The True Story of Brother Red (Charles ‘Ali), rahmatullah ‘alayhi.
In the early 90’s, I was working my way through college detailing cars that were being shipped to Saudi and Kuwait. My closest friend was in the shipping business. He had hired a man named Charles who was nicknamed Red for his Irish red face and hair.
Red was a veteran of Vietnam, a country man, one of the most kind-hearted and personable people I’ve ever known. When my friend opened a Halal meat shop, Red transferred with him, feeling right at home as a butcher. Sometime in 1994, Red recited the Shahada, accepted the name ‘Ali, and began living as a Muslim.
The Halal meat store closed down due to lack of business, though it was right next door to Center Masjid. One day after Jum’a, I was talking to Red and found out he had taken employment at a convenience store in West Dallas. I had been to this place before. A former roommate who had been working there knocked on my door one night, telling me he had been called by the alarm company, and that the store had been broken into. I grabbed my sidearm and rode with him to the c-store with a full magazine, round in the chamber, cocked with the safety on. This was a neighborhood you don’t mess around in. This was the second time the bars and door had been ripped off the building. The owners’ brother had already killed 2 robbers in 2 separate incidents. The owner himself would eventually end-up in ICU to have 3 bullets removed from his abdomen.
I told Red he needed to get out of there, find someplace else. He responded that the job was good for him because it was slow at night and he could enjoy reading The Book of Allah, and he didn’t know of any other opportunities like that. It was 3 or 4 weeks later that Br. Red was shot twice in the head. His assailants had waited until he was closing up the shop. He was still so new in Islam, he and his wife were unaware of Islamic burial rites. Red was buried in the blue suit his wife provided, wrapped in a white kaffin in Islamic fashion. Rahmatullah ‘Alayhi. The community scraped up a few hundred bucks as a consolation prize for his wife and 2 daughters losing the family’s only provider.
And so the question I’ve taken from this tragedy are:
1) could the community have not helped the man out a month or two while he looked for other opportunities?
2) do born Muslims not realize that a convert needs a bit of time to absorb themselves in the Deen and in The Qur’an before they can stand up in their new Faith?
3) could communities not benefit from having a database or list of temporary employers for such situations?
4) WHY WAS RED LEFT ALONE IN HIS DIFFICULTIES, FORCING HIM TO MAKE DESPERATE DECISIONS BY HIMSELF ?
What’s most unfortunate is that very little has changed. We have more buildings and more people offering lectures today, but there’s still no organization, no planning, little brain activity, and very little commitment to PEOPLE in our communities.