I am a 59 year old African-American Convert to Islam. I, like many other black people of the 60's, was very intrigued by the very pervasive Black Nationalist rhetoric of the time.
I was serving in the U.S. Air Force at Wurtzsmith AFB in Oscoda, Mich. A friend with whom I was stationed began visiting the Nation of Islam temple in Saginaw and invited me along one Sunday afternoon. As you probably know, the Nation of Islam's teaching under the Hon. Elijah Muhammad was more of an ingenious means of teaching black self-reliance than it was a means of promulgating the religion of Islam. Nevertheless, I was greatly attracted to what was, until that time, the only "Islam" I had heard. Soon after that, I recieved orders for Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. While there, I feverishly studied the Holy Qur'an and learned to read it in the Arabic script. I am tempted to say that I found glaring contradictions between what I experienced in the Nation and the fundamental teaching of the Qur'an. On the contrary, I found that I was more prepared to embrace the Qur'anic teaching, once I became assured of my own humanity. Before the Nation of Islam, I existed on what could only be described as a sub-human level, living out a crude adaptation of a Christian mythos that was never designed for free Black people. A mythos that seems to discount the potential of the human mind.
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