My name is Eesa (Keith) Washington. I’m from California, San Diego, but my family’s actually from Texas on my father’s side.
I was born into, I guess, Southern Baptist Texas, Bible Belt area; and I was pretty much, I guess you could say a Baptist Christian until about sixteen or seventeen years old.
At that point, I actually read the Bible, and I became someone who believed in God but didn’t really have a set religion. I began to explore world religions.
Seeking A Way of Life
I was on a path of seeking a way, not really a religion; just do good and have good come to you. One of the choices I made, which was a mistake, was partying and stuff like this, which led to a car accident. This car accident sent me in the wrong direction, because then I began to think that I should live every moment to its fullest and get everything out of life, and more wild side than mild side.
I knew that there was more to life than doing the same thing every night. The routine got boring. So I decided to go back to university. Then I became a student activist. I became active on the campus politics and things like this, which led me to meeting a lot of people, different groups.
I was invited to one Muslim event. I attended it, and the speakers, actually, in their normal speeches, they planted the seed of, “this is a religion and a people who are just and seeking justice”.
I was overwhelmed by the truth. And because of my area of manhood, if you’re a man and someone tells you the truth, you submit to it, whether it’s hard or whether it’s easy.
So I’m thinking to myself: “What do I do now? Well, I’m in a dilemma, and this is my lifestyle. I’m a student activist, I’m president of the student union, I have my family, which is, I’m not even living near…
And I knew that if I accept this religion, my lifestyle has to conform to this religion; so a lot of the things I’m doing I’m not going to be able to do. And a lot of the people who I’m dealing with, because they had the same ignorance as I do, they’re not going to want to deal with me.
So, how will I deal with the administration? How will I deal with these women when I say I can’t date? How would I deal with my family, who’s away from me? And how do I explain it over a distance?
I had to balance all of that, and I just said to myself, “If this is the religion of God, if God has actually set this path, then He’ll take care of it.”
Islam Changed Me
I think Islam probably changed me in the most is that it made me keep connections that I would have normally broken. People who I would have to “forget about it, it’s not worth it,” because of Islam I said, “no, I have to keep this connection”.
So someone who I would normally not call, I will call. Someone I would normally not send a letter to, I’ll send a letter to. And someone who I’d not normally visit, I’ll visit. Someone I would not normally smile to, I’ll smile to.
Humbleness also is something that came from Islam. Because before Islam, if you’d say anything you want to say, I didn’t even have to listen to you, respect you, or anything else. Even if you were telling me the truth, in certain aspects, I could just ignore it.
Islam made me more open to dealing with people. It made me more patient in dealing with people and hearing what they actually had.
Islam takes away a lot of anger. When you’re in a world where you don’t think that there’s justice and you don’t think you’re going to get justice, then you try to take that justice. Islam actually says that there’s a Day of Judgment which is coming, and no one can escape it; and there will always be justice, so you don’t have to take it in this world. You don’t have to be a vigilante. You don’t have to go out there and do crazy things.
You don’t have to preach to your family when you convert or to your friends or to your business colleagues. Just you become a Muslim, you live your life as a Muslim, and without preaching even, just by living the example of Islam, you can be the gateway for someone else to find Islam.