In the quiet northwest corner of Omaha there is a home adorned with colorful signage blaring pro-Muslim and pro-African slogans. Inside the home a man will be sitting among roaches and rats who will smile and welcome you. His name is Lutfullah Wali and he is one of the first Muslims in Nebraska. He embraced the faith in the 1950′s after fighting in World War 2, traveled across the world and then single-handedly built the first mosque in Omaha.
The man is now over the age of 100 and spends most of his time at home. He is fiercely independent and doesn’t like anyone telling him what to do. When you will try to ask him a question about his life, he will rudely interrupt you and demand that you go upstairs.
“All your answers are upstairs. You will know everything from 1896 to today.”
After looking through all this, you will be worried and concerned about Lutfullah’s mental health. But he doesn’t want your pity. He already knows what you must be thinking. He will argue with you that you had already made up your mind the minute you met him.
“People think I’m crazy,” he will say to you, “but I’m not crazy. Everyone else is messed up.”
All the answers are there in the walls but he feels that you won’t see them. It’s your prejudice that’s keeping you from seeing the truth.
“People think I’m crazy, but I’m not crazy. Everyone else is.”
You will wonder if he thinks of himself as a prophet or inspired by the Divine. To this thought, he will be offended.
“I don’t talk that kind of shit. This is for real. I am no holy ghost man. This is for real. I believe in God and am a Muslim. And anyway, everything is inspired by God.”
When it will come time for you to leave, Lutfullah will get up from his chair. Don’t try to help him. He will push your hand away or cuss at you. He will take his time walking you out of his small house. Stay in front or behind him, he doesn’t care. He might get in his large van and move it from one parking spot to another and then get out and just sit around his house. He will look disturbed, but Lutfullah is fine. Leave him be.
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