My name is Abdullah Michael Coonce and this is my story, or at least a brief summary of how I rediscovered the Muslim I was born to be, but raised to forget.
I come from a very broken home. My father had a severe drug problem and was physically abusive. So my mother divorced him and left with me and my big sister when l was about a year old.
Thus I never got to know my father until my teen years. By then it was too late, for I had developed severe mental problems of my own.
While my mom did the best she could, she too had huge problems. She was battling her own demons from her childhood which was filled with all kinds of abuse. So she tried to cure her problems with alcohol and several suicide attempts, many of which I witnessed first hand as a little boy.
So as you can imagine, my childhood was chaotic, unstable and filled with dramatic experiences, I developed too many mental disorders to list here along with a violent and rebellious temper.
I found myself on the wrong side of the law for the first time when I was just eleven years old, but it would not be the last. When I was sixteen, I met a girl who stole my heart. We got married and she gave birth to the most beautiful little boy. I have never seen my son. But along with our son came something neither I nor his mother where prepared to deal with, responsibility!
The burdens of adulthood quickly brought out the worst in me. All of my childhood mental problems manifested themselves into a man my wife could not live with. So with no real change for the better my wife took off with my son and left me all alone.
My entire life was destroyed before I was twenty, so I coped with my loss the only way I knew how, to make things worse, much worse, I shot and killed my sister’s boy friend during one of their frequent domestic disputes. He was bigger than me and when I intervened in their escalading pushing match, he charged me, but I had a gun.
I was arrested several days later and charged with murder. After a long drawn out court battle I was convicted and sent to prison. You would think my problems worsened at this point. Instead, prison was the beginning of a complete transformation of my life. I was at rock bottom and did not like it.
I had ruined my life, my ex-wives’ life, our son’s life, and even took a life. I could rot in prison for the next twenty years or I could confront my demons head on and defend them. I decided to stand up and be a man.
My first step was to go to the prison church. Maybe Jesus could save me. As I studied the bible I knew something was wrong right at the start. How could Jesus be God or apart of God and be crucified by piney little humans? So I moved on my spiritual journey alone for a couple years until this little white guy moved into my cell with me.
My new cell mate seemed strange to me at first. He had a beard and made these strange prayers. I am white as well and so I just thought this guy was crazy. He must have known I was feeling uncomfortable because he began to explain his religion, Islam. I did not even know white people could be Muslim! I had to know more.
And so the call was made and with-in a couple of days of reading Qur’an and asking questions, I answered. I have been Muslim now for nearly six years and have never thought twice about it. Sure there have been times when I have been studying Fiqh or Qur’an and Satan would try to through a doubt in my heart, but Alhamdulillah, I shake it before it ever sets in.
I am twenty nine now and have been incarcerated for nine years. I can honestly say I am almost the man I want to be now. I owe it all to Allah the most high for returning me to Islam, the religion we are all born with but sometimes made to forget.
Abdullah Michael Coonce