tagInterracial LoveA Kuwait Man Becomes Christian

A Kuwait Man Becomes Christian


The path I've chosen to walk is a difficult one, but I feel that it's the right one for me. My name is Tariq Rahim Alkaabi and I was born on the island of Failaka in the State of Kuwait. November 17, 1988, I came into the world. An undersized little brown bundle of joy, as my grandmother Bashirah would constantly remind me in later years. My father Abdul Alkaabi is a Kuwait citizen, and my mother Abasah, who died giving birth to me, hails from Senegal. My father and I moved to the City of Boston, Massachusetts, in early August 1998. I grew up in one of America's most diverse cities, and considered myself an American, but my father raised me to be a good Muslim, albeit not a very strict one, and a proud son of Kuwait.

I don't remember too much about Kuwait City, where I lived before we moved to America, but I will never forget the teasing and taunting I received from the other Arabs my own age because of my skin color. My father's family was wealthy, and they had been stunned when their favorite son chose a woman from Senegal to be his wife. The thing about the Arabs is that a lot of them are racist against non-Arabs, and they feel a special disdain for Muslims of African descent. They don't think much of African Christians either, or Christians of any stripe, really. My mother Abasah Camara of Senegal came to the State of Kuwait with an education in civil engineering and a desire to explore life in one of the Arab world's strongest economies. My mother studied at Oxford University in London, England, where she met my father. The sheltered son of a powerful Arabian dynasty fell in love with a feisty African woman who carried herself like a queen and expected others to respect her as such.

I never knew my mother, you understand, all I knew of her I learned from hearsay around my father's house, and also from photographs and other articles connected to her. I knew that she was born into a Muslim family in the City of Fatick in Senegal, but lapsed into atheism after moving to the City of London, England, for higher education. While in London, she converted to Christianity, eventually joining the Baptist faith. Let's just say that her conversion to Christianity from Islam didn't go over too well with her family back in Senegal. She had by then earned herself British citizenship so they couldn't do anything to her. They were in Africa and she was in Europe, far from any of her relatives. Armed with her civil engineering degree from Oxford University, my mother traveled the world. She worked for a big firm in the City of Toronto in provincial Ontario, Canada, and another one in the City of Melbourne, in Victoria state, Australia. For a poor young woman from Senegal, traveling to all these Western countries and working for these big international corporations was a dream come true. Finally while visiting some friends in New York City, she ran into an old classmate, Abdul Alkaabi, the wealthy Kuwaiti whom she used to be friends with at Oxford University.

The two of them hit it off, and Abdul ended up convincing her to come work for his father's company in Kuwait. He offered her a more than generous salary. That was in October 1987. While in Kuwait, they fell in love and got married. A most unusual pairing, to be sure. The son of a wealthy Kuwait family brought up in the Sunni faith marrying an ex-Muslim woman from Senegal who'd converted to Christianity, the Baptist faith, to be exact. Definitely not something you hear about every day, but my father was never very traditional or religious, and he was fond of my mother. I suppose that explains it. Two years later, I came into the world, and much to my everlasting regret, my birth pangs were my mother's death throes. Even though I never knew her, I'll never get over the sense of loss I would experience time and again in my life because of her absence. Guys need their mothers, they're not disposable.

My father never married after we moved to Massachusetts, he often told me he found American women too wild for his liking, but he did have many flings with them. One of them who seemed to stick around longer than the others was Beatrice Kenney, a tall, blonde-haired and green-eyed tax attorney from the City of Plymouth, Massachusetts. She worked at my father's firm's new headquarters in downtown Boston. I'll never understand the fascination that so many Arab men and African men for that matter have for blonde, blue-eyed Caucasian women. What's so special about women with Teutonic looks? What places them above, say, redheads or brunettes? I don't know. I suppose it's a matter of taste for the gentlemen in question, I guess. Anyhow, growing up in Boston in my father's shadow, I nevertheless had far more freedom than most young folks my age because my father traveled to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America a lot. He was good friends with local politicians and businessmen, from the Mayor of Boston to the Governor of Massachusetts himself. Even in the post 9/11 world, money talks. When it comes to money, everyone's of the same religion, I think.

