Abu Bakr Saddique was raised by a woman known around the city of Buffalo, NY as a champion of human rights and a helper of the poor. In his neighborhood of mostly Italian-American immigrants, Saddique says there was one incident in particular that stood out for him.
“I was out front playing. We were in the projects – only black family on the street. And I saw this lady. She was a white lady. She was walking down the street and she was going from apartment to apartment – and we lived in a row house. People were slamming the door in her face. She got to our house, and my mother opened up the door and invited her in. So I’m out playing, everything is tight. We’re on welfare. I go into the house and there was this woman sitting down there – eating. I said, ‘woah, what is this? Man, she’s eating up our food.’ You know? And my mother, it was like she didn’t care. She said, ‘she needed to eat’. She gave her food and she gave her some money. Yes. That’s how she was. And she said, ‘always be kind to strangers’”.
Saddique was six and the year was 1953. He says his mother’s character and behavior in situations like this prepared the ground for his eventual conversion to Islam. Saddique first learned about the religion in fourth grade.
“There was Niagara Street Library. I got a book on the Crusades about Richard the Lionheart. That peaked my interest in Islam because they couldn’t say anything about Salahuddin Ayyubi not being good. I saw Muslims in the 50s – some NOI (Nation of Islam), some orthodox. Malcolm X also used to come to Buffalo a lot in the 50s and 60s”.
It wasn’t until 1973, when Saddique was training at an Army base in Texas, that his interest in Islam began to take shape.