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John Coltrane and Bilal Philips: Two Converts’ Paths

A Love Supreme: "May we never forget that in the sunshine of our lives, through the storm and after the rain—it is all with God—in all ways forever.”

by
Robert Spencer

Bio

March 15, 2013 - 7:00 am

After this acknowledgment, Coltrane continued, “as time and events moved on, a period of irresolution did prevail. I entered into a phase which was contradictory to the pledge and away from the esteemed path; but thankfully, now and again through the unerring and merciful hand of God, I do perceive and have been duly re-informed of His OMNIPOTENCE, and of our need for, and dependence on Him. At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT…IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY—A LOVE SUPREME–.” His conversion was not to a particular religion or creed, but it was a conversion nonetheless, heartfelt and unmistakable.

Several years after Coltrane wrote that, a young Canadian named Dennis Phillips moved with his parents to the Malaysian state of Sabah, where his parents were teaching and acting as advisers to the ministry of education. Dennis, a guitarist, began playing publicly and won some note as “the Jimi Hendrix of Sabah.” But soon Dennis’s parents decided that the aspiring young guitarist was too distracted in Malaysia, and sent him back to Canada. He entered Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, where he continued playing guitar professionally.

But dissatisfaction gnawed at him. He embarked on a search for meaning in life that led him to explore Hinduism, Buddhism, Communism, the Black Panthers, the Black Muslims, and finally orthodox Sunni Islam. He became a Muslim in 1972 and took the name Bilal. His resolution to follow the Straight Path led him to give up music. He later explained about his guitar playing that “when I became a Muslim, I felt uncomfortable doing this and gave it up both professionally and privately.”

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All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
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Those basement clubs in NYC must have been something. Would love to go back in time to listen to the music -- scotch on the rocks in one hand with a lucky strike burning in my ash tray. Ah, pre Bloomberg NYC. Laughing at eternity
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A God who gives us life, just to have us bow at his 'awesomeness.' Sounds maturbatory to me, not creative.

A God who gives us life and offers us a path to his discovery. inspiring us by his creation so that we can, of our will offer new creation, not in competition with, but in celebration of his gifts...IS GOD.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with a argument." It appears Mr. Phillips is doing nothing but going along with the crowd simply because he's in rebellion. Islam is not a religion that has anything at all to do with the Jehovah God we serve. Yahweh, the Lord Jesus Christ, The One True God, in Three Persons. Phillips has been deceived and is on the wrong path, unfortunately. The True God we serve would NEVER condone the murder of ANYONE, and it's all based on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think Mr. Phillips needs to understand that God is the ONLY giver of life and death. Allah is nothing but an imaginary idol, and if he ever was a person, his bones are in the ground along with every one of the world's idols. But Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, and now alive and living in His people. the Scriptures plainly say in Psalm 150 to PRAISE THE LORD, with stringed instruments, trumpet sound, harp and lyre, as well as resounding cymbals. Coltrane answered God's call on his life, but his flesh was weak and the enemy took him from us at a very early age. But he is in heaven with Jesus now!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bilal Philips conversion and abandonment of music illustrates why I believe Islam to be stuck in the 7th century.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Powerful piece.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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