From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Friday, September 4, 2015

Why Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar   (Public Domain)
More than 40 years ago, a young American who was raised in Catholic schools converted to Islam.

Lew Alcindor wasn’t just your average youth.  He was a 7-foot-2, African-American star of the basketball world.  The media had even pegged him as a “poster boy” for racial equality.

Alcindor, however, knew better.  For every 7-foot-2 star athlete there were hundreds of other African Americans who were struggling to even survive.  

Seeking a truth which resonated with his life experience, Alcindor read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”  Malcolm X had converted from Christianity to Islam, feeling that Christianity had supported “the racism that permeated society.”

Inspired by Malcolm X’s “transformation from petty criminal to political leader,” Alcindor then began studying the Quran.  After serious reflection, Alcindor converted to Islam in 1971.  With this came his new name, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (i.e., “the noble one, servant of the Almighty”).

In an article for Aljazeera America, Abdul-Jabbar stated that his name change was not some celebrity stunt, but rather a “manifestation” of “African history, culture and beliefs.”  He further explained that “an estimated 15 to 30 percent of slaves brought from Africa were Muslims.”

Abdul-Jabbar recently emphasized that being Muslim in America is no walk in the park.  He also emphasized the following:  One world does not have to mean one religion, just one belief in living in peace.    


Copyright September 4, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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