In the early 90’s Oklahoma City was infested by street gangs and the gangster rap culture. During those days it was common to find a gang, at least from Briton Road, up through the East Side, towards the end of Moore and Midwest City, on almost every fourth or fifth block. One of the more prominent gangs was the Bloods. I know because I was one and a number of individuals that would eventually become Muslim were as well.
Jay Gordon was a famous banger in those days. A Blood that lived right smack in the middle of Crip central, he gained notoriety as one of the more intense Bloods in the city. What made him more famous was the fact that he lived down the street from one of the most infamous Crips in the city, Robert Malone. Robert Malone was a name the caused a Blood’s heart to tremble. Although known for his fists, Robert was immortalized by the streets as a young gangster who wouldn’t think twice about pulling a pistol and using it, earning the nickname “Shooter.”
One of the most famous stories that bleed through the veins of the hood was the time Jay fell asleep in his car in front of his house only to wake up with a pistol pointed through his window with Robert on the other end. “Waz up, cuz?” The voice tunneled its way to Jay’s heart. “You ready to die, nigga?” Then, suddenly, Robert, who was a Rolling 60s Crip, pulled off without an explanation. Until the mid 90s this incident remained one of the greatest mysteries on the street. Why didn’t Shooter kill Jay?
What made those times in the 405 (Oklahoma City area code) was not only gangs, drugs and women, but a strong feeling that folks needed to change things and improve their lives. All of us, those who will be mentioned in this story, were gang members by day, and artists of some kind at night. It was due to that that some of us began to read and ultimately became Muslim. I did, then my boy Joker, a huge DJ at that time whose Islam sent waves through the streets, and then Abdul Samad.
Abdul Samad was known as the kind of Blood that no one, not even a Blood, wanted to meet. His Islam sent even more vibrations through the hood until, in the mid 90s, the echoes of those vibrations brought someone into Islam that startled everyone – his lifelong companion and friend, Jay! Jay Gordon’s conversion was something. The bravest Blood gave it all up for the Qur’an. He held on to his din and took the name Abdul Shakur and started to take up learning and struggling with his new faith. The shock of his Islam was equal only to that of Robert Malone’s letting Jay live a few years back – a question that had no answer.
In the late 90s Abdul Samad began studying with the scholars and spreading Islam. One day he came to the Masjid and found Jay sitting with a brother that Abdul Samad knew, but couldn’t place. “Robert! Shooter! Is that you?” Abdul Samad enquired. “Yes, I’m here because I want to become Muslim. I believe that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger!” Wisdom manifest, for it was by sparing Jay’s life, that Robert would one day get his again.
I write this during the time of `Eid, a time of happiness and celebration. The example of the Prophet (s) on `Eid day was to read Surat al-Ghashiya to remind us that, although we can chill, life is quick and death is near.
Last Friday, on `Eid day, Jay (aka Abdul Shakur) was killed in an accident. We would like to take this opportunity to remember him and seek Allah’s blessing and forgiveness for him. His family is non-Muslim, and Jay recently told Shaykh Abdul Samad, “If I die, make sure I go as a Muslim and when my family comes, tell them that if they die believing in other than Allah, Hell awaits them!”
May Allah shower his blessing on Jay and give all of his homies a sense of sakinah (tranquility) and peace at the loss of their brother.