Updated: May 22, 2020
I sat across from Abdul in a crowded suburban restaurant. His thick build and sly smile told those around him that he would keep his cool as long as they kept theirs. Talking about sports is usually a good way to soften the conversation, and, since he was an avid Kansas City Chiefs fan, there was a lot to talk about.
His tone changed as matters of faith came up. When asked why so many African Americans were leaving Christianity for Islam, he gave a one-word reply: “Justice.” His forthright answer betrayed years of hardship. For much of his life, equality and fairness had eluded him. To Abdul, Islam provided the means to push back against the oppression that many African Americans have experienced. He decried the Christian notion of turning the other cheek as weak and felt that this ideal was used to keep others in submission, particularly people of color.