I have known Sheykh Noor u Deen for about a year now, mainly through his lectures at Husseini Islamic Center here in Sanford, FL. A down to earth person, his lectures match my disposition; pertinent, useful, meat and potato issue driven and quite funny at times. I do wish other lecturers deal on issues that affect us Muslims living in the West as this Sheykh does. His background intrigued me, especially his spiritual journey to Islam Original so I seize the opportunity to talk to him at my residence recently. You may find this narrative of interest perhaps.
I am born with the name Theodore, in the US Virgin Islands, son of Anglican parents. I am a normal child, albeit with a very fertile, inquisitive mind. I go to church, of course and pray to the trinity of Christian Gods, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. When I am sixteen, in tenth grade, this trio concept muddles up my mind. So I ask the head priest about it, but he gives me answers that do not make much sense. One bad example he gives in the way of explanation is of an egg - the outer shell, the yolk and the white; three separate essentials of one being.
So I turn to the next easily available religion for study - Judaism. I find it more acceptable, more plausible to my intrusive questions. But one has to be born a Jew to be Jewish, it’s a race and religion; a most ajeeb requirement. Then I turn to Rastafarians, who believe the late Emperor Haile Selassie to be a messiah; I do not fit in at all. By now, I am disillusioned with organized religion.
My fortunes turn when a Muslim schoolteacher introduces me to Islam; I am intrigued, who is this Mohammed (S)? I read and investigate; the concept and practices find a place in my mind; it all makes sense. It is a natural religion, in harmony with the mind and soul. Then my heart, too, accepts. I become a Sunni Muslim on August 1989, alhamd’Allah. I learn sallat and other ibadaats and all is well with the world.
About two years later, an Imam from the Sudan replaces our masjid Imam. This dude, out of the blue, begins badmouthing and berating the Shia madhab; my mind perks up. Now, I have seen few people praying differently than us but I pay them no mind. But then the Imam starts saying these guys are a danger to Islam and society at large; huh, they seem harmless to me. So I start comparing the two madhabs. I ask the Imam at the mosque, but he gets mad at me and orders me to stop reading Shia books. Bad mistake; I read more. Then I come across Kitaab el Irshaad. I read about Kerbala and am appalled. When I confront the Imam, he gives me an ultimatum; I either stop reading all these provocative material and asking questions or he’ll kick me out of the masjid community.
I stay low and quiet for a while, but continue reading everything about Shia Islam I can lay my hands on. I think I have accepted the wilaaya of Imam Ali (A) but I am still on the fence, teetering. I become a Muslim Original and Shia of Ali (A) in 1991. Alhamd’Allah. The community I am connected to reject me, hate and spurn me. I am shocked at all this hostility. When I am given an opportunity, I join a hawza in Medina, NY and travel for more study to Iran; I study, fortify my new madhab and speak publicly. I live in Iran four wonderful years.
I now live in Tampa FL and own a vehicle repair garage and recite majaalisis and give public speeches whenever called upon. Alhamd’Allah, I have nine children. Allah (S) is most kind.
As narrated to me on December 6, 2012 at my residence.