Profiles in Courage: Mr. Daoud

June 4, 2018

You look into Mr. Daoud’s eyes and you see a kind soul. But if you could just look a little deeper and see his past, you might be surprised. Mr. Daoud was a member of the Black Panthers and admittedly, had a difficult time seeing perspectives other than his own. Without going into detail, you get the impression that he said things and led things, and quite possibly did things that he isn’t proud of at this point in his life. But that was his life. And it was how he lived every moment of every day. That is, until the early sixties.

It was then that Mr. Daoud found his faith. He found Islam. Through Islam, he discovered that all people are created equal and that there is love on all sides, not just one. For the first time, he could look at a white man and see peace. He could talk with an Asian man and see unity. Through Islam, his heard was changed forever and he found a love for all people, no matter the color of their skin, their religion, or where they came from. And so in 1961, he learned to speak and read Arabic and changed his name to Daoud. Daoud became a devoted Sunni Muslim.

If you ask him about the civil rights movement, Mr. Daoud’s face gets a somewhat stern and yet somewhat vacant appearance for a moment. He then looks you straight in the eyes and says, “I don’t believe in civil rights. I believe in treating people right.” But if you ask him about his faith, something different happens. He lightens and love shines through. Words like patience and perseverance become part of the conversation. For just a minute, you try to imagine the change this man made in his life. He went from an extreme of loathing and constant battle to an extreme of love and pure peace. But that’s the easy part. No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t imagine the courage that it took for this man to leave every bit of his former self behind – his name, his people, his comfort, his identity – to transform into the man that we now know as Mr. Daoud. Mr. Daoud, a humble man with a kind soul. A caring man who loves all people. A gentle man who teaches us all with his words and with his ways each and every day by having the courage to be himself.