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Friends in Faith

Friends in Faith

Issue 78 March 2011

College friends, Mustafa and Usama, introduced each other to Islam. 




Back in 1996, I was the quintessential California skater with my dreadlocks and baggy jeans. I was on my way to class, when a guy saw my Haile Selassie t-shirt and said, “Good representing”. Introducing himself as Whitney, although now he goes by the name Usama, we struck up a conversation and realised that we had a few mutual friends and were even in the same Spanish class. 
 Usama had the code to the piano room, so over the next few days, we’d skip class and go write music. However, he was better at languages than me so he aced the class while I failed.
 One day, I mentioned to Usama that I was going through some difficulties. He told me that his brother had recently converted to Islam and that I should look into it, but I thought it was a religion just for Arabs. After finding out some more information, I decided that Islam was the path for me. 
 I had to switch to evening school, because I started working during the day. It meant I didn’t see Usama as much but I still met up with him in the music room. Unfortunately,  it didn’t really feel like the same connection as before.Six months later, Usama called and started asking questions about Islam. We met and talked it over, and he decided that he wanted to embrace Islam. 
 I decided to travel around the world for a while but I’d come back home after every few months, and when I did, Usama would pick me up from the airport and I’d stay with him. Whilst I travelled, Usama was studying in the US but despite the distance, we remained close and always shared our experiences with one another. Two years ago, I moved back to California where we originally met and now we live five minutes away from each other. 
 What I admire most about Usama is his determination; he excels at everything he puts his mind to. He’s a really considerate, selfless person, who is always giving from his time and money with the intention of helping others. Even though he’s younger than me, I still look up to him in many ways.
 Our faith is of utmost importance to us and we love the fact that Islam is at the very foundation of our friendship; Usama introduced me to Islam and I consequently, did the same for him. For that, we both feel that we owe each other the world.


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I first met Mustafa when he went by the name Brian in freshman year of college and I recognised him from my Spanish class when I saw him walking across the quad one day. At the time, he was wearing snowboarding glasses and baggy jeans; rocking the half hip-hop, half skater look. Naturally, my alpha male reaction was, ‘Who does this guy think he is?’

 One day, I saw him wearing a Haile Selassie t-shirt, and as I was heavily influenced by Rastafarian culture at the time, we started talking and realised we had a lot of the same interests. We ended up hanging around a lot together, spending time writing music. 

 After Mustafa converted, a lot of our conversations became about Islam; he became my primary contact if I wanted to find something out about the religion. He was really dedicated from early on, and I feel that had a massive influence on me. When I made the decision to convert, Mustafa was the one who took me to the mosque.

 A few years later, we decided to go down different paths; I stayed in the US to study, whereas Mustafa travelled round the world to pursue his artistic ambitions. That was quite a challenge in relation to our friendship, but it also meant that we had a wealth of different experiences which we could share with one another and learn from. 

 From making documentaries to helping keep people out of jail and off drugs, to performing Hajj together and meeting great scholars, our friendship has grown from strength to strength. Even just going through life; raising kids, losing loved ones, helping to build healthy families and marriages has been so much easier because of our friendship. Interestingly, both our sons are called Muhammad and Abdullah.

 Mustafa has a great artistic ability and sense of professionalism. He also brings a great insight and intuition to everything that he does. We both care a lot about people, although I’m probably more expressive with my care. He puts on a hard front, but I know he’s a softie at heart! 

 Above all, both of us see our friendship as a gift from God, and feel that it was determined from before we were created. Moreover, I know that in whatever I choose to pursue, he’s got my back and he feels the same way about me.

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