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From The Kkk To Islam:

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From the KKK to Islam: An Interview with an ex-racist

 

Few topics touch a raw nerve in the United States like race and racism in America. Given the deeply embedded psychology and history of racism found in American society, it is often surprising to discover individuals who have truly fought against racial hatred with not just their words and actions, but in the two most important battlegrounds: their hearts and minds.

 

Abdussalam Sipes is one example of this. Sipes is currently chief of security at a masjid. His calm, frank discussion of his journey from being a member of the virulently racist American white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to his decision to leave racial hatred, and then his acceptance of Islam will make you not only see one individual’s courage to change paths and "see the light" -it will also bring tears to your eyes.

 

Sound Vision interviewed Sipes about his former racism, what brought about his change and why he ultimately chose Islam. This is an edited version of that interview:

 

SV: What exactly was your connection to racism before your conversion?

 

AS: "I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and before that I was a member of other (white supremacist organizations) too. I was originally just a card-carrying member and I grew up in their ranks. I started with them when I was 14 years old and by the time I was 21, I was a high-ranking official in the Klan organization. I was involved with major recruiting efforts. I was the main organizer of most of the activities in my region. I was in charge of a large geographical region of Klan chapters in the northern district of California. My activities involved everything from media interviews, recruitment drives to literature leaf letting to criminal activities [and went] as far as assaults on people, violent crimes, intimidation. I’ve spent most of my life in prison, over 13 years.�

 

SV: What factors in your childhood or personal experiences made you adopt racist views?

 

AS: “Just being around the people I grew up around who were racist. I grew up in a predominately white California suburb. All of my family used the word "n*****" (a racial slur against African-Americans) and referred to black people as parasites on society, kind of like ####roaches, just violent and bad in nature. They just [reaffirmed] the stereotypes that white America has of people of color. I went to prison for armed robbery and attempted murder. I was 15 at the time. I was involved with a group that was a paramilitary organization and their activities were intimidating blacks in the town that we lived in. We used to [commit] a lot of violent crimes against people. This particular crime was not race-motivated but we had particular views that were racist. In prison, things [are racially] segregated. You’ve got the blacks, Mexicans and whites. Of course I gravitated towards the white organization. In every subculture, you have organizations and you have groups and individuals. You have a rank and file and you fall into that rank you feel is part of your culture. People that you share a lot in common with culturally.�

 

SV: What triggered you to change your racist views?

 

AS: “I eventually came to question some of my actions and some of my beliefs through my search and study of genealogy and the origins of man. The racism drove me to study to find out proof and evidence and to find out the origin of my own people (Europeans). The deeper and deeper I got into the subject I began to find evidence that revealed that all human beings have the same origin. So I began to doubt the validity of the supreme, pure race of people anywhere in the world, let alone Europeans of Aryan race. The other element [of my change] was [that] when you hate somebody so passionately and you just live and just consume the hatred everyday, it starts to deteriorate. It’s like a cancer because it destroys your personality, it distorts your soul, and it destroys [those] close to you because it wears off on other people. I was inflicting more harm on myself than the people I hated. I was basically destroying my family and anyone else who had contact with me. Hatred and racism will manifest itself in any people in the world and that’s the interesting thing as far as the world is concerned. Everyone looks at America because of the recent slave trade, because we have the most recent history of slavery. [but] when we look at what the Serbs do to the Albanian or Bosnian Muslims, for some reason because it’s European versus European, we overlook the fact that it’s blatant racism.�

 

SV: What made you consider converting to Islam, and did it have something to do with your previous views on race?

 

AS: “I made a decision to get out of the white supremacist movement. Unfortunately, I was still living my life without guidance. I ended up going back to prison. I was in the federal penitentiary for possession of Semtax explosives (a solid form of plastic explosives). With the hatred and burden of hate off my shoulders I was able to think, contemplate. My heart was a little more open to spirituality so I knew I was tired of the life I was living, tired of going to prison. I just felt that I hit a plateau in my life where I wanted to make some serious changes again, but I didn’t know which direction to go. I think all sincerely decent, kind, caring, loving human beings always gravitate to whatever is most near to them in their subculture. My interactions with people (Christians) were always pleasant. I would sometimes gravitate towards the church but their way of believing in God, the words in the Bible, their basic beliefs, I just couldn’t grasp it, I never could develop any real belief based on the Christian view of God. The turning point was when I got to federal penitentiary in Pekin, Illinois. At that point, I had given up being racist, the guards came and asked me if I had any problem having black roommates (they interview you to see where they can place you because you have three to four roommates in one prison cell). I said I didn’t care. They usually take advantage of that because most people want to be with their own kind. I got one black roommate. This person had a friend named Fareed who was Muslim. When Fareed came to the cell, [he] noticed I had nothing-no cosmetic items, stamps to write my family, or money.

 

One day he came to my cell and he asked me: ‘don’t you have any money or anything like that. I said I didn't ’have any. He said you want some?

 

I said no.

 

About 15 minutes later, he came back and he had a bag in his hands.

 

He said ‘here’ [giving it to Sipes-it contained some basic items he needed].

 

I said I don’t want it, I didn’t ask for anything. I said don’t come to me next week saying I owe you something. He said it’s not like that at all, its just part of my religion.

 

I just kind of smiled and laughed and said what religion is that? He said Islam; I’m a Muslim. At that point, I said ‘yeah right’. Now I was convinced this guy is going to give me problems. He’ll be back saying I owe him something, I’m going to have to look for [a] knife or some weapon to allow me to eliminate this problem that he’s going to bring to me later. At this time, my understanding of Islam was that it was a black, racist religion [with] their teaching that the white man was the devil. I knew this from run-ins with the Nation of Islam [an African-American nationalist and spiritual movement].

 

He [Fareed] came back later. I said why don’t you give me something about your religion, because I was thinking I ‘m going to catch this guy in a lie. I was going to get a hold of some of his literature and ask him ‘how can you believe the white man is the devil and you’re going out of your way to help me? How do you explain yourself? How are you going to share with the devil (me)? He came back with some literature. It was an introduction to Islam. It was just really different from what I had thought it would be. It was something that I was not expecting to find and at the same time it was something that I needed to find. This was a real religion based on truth and that’s basically what I was hungry for and what I was searching for. I found out how simple it was, that there’s no intermediary between man and God, [that] you had a direct link to God. I felt that this is a religion where you can practice without the help of outsiders, putting partners with God.

 

Allah created Islam with a purity that could not be rivaled with. I finally got a hold of the Quran. Every page I read I broke down crying because I felt that as I was reading the Quran, in a way my soul was cleansing itself of all the poison. The Ayat (verses) that I was reading, they compared to Christianity, but there were a lot of things that sound so much more believable [in the Quran than the Bible]. [it] sounds so pure. When I read [most of] the first two Surahs of the Quran, that was enough for me. I was convinced the Quran was a miracle and it was the Divine word of God. I couldn’t find anything wrong with the Quran. I felt in my heart that this was the true religion Allah had created for us. I was convinced at that point.

 

After I took my Shahada, I read more [in the Quran about] how Allah keeps those people in ignorance and He brings people out of ignorance as He wishes. He had a plan for me to become a Muslim. At this stage in my life, Alhamdolillah, since I took Shahada, everything has been in a Positive direction in my life. Everything keeps getting better.�

 

SV: What was your reaction when you read verse 13 of Surah number 49, given your background as a former racist?

 

AS: “I broke down and cried. I just wanted to be part of a world religion where there is no racism involved, where everybody’s created equally in the eyes of God. I wanted to be part of a religion in which God did not favor anyone other than those who were most pious. When I read that particular Ayah, it really validated this religion for me because that told me that Islam is the sworn enemy of racism. This is one Ayah of many that jumped out at me. The Quran was answering questions for me. That was a very powerful Ayah for me because of my past. It was proof for me that I could go ahead and be a Muslim because God was saying how mankind should be towards one another. That was complete harmony [and] that was a beautiful, beautiful thing.�

 

SV: What would you advise Muslims seeking to rid themselves of racial hatred?

