My name is Mustafa Sanjata, I was born in Akron, Ohio and raised up in a small college town not far from there called Wooster. I was adopted into a family from Southern Georgia, who were migrant workers.
My father was 33rd degree Mason, so he didn’t hold too tight to religion but my mother was a church mother, she was very much in the church.
I started out in Ohio as a youth, going and listening to Minister Louis Farrakhan from the nation of Islam on the east side of Cleveland then I began to be interested in Islam itself and what it was, I read the autobiography of Malcolm X and his journey.
And eventually I kind of left all that alone and I went into the military. I was a driver of two Jordanian pilots, which was my first real introduction to Islam. I think it was Ramadan so they were fasting, they would break the fast and they would pray… and they would try to explain everything to me.
I got threw off at that point because I had asked a question: “Do you have to pray in Arabic?” and one of the colonel said: “Yes it has to be in Arabic”
So I asked him “Why would God demand that I speak a language that I can’t speak and I don’t understand?” So I left it then it put me off.
I met a lady from Sinegal named Maiamu, she was a friend of my wife at the time. She was doing some counseling with us and talking with us and introduced me to the Quran itself.
Having read the Bible and memorized parts of it and after having read the whole Quran, the lights just came on. She took me to her own masjid and I took the shahadah. But most of the brothers there were French-speaking, so there was a bigger language barrier not just the Arabic or the German, now there was the French…
So I didn’t learn much at that point in time. It wasn’t until I got out of the military in 89 and went back home that I met a wonderful band of brothers in the place where I’d grew up, out in Wooster they were there.
Allah couldn’t have chosen a better band of brothers to teach me my faith. My biggest concern was I think my adopted father. I felt bad about offending him… here is a man who adopted me and gave me his name.
At the same time I wanted to let him know what I was doing because he asked me at one point in time: “You seem distant, what’s going on? What happening?”
So I told him I’ve become a Muslim and I’ve changed my name. and he said:
“Well, why do you have to be Muslim, why do you have to be anything?” (because this is the Mason line, right?) “You can believe in God but you don’t have to believe in any dogma, any particular dogma.”
I said: “There is a way to believe in God and there is a way to follow God and God has sent that guidance to us and this is the particular guidance that I follow and this is what I believe.”
He didn’t speak to me for about two weeks, he didn’t call, when I would call, he was not there… after two weeks, it was like it never happened.
What would you say to someone who believes in Islam but holding back?
The love will overcome all of that. If you love them and they love you, they will eventually if not at first, jump on the bandwagon. They will eventually accept what you have accepted and that’s just out of love, I think that’s God’s love or the love of a parent for a child, or the sister or the brother, or the uncle, or the cousin, or whomever.
Last year, God saw fit to allow me to find my biological family and they know that I’m Muslim and they’ve met me. They kept back a little because they’re not sure how to act, what to say, what to do and I tried to make them as comfortable as possible.
Once again, I think it’s love, love overcomes all of that.
With permission from “About islam”: