By: Br. Al-Inshirah Abdel-Jaleel aka Sgt. Rodney Evans
While I was deployed to Vietnam in 1970, I witnessed a rarity that piqued my curiosity. Amongst the smell of napalm, charred flesh, and humidity so wet you could touch it, I saw two banana boys prostrate behind a group of parked trucks. I was an army sergeant in a deuce and a quarter truck with a dozen other soldiers, in a convoy headed north to Da Nang. We stopped the truck, and I got out and took a picture with the banana boy and bought some bananas. Years later I would learn what they were actually doing and then myself learn to prostrate myself to the Lord of the worlds for the rest of my life.
When I returned to America which, we referred to as “the world”, I met a brother named Peter who was selling Muhammed Speaks newspapers. He mentioned that I was so much better than what I projected. I ignored him for a while, but his words caused me to think. He would give me a copy and go about his business selling papers. After reading it for a period of time, I decided to go to a meeting on 116th St. and 7th Ave. in Manhattan. The meeting was a preaching session: the general message was about the black man being god, and the white man being the devil. This didn’t sit well with me, because I was from Long Island, a suburb of New York, where I had friends from all different races, and I knew that this wasn’t the truth. I also could never grasp the concept of man’s ability to be god.
A high school friend, Saddiq Abdullah aka Chris Connors, who had converted to Sunni Islam, mentioned to me that what I was involved in wasn’t the true Islam. He demonstrated the prayer and recited it aloud. He also dressed with a jellabiya and Kofi. This had a significant impact. I began to wear a Kofi and a kamis.
I still continued my weekly trek to the city, because it was more organized and I was searching for guidance. One Sunday afternoon on my way to a meeting, being in the state of confusion, I got off of the train to Manhattan. The station was in a town named Freeport. An elderly lady came up to me and asked me if I was lost. I told her no. Then she mentioned to me that the Muslims were just down the street. I asked her if it was close enough to walk to. She explained that it would take me about twenty minutes. There I found a community of Sunni Muslims having classes on the basics of Islam. I bought my first authentic Quran, Yusuf Ali. This facilitated my journey to Sunni Islam. I still maintain the relationships established with Saddiq and Ta Ha masjid. Allahu Akbar! Truly Allah guides whom He pleases.