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Will Islam Make a Man Out of You?


Terry Holdbrooks Jr. is a former Guantanamo guard who, he says, was so impressed with the faith and perseverance of the detainees that he converted to Islam in 2003. Now he makes a living traveling around the country telling dubious and lurid tales of Guantanamo tortures for the Muslim Legal Fund of America, and explaining why he converted. “I had all the freedom in the world,” he says. “But I was waking up unhappy while these men were in cages, smiling and praying five times a day.”

For Holdbrooks, the contrast couldn’t have been more stark. Before his conversion (and for some time after it, until he rededicated himself to Islam), he was drinking, smoking, using drugs, and indulging in promiscuity – in other words, he was a relatively typical, rudderless early twentieth-century American male. The Army gave him an honorable discharge in 2005 for a “generalized personality disorder.” But then he renewed his Islamic commitment, and, according to the New York Daily News, “found discipline in prayer.”

Discipline. The Islam4theWorld website explains: “Islam is a complete way of living. Unlike other religions, Islam is not a religion consisting of a few rituals, which are to be practiced occasionally. Islam covers every aspect of life.” This is no exaggeration. The Union of Islamic World Students elucidates exactly how Islam covers every aspect of life:

Islam has rules of etiquette and manners covering every aspect of life. These are applicable for the whole society, the old and the young, men and women. These manners cover even minor acts such as entering or exiting a bathroom, posture while sitting and cleaning oneself.

The same site then approvingly quotes a hadith in which “one of the polytheists” ridiculed the Muslims, telling one of them: “Your prophet has taught you everything, even the manners of going to the toilet.” The Muslim, however, affirmed that that was indeed true:

Yes, the Prophet forbade us from facing the Qibla [the direction toward Mecca] when urinating or relieving oneself. The Prophet asked us not to use the right hand when cleaning ourselves and to use at least three stones for cleaning.

Islam, indeed, has a rule for everything that a human being could imaginably do, with the horrifying punishments of hellfire awaiting those who fail to observe them. So why would a smokin’, tokin’ American boy choose a belief system in which everything he does is regulated, and he has to devote the bulk of his time learning the arcane rules of Allah for brushing his teeth, trimming his beard, and how many stones to use when going to the bathroom?