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Friday, May 29, 2015

Uber, Staying Connected, Listen, Love and Angels as Allah's Babies

I know it's a crazy title for an entry.  The Uber ride I had the other night was one of the most real connections I have had with another human being.  Working with the public and taking on all kinds of frenetic energy, for a living, can numb you to a heart and soul opening conversation.  Of course my guard was up, especially when the subject of religion came up.  I broke the rule of never talking about religion when alcohol is involved, be it at a social gathering, bar, or on your Uber ride home.  As soon as I requested my ride, confirmed it, and all that; Uber sent me the picture of my driver with the model and make of his car. Mohammed will be picking me up in a grey, Honda Odyssey.  I had a few IPA's in me already, and I was feeling nice.  I thought to myself, "Mohammed. Cool! I'll ask him about his faith in Islam."  Yes, I was kind of stereotyping.  But seriously....How many Mohammeds do you know that are Mormon or Jehova's Witness?  Anyone? Anyone?  Exactly!  There are probably a few out there, but none that I know in this lifetime.  Mohammed arrives and he opens the van door, for me to get in.  These new, fancy vans with the automatic, sliding doors are like spaceships!  They are so confusing.  I was about to jump in the front seat like I always do with my Uber or Lyft driver, but homeboy was like, "No. No."  He actually didn't say that, but when I went to get into the passenger's seat, he opened the van door for me.  Okay!  I get it.  Once I gave him the address to my destination, I immediately asked him where he was from.  He had a pretty thick accent, which (to be honest), I find accents from the Middle East to be really cool.  I just sense like a real love for conversation when there is a slight struggle to find the right word.  Mohammed told me that he was from Egypt, which I had a feeling after listening to him speak.  I've known a few Egyptians in my time, and he sounded a lot like this bus boy I worked with back in New York City.  Ayman was his name.  He used to always say to me "Baba! No. That is big Haram! Big Haram!"  I would always share stories about my vices and nights out on the town.  I never felt like I was being judged, but reprimanded in a way that came from genuine concern.  As I told this story to Mohammed, he nodded his head in agreement about doing things that are "Haram", which means sin in Arabic.  I asked him if he was Muslim, and he said that he was.  He began to share with me the reason for his faith.  It was this really cool, history lesson, and yet an open heart revelation.  There was talk of Noah, Abraham, Ismael, Jesus, Mohammed.  Talks of prophets, and Jesus as a prophet.  God being all powerful and the only one, hence the prayer "Allahu Akbar", which translates into "God is Great."  The whole idea of an all powerful God, that created us for the sole reason of worshiping him is the kind of shit that makes me roll my eyes and reaffirm why this concept is not possible.  The all powerful creator of the universe having human emotions like jealousy and envy?  Doesn't make sense.  Anyways, I wasn't there to try to change his way of thinking or deter him from his faith, but I did say "If God is that powerful, then he doesn't need us to worship him."  He took a moment.  He then agreed with me.  Mohammed's faith in Islam, gave him a purpose in life.  He talked of peace, and that it is a religion of peace.  I haven't read the Quran.  Many of my Christian friends like to take the excerpts from the Quran that order the followers of Islam to commit acts of violence in the name of Allah, therefore justifying what the world wants us to believe- That Muslims are dangerous and secretly trying to undermine American freedom, liberty, and justice for all.  Shit! The Old Testament in the Bible is filled with stories of the Hebrews following orders from God, plundering towns, even killing women and children.  Mohammed, had a child, like care and love when talking about his faith.  When I told him that my name is "Angel" and that the Arabic word is Malaik, he began to talk about Angels in the Islamic faith.  He described them like babies.  A baby cannot support itself, walk, feed itself, bathe, change its clothes.  A baby needs nurturing and constant care.  Yet, Angels are supposed to guide and watch over humans, but Allah instructs and nurtures Angels so that they can guide, an independent, proud, and stubborn human.  There was a beauty to that description.  In a nutshell, we are to learn from children, because they are peaceful and innocent.  So, at the root of Mohammed's faith, was that we need to be peaceful.  I'll take it!  Stay connected, and listen to others my friends.  Alaikum Salam!

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