Kevin James is a supervising fire marshal in Brooklyn, New York, who converted to Islam as a young man.
“I felt a kinship to Muhammad personally, and there are probably about a billion Muslims who would say the same thing: personal, this personal kinship that they feel with him.”
Muhammad grew up an orphan
“I’m not an orphan, I have two parents. But, my position in society, I’ve always felt separate. America is a racial nation, and either you are black, white, Italian, Jewish, or you are this and that. So, coming from a mixed background I’ve felt like kind of in limbo.
My father is Native American, an African-American, and my mother is Jewish. They were very unreligious, I would say, to the point of being atheist or agnostic.
As children, I recall we got a dreidel on Hanukkah. We had a menorah in the house, and we also had a Christmas tree and we exchanged presents. So, I just never really identified with any religion. But what was always emphasized were discussion and dialogue and seeking for the truth.
So, I went through a period of trial and error searching, and I stumbled, I guess, I almost literally stumbled on Islam.”
What appealed to me was the universality of the message.
Any religion that gives a code of righteous ethical conduct and respect and gratitude and obedience to one being, is Islam. So, here’s a book, the Holy Qur’an, that validates other religions, the diversity of mankind, and puts the onus of salvation on the believer.
The Qur’an teaches you that the saving of one life is as if you saved all of humanity (Al-Ma’idah 5:32). And, that’s one of the reasons why I became a firefighter. What nobler calling is there than to save a person’s life, to save people, and to save their property?
From being a firefighter, I became a fire marshal, that’s an arson investigator. That’s another form of prevention, of saving lives. A firefighter, he’ll risk his life to save you whether you’re black, brown, red, Jew, Muslim, Christian, or atheist. He’s not asking you what your philosophy is or looking at your color. He’s looking to get you out of the building. That’s why many people say that firefighting is a calling, because of that self-sacrifice, the willingness to just put others before yourself.
To be a good Muslim, you serve people, and specifically, Prophet Muhammad, he asked the question to people around him:
Do you love your Creator?
Then serve your fellow man first.
Taken with slight editorial modifications from a film titled: Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet.