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Guest Shadeed Muwahid

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Guest Shadeed Muwahid

Assalamu Aleikum wa Rahmatullahee wa Barakatu

 

"Time is never wasted when you're wasted all the time." This was the motto of a guy I used to know named Erik. Erik was a guy who liked to go to clubs and bars. He especially loved going to DJ shows and raves. He lived a life of excess and irresponsibility that only ended up hurting himself and the people who cared most for him. He dug himself into a deep hole of depression and was always wondering why he was staying in the same place.

 

Erik Vasquez grew up in the Scottsdale Heights / Eastwood Heights area on the Eastside of El Paso. He was an average student, played little league baseball, was a Boy Scout, and raised Catholic. A couple of years after graduating from Eastwood High School in '97, when he was twenty years old, he had the opportunity to work in a college program at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. He was placed at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park and was stationed at the "Kilimanjaro Safaris" attraction. This is where he first made contact with Islam and Muslims. He worked with people from all over the African continent, most being from South Africa. He ended up befriending three South Africans, Mohidien and Rezah from Cape Town, and Shaneeza from Durban. He was surprised when they told him they were Muslim because they didn't fit his conception of what a Muslim looked like. When he thought of a Muslim he thought of an angry black man who spoke with an elaborate vocabulary, wore a funny little hat, and ate bean pies! They became his best friends and shared their beliefs and traditions with him. They were very giving, wise, and what was theirs was Erik's. If he needed help, there was no hesitation. They were the kind of people he strove to be like. And then, his program had ended. He had to come back to El Paso.

 

When he returned, he tried to implement some of the wisdom he picked up from the South Africans to his life in El Paso. He started to drift and got wound up with dunya. When he was twenty-three he got a part time job as a server at a popular restaurant. He started becoming accustomed to the lifestyle of his fellow employees. Party people who blow their tip money on partying into the wee hours of the night. As time went on, he stopped caring about his priorities and started becoming careless and depressed. He worked at several restaurants during the course of three years and found the same kind of co-workers at every restaurant. On August 13, 2004, it became too much for him. He had a bad experience at a rave. He started to contemplate what he was doing to himself and why? What was he gaining from this and how he was going to get out of this lifestyle? It seemed that not even professionals could help him. They made him feel worse about himself. He decided to turn to The One who was always there in the first place.

 

Growing up, he had lots of questions about Catholicism nobody had answers to. For example, he never understood why he had to tell a strange man what his were so that God could forgive him!? What does hunting for eggs have to do with Christ?! If we all go to heaven, who goes to hell? Lots of other questions that were always just answered with, "That's just the way it is" or the all time original, "I don't know." So he just went through the motions like most Catholics he knew did. He started thinking about the time he was happiest and had the best human qualities. He thought about Mohidien, Rezah and Shaneeza.

 

Something told him to look at a Qur'an. He sent a text message to Shaneeza telling her he was interested in Islam. She said it would change his life in so many ways. she told him to look into an Islamic Center in his community and they would help him. He got the address from the phonebook that night and decided to go the next day. He was nervous walking up those steps at the old masjid on Kansas, he didn't know what to expect. He walked in with his sandals on and apologized to Br. Ahmad, Br. Omar, and the Shaikh when they were about to pray Dhuhr. He was nervous and thought to himself. "Man, this guy has a mad beard, what's up with that!" They were very welcoming. They spoke a while and gave him some literature and asked to come to Isha Prayer that same night. He met more Muslims who were able to tell him more about the beauty of Islam. He did this for a couple nights while doing more research and found that there wasn't one thing he couldn't logically make sense of. He knew there was, he wouldn't go through with it because he would be doing it without sincerity. He'd been through that already. He then declared his Shahadah on August 21, 2004.

 

Now, I am twenty-five years old and I adopted a Muslim name, Tarif, soon afterward. Erik is someone I would like to put in the past. During the course of time I have obtained so much knowledge in so little time. I've still have a lot to learn, but I've been able to do things I never thought possible. I've shaken so many bad habits and Islam has instilled the discipline I so badly needed. It gives me security, hope, and has made me look on life in a whole new perspective. Everything is easy with Allah's help. I want to sincerely give a big thank you all the brothers who have been so very helpful and gracious with their time, their knowledge and kindness. i would also like to thank the whole Islamic community of El Paso and my friends in South Africa. May Allah give you more of what is good in this world and the hereafter. Most importantly I wuld like to thank Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) for guiding me to the straight path through his mercy and kindness, and helping me with the transition from "rave to behave."

 

*** The End ***

 

May Allah make it easy for this brother forevermore.

 

Salam

Edited by Arwa

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Guest Shadeed Muwahid

Assalamu Aleikum

 

This article is by Brother Tarif Vasqez

source: Al-Haqq newsletter of the Islamic Center of El Paso

 

Salam

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