to make it stick we had to move to the US. so i took her with me.
in the states, i landed a job at a major supplier for Boeing. i was a heat treat specialist of aluminum sheet, the same stuff that makes the skin of airplanes and helicopters. life was back to normal. i had everything i ever dreamed of. it seemed as if our old troubles were gone and life could go on, but i was just delaying the inevitable. my wife never really was ready for marriage, let alone motherhood, and soon the old problems i thought i had fixed resurfaced over time.
eventually it led to a very messy separation and divorce, one i do not ever wish to repeat. but that was not all. while i was working 12-16 hours a day, my wife had been working her mischief and had my family believing i was the bad guy. that i was a devil worshiper and a drug addict. nothing was further from the truth. i worked, went home, slept and went back to work. my life had no time for games, but she had ulterior motives.
so she had succeeded in turning my whole family and friends network against me. my grandmother didn't want to help me, neither did the friends we had shared. and eventually i was fired from my job. everything came crashing down at once. i was disowned by my relatives and homeless in a few months.
while i was trying to get on my feet again, she had moved on, had a new boyfriend and was planning to marry him, and have him adopt our son. and i had no idea.
eventually her true colors were revealed and she was put out, but i still had no idea. in her desperation, she put our son up for adoption, and joined the air force. she never tried to contact me or anything, she just did it and left.
when i found out i was so heartbroken, it was then that my family and friends finally admitted they were wrong, and they had been fooled. since my son was gone, and i had no leads, i began to fall deep into depression. my only option i could think of was to get as far away from these bad memories and pain as i could. so i moved from one side of the US to the other.
i went to Detroit. there i found more trouble. i lost my money, my drivers license, my birth certificate, and my SSN card. so to get a job, i had to find one under the table. i had a new girlfriend and she seemed to be a good one. very supportive and very affectionate. after some time scraping money together, we moved to a better apartment and i began to rebuild my life.
this was the beginning of my first real internal journey.
well things with her didn't last more than 3 years, and after a time she was cheating too. so i made up my mind i was going to be by myself for a while and try and figure out why i kept making these mistakes with women.
instead of really finding that out, i absorbed as much literature as i could. i learned how to build computers, i read about DNA, religions, philosophy, and ancient history. i even took time to try and learn how to read hieroglyphics. i painted, listened to music, and used the time i had to send off for replacements of my personal documents. this i learned later was part of internal jihad, and one of a few times i actually applied myself to it.
it was in this self examination time period that one day i woke up to see a plane crash into one of the twin towers in Manhattan. immediately i knew something was terribly wrong, and the ignorantly happy chatter of the news personalities about an accident was not even close to the truth. this was deliberate. and i was dumbfounded as the events of the day unfolded. i like many was glued to my couch watching the world fall apart before my eyes. after that things began to be very difficult financially. and my once steady job began to give me less and less hours. i had to find a better job soon.
eventually i got a better job with another heat treating company, this time a steel company. it was the same basic idea, just the metal was different. well that lasted 8 months, and after 9/11 it seemed that companies were folding left and right. Detroit was becoming less and less favorable by the day. i had to move or face homelessness once again.
so i packed my car, and left a note for the landlord, and moved to Baltimore. boy did i ever make a mistake in that choice, or so i thought.
at first it seemed as if i could just wing it and things would be ok. for a month i struggled to get on my feet. i would usually start the day going to a local temp agency, if that didn't pan out, i would go stand with the Latinos for pickup work. if that didn't work i would hack all day until i made some money. eventually i landed a carpet laying job that payed well enough. and things were looking up. i met a new friend who agreed to let me stay at their place til i could get my own, and i showed up for work every day with a great attitude.
then one evening, i lost my phone. it was Friday night. i needed my phone so my boss could contact me Monday. so i got in my car to retrace my steps. i started down the street and was trying to think of where i could have left it. i came to a stop light and stopped. when it turned green, i began to inch through slowly. i drove a stick, so it didnt just go from 0 to 60 quite as fast as i wanted it, but i got it into 2nd right before i was halfway through and WHAM!!!
another driver had plowed right into me, turned my car 90 degrees and slammed into a credit union. i was dazed. my legs were numb and i could not find my balance once i got out of the car. i was a mess.
the other driver was stunned sitting in her car with the airbag in her face but i didn't really notice much else. it was surreal.
a cop came over to ask me what happened, and soon after an ambulance showed up. i explained how i was starting to move through the intersection from a stop, once the light turned green and then out of nowhere this other car hit me.
he was not buying my story, it was obvious, and he didnt really press the issue, but the paramedic was adamant that i had to be intoxicated. i said no, but he would not believe me. so then he said i had to be on drugs. all i could think was what is going on here? i said no again and he insisted i was some sort of junkie. it was as if he was trying to convince me i was high. then he said he could use a syringe he had with a cocktail in it to burn out anything i had in my system and that jolted me to full alert!
i said as boldly and clearly as i could "you get that damned syringe away from me, and go away right now. i dont want your help, i dont know whats in that thing, and i dont trust you to examine me. i will go to the VA hospital in the morning sir. have a good night!"
with that he backed up like i had just pointed a pistol at him and put his hands up. then the cop issued me a citation and let me go. my car was totaled. it would not even start, all the tiers were blown and the frame was bent. it was obvious i could not do anything with it any more. so i walked the few blocks i had to go to get back to my friends place, and told them what happened. the next day my adrenaline wore off and i was in extreme pain. i could barely walk without help, and i went to the VA hospital to get looked at. i was ok, but really weak and really sore. so i lay down the rest of the weekend with no pone and no car. then i got sick. since i was on the couch and it wa near the front soor. any time someone came in, i got blasted by cold air, and eventually i got sick.