My father raised me to be a good Muslim, but he insisted that I study at Boston College High School, a predominantly Christian private school. After I graduated from B.C. High, dad insisted that I study at Boston College, thus I became a Double Eagle. The thing about most Muslims that Westerners don't know is that while they're not in love with Christians and Jews, they absolutely can't stand Atheists, and have no understanding of them whatsoever. My father told me that he respected Boston College as an institution because the men and women who ran it believed in God, even though they followed God the Christian way and not the truly proper ( read Muslim ) way.

Still, dad didn't want me to attend a school like Northeastern University or even Harvard University because he considered them Godless. How's that for irony? While at Boston College, I decided to study Criminal Justice because I had a passion for law enforcement. I watched shows like Law & Order and CSI while other guys watched the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NFL. I've never been what you'd call very athletic. At six-foot-one, I sometimes get mistaken for a sportsman, though I suspect my African heritage might have something to do with. I have light brown skin, curly black hair and pale brown eyes. People often ask me if I'm Puerto Rican or something but I tell them that I'm Afro-Arabian. I'm half black and half Arab. Personally, I considered myself African-American. At Boston College, I joined the Black Student Union, and became friends with Sholonda Georges, a tall, absolutely ravishing, light-skinned and dreadlocked young African-American woman from the City of Atlanta, Georgia. She transferred to Boston College from Spelman College, a predominantly African-American all-girls school in the South.

My whole life I've felt isolated from my African heritage, partly because I moved in mostly Arab circles. Even at Boston College High School, I was friends with the sons of Lebanese Christians, feeling closer to them because of my Arabic heritage which I raised to value over everything else. The few Black students at B.C. High considered me strange. I had an Arabic name, I spoke Arabic, Farsi, English, Spanish and some German. I learned a lot during my father's travels, during which I often accompanied him. I always wanted to learn about Black culture, but feared I wouldn't be considered Black enough, so I kept away from them. Sholonda Georges changed that. Until I came to Boston College, I had mostly dated Caucasian girls, though I liked redheads, and found blondes overrated. In high school, I dated this tall, red-haired and freckle-faced gal named Susan Thorkelson. She attend a private school not far from B.C. High. We dated for two years before she moved to the City of Hartford, Connecticut, and we lost touch.

Yeah, I liked white girls, but I also felt drawn to Black girls, though for me they were the forbidden fruit because the ones in America were so loud, opinionated and sassy. They could cut you down with a single word and feared absolutely no one. Sholonda Georges, for all of her refined taste and impeccable manners, proved to be of the same breed. We first met in my Intro to Criminal Justice class, to which I arrived late on the first day of class. The class was packed, about three hundred students, and most of the seats in the vast lecture hall were taken. I stood there, trying to find a seat. Someone whispered to me, and I looked to see a very beautiful young Black woman. She smiled brightly at me and pointed at the seat next to her. I smiled and nodded my thanks as I sat down. The young lady extended her hand and introduced herself. I smiled, and did the same. And that's how I met Sholonda Georges.

Sholonda and I were in a lot of the same classes, and she was a second-year student. Her father, Stephen Georges, was the preacher of the predominantly African-American Word of Truth Baptist Church. He got transferred from Atlanta to Boston to take over a new congregation. Sholonda moved to Boston to be with daddy, since she was a daddy's gal and all. Like me, I would later learn, she was motherless. Her mother Elisabeth Sandler, who was white, died giving birth to her. Even though we came from different worlds, Sholonda Georges and I got along. I guess that underneath it all, we had a lot more in common than I would have imagined at first glance. She was the vice president of the Black Student Union at Boston College and invited me to a meeting. There, I met a lot of the people who would end up becoming my closest friends for the next few years.

Before joining the B.S.U. when I thought of African-Americana, I envisioned mostly black Americans with their rap music, their penchant for sports and their odd combination of bible-thumping and fast-living. At the Black Student Union, I realized how wrong I was. I met Jayson Bradbury, a tall young Black man from Trenton, New Jersey, who played basketball for Boston College. He was studying physics, couldn't rap to save his life, and worshipped the late Reverend Martin Luther King, whose face is emblazoned on eighty percent of his T-shirts. Civil engineering student Melissa Woodburn, a petite, light-skinned chick with an afro. Born of a white father and Black mother, she grew up in the region of Sussex, England, and had been living in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, for the past eight years. Wow, I was mightily impressed. Even after so many years in America, she sounded totally British.

