I am a Black American. Growing up during the 1960s and early 1970s my father was marginally involved with Islam via the Moorish American Science Temple movement and my mother belonged to a Pentecostal church. I spent Fridays going to the temple/mosque and Sunday going to Sunday school and church. By the time I turned 13 I began to notice that the diversity I found in the mosque did not exist in the churches. I attended a Black church and knew that there were White churches. I began to ask why if everyone was praying to the same God why the churches were separated by skin color?
Also, my father had subversively gotten me very interested in reading history and comparative theology literature. The history revealed the role of the Church in the slave trade and comparative theology caused we to challenge the mental gymnastics required to address the concept of the trinity. It did not help that in order to fully embrace the religion of my mother I had to reject that of my father. At the same time, my father's religion embraced the message of the Christ (pbuh) and presented a challenge only to some of the doctrine of the Pentecostal church while allowing me to embrace the broader message and its messenger.
Finally, it was Islam that saved my life and allowed me to escape the poor inner-city neighborhood I was born into. Islam's restrictions against intoxicants keep me away from alcohol and drugs. Its insistence on education and learning caused me to pursue academic excellence to the point where now I am a university professor with a PhD.
I feel sad that the only imagine so many Americans have of Islam is of "Jihadists" and they do not see the faith that has guided my life and allowed me to fulfilled the American dream and become a good husband, father and even son.
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