Mr. Yahiye Adam Gadahn

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My first seventeen years have been a bit different than the youth experienced by most Americans. I grew up on an extremely rural goat ranch in Western Riverside County, California, where my family  raises  on  average  150  to  200  animals  for  milk,  cheese,  and meat. My father is a halal butcher [a butcher who slaughters in an Islamic  manner  -ed.]  and  supplies  to  an  Islamic  Food  Mart  a  few blocks from the Islamic Center in downtown Los Angeles.  

My  father  was  raised  agnostic  or  atheist,  but  he  became  a believer in One God when he picked up a Bible left on the beach. He once had a number of Muslim friends, but they've all moved out of California now. My mother was raised Catholic, so she leans towards Christianity  (although  she,  like  my  father,  disregards  the  Trinity).  I and  my  siblings  were/are  home-schooled,  and  as  you  may  know, most home-school families are Christian. In the last 8 or so years, we have been involved with some home-schooling support groups, thus acquainting me with fundamentalist Christianity.  

It  was  an  eye-opening  experience.  Setting  aside  the  blind dogmatism  and  charismatic  wackiness,  it  was  quite  a  shock  to  me when  I  realized  that  these  people,  in  their  prayers,  were  actually praying TO JESUS. You see, I had always believed that Jesus (pbuh) was, at the very most, the Son of God (since that is what the Bible mistranslates  "Servant  of  God").  As  I  learned  that belief  in  the Trinity, something I find absolutely ridiculous, is considered by most Christians  to  be  a  prerequisite  for  salvation,  I  gradually  realized  I could not be a Christian.  

In the meantime, I had become obsessed with demonic Heavy Metal  music,  something  the  rest  of  my  family  (as  I  now  realize, rightfully  so)  was  not  happy  with.  My  entire  life  was  focused  on expanding my music collection. I eschewed personal cleanliness and let my room reach an unbelievable state of disarray. My relationship with my parents became strained, although only intermittently so. I am sorry even as I write this.  

Earlier this year, I began to listen to the apocalyptic ramblings of Christian  radio's  "prophecy  experts."  Their  paranoid  espousal  of various  conspiracy  theories,  rabid  support  of  Israel and  religious Zionism, and fiery preaching about the "Islamic Threat" held for me a strange fascination. Why? Well, I suppose it was simply the need I was feeling to fill that void I had created for myself. In any case, I soon found that the beliefs these evangelists held, such as Original Sin and the Infallibility of "God's Word", were not in agreement with my theological ideas (not to mention the Bible) and I began to look for something else to hold onto.  

The  turning  point,  perhaps,  was  when  I  moved  in  with  my grandparents  here  in  Santa  Ana,  the  county  seat  of  Orange, California.  My  grandmother,  a  computer  whiz,  is  hooked  up  to America  Online  and  I  have  been  scooting  the  information superhighway since January. But when I moved in, with the intent of finding  a  job  (easier  said  than  done),  I  begin  to  visit  the  religion folders  on  AOL  and  the  Usenet  newsgroups,  where  I  found discussions on Islam to be the most intriguing. You see, I discovered that the beliefs and practices of this religion fit my personal theology and intellect as well as basic human logic. Islam presents God not as an  anthropomorphic  being  but  as  an  entity  beyond  human comprehension, transcendent of man, independent and undivided.  

Islam has a holy book that is comprehensible to a layman, and there  is  no  papacy  or  priesthood  that  is  considered  infallible  in matters of interpretation: all Muslims are free to reflect and interpret the book given a sufficient education. Islam does not believe that all men  are  doomed  to  Hell  unless  they  simply  accept  that  God (apparently  unable  to  forgive  otherwise)  magnanimously  allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross to enable Him to forgive all human beings who just believe that He allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross... Islam does not believe in a Chosen Race. And on and on...  

As I began reading English translations of the Qur'an, I became more  and  more  convinced  of  the  truth  and  authenticity of  Allah's teachings  contained  in  those  114  chapters.  Having  been  around Muslims in my formative years, I knew well that they were not the bloodthirsty,  barbaric  terrorists  that  the  news  media  and  the televangelists  paint  them  to  be.  Perhaps  this  knowledge  led  me  to continue  my  personal  research  further  than  another  person  would have. I can't say when I actually decided that Islam was for me. It was really a natural progression. In any case, last week [November 1995 -ed.]  I  went  to  the  Islamic  Society  of  Orange  County in  Garden Grove and told the brother in charge of the library I wanted to be a Muslim. He gave me some excellent reading material, and last Friday I took Shahada [accepted the creed of Islam -ed.] in front of a packed masjid.  I  have  spent  this  week  learning  to  perform Salat  and reflecting  on  the  greatness  of  Allah.  It  feels  great  to  be  a  Muslim! Subhaana rabbiyal 'azeem! 


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