We conducted an interview based on 25 questions with a Bay Area Muslim / Father / Husband and Producer/Emcee named Jihad (Al- Nafs) aka: Khateeb. He was born Harvey Harcum in Virginia, USA. He converted or rather reverted to Islam and has been a practicing Muslim for 18+ years, since 1994.
The question and answer session began with one general question regarding his path to accepting the religion of Islam. As a Muslim myself and a long time associate of Harvey Harcum. I found his questions a bit contrived and purposely safe. Yet, this is not a contradiction to the nature of being Muslim. As you will see many reverts in the United States have accepted Islam due to its clarity and structured nature in order to want to know what Allah (God) wants from us. This predisposition is a constant theme through out the interview and is in my opinion integral to Muslim converts or reverts in the west.
I was also a bit reluctant to write this expose'/article in an interview style. I felt that the person whom I was interviewing was on guard due to the nature of the perception of Islam in our current state. With that being said, I will attempt to translate and articulate with the greatest of clarity and safety a testimony of a Muslim brother.
The interview began by a simple question of asking how long has he been Muslim. I love to ask reverts this question because taking Shahaada is a very joyous and memorable occasion for reverts. They always remember each detail and there is certainly a back to story of humbled circumstance that warms your heart to hear.
After receiving DAWA from someone that he admired, Harvey Harcum decided to Take Shahada on his birthday in 1994.
The importance of shared information and the character of the person delivering the information was a persistent theme in the interview. Leading up to taking Shahada Harvey experienced what only could be described as a deep yearning for knowledge in regards to Islam. He said that Spikes Lee’s “Malcolm X” was a huge influence on him. Which makes a case for positive images of Muslims in the media affects people’s perception of Islam in a posiyive way.
"At the time I didn’t know anything about Islam, but I knew there was something pulling me towards that,” He said.
His reflective nature seemed to find a home in Islam. The significance of taking his Shahada on his birthday came into existence by way of Dawa and his own predisposition for understanding our human pre-existing natures as beings whom have submitted our souls willingly to Allah as Muslim. “We where born in a state where we believed in god.” Harvey replied.
Growing up in a Christian country, family and environment did not seem to offer him as well as other reverts enough in terms of understanding what Allah wants from us. Whether in church and bible study on Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesday many have found that Islam or submission to god is a natural structure or inclination within our selves. While Christianity and the bible have served as a mere thoroughfare for many, whom are traversing back to our true nature as Muslims or people whom submit to god.
Harvey replies: “When we come into this world the point of this life is to try and remember and prepare our- selves to return to the god (ALLAH) that we have already bore witness to.”
When asked what attracted him to the religion of Islam. Harvey replied over and over,
‘The People”, ‘Definitely the character of the people.” Islam has a strict hygiene and criterion for prayer and guidance.
This also was a key point for Harvey ‘s accepting Islam into his life. The nature of people and their differences have also been a plus for Harvey in his acceptance of Islam. The difference in people food and culture in Islam is diverse yet unified under Allah by the 5 pillars of Islam. This is a proof to the true nature of mans capability of uniting in the face of adversity and mankind’s ability to overcome, overlook and progress with the guidance of Allah.
The Islamic structure is a protection for all facets of life. Harvey explained that Islam helped him learn about harmful aspects of life for him and his family. Coupled with the joys of fatherhood, the ability to conduct prayer with his family 5 times every day is another aspect of unity that Islam promotes in the family.
When most artist are trying to come to grips with themselves and their surroundings, Jihad Al-Nafs (Harvey), A hip-hop emcee and producer has found a wealth of subject matter and material inspired by his life in submission to Allah.
“If I didn’t have that type of substance, I wouldn’t want to rhyme (rap) or try to emcee at all, Period, He says.
Article Appeared in fUNCTIONAL No. 01 Spring 2013