This is a part from the article Islam Through the Heart and Mind of a Convert to Orthodox Christianity
In this two-part interview originally appearing on Ancient Faith Radio, Kevin Allen of the “Ancient Faith Today” podcast interviewed “George” who became a Sunni Muslim at age fourteen and studied to become an Imam at a madrasa, studying the Quran, Arabic language, Islamic theology, hadith, and jurisprudence. He left Islam and became an Orthodox Christian twenty years later. Among other things, Kevin and his guest discuss Islamic theology, common misunderstandings of Christianity by Muslims, differences between “orthodox” Islam and the Nation of Islam, the true understanding and practice in Islam of slavery and jihad, and the extraordinary journey that led “George” to Orthodox Christianity. (...)
Islamic Center of Washington at Washington D.C. was opened in 1957 (from Wikipedia)
— (...) What was the demographic make-up of the mosque you joined?
—It was primarily African-Americans with some people of Middle-Eastern and Asian descent.
—I just read a Pew poll a few years ago that said that 59% of all converts to Islam in the US are African-American. So I’d like to ask you why you think so many African-Americans in the US convert to Islam?
—Some of the reasons that African-American convert are some of the same reasons that I converted, which I mentioned earlier, and many others who aren’t African-American. I do however believe that there are reasons unique to the African-American communities. Through experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve encountered and spoke with, and just from a lot of reading that I have done, I think Islam had been seen as a means for many African-Americans to re-connect with a piece of their culture that they feel they have lost through their ancestors being captured and enslaved and brought to the western hemisphere, and systematically being stripped of their traditions and identity.
It has been a way to strip themselves of the Eurocentrism that had been forced upon them. Christianity became synonymous with the oppression and persecution that Americans of African descent faced in the West.
—But wasn’t it Muslim slave traders who actually went into Africa and then enslaved Africans for sale to the Europeans and so on?
—Yes, what is known as the Arab slave trade begun in the seventh century, with the rise of the Islamic Empire and lasted well into the twentieth century in some places such as Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and the Sudan, where there are still reports of slave trading to this present day. The Arab Muslim slave trade reached a vast area including the Sub-Saharan east and west Africa, which was the major supplier, then there was central Asia, the Mediterranean region, Eastern Europe including the lands of the Slavic peoples.
There are even reports of the slave trade extending as far north as British Isles and Iceland. America at the time of its infancy fell victim to the Muslim traders to what was known as “Barbary States,” which were independent Islamic states that run along the coast of north Africa.
One thing I’d like to note is that in Islamic law it is not permissible to enslave free-born Muslims. Therefore only those born into slavery and non-Muslim captives are allowed to be taken as slaves. This could account for the fact that the vast majority of the people enslaved were those who inhabited the regions that bordered the territory of the Islamic empires and in particular the Christians were targeted.
—But we see radical Islamic groups now like ISIS regularly kidnapping and enslaving and selling women and others. Is this practice of enslavement approved of in the Quran and the Hadith?
—Yes it is. It’s not a very popular notion but I mean it definitely has been sanctioned by the Quran and Hadith. Groups such as ISIS look at the atrocities that they are committing as a holy war and as such any non-Muslim women captured become their property, even if these women are married. In the Quran such captives are frequently referred to as “ma malakat aymanukum” or “what your right hand possesses.” One such reference can be found in the Quran in Surah or chapter 4 verse 24, and it says, “And also forbidden are all married women except those whom your right hand possess. This is the law’s ordinance to you.”
What I just quoted is a part of a longer section that speaks about the women who are lawful for a man to have sexual relations with. In connection to these verses the Hadith, the tradition from the life of Mohammed that gives the reason or circumstances in which this verse was revealed, it says,
The apostle of Allah sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the companions of the apostle of Allah were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Quranic verse, “And also are forbidden, all married women except those whom your right hands possess. This is the law’s ordinance to you.”
And then there is another example that can be found in the Quran, Surah 33 verse 50, where it is actually speaking through Mohammed himself personally. It says, “O Prophet, indeed we have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those whom your right hand possesses from what Allah has given of you of the captives …”
I can give many more examples but I think you can get an idea of how the Quran and Hadith sanction the actions of vices. Of course a Muslim may argue that these verses and Hadith I quoted were historical events specific to the time of Mohammed, but the problem with that reasoning is that Islam looks at the Quran as being the unchanging internal word of Allah. So if the entire Quran is the absolute perfect, infallible world of Allah directly dictated to Mohammed, how can it only be specific to a particular event or time?
—It is interesting to me in terms of African-Americans who comprised a very large percentage of those who convert to Islam in this country. There is also a very deep Afrocentric history of Christianity long before Islam, no?
—Yes there is. Christianity has had a very strong presence in Africa from the very beginnings of the Church. One even finds in the Gospel of Matthew that the Lord himself with his Holy Mother and St. Joseph fled to Egypt. There is the Ethiopian that St. Phillip encountered in the book of Acts. Alexandria is one of the ancient Holy Patriarchates. Then you have such great holy people such as St. Athanasius, St. Anthony of Egypt, St. Moses the Black, St. Mary of Egypt and Blessed Augustine of Hippo, just to name a few.
I feel it is a crime that so much of the rich history of Christianity in Africa has been forgotten and I’d even dare say intentionally discarded by Christians, particularly in the western churches.
—What are the differences, or the significant differences for example between the “Nation of Islam” and the teachings of people like Louis Farrakhan (photo) from what one would consider “orthodox” Islam?
—Well, there are too many to discuss in the time that we have but the most striking difference I would say would be the Nation of Islam’s belief that the black man is God while the white man was genetically created by a mad scientist named Yakub which is the Arabic name for Jacob who is said to have been born in Mecca and created a pale devil race “through scientific experimentation on the Greek island of Patmos” which we know from the New Testament. It is said that Yakub did this after he had a falling out with God. This one belief alone I feel is enough for anyone to determine that the Nation of Islam would not be welcome in the fold of orthodox Islam.
—So Nation of Islam followers are not really considered orthodox Muslims?
—No, they are not. (...)
Ancient Christian faith (Orthodox Church) in Africa
Eight principal areas of convergence between African spirituality and Ancient Christianity
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
African Initiated Churches in Search of Orthodoxy...
"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
Apostle Paul, the Christian equivalent to Mohammed
The Penalties for Apostasy in Islam
Traditionalist View on Sex Slavery in Islam
From Islam to Christianity: To our brethren who converted from Islam to Protestantism or Roman Catholicism