Day 10

Nebraska

08/12/2011

20 Comments

LUTFULLAH’S WALLS
by Bassam Tariq

Lutfullah's house.

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.”

Lutfullah Wali sits near his entrance.

The living room is converted into a small prayer space.

The walk up the stairs.

The door to one of the bedrooms.

Inside the bedroom. Scribbles and drawings done by Lutfullah.

One wall honors Elijah Mohammad and his contributions.

A stained bed and a small urine bucket.

Lutfullah sketched a large map of the US and then drew "Dajjal," the anti-christ, on top of it.

Door to the master bedroom

Lutfullah is cripple and uses a cane to walk. Here, his walker sits on a wall dedicated to his years in the military.

Aman reads the writing in the master bedroom.

Lutfullah has a small area commemorating his time in the military. He served in the army during World War 2.

The bathroom

Lutfullah sits in his van.

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.

Talkback and tell us what you think! We encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions. All
points of view are welcome as part of a civil dialogue.

While we post most Talkback, we reserve the right to not publish Talkback comments if they do
not meet the Talkback guidelines.

We do not post the following types of submissions:

* Obscenity, indecency, hate speech, personal attacks, libel, defamation, or harassment;
* Commercial prompts or spam; or
* Off-topic posts.

Comments over 300 words may be edited for length or not approved for posting.

We welcome letters to the editor. With your submission, please include your email address so a
response may be sent to you directly. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

We reserve the right to remove posts that do not follow these guidelines. By submitting
comments, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which include more details.

Thank you for your Talkback.

  • Canadian Sister

    I really appreciate the incredible diversity in the people that you profile. 
    Just in case you forgot: you guys are doing a great job, and insha’Allah a great service to the community =). Masha’Allah.

    Blessings!

  • Micheletariq75

    mashallah.

  • HananeFromFrance

    MashaAllah,

    Allah guide vos pas afin de nous révélez la grande et belle diversité de notre communauté car n’oublions que “l’habit ne fais pas le musulman”!

    Qu’Allah vous guide et soutient dans votre projet.

    • Rehan Tariq

      what this guy said…

  • HananeFromFrance

    A noter la propreté impeccable de l’espace prière!

  • Matahmet

    I think, he is not crackpot. he is normal. he is a kind of derwish (like sufis) with love of Allah, Peace be upon him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chowdhuryrashed Rashed Chowdhury

    Really interesting! As with HananeFromFrance, the beauty and cleanliness of the prayer nook really stand out for me. Also, I love the fact that he too (like David and Nor earlier) has a considerable National Geographic collection (see the fifth photo from below, the one that deals with his WWII service). 

  • Ayda

    Reminds me of an excerpt from the book ‘Blink”. We shouldn’t be too quick to judge people.
    Keep on with these great posts, bros! 

  • http://www.melibeeglobal.com Melibee Global

    I just think of him as an innovator – he created a Facebook wall before Facebook! :)

  • mashallah

    i’d like to know more about his journey to islam? and more about his story generally.

  • Rehan Tariq

    man that room looks like something out of a terrible horror movie. you should have went there at night, would’ve been much creepier!

  • http://amenaskhan.wordpress.com Amenaskhan

    He certainly doesn’t look over 100, mashAllah.  Great find. Its scary. I imagine you guys walked in front of him and ran. 

  • guest

    Hi,

    Love  the story, but please update your terminology when referring to disability.

    Calling the man a cripple is akin to calling him a Negro or worse. It is outdated and offensive language and I know that is not how you boys roll.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.thirtynights.blogspot.com Imaad S.

    This is a really interesting man, and his “Dajjal” mural is pretty amazing!

  • Fawaad

    He is an inspiration to many american muslim brothers that I know. The call him ‘The Walli of Omaha’.

  • Adnan A.

    he aint no crazy man! he jes being normal. May Allah bless him.

  • Anonymous

    Sufi style….all mural image was define what he was believe Allah SWT & Muhammad SAW

  • http://www.facebook.com/toyron.muhammad Toyron Yasin Muhammad

    I think you are very disrespectful, my uncle is over 100 yrs. old, he was over seas in madrasa before Malcolm X accepted Islam! whoever you are, he honored you into his home, as he has done for countless others, and no one before you has taken advantage of his hospitality. How dare you publicly humiliate him! I can tell you have no ikkram el muslimeen, if you had any faith you would have covered his faults, given that he is over 100 yrs. old! as you have already mentioned. my uncle is respected world wide for his honesty,integrity & hard work in da’wah, he should never have been paraded or duped in this way! I can assure you that,had anyone of us who honor and respect him been present for your fiasco, you would have been the recipient of a very harsh lesson in etiquette!! (As-salaam-alikum)

  • brother K

    yup, that is brother wali. By my knowledge, he is at least 102 at this point. If you’re patient, he can tell you about Moorish Americans, Nation of Islam’s origin (along with Elijah Muhammed), Warith Deen Muhammed, and India (before Pakistan), since he was there. Also about Dawwa.

  • Jennifer

    “Brother” and I use the term loosely, you were quite disrespectful in your reporting of our elder Muslim brother Lutfullah. Why not shine a more extensive light on the fact that Lutfullah, a centenarian- a designation you and I could only hope for – not only reverted to Islam but built a masjid with his own hands (i.e. during a period of racial tension and segregation in Omaha, Nebraska)? Have you built a masjid with your own hands or even a bird house for that matter?

    Furthermore, in addition to your comment, “The living room is converted into a small prayer space”, why not praise the fact that in relation to other rooms of his house adorned with “scribbles and drawings . . . a stained bed and a small urine bucket”, our elder brother’s prayer space is clean and free of photographs, as a means of honoring Allah and holding Him in awe. May this be one of the reasons that Allah has preserved him for so long?

    Lastly, Brother Lutfullah says that he isn’t crazy; everyone else is. Maybe he’s right. Maybe when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said to give glad tidings to the strangers (or according to your fault-finding reporting, 21st Century “crazies) he was also right.

    May Allah forgive me, you, and the rest of us imperfect Muslims.
    AMIN.


Switch to our mobile site