“I felt very bad and I went into a state that could be clinically described as a nervous breakdown. And I understood it as a visionary journey to hell. Because everything I suffered from in that state—the inability to sleep, burning, fever…all are symptoms of hell. …. Again, God finds you where he will. …So I came out of (it saying) I still don’t know about God but I sure know hell is real! It’s real, I’ve tasted it in this life. …So coming out of that I slowly make my way back to America (from Tangiers, Morrocco). So I went home to this little flat that I had on the Lower East Side, it was my second day back, and I pick up this copy of the Koran that I’ve been reading in English, and getting no where with…. What I basically said is “God, if you’re there, give me a sign, give me something. And I closed my eyes and flipped the pages and put my finger in the text. And there I read “Know that you cannot comprehend God, but God comprehendeth all.” Well I took that as a direct, OK. Right, I can believe in a God who tells me that I cannot comprehend it. I got the message. That’s how I became a Muslim. “
I met Abdallah Schleifer in Cairo, Egypt where he was a highly regarded professor of media studies at the American University of Cairo. I should have realized that with the first name “Abdallah” and the last name “Schleifer” that this would not be any ordinary interview! I was treated to the profound story of a spiritual journey that starts with Mark Schleifer growing up as a secular Jew in Long Island to a young man first involved with Christianity and then with Alan Ginsburg and the Beat Generation where he became a Marxist and political activist…to eventually his travels to Tangiers, Morocco where he was introduced to Islam. I have loved rewatching this interview and knowing that, indeed, “God finds us where he will.” I urge those of you who are energized by hearing the complex road of each of our spiritual journeys that you listen to the entire interview. You will be richly rewarded no matter which religion or path you are on today.