By Noor al-Amriki
Some people in this world are very good at playing the game. Some people are unbelievably talented at presenting themselves in the exact way that draws as much positive attention, while making the very idea of negative attention anathema to those that idolize them. A simpler way of saying this might be to say that some people are two-faced. However, some of these are very good at convincing the public that they have only one face.
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, these people will let the mask slip. This usually occurs when they feel it is absolutely safe to do so. Suhaib Webb is a good example of this type of individual.
Suhaib Webb is a white convert to Islam. He became a Muslim in 1992 at the age of 20 in Norman, Oklahoma. Before this, he had been active in the DJ scene of the hip-hop culture, and had even run afoul of polite society by hanging out with members of the Bloods street gang.
I met Suhaib when I visited the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City in early January 2001. At first, I figured that Webb was a Muslim from Albania, but I was informed that he was a convert to Islam, or “revert,” as converts call themselves. This is because Muslims believe that everyone is born a Muslim, we are just turned into something else by our parents and society. So when you convert, you are going back to what you originally were, according to Islamic teaching.
I was very impressed with Suhaib. He was very kind to me, and was more than willing to share Islam with me, or at least the whitewashed version of Islam that many Muslims try to sell the public. I bought into this, and converted to Islam on February 25, 2001. Suhaib was out of town when I said the Shahadah, but other Muslims told me that he was ecstatic about my embracing the religion.
It wasn’t long before Suhaib would gradually let the mask slip and expose true Islam to me.
The first instance of this was sometime later in 2001. I asked Suhaib about the concept of jihad in Islam. Suhaib told me bluntly that Islam teaches that when Muslims meet the kuffar (infidels or unbelievers), they are to offer them three choices. They are first to be invited to become Muslims, to embrace Islam. If they reject that, they are to be offered the choice to keep their religion but live under Islamic rule and pay the jizya. If they reject that, the only option left is to fight them in jihad. Up until that point, I had been under the impression that Islam had no jihad imperative except in self-defense, something the people trying to convince me to become Muslim had said themselves!
Some time after that, Suhaib and I were discussing the Israel-Palestinian situation, and I asked him why members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were blowing themselves up if Islam rejects suicide. Suhaib told me that this was a legitimate method for them, as the intention (or niyaah) was not suicide, but martyrdom. He even said that there was no issue with killing Israeli children, because the Israelis were all required to serve in the military, so it was just the Muslims killing future Israeli soldiers!
Later, after 9/11, the local news media came to the mosque to get the soundbite about how peaceful Islam was, and how Muslims condemned terrorism. I had received a hate letter in the mail after 9/11, and Suhaib told me to go and tell the journalist about it. I did so, and then was asked by them to do a quick interview. After the interview, somehow the Israeli-Palestinian question came up, and I mentioned what Suhaib had told me, without mentioning his name. He caught my attention and signaled to me not to bring it up. Afterwards he told me not to bring the issue up, because the media would not understand.
One last thing Suhaib did that really caught my attention regarding the abuse and fear that is so prevalent in Islam had to do with Quran recitation. Suhaib was my Quran teacher, and he also taught Quran to a few other people, mostly children. I would patiently wait my turn, as the children were further ahead in their lessons than I was, and then Suhaib would give me my lesson one-on-one. One day, before Quran lessons, Suhaib had me walk across the street with him to the building that was being used as the Islamic elementary school (which he also taught at). He went inside and got a metal coat hanger and said this to me: “Don’t be afraid at what you are about to see.” I had no idea what he was talking about. We then went back over to the mosque.
A short time later, Quran lessons began. Suhaib was doing the lesson with a young boy named Mohammed. Mohammed was not doing his recitation very well, and Suhaib pulled out the hanger and threatened to hit the boy. He told Mohammed that Mohammed’s father had okayed a beating for the boy if he did not properly do his recitation. Mohammed began to cry and continued to struggle through the recitation. Every so often, Suhaib would slam the ground with the hanger and yell, “Read!” This caused Mohammed to again start sobbing. This was chilling, and it has never left me.
Suhaib Webb has made a career of keeping his mask intact, making himself a darling of the mainstream media, which routinely refers to him as a moderate. However, the media has not had the misfortune to see the mask slip, as I have, to see what Islam is really about: fear and hate. Don’t be fooled by the mask. The mask is moderation and peace, but underneath is Islam with all its fear and hatred.