this friend decided i was a health risk and took me to a shelter. once again i was homeless, when i had worked so hard to keep from it.
the shelter was for veterans. so it was a lot different from your average shelter. there was structure, rank and even duties. it was not quite like the military, but close enough for me to feel somewhat at home. and for the most part it was safe, unlike a lot of shelters. i could have done much worse.
i stayed there for 2 years. i would have liked to leave before 2 years, but this shelter was also a program for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. my problem was neither of those, but i was still required to go through the motions and do what everyone else did. so the process was overly tedious and drawn out. it was as if they didn't want people to really recover from their problems. later i found out that was true. it was just a racket with a fancy facade to capitalize on the needy and desperate. so i set out to get a job as quickly as they would allow me to and vowed i would get out of the trap i was in as fast as possible.
i was exposed to islam again during my time there.
one exposure was to a very devout Muslim who didn't say much, but it was apparent he took his 5 pillars very seriously. his ablutions, his prayers, salat, even his manner and dress were markedly different from everyone else. he really did practice his faith. this was the first time i saw someone practicing regularly over an extended period of time. even though i had no idea what he was reading, it was music to my ears. but it was not much more than a passing curiosity. i never asked to learn more from him, but i marveled at it.
the job i found was a security job at a very well known hospital. i fit in well there and i was admired and even pegged for promotion fairly quickly. i went from being an inside guard to outside in less than a year, and i had opportunity then to volunteer for special duties.
one such duty was the often sought after assignment to the prince of the UAE. his family had renovated a special wing of the hospital just for his use, and when i was able to be assigned to that wing, i got to see a royal Islamic family up close. his family was very down to earth, not snobbish, like the British or other Europeans. they dressed very plain, were polite, and didn't force their will on anyone. if they had food, they shared it. often times when they ate, they would invite me to eat with them, and since i could not leave my post, they instead prepared me a table of my own and wheeled it out on a silver platter with every imaginable delicacy on it. i was literally eating like a king. and what i could not eat, they put in containers for me so i could take it home. i was truly their guest, and treated just as a friend would be. i also got to see him in person once. he had trouble breathing sometimes, so his wife had to help get any blockage out of the way for him to keep from suffocating. once i was asked to help. and when he could breathe again, even though he could not speak, he looked me in the eyes and his eyes said "thank you brother" and fell asleep content. i will never forget that.
those two experiences of seeing Muslims, one poor, and the others rich, with no apparent difference between them from the outside, or their manner, really showed me a glimpse of what Islam really is. and from that point on it was burned into my mind. Muslims are truly Gods people.
but still i didn't think Islam was for me. just because good Muslims had shared food with me, or shown me they could maintain their faith was not something that made me want to look any deeper yet. i was content in knowing they were good and that was good enough.
i eventually left that job and worked inside the hospital in the OR. that job lasted for a while, but after 2 years, i was fired again and before i knew it i was homeless once again. this 3rd time was the hardest of them all. it was the dead of winter, and i bounced between shelters, friends houses, and sleeping in the cold out on the streets. this time i knew it was not a fluke, or because i was careless. something was wrong. terribly wrong. the economy was crumbling and i was a victim. this time i had just enough time and foresight to plan for my homelessness. i put everything in a storage unit that i could carry. not by a car or truck, but by duffel bag. i rode the bus in several trips to carry my bags until all the essential items i would need later were safely locked away.
i struggled to get back off the streets for 4 months, and finally made it. i got a place again, held a job, and began to rebuild my life all over again. i wanted to know why the economy had failed me. i began to search for answers. eventually i got my computer back on the internet and began to explore events. everything from 9/11 to the housing bubble began to fit together. it was obvious that someone was out to do us all in.
but one of the questions i had was why did they single out certain groups? why Muslims? why constitutionalists? why patriots and people preparing for WROL?
then it hit me. every one of these all believe in the same thing. rights with limitations. my rights end where yours begin. it was simple concept and even though i was on the very edge of the truth i still didn't really grasp it fully.
so i went from forum to forum, posting mt collected wisdom, my opinions on things, and often met with disapproval from my conclusions, but i gained respect for my views and equanimity.
one day a person made a comment about how they thought Islam and socialism were joined at the hip. immediately i jumped in to defend Islam. in my experience i had not seen one indication that real Muslims were socialists or even terrorists, but i didn't really have enough information or proof to make an argument. so i set out to go to the source and see what Islam had to say about it.
i began to read the Qur'an, look into the meanings of words that many misunderstand and armed myself for battle. each time i found out more and more. it was as if i was a starving man engorging himself on truth. and that is when i realized. after all these years of struggling in the personal Jihad, the creator had guided me, and now my own personal values were identical to everything that was in the Qur'an.
i was a Muslim and didn't even know it.
Alhamdulillah! He is indeed the most merciful and gracious.
since then i have fed on as much information, videos, and reading as i can to learn more of this wonderful way of life. i have decided now that i must begin to practice Islam completely. i find nothing i can object to in the Qur'an. it is the truth.
i'm finding that my built in need to have a family is right in line with the Qur'an. that the right to personal protection is right in line with the Qur'an. that fighting against tyranny is right in line with the Quran. that i grew my beard for a reason, even though i thought i was just being practical. that the reason i got that shemagh was not to be fashionable, but there is a real reason behind it. that i dont have to feel out of place any more because i abstain from drugs or alcohol. that my chastity was for a reason. how my abstaining from using credit is correct also. everything i was raised to believe in or Allah guided me to do as i began to really grow up, is right there in the Qur'an. the answers are all there, to every objection i had, every question. i just needed that missing piece of the puzzle. the one true eternal creator and His prescription for our lives.
how beautiful. how complete. how awesome.