Hamza's Interview: Stop Collaborating

Hamza Pérez talks to an ACLU attorney in this additional scene from New Muslim Cool. He explains that he was dismissed from his prison outreach work because of an old interview published on the Internet. He points out that some of the youthful opinions he'd held about religion have evolved, and are reflected in a more recent interview that has also been published online.

Sara from the ACLU and Hamza look at his original 2003 interview.

Sara: You say here, "Stop collaborating and sleeping with the snake."

Hamza: (laughs) Oh my god. I mean, that's like so young of me, you know what I'm saying?

Sara: [It's from] five years ago.

Hