I originally wrote this almost two years ago, on a listserv for caretakers of people with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome  Disorder (FASD). I’ve decided to preserve it here on my blog. My nephew is 14yrs old now and despite all the difficulties in raising him, he makes me very proud of him and I pray that Allah gives him success in this world and the next. Please remember him in your duas.

You all won’t believe this! We had no idea things would turn out like this. It started off as a normal day, I later got a call from a friend inviting me to a gathering at her house. My nephew had some plans for the evening as well. Wednesday night is the last day of the week here, like Friday in the west. His Quran Program does activities for the boys on wednesdays, sometimes field trips, so I knew he was looking forward to it. However, the girls and I were rather bored and jumped at the idea to go out, as my husband had plans of his own for the evening. This left me in a pickle because, my nephew wanted to just hang out with friends until I came home. You know I wasn’t having that! We decided that he would go out with my husband. He is very well behaved when he is out with my husband, at least at formal events (weddings, lectures, men’s dinners, etc). I knew my husband had a speaking engagement for the night, and it wouldn’t be much fun for my nephew, but I was hoping that he would keep himself busy and out of trouble.My husband is often asked to speak to Saudis, about his conversion to Islam. I guest it has a similar effect as a Christian testimony, it helps renew or increase the faith of many of those in attendance. The fact that he is Irish American and fluent in Arabic, goes over really well with the people, because this is usually the first American Muslim they have heard of besides Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Usually, he speaks after the congregational prayer in the masjid or at religious gatherings. This night was totally out of his league and he was ask to speak to the Shebab (youth) in a Juvenile Detention Center. When he showed up with my nephew, the sponsors of the event were even more impressed with him and thought that the detainees would receive him better (for one my dh only speaks fusha [proper written but rarely spoken] arabic and my nephew speaks the amiyya [local dialect], and because he is a Shebab himself).My husband’s talk turned more into a short interview. He was asked a few brief questions and then on to the special guest speaker, MY LITTLE WOO WOO! After he was introduced he was asked to recite some Quran and Anasheed (Islamic Songs). He was later told to tell the boys a brief story about his life and how he came to Islam and Saudi Arabia. He told them that his parents were non-Muslim and that he had a bad upbringing in the streets of Chicago. He mentioned the Chicago Street gangs and other problems that he faced as a child. He told them how one summer he was sent to visit me and he asked if he could stay to attend Islamic School. He was 7 years old. He told them how he never ate pork again after that and considered himself Muslim at that point. He concluded by telling the boys how we made hijrah (migration) from the U.S.A to K.S.A. Afterwards was a series of questions and answers. He said that nobody really said anything when my dh spoke, but when he left out he said one of the boys in the audience made takbeer (shouted Allah is The Greatest…Allahu Akbar) really loud, which caused all the children to make standing takbeer as he left out. He was so excited. He has never had a huge crowd of people show him that much respect. He has been asked to speak many times before but not as formal and in smaller private gatherings. The people usually just greet him, shake his hand, kiss his forehead, and make dua (supplicate) for him after he speaks. This time was so awesome for him because he got the equivalent of a standing ovation (clapping is not from Islam but he said some of the boys were clapping too).

I was so happy and proud of him and so was my husband. I just wanted to share this little story with everyone.

PS… it’s moments like this that Saudi men have actually approached him to tell him that they have so many daughters and to stay in touch with them, because when he is ready they would like for him to choose one of their daughters as a wife! My husband is like hey, no fair, I’m only told about the divorced women with children, or the ‘spinsters’. I had to tell him you are over 40 with a wife and kids, you’ll get your young sweet thang in the next life, insha’Allah (god willing)…lol

written February 23. 2005