Spiritually, I am sort of a mutt. I was born Methodist, before being baptized Catholic when I was 5 or so. I was an altar boy and went to Catholic school, a devout practitioner until college, when I couldn’t reconcile the sudden death of a friend with the God I understood. Along the way, I learned about some aspects of Islam through Five Percenter hip-hop groups like Brand Nubian and Poor Righteous Teachers, and reading Malcolm X. Later, I married a mostly non-practicing Jewish woman who took me to temple occasionally — her stepfather is a rabbi — and Passover regularly, before we divorced. I’ve been to T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House for Easter service.
I felt a connection at each step, but nothing lasting. It had been years since I had prayed and really meant it. But I did just that one evening in January when Imam Omar Suleiman asked me to, at a candlelight vigil at Thanks-Giving Square opposing the Trump administration’s short-lived travel ban. What struck me about him then — and when he spoke at Thanks-Giving Square last July after the downtown shooting, and all the other times I’ve been around him — is his ability to very simply get to the humanity at the core of all religions.
That’s part of why I wanted to write about him for months. I finally got the chance to profile him in the July issue of D. But he’s so involved in so many things, I only was able to touch on his work with the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. So after you read my story, check out this Huffington Post piece about Yaqeen, too.Read More