Tag Archives: Drug Selling

Tawheed & Purification: Ending Gangsterism among Muslims in the West


Riyaad Abdul-Quayuum pic



Author’s note:

Riyaad Abdul-Quayuum, my Muslim brother, my friend, has been through a lot, as a result of urbanized, environmental circumstances, choices within his life, to get where he is now today: husband, father, business-entrepreneur, yet, most-importantly, an evolved, civilized, Human being, through the noble-teachings of Islam. Here, Riyaad has graciously chosen to share with us, some glimpse of his actual come-up, from the corners of the streets, to the confines of the Mosque…his story is just as inspiring to me, as it is educational.


In his own words:

“I was doing about 45 mph, on a back road, about five miles outside of Barnesville, Ga.  It was pitch-black, even with my car lights on. I didn’t want to miss the gravel road I had only been on once before. I reached under my seat for my chrome .45-revolver, I checked to make sure I had a fully loaded-gun. I liked to use revolvers because the shell casings stayed in the gun.  I thought to myself at that moment, ‘I’m Muslim!!! I shouldn’t be doing this!!!’ But three years removed from my last year at the University and four years after accepting Islam, I was about to drop off another shipment of drugs. This particular shipment contained 6 pounds of what we called ‘Mexican Dirt-Weed’, a very low-grade Marijuana that seemed to be the only thing circulating around Georgia at the time and a half kilo of “Becky” also known as “Amy”, ‘White-Girl’, ‘Barbara Walters’, ‘That Soft’, ‘That Raw’, etc. It all meant the same thing, at the end of the day…Powdered-Cocaine.

I was selling Weed go for $700 per pound and I was paying $475 per pound, for it, wholesale.  Normally, I would’ve been paying $550 per pound; but, my supplier worked out a deal that if I were to start moving/pushing the Coke for him, he’d cut me a good deal for the Weed.  So, I ended up dealing that, also. But, mainly, it was because I could make as much money off half a kilo of Coke, as I could off 20 lbs of Weed. Now, I think it’s important for me to explain the type of ‘dealer’ I was. I had never sold individually to a user. I was a wholesaler, to small-time dealers, a “Middleman”. I never wanted to be the big-man, and I always new the small-man on the totem pole was the most dangerous level: they are, always, the first to die, the first to go to jail, and the last to make serious-money. So, I positioned myself somewhere in the middle where I felt most comfortable.

I was always nervous, before I mad a deal; but calm as a brain surgeon, during the transaction.  I was what Dick Vitale liked to call a ‘p.t.p’er’ (prime-time-player), even though Dick was be referring to College-Basketball players. As I pulled down the almost mile long gravel road, to the shed, where I was suppose to make the drop my heart slowed. That empty butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling, rapidly, went away. I became super-alert. The prime time player character was taking over. I had scanned the darkness, on all sides, to see if I could detect a flash of metallic behind a tree or hidden in the darkness. I had, always, constantly surveyed my rear view mirrors to make sure no car pulled behind me, because, this one car dirt road was only one way in & one way out. I began to think I was a living metaphor.

The darkness surrounding me, being alone, I finally realized that I was being influenced to do something that Allah had made wrong. And I, at the time, I was completely willing to place myself in harms way. I had placed myself in a situation where I only had one way out, Allah. I’ve known, and met, a lot of ‘Hustlers’ and ‘Gangsters’ in my life. The sad thing is that the further I had remove myself from my past, and the more I immerse myself in being a righteous Muslim, I still kept meeting these same types of persons. And, I don’t mean those brothers or sisters who get money by Islamic means either; I, exclusively, mean those Muslim brothers & sisters who, as one brother told me, get it “by hook or crook”; meaning even if they have to sin, they’re gonna get money…they’re willing to do whatever, pun-intended. I’ve talked conversed with Muslims, who have done up to 25-years in prison about living this negative, pathological, destructive, lifestyle, which is inherently, completely antithetical to, classic, Islamic-Teachings. Even after that type of punishment & purification, as a result of dserving all that jail-time, they, sadly, still, will exploit their options of pursuing an illicit, Islamically unacceptable, path in life.