Pre-med student Jamal Fisher, a burly, tattooed brother from the City of Houston, Texas, who couldn't stop going on and on about his idol Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Law student Antoine Jean-Renaud, a chubby, bald-headed and crucifix-wearing brother from the island of Haiti. Cigarette-smoking architecture major Bethlehem Berihun, a tall and dare I say absolutely stunning, light-skinned and short-haired, proudly Jewish sister from Ethiopia. Farah Bilal, a petite, hijab-wearing sister in tight jeans with a Malcolm X T-shirt, a native of Mogadishu, Somalia, whose parents moved to the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, when she was younger. She transferred to Boston College from Century College. Nursing student and proud Scientologist Nicole Saint-Preux, a tall and curvy, dark-skinned sister from the City of Montreal, Quebec. Kyle Howard Jacobson, a tall, slim brother with bleached red hair. A transfer from Norwich University in Vermont. He surprised all of us by declaring his intentions of becoming a Jesuit priest someday. Wow.

Sitting at the meetings with these young men and women who shared my African descent but came from so many diverse backgrounds, I realized how much the definition of African-American was changing. In our little group, we had people from Haiti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Britain, and a bunch of other places. We had Christians, Jews and Muslims, oh, and one Scientologist. Different ethnicities, different nationalities and different faiths. I found myself fascinated by them. After the first meeting, I was hooked. I couldn't stop raving about how excited I was. I thanked Sholonda for bringing me to the meeting. She just smiled at me and told me that I was welcome. She bit her lip, then asked me what I was doing Sunday. I told her my weekends were always free. She smiled and asked me if I wanted to visit her father's church. I looked at her and she hesitated before telling me that she knew I was Muslim but would really love for me to visit her father's new church. I shrugged and said yes. Even though I was raised Muslim, I'd been to church many times, for the first communions, confirmations and even marriages of my school friends. Like I said, my father wasn't very religious, and the last time I went to Mosque, I think I was still in Kuwait. I shook Sholonda's hand and told her I'd be there. Little did I know that this decision would change the rest of my life.

Sunday morning, bright and early, I visited Sholonda's church in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. I don't know what I was expecting, but Sholonda's church blew me away. Dorchester back in those days was still a predominantly African-American area of Boston, before the gentrification, and the gays, and yuppies moved in. The church was an old brownstone building, with a modest exterior, but the insides were something else altogether. The place was neat, very clean and well-decorated. The four-hundred-person congregation was mostly black, with a smattering of Hispanics, Caucasians and Asians. I was greeted warmly by just about everyone I met, and finally, Sholonda introduced me to the preacher-man, her dad. The gentleman in question was a tall, square black man in a suit, holding a large bible in his right hand. He had the bearing of a military man, I thought. I smiled at him and shook his hand. Upon hearing my last name, he asked me where I came from. I proudly told him that I was half Kuwaiti and half Senegalese. Born of Arabia and Africa, the best of both worlds.

Sholonda gave her old man a hug, and we took our seats at the front of the church. The ceremony began, and I looked around. Having attended a catholic high school and a predominantly Christian institution of higher education, I was familiar with Christian lore. Still, the black Jesus Christ on the cross made me smile. Sholonda noticed me smiling and asked me what was up. I told her that Jesus Christ, called Isa Al Masih by us Muslims, was definitely not Caucasian. He looked like an Arab man because the Jews of the old days looked like Arabs, they hadn't mixed with Europeans yet. I'm not sure if Jesus Christ was black because I've met black Jews from Ethiopia at Boston College, but Jesus Christ was definitely not white. He had dark hair, dark skin and dark eyes. The holy man respected by billions of Christians, Jews and Muslims did not look like Caucasians, those who view themselves as the leaders of the world and the masters of Christendom. When I said that, Sholonda nudged me in the ribs and I smiled.

