NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A longtime African-American Muslim living in Nacogdoches was quick to condemn the violence by Muslim extremists.
Muhammad Abdullah told the East Texas News the Paris attacks and similar acts of violence contradict Islam. The visit timed out perfectly to see Abdullah's reaction to new video leading up to the Paris attacks.
"Brand new video of the murderous attacks at the 'Charlie Hebdo' magazine last Wednesday," commentary with the video stated.
Sounds of gunfire caused Abdullah to flinch.
"I see video like that my heart goes out to people who get hurt in situations like that," Abdullah said. "This has nothing to do with Islam."
Abdullah turned to Islam 41 years ago. He's shared the mandatory religious duty for Muslims with his brother.
"We was going to hajj," Abdullah said. "We were going to Mecca for our pilgrimage."
The trip gave Abdullah a better understanding of his adopted faith. If only the rest of the world understood as well.
"The religion of Islam is peace," Abdullah said.
Yet Abdullah knows news outlets and individuals are wondering if Islam is linked to violence.
"What they're doing is not Islam and they're not practicing Islam," Abdullah said. "They may be Muslims, but they're not practicing Islam."
Abdullah knows the extremists are mostly young Muslims recruited through social media propaganda.
"There's always a concern when the youth are being manipulated and brainwashed," Abdullah said. "It's always a concern."
Abdullah works closely with the Stephen F. Austin State University Islamic Society and new arrivals from Somalia to encourage followers to never stray from the core beliefs of Islam.
"We're not trouble makers. We're not people who are angry," Abdullah said. "We are people who have a love for the community and want to see our community grow."
Abdullah has copies of the Quran in various languages just in case it's needed to share. He supports the Lufkin mosque and two places of worship in Nacogdoches.
"The Arabic language is beautiful," Abdullah said. Then he read a passage in Arabic.
The translation is what Abdullah follows.
"In the name of God whose most gracious, most merciful, all praises due to God, the compassionate sustainer of all the world," Abdullah said.
Abdullah estimated that the Islamic community in the Nacogdoches and Lufkin area has grown to several hundred.
Followers come from all walks of life, including physicians, professionals, the service industry and students.