Hijab Girl Meets American SoldierbySamuelx©
Alright, I can finally admit it to myself. I am a Muslim. I used to be one of those people who felt a strong dislike of Muslims, until I fell in love with one. It's funny how these things happen, huh? My name is Solomon Kingsley Henderson, although many of my friends have taken to calling me "King Suleiman" in recent times. It's my Muslim name, though it's not on my passport or anything. My wife Khadija Abdullah certainly likes it. She's a lovely lady of Somali descent who saved my life back in the City of Buffalo, New York. We're the proud parents of two sons, Alexander Khaled Henderson and George Ishmail Henderson. We live in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York. Just another all-American family in the City.
Anyhow, I got a story to share with you. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1984. The son of an Irish-American father and African-American mother. My father Cullen Henderson is an atheist and my mother Janice Brown Henderson is a lapsed Catholic who turned to Agnosticism. Yeah, those are my parents. They met as students at Northeastern University in the mid-1980s, got married and had little old me. Growing up as a biracial man in Boston wasn't easy, even though it's a progressive town.
The City of Boston has a long history of progressivism. Deval Patrick, the first Black man elected Governor of Massachusetts is a resident of Boston, and a Harvard University graduate, come to think of it. I endured taunts and jeers from both Blacks and whites because of my skin color, and mixed parentage. To the Blacks, I was too white and to the whites I was too Black. Enduring these torments and overcoming them helped make me strong. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a Bachelor's degree in business administration in 2004, and afterwards, I decided to join the United States Marine Corps.
After 9/11, I found myself filled with anger at the Arab world for this cowardly attack on American soil. I remember watching videos shot around various countries in the Muslim world, from Pakistan to Lebanon, from Kuwait to Indonesia, showing Muslims cheering for the terrorists who killed thousands of Americans when they destroyed the Twin Towers. No lie, I was mad as hell, that's why I joined the U.S. armed forces. I wanted revenge for the deaths of innocent Americans. I served in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2008, then in Iraq from 2009 to 2010. I wasn't raised in any particular religion but in my mind, I saw myself as one of the Crusaders of olden times, venturing to the Middle East to defend Christianity, Western civilization along with truth, peace and the American way of life.
When I returned to the United States of America in the summer of 2010, I was a changed man. You see, every war is different and every war is the same. I lost friends in the Middle East, and I also saw some things which I shall never forget. Once, during an ambush in Baghdad, I almost got killed by a Taliban fighter. Guess who saved my life? The one person in my platoon whom I treated like shit. Antoine Hussein, a Lebanese-American Christian guy whom I didn't trust because of his Arab origins. I'm ashamed to say that back in those days, I distrusted anything Arab, and anything Muslim. It wouldn't matter to me if the Arab person standing before me was Christian, Muslim or even atheist, I didn't trust simply because they were Arab. Yeah, I was a racist in those days. Well, what Hussein had done changed how I looked at the Arab world, and how I looked at my fellow human beings.
I returned to the United States of America a changed man, like I said before, but I was a shell of my former self. Before I went to war, I was a six-foot-three, 250-pound, light-skinned Black man with emerald eyes, curly hair and honey-colored skin. When I returned, I was a battle-scarred and extremely bitter man. Losing friends will do that to you. Also, seeing innocent men and women blown apart simply because they're different, well, that's not something I could forget, no matter how many beers I drank. I returned to my family, and tried to resume my old life. Originally I wanted to go to Law School and become a kick-ass attorney. Growing up, I practically worshipped Johnny Cochrane, the brilliant African-American attorney who successfully defended ex-NFL star and actor turned social pariah Orenthal James Simpson.
The faces of the men and women I killed in the Middle East haunted my dreams, and I sought help. Psychiatrists, priests, shamans, nobody could help me. I lost my job, became a drunkard, and ended up homeless. Yeah, that's right. The war hero who received medals from Uncle Sam for defending America during the War on Terrorism ended up homeless on the streets of Buffalo, New York. I became one of those smelly, dirty people you see on a street corner, begging for change. My family had abandoned me, deciding that I wasn't worth the trouble. The society I fought so hard to defend had basically forsaken me. I went to the Middle East to fight against the Arabs because I believed that all Americans and Westerners are decent, fair-minded people and all Muslims are terrorists who hate women, hate freedom and despise those different from themselves. Yet it's Western society that cast me out like so much garbage and turned its back on me. Oh irony of ironies.
One day, I got into a brawl with another homeless guy and he and his friends cornered me and stabbed me. I ended up in the trash, bleeding to death, basically. They discarded me there, leaving me for dead. Yeah, I thought I was done for. I never gave much stock to religion, any religion. I didn't believe in Jesus Christ or Buddha or Mohammed. I thought all religion was nonsense. Yet as I lay dying, I said a prayer to a God whose existence I had never given credence to, and begged Him to save me. When I opened my eyes, I was at the Buffalo General Medical Center. No, wait. There was one more thing.
As I lay there, I vaguely remember someone looking at me, holding my hand, and telling me everything was going to be okay. I thought I was just hallucinating, but later, I realized how wrong I was, on so many levels. Someone found me in that dark alley, and called an ambulance. That person also came to visit me at the hospital. A tall, gorgeous young Black woman who wore a long-sleeved red T-shirt featuring Michael Jordan, blue jeans and boots. Oh, and she also wore a hijab. That person was twenty-two-year-old Nursing student Khadija Abdullah, the Somali-American immigrant chick who found me and called the ambulance. She'd ridden the ambulance on which I came, the nurses told me, and also spoke to the police. Apparently she was coming out of a mosque located near my old street corner and watched the other guys stab me. She's the one who saved my life, basically.