 

AS: “Basically, people to have to work on strengthening their Iman (faith) because when you lose your Deen, when you lose your prayer, Shaitan steps in and then he takes over. And then it’s all Fitna (trials and temptations) after that. Other than prejudice in our Ummah, we’re plagued with many other problems. The answer to all of those problems is that we need to start practicing the Deen and becoming better Muslims in our Ibadah (worship). When we lose our Deen, when we lose our prayer, we lose His (Allah’s) favor; we lose His protection from the Shaitan. People don’t realize the power of Shaitan, he gets between people. He manifests the divisions between us. As Muslims, we should have no real difference. Yet if Shaitan gets in there, he’ll make some reason not to get along. That’s my understanding. Every Muslim knows this is a fundamental belief that there is no racism in Islam and everybody knows its Haram (forbidden) but they just take it like any other subject that they know is Haram because the Iman is so weak, the Taqwa (fear of Allah) is [in] such a low state that they continue to commit acts and they get worse. The farther away you get from Islam [the worse its going to be].�

 

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ISLAM�S MANIFESTO OF UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD OF HUMAN BEINGS: QURAN AND SUNNAH ABOUT RACISM AND PREJUDICE

 

By Abdul Malik Mujahid

 

From the Quran: "O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you" (49:13).

 

Explanation: There are several principles, which this verse presents: This message is not just for Muslims only because Allah is addressing all of humanity. While Muslims are one brotherhood, this is part of a larger brotherhood of humanity. Allah is telling us that He has created us. Therefore He knows the best about us. He says that He created us from one man and one woman meaning then that we are all the same. It also means that all human beings are created through the same process, not in a manner in which some are created with a better mechanism than others.

 

Allah is the One who made human beings into different groups and people. These differences are not wrong, rather a sign from Allah ("And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. Verily, in that are indeed signs for those who know" [Quran 30:22]).

 

Note that no word equivalent to race is used in this ayah or any other verse of the Quran. Islam, however, limits the purpose of these distinctions to differentiation and knowing each other. This is not meant to be a source of beating each other down with an attitude of my group is better than your group or false pride as is the case with tribalism, nationalism, colonialism, and racism. The only source of preference or greatness among human beings is not on a national or group level, but it is at the individual level. One individual who is (higher in Taqwa), more conscious of his Creator and is staying away from the bad and doing the good is better, no matter what nation, country or caste he is part of. Individual piety is the only thing that makes a person better and greater than the other one.

 

However, the only criterion of preference, Taqwa, is not measurable by human beings. Indeed Allah is the One Who knows and is aware of everything so we should leave even this criterion to Allah to decide instead of human beings judging each other. These are the deeply embedded ideals of Islam which still bring people to this way of life even though Muslims are not on the best level of Iman today. This is what changed the heart of a racist Malcolm X when he performed Hajj in Makkah. This is the power that brought Muhammad Ali to Islam. This is what still attracts the Untouchables of India towards Islam. This is the theory which convinced noted historian Professor A.J. Toynbee in 1948 to say that: "The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue."

 

Let's ask ourselves if the Muslim Ummah today, in its individual and collective behavior is striving to adopt and promote these Islamic ideals?

 

From the Sunnah

 

1. Prophet's response to racist comments: A man once visited the Prophets Masjid in Madinah. There he saw a group of people sitting and discussing their faith together. Among them were Salman (who came from Persia), Suhayb who grew up in the Eastern Roman empire and was regarded as a Greek, and Bilal who was an African. The man then said: "If the (Madinan) tribes of Aws and Khazraj support Muhammad, they are his people (that is, Arabs like him). But what are these people doing here?" The Prophet became very angry when this was reported to him. Straightaway, he went to the Masjid and summoned people to a Salat. He then addressed them saying: "O people, know that the Lord and Sustainer is One. Your ancestor is one, your faith is one. The Arabism of anyone of you is not from your mother or father. It is no more than a tongue (language). Whoever speaks Arabic is an Arab." (As quoted in Islam The Natural Way by Abdul Wahid Hamid p. 125)

 