What are we not addressing, as a general Muslim Ummah/Community, a society, a nation, in our communities, which far too often leaves us with such a negativity reigning supreme?!!! Or, is it the sole responsibility/fault of the individual, doing the thing that is morally/ethically, Islamically/legally heinous? Many of the brothers & Sisters, I’ve had contact with many of the “Originators” of street-life, in the urban landscape and “Street-Legends” that have & still influence Pop-Culture, today (we often refer to these people as “O.G’s”/Original-Gangsters). They are the “legends” so eloquently spoken of, referenced, mimicked, in basically any/all Rap lyrics/songs, movies, documentaries, etc. The entire Hip-Hop Culture, unfortunately, has been hijacked & has become a monumental vessel, sailing across the waters of time, in which Gangsterism has not only taken aboard, but has taken over the ship, in a sense, if that makes sense. It is shamefully ironic, that we, as Muslims, in the trenches of this volatile terrain, whom all claim to hold on to the truth, which is Islam, to still fall-short when it comes to really, definitively, bridging a gap between Street-Life & the Deen-Life.

I have all the authority in the World, to speak about thisa subject, being a direct, active product of it: I became addicted to the quick-money…my sole objective was to spend money for the best or for the worst, whenever I wanted to…I became the anti-budget guy…I wasn’t a shopper, I was just an outright spender. I enjoyed great-food and traveling to places most of my peers would’ve never been able to identify on a map, globe, etc. There was even a period of my life, for about a twelve-month stretch, that I had practically lived in the island of Puerto Rico.  I was there, virtually, every weekend, at will-this was my addiction-I craved/desired $100-lunches at the finest restaurants…quick jaunts to the Caribbean were my leisure of choice.  I never drank or smoked, even before becoming a Muslim, and I never really enjoyed clubs or being around crowds.  I was more into intimate moments of “balling” out of control.

Suffice it to say, it took those 4-years, after my induction into Islam, before I got it, before I truly realized that I was harming my own soul, before I truly began to understand what Tawheed was. Even though I was a weekly Juma`ah/Friday Prayer-Service attendee, I had never truly opened up to ‘Deen’ or ‘Deening’. The idea of a total lifestyle and way of life was had been far from my reach and suddenly, in the darkness in the middle of a drug transaction it started to become clear. Once you submit yourself to leadership and learning Allah will open up the doors of learning and understanding to you.  Being a Christian for most of my life I was taught that all you needed was the word, the Bible.  And nothing else mattered.  That you could open your Bible read and be inspired to do the right thing. The concept of Ummah/Muslim-Community was foreign, and the importance of community-life had not been instilled in me. But, I soon began to realize I had come out of a religion that was ailing, a religion that was secular, except on that one day, Sunday. On that one day, we worshipped Allah, we gave Allah His due. But, in Islam, just one day, for a few hours, is just not enough; as a matter of fact, Islamically, it is impossible to have secular actions & thought and religious actions & thoughts. Islam requires that every action, every thought, be a form of worship, praise, honor and respect to Allah. I realized the learning curve of Islam is simply to have every Human function a form of worship…It took me a while, but, I got it.

I remember, when I first became Muslim, all the foreign, Born-Muslims couldn’t wait to tell me all the things that I had to start doing..now, that I had just became a Muslim. I remember like it was yesterday, even though I didn’t know it when I went to the Mosque…ironically, it was to be the 1st-day of Ramadhan, the annual month of, Mandatory-Fasting. After I took my Shahadah (the [Islamic] Testimony of Faith, that “There is no god [no true object of worship/none worship-worthy], except Allah, and that Muhammad {whom live 14-centuries ago in al-Makkah, Arabia}, whom the Qur’an {the last-book of guidance from Allah} was revealed to, is the Messenger of Allah”) it was almost as if the people giving me my Shahadah couldn’t wait to inform me that I had to fast the next day. I had never fasted a day in my life. But, my attitude is such an “F-You watch me succeed” attitude, that I was determined to be successful and Allah allowed me to complete 28-days of fasting, during my 1st-year, as a Revert-Muslim.

Maybe we have so many Muslim Hustlers and Gangsters in America because we aren’t following the Qur’an & Sunnah/Prophetic-Tradition, when it comes to teaching this Deen. For example, you have the Makkan & Madinan chapters of the Qur’an. The Makkan chapters mainly, almost exclusively, deal with Tawheed, teaching the proper understanding of Allah. And those verses and chapters went on during a time when the Muslims where going through a difficult time establishing themselves.  The Muslims of that time were in a manner of speaking being purified through trials and tribulations. To be able to accept the Madinan chapters which were mainly legislative items. For example alcohol wasn’t made illegal until the Medina ayats were revealed.  So there were Muslims who drank alcohol until it became illegal and some Muslims continued to rid themselves of alcohol addiction even after it was made illegal.  The point is there was a purification and enlightenment period before a legislative period.

Meaning, if the proper understanding and desire for Tawheed is not instilled when a person first becomes Muslim, then a person will not have the proper tools, desire or understanding to follow the rules set forth by Allah. I think this is our greatest failure as an Ummah in the West. We are not given the benefit of a purification period. We take Shahadah and then are bashed over the head with Islamic Legislation.  Instead of being purified first through understanding of Tawheed.  I can recall being taught everything I couldn’t do anymore when I became Muslim and after a year of being Muslim I still did not know how to pray properly.  I even thought because some prayers are silent and some are out loud that we had a choice of whether or not to lead the Salaat out loud or silently.

‘You gotta fast starting tomorrow! We’ll see if you’re still Muslim by the end of the month.’, these are the cold-words that were hurled at me at that Greensboro, North Carolina Mosque when I took my Shahadah. It just so happened to be the first day of Ramadan in 1994. Those words and that sentiment aren’t what are needed to get our Brothers and Sisters off the streets.  What’s needed is a comprehensive and systematic approach for new Shahadahs that takes them first on a path of understanding proper Tawheed. The first Muslim I knew was my brother-in-law. He was one of the most respected gangsters I knew at the time in my area.  But when he became Muslim, Imam Jamil Al-Amin and the Brothers under him truly understood following the ways of Muhammad (Peace be upon). At the time my now Brother-in-Law became Muslim he was dating my sister. Not until 3-months, after becoming Muslim & being taught Tawheed, did the leadership come to him about dating my sister. When they did come to him at the proper time they told him he had three months to marry my sister or leave her alone because it is Non-Islamic to date. He immediately married her, for the pleasure of Allah. But the point is the process of moving one from new Muslim to practicing Muslim is a delicate process that requires wisdom & understanding.

Often times, it is that lack of understanding, that has caused foreign brothers & sisters to behave so harshly toward new Muslims and failing to provide that open understanding of a purification and Tawheed…period. Without proper Tawheed, no law, that Allah has given us, will bare the weight or make the impression on a new Shahadah’s heart the way it is suppose to. We must understand that most Revert-Muslims in the west are 1st-generation Muslims, whom are turning away from everything we know, love, and, have been taught. It is because of this, that extra time, effort, love affection, attention and guidance should be given to properly steer our new Muslims on the right path.  The path is clearly laid out for us in Qur’an and in the Life of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Instead, most Mosques are ill-equip to gradually bring a Muslim into the Deen. So, we have a lot of Revert-Muslims begin to leave the Deen, do not practice, or become misguided and/or caught-up in fringe-groups, that may or may not even be practicing Islam. So, it becomes easy to sale drugs and street hustle when you are disillusioned or apathetic about your faith. The circle repeats itself and ‘Muslim-Gangsters’ are still thriving amongst us. And, were doing nothing to help save them from themselves.”

Riyaad Abdul-Quayuum/2013