The ceremony got underway, and I listened to Sholonda's father, the good Reverend Stephen Georges, as he preached the Word of God. After attending so many Christian schools, I knew the Bible better than most Christians. Of course, I could recite the Koran verbatim, and I knew most of the Torah. The three dominant faiths on this planet were known to me. As I watched these Christians all around me kneel and pray by invoking the name of the messenger of God who taught them how to be better people, I thought about my own faith. We Muslims revere the Prophet Mohammed as the last messenger of God, though we respect all those who came before him, especially Jesus Christ. We disagree with Christians on the matter of Jesus Christ's divinity and the oneness of God, but agree with them on almost everything else. Personally, I felt disconnected to organized religion. To me, rabbis, priests and imams were all men hell-bent on twisting the Word of God so they could garner obedience from their followers and gain power over them. That's what's wrong with organized religion today. That's why I stopped going to mosque. And I think it's why many Christians stopped going to church, and why probably just as many Jews stopped going to synagogue. I still believe in God, it's the faithful that I don't like.

Of course, the behavior of those around me in this life did nothing to assuage my fears. When I last spoke to an imam, the honorable Kasim Muhammad of a mosque in the City of Chicago, Illinois, he spent an hour going on and on about why he felt all Muslims should unite against Israel and destroy first the Jewish state then the Eurocentric Christian world, spread throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Australasia, huge swaths of Africa and Asia, along with western Europe, for many Muslims believe that Christians and Jews, the People of the Book, were idolaters and our sworn enemies until the Day of Judgement. If men like imam Kasim Muhammad had their way, Armageddon would begin today. As a Muslim I was taught that Allah is Merciful above all, and He does not want us to hate. Mosques are full of these radicals who eschew the Word to achieve their aims. Churches are no better. The congregations of many churches looked the other way while creepy old men sexually abused the most vulnerable members of their flock. See? Men who claim to speak for God are not trustworthy, and it doesn't seem to matter which religion you follow. And now, I found myself in a church, of all places. I looked around, at the black men, white men, Asian men, black women, white women, Asian women, and Hispanics of both sexes gathered in this house of worship. Were they just like so many hypocrites I had seen in other churches and mosques?

I looked at Sholonda, who prayed next to me with her eyes closed. Was she different from the others? I can't tell you how many so-called "pious" women I've seen do some very unreligious things. Like this chick named Atifah Khader, a Yemeni national living in the south end of Boston with her uncle and aunt while attending Northeastern University's school of medicine. When her relatives were around, she was as pious and meek as any hijab-wearing Arab woman. When they were out of sight, she turned into something they wouldn't recognize. This chick liked to go to the clubs after Friday night prayers. Off comes the hijab, and out comes the slinky evening dress, the cheap perfume, the thong underwear. The first time I ran into her at Machine Night Club in Boston, I thought she was a Latina because no Yemeni woman would go out like that on a Friday night. I was wrong.

Like a lot of Arab women out there, Atifah Khader liked black guys but you'd never catch her admitting it. The same way lots of Arab guys go for black women, many Arab women would go for black guys if their racist and sexist families wouldn't kill them for it. Atifah spotted me in the club and we started talking. She was definitely feeling me. Next thing I knew, I was in the bathroom with her, my pants around my ankles as she knelt before me and sucked my dick. I kid you not, folks, this Yemeni broad sucked my cock with gusto, and when I came, she drank my cum like it was nothing. Then she had me bend her over a toilet seat and spank her ass while I drilled my cock into her pussy. Yeah, she was straight-up nasty. When we finished, she readjusted her clothes, then went back to the dance floor. I went outside to smoke a cigarette. The next time I saw her, I was visiting my buddy Omar, a big Somali dude, at Northeastern University. Guess who I saw walking around campus, handing out flyers about Yemeni culture? None other than Atifah Khader, the chick from the club, only with a lot more clothes on. See what I mean about the hypocrisy of religious women? Of course, I shouldn't blame her. If her relatives knew she was out there, having fun just like any other young woman her age, they'd kill her. The Yemeni people are among the strictest followers of Islam. Their views on women's rights would make a caveman blush. Hey, it's a hard truth but you got to live with it, alright?

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