2. Statement of the universal brotherhood in the last Sermon: O people, Remember that your Lord is One. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a black has no superiority over white, nor a white has any superiority over black, except by piety and good action (Taqwa). Indeed the best among you is the one with the best character (Taqwa). Listen to me. Did I convey this to you properly? People responded, Yes. O messenger of Allah, The Prophet then said, then each one of you who is there must convey this to everyone not present. (Excerpt from the Prophets Last Sermon as in Baihiqi)

 

3. Don't take pride in ancestry: The Prophet said: Let people stop boasting about their ancestors. One is only a pious believer or a miserable sinner. All men are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

 

4. Looking down upon other people will stop you from entering the Jannah: The Prophet said: Whoever has pride in his heart equal to the weight of an atom shall not enter Paradise. A man inquired about a person who likes to wear beautiful clothes and fine shoes, and he answered: Allah is beautiful and likes beauty. Then he explained pride means rejecting the truth because of self-esteem and looking down on other people (Muslim).

 

5. The Prophet condemnation of Arab racial pride: There are many hadith, which repeatedly strike on the Arab pride of jahiliyyah. Arabs before Islam used to look down upon others specially blacks. The Prophet repeatedly contrasted the believing Africans versus non-believing Arab nobles. The Prophet said: You should listen to and obey your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian slave whose head looked like a raisin (Bukhari).

 

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PropellerAds

:D

 

Here is the source:-

 

"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.angelfire(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/mo2/scarves/madhab.html"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.angelfire(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/mo2/scarves/madhab.html[/url]

 

The actual article is in that website. Right now my computer is slow to find that actual page.

Edited by Swanlake

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as salamu alaykoum

 

excellent article, :D for sharing.

 

It seems like Islam has answers to give to any kind of persons. I think there was also Malcolm X who reverted to Islam for the same reasons.

It's amazing how Islam gives solutions to all kind of problems.

 

wa alaykoum salam

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WOW!!!

That really shows something about Islam. It shows that not matter what you are Islam can show you the good and lead you to the right path. I am amazed at this story and I bet many are too!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Beware of this world, for it is sweet and tempting.â€Â

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The interview said that he is now head of security at a Masjid... Do muslim usually have security peronnel in their places of worship?

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The interview said that he is now head of security at a Masjid... Do muslim usually have security peronnel in their places of worship?

No, not usually. LOL I can just see you picturing us passing through a metal detector on our way to the prayer room. I guess that's why we take our shoes off. :D

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No, not usually. LOL I can just see you picturing us passing through a metal detector on our way to the prayer room. I guess that's why we take our shoes off. :D

 

 

That's good to know, anyway. Does it say what country he is in, or what Masjid it is? I don't mean to insult anyone, but any Masjid with a "security detail" sounds a bit dodgy to me. I just hope he hasn't moved from a radical Christian organization to a radical Muslim one.

 

If this is on the level though, its pretty good news.

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That's good to know, anyway. Does it say what country he is in, or what Masjid it is? I don't mean to insult anyone, but any Masjid with a "security detail" sounds a bit dodgy to me. I just hope he hasn't moved from a radical Christian organization to a radical Muslim one.

 

If this is on the level though, its pretty good news.

 

:D

after the 9 11, several Masjids have been attacked by ignorant people, and most masjids in the USA, have some sort of protection, I don't see anything wrong with that. on the contrary, i think it makes those who attack, look bad.

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o i read tht article before on beautifulislam!!! therez more articles about converts there too and this one is my favorite

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Assalaamu Alaikum

 

Subhanallah that's really cool. Jazakallahu khair for sharing sis Swanlake.

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beautiful article

 

peace

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:D/Peace To All

 

Masha Allah, nice article. May Allah :D bless you and the brother...

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I'd say to ask the guy about his views on Jews and non muslims and call him non discriminatory afterward :D

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I'd say to ask the guy about his views on Jews and non muslims and call him non discriminatory afterward :D

A man changes his life and all you do is make fun of him. Tsk Tsk.

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my point was that I highly doubt he's become very tolerant of non-muslims.

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