The Beginning: Early Life Trials of Clinton Sipes
I grew up in a dysfunctional family setting in the atmosphere of alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse that came from my father. […] I began to imitate what I was being exposed to, this process of imitation began unconsciously. […]
[…] I began to hang out with the young adult type who welcomed my willingness to participate with no reservations in anything under the title of alcohol, drugs, crime, violence and racism. […] After 3 years of this (reform period) I was released. I was a walking grenade.
[…] At 16, I found myself incarcerated serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in the California Youth Authority for robbery, assault and weapons charges. […] I began correspondence with the KKK, and upon my release on parole, I was a full-fledged card carrying hate-monger. […]
With this last violation of parole, at the age of 20, the search for peace began. […] In a haze of anger and rage, I found myself stripped naked in solitary confinement with not even a mattress. Only me and a styrofoam cup. I began to review my past and the negatives which brought me to this point of reduction to the lowest terms.
While I was there my daughter was born. I began to assess my future. […] I said to myself, “Clint, you must make a choice between this evil or a good future. […] I had become alienated from them. I began searching for a purity to purge the cancer of hate from inside me. […].
I became involved with human rights groups and I started my own human rights group.[…] My goal was to reach out to children to help them escape the environmental circumstances that had overwhelmed me once […] but I was still involved in crime. […]
It began upon my arrival to federal prison. An African American offered to assist me in my cosmetic needs. He said he was a Muslim, and Muslims are commanded to help those in need. It struck my interest to check this Islamic thing out. However, I was under the impression that this was a religion exclusively for African Americans. I was thinking, no way I can become a Muslim, I’m white!
Still, I asked this brother for some literature on Islam. I found out about the universality of it, how it transcends color, ethnicity and race. It sounded real and pure. It began to appeal to me. […] I was given a Quran, and as I read the translation, I felt the purity and truth of it. There was no hocus-pocus, no spookism, no mysticism, just plain, simple understanding of the “Truth.” When I heard the Adhan (the call to prayer) I felt a closeness to God that penetrated my heart and soul. After some research and study of the Quran, I discovered its total infallibility, no contradictions in it.
There are religions based on believing in certain sciences, multiple deities, the religion of 3 gods in one. I was a thinking man, and none of them made any logical sense to me.
Here was Islam, based on the belief in One God who created the creation itself out of nothing, and the fact that this book I was reading (Quran) had not one vowel or language changed in over 1400 years was a miracle in itself. Thus, I was sold on the oneness of God and the unity of Islam.
[…] There is only one God and one Religion, and religion is “Submission” to the one God. This is the meaning of Islam. […]
After years of falsehood, half-truths, following others on the road, and then, from within a place (prison) where more than one million people are cast away, the same environment that once honed my anger and hate to a razor sharpness was now the place where Islam greeted me and proceeded to change me into a “Servant of [the Source of] Peace.” […]
The Creator, Originator of the very existence of peace. There is no peace but the Peace of God (Whom all praise is due). I have found this Peace, I am now “Abdus Salam,” the slave and servant of The Originator of the one and only source of Peace...God, The Most High, Whom all praise is due.
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By Clinton Sipes
My name is Ali. I’m a 3-year-old Mexican born in America or as some would say a Chicano. […]. I think it will Insha’Allah (God willing) help people understand Islam and why it attracted me. People have a wrong perception About Islam and Muslims, what little they know is usually from movies and television which is almost all the time false and not in peace.
My life before was bad I had no direction in life. […] I would hang out in the streets with my friends “partying” getting high, drinking, and selling marijuana, most of my friends were gang members. […]
One day a friend of mine told me that he knew where to get some good marijuana, I agreed to go check it out. We arrived and went inside this apartment. There were a couple of people inside […]. My friend and I bought some and were getting ready to leave when my friend said one of the guys there invited us to his apartment to give him a book.
We left for this guy’s apartment when we got there, he gave my friend a book and asked him to read it, and said that it might help him out with his problems in life. On the way home I asked my friend to show me the book that the guy gave him, it was the Quran (Koran).
I had never in my life heard of The Holy Quran, I began to briefly read some pages, while I was reading I knew that what I was reading was true, it was like a slap in the face, a wake up call. The Quran is so clear and easy to understand. I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.
The strangest thing is that I was not looking for a new religion, I used to laugh at people that went to church, and I sometimes said that there was no God. Although deep down I knew there was. I decided to go to the library a couple of days later and check out the Quran. I began to read it and study it, I learned about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and the true story of Jesus son of Mary (Peace be upon him). The Quran stressed the fact that God was one and had no partners or a son, this was most interesting to me since I never understood the concept of the trinity. The Quran describes the birth of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, and his mission. There is also a Surah (Chapter) called Maryam (Mary) and tells her story as well.
As a child I always went to church, my mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday. […]
I did months of research on Islam. I bought a Holy Quran at a bookstore and studied about world’s and Islam’s contributions to medicine and science.
[…] After months of study and research I could not deny the truth anymore I had put it off too long, but was still living the life I was before and knew that if I became Muslim I had to give all that up. One day while reading the Quran, I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the truth. I found out that there was a mosque by my house so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their service. I saw that people from all races and colors attended the mosque. […] After going a couple of Fridays I was ready to be a Muslim and say my Shahada (declaration of faith).
I told the Khatib (person giving the lecture) that I wanted to be a Muslim, the following Friday in front of the community I said my Shahada first in Arabic then in English […]
When I finished a brother shouted Takbir! and all the community said “Allah u Akbar (God is great)!” a few times, then all the brothers came and hugged me. I had never received so many hugs in one day, I will never forget that day it was great. I have been Muslim since 1997, I’m at peace with myself and clear in religion, being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God. I went back to school to get my High School equivalent and computer repair training.
[…] Alhamdulillah (praise be to God) in December of 2002, I got married in Morocco to a very good Muslim woman.
I think that Islam is the answer for the problems of the youth and society in general. I hope my story Insha’Allah (God willing) will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the light of Islam.
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As far back as I can remember as a child, I was always astounded by this universe in which we live […]. And from that early time, I always in some way knew, there just had to be a Creator responsible for all this.
But then as I segued into my teens, it was much easier to succumb to peer pressure, and I lost interest in the Divine and instead devoted my time to alcohol, sex and the immature games of a young male growing up in America. Growing into young adulthood, my obsessions became money, power, a better house, a faster car, and a prettier woman--all shallow pursuits.
I lived this way for many years, slowly losing control of my life, thinking I was pursuing happiness when all I was getting was more depressed, more confused, and making more and more of a mess of my life.
[…] My immediate response was to turn to God, and, having been raised Catholic, it was to that church that I turned. At the time, I had been divorced and remarried and came to find out that the Catholic Church didn't want me. Hurt and angry, but also realizing a need for a spiritual order in my life, I turned to Buddhism.
The Buddhist sect I became involved with followed a Tibetan tradition, where importance is placed on gaining empowerments, which are basically blessings from various Buddhas. At some point I realized I was not really bettering myself […]. All of a sudden, I realized that one of the last things the Buddha said before passing away was not to worship him. I realized this whole practice was BASED on worshipping not only "the" Buddha, but also all these other Buddhas. I became very discouraged and reverted to my old ways of indulgence in alcohol and other forbidden pleasures. And once again, I became very depressed […].
When I was a young man, I was very much "into" the music of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam). When I heard he had embraced Islam, I was in the U.S. Navy at the time and this was during the "hostage crisis" in Iran. So, I immediately drew the conclusion that Cat Stevens has become a terrorist, and I kept that belief for many years.
A couple months or so ago, I heard he was going to be interviewed on TV, and I wanted to hear about this crazy man who had left a great life to become a terrorist. Well, needless to say, I was just floored by the interview, because he was certainly no terrorist, but a soft-spoken, articulate, peaceful man who radiated love, and patience, and intelligence. The very next day, I began researching Islam on the Internet. [...] It all made so much SENSE, the existence of God was so SIMPLE to understand! […]
Well, the more I learned the more I was convinced that this was truly the path I had been searching for. It contained the discipline--physical, mental, and spiritual--that leads to true peace and happiness. […]. Pronouncing my Shahadatainwas such a CLEANSING experience, and since this time, I have often just … cried and cried and cried. How wonderful!
I have received such a warm and embracing welcome from all Muslim brothers and sisters from around the world; I take great comfort in this, knowing that, despite any adversity or setback, I am literally surrounded by my Muslim family that will never abandon me as long as I remain Muslim. No other group of people has ever treated me in this way.
[…] Accepting the reality of Islam is the easy part, walking the Straight Path is the hard part, especially once one had firmly implanted himself in a society of unbelievers. But I pray to God every day for strength and guidance, and I just take it one day at a time, trying to improve in Islam little by little each day.
By Dawood Kinney
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