Ever heard the story about the man in a turban? No? Yes? Don’t worry, this post is not about him but to establish the narrative of Suleiman’s road to Islam I will have to bore you with the turban story, albeit briefly!
Once upon a time, maybe in this century or the last, four conniving guys were holding a discussion amongst themselves about how a statement can ultimately turn into the truth if done repetitively (pardon me, i only remember this story in bits but the moral is still the same). They decided to test their theory on a particular gentleman they knew in their town who loved wearing turbans.
Ali Baba. Let’s call the man in the turban Ali Baba. So Ali Baba on that particular day wore a turban, a white one it was, and headed off to work. He met the first of the four guys mentioned above and after normal greetings, guy 1 commends him and says he looks fabulous in his Green turban. Ali Baba smiles and says thank you but tells guy i that the turban was white. They part ways.
A few metres away he meets guy 2 who greets him and commends him for his lovely green turban. He cautioned him, just like the first guy that the turban was white, not green.
Further along he meets guy 3 who tells him the same. This time he removed his turban to confirm that it was really white and not green……and the story goes on till guy 4 and by then he was almost convinced that his turban was green and not white………
Here is Suleiman’s narrative in his own words:
“My name is Suleiman and i was a Jehovah Witness before Islam found me.
On numerous occasions prior to converting to Islam, my neighbours, both Muslim and Christian used to ask me whether i was a Muslim. Every time i told them i was not; i mean, it’s not like i was rocking a beard, wearing a Thobe or even passing greetings the Islamic way.
TBH i neither had an idea of what Islam was nor even an atom of interest which may have led me to research about it.
By then, i was doing a casual gig at an EPZ based here in Mombasa. I was laid off after a while and after failing several times to get gainful employment i was kicked out of my house.
I approached a fellow Jehovah Witness who holds an influential position in a Parastatal asking for help, either by giving me a job or a small loan so i could start a small business and get a place to stay. We knew each other very well since he was among the top Ministers in our fellowship.
He wasn’t able to assist me even to get food. A Muslim brother whom i had gotten acquainted with during my stay there offered me a place to crush in and instructed his sister to include me in all meals.
After some time i felt like i was being a burden to him considering that his earnings were not that much. His heart was so commodious that one could have mistaken him for a rich man with a lot to give to the needy.
One day i left for Mombasa town in a bid to search for a job. I even crossed the ferry to South Coast and went house to house asking for menial jobs like peeling potatos, washing dishes and laundry. I just wanted a job, any job.
I crossed back to Mombasa town disappointed and hungry since i had not eaten anything for the last eighteen hours. I have never been that famished before in my life.
In town i passed by a fast food joint and salivated as i watched people munching away at fries and delicious looking grilled chicken.
A gentleman was sipping on an ice cold Coke and i felt my lips go all dry wishing i could have at least a sip of the cold drink.
I walked away and headed to Uhuru Gardens, a local chill spot where i just lay on the bench and wished i would just dies. My feet were aching, my stomach was empty and my head throbbing so hard i thought it was going to explode.
Right across the chill spot was a masjid, and Muslims had just completed Friday prayers. I wanted to ask them for help, but i did not how to even approach the issue. I walked away and just wandered with no particular place to go.
I had no place to sleep that night. For the first time in my life i was homeless, hungry, confused and out of ideas on how to make it through another day.
Along the way i decided to rest near another mosque. Two Muslim youth walked past me and put a black paper bag a few metres from where i was seated and left. I watched them leave and out of curiosity decided to check out what was in it.
subhanaAllah! I opened and a whiff of delicious pilau assaulted my nostrils waking up a million hungry ogres in my tummy. Without a second thought that perhaps the food might be poisoned i attacked it and in a few minutes it was finished. I thanked God for the meal; all i wanted now was water!
I knocked on a door and a bearded Muslim who i guess may have been in his late forties opened.
Am not even sure why i decided to open up to him but i told him everything i had gone through and the food that the two young guys had left….i told him everything all the while fighting back tears.
Alhamdulillah, even after realising am not Muslim, he did not chase me away. At that moment, in spite of my predicament i wondered why they labelled Muslims as blood thirsty terrorists while all they did was show kindness to all.
Going back to the house he brought me a full plate of Chicken Biriani and cold tamarind juice. I worked on the meal, this time more slowly and thanked him profusely.
“You do look like a Muslim, my friend,” he said with a smile, putting a reassuring arm on my shoulder. “Why not join us and be our brother?”
At that moment, i felt an overwhelming feeling like i had finally found what i had been searching for my entire life. Together we headed to the revert centre and the imam at the masjid guided me through my Shahada!”