Looking at her standing there, so beautiful and serene, I felt myself humbled. I had seen beautiful women before, but Khadija Abdullah was in a class by herself. Looking at her, I wondered what she would think if she knew how many people from her religion I had killed. I killed both men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq, for there were male and female fighters among those we called insurgents, terrorists and hostiles. I killed her people, and got a medal for it, and celebrated by drinking with friends, and this woman saved my life. When I asked her why, Khadija looked me in the eyes and said that the God of the Christians, Jews and Muslims is one and the same. Also, a follower of Allah isn't vengeful or hateful. Helping the unfortunate is what a true believer does, according to her. It was too much. I couldn't just lie there on my hospital bed and listen to her say this. I felt too much guilt. I felt tears rushing down my eyes as I confessed to my savior what I've done to her people.
Khadija looked at me for a long time, then walked up to me. I expected her to curse me or even hit me. Lord knows I would have, if the situations were reversed. Instead of cursing me or hitting me, Khadija touched my shoulder and told me that God is merciful. He forgives all things, as long as one is truly repentant. Then she smiled at me, wished me a speedy recovery and left. I lay there, and for the first time in my life, I looked at the sky and prayed to God, asking Him for forgiveness. It's weird how it takes extreme circumstances to force some people to care. When news got out that I was hospitalized, my parents, who had forsaken me as a drunkard and lost cause, came running, as did Uncle Sam, who footed my medical bills. They helped me recover.
Three months later, I was back on my feet, having healed nicely from a nearly fatal encounter. I returned to Boston, and stayed with my parents for a while. I got myself a job working as a security guard, made some money and got my own place. Eventually, I returned to Buffalo, because there was unfinished business for me there. I returned to that town not to seek revenge on the men who almost ended my life, but to thank the woman who saved me. I believe that God sent an angel to save me, and that angel is Khadija Abdullah. I went to the mosque she attended, and asked about her. The Imam seemed reluctant, until I shared my story with him. I told him I was an atheist before I met Khadija, but thanks to her, not only do I believe in God now, but I also believe in miracles. I still wasn't okay with the idea of organized religion, though. Too many rules for my liking.
When the Friday night prayers ended, the Imam summoned Khadija, and her eyes widened like saucers when she saw me. I smiled and waved at her, then thanked her for saving my life. I looked at her, then at the Imam, and told them that it took extreme circumstances to force me to realize that there is a God, and that all human beings are capable of good and evil. I can't in good conscience write off all Muslims as wicked people, not when one of them saved my life. I told the Imam, a wise old Nigerian man named Ishmail Adewale, that I wanted to learn more about Islam. Khadija smiled at me, and I smiled back. Two weeks later, I converted to Islam.
I had a lot to learn about my new faith. There are many practices in Islam I still find odd. Why can't women and men pray side by side? I understand the logic behind it, given how easily distracted us men are, but surely us men can learn to control ourselves! Don't even get me started on female circumcision in places like Yemen and Somalia. That's barbaric and needs to end. I'm a Muslim man against female circumcision! I also found the Muslim taboo about dog ownership ridiculous. I had a dog growing up, Lucky, and I loved him more than half my relatives. Anyone who hates dogs isn't welcome in my house, sorry but that's how I feel. Khadija surprised me by revealing she owned a large German shepherd called Osman, and she once wanted to be a veterinarian before switching to Nursing. Wow. I wasn't expecting that. Khadija smiled that amazing smile of hers, and I found myself melting. We've grown quite close over the following months. We've even begun hanging out together.
One night, while coming out of the movies, I kissed her. Khadija kissed me back passionately, then told me that she had feelings for me. I smiled and told her I had feelings for her too. She bit her lip, then said that she was a virgin and wanted to remain one until marriage. I took her hand and brought it to my lips. Then I told her that come hell or high water, I would marry her. Khadija smiled, and then we kissed again. The following weekend, I asked her father, Bilal Abdullah, for her hand in marriage. The old man accepted, and thus, a year after we met, Khadija Abdullah became my lawfully wedded wife.
I have finally found the woman of my dreams, ladies and gentlemen. All I had to do was open my eyes. I've never had much luck with the ladies. I guess it's true what they say, you don't find the one, the one finds you. I'm madly in love with this tall, absolutely gorgeous, big-bottomed and damn-near-perfect Somali sister and I can't thank God enough for placing her upon my path. Fate has been kind to us, for we learned Khadija was pregnant with twins the day after she graduated from Buffalo State University with her Bachelor's degree in Nursing. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.
I've decided to become a police officer and my Khadija supports me in my dream. She's the best wife anyone could ask for. I want to become a police officer and show the world that men of African descent, who happen to be Muslim, can be patriotic, and decent. Good and evil are found in people of all races, genders and religions. You cannot single out a group because of the actions of a few bad apples. I love my life, and I love my wife and our little family. I love America, and will defend her interests whenever called upon. For it is where my wife and sons call home. God bless you dear reader, and have a wonderful day. Remember that there is only one God and God is love, anyone who preaches hatred isn't from God, in all likelihood he's an agent of evil. Peace be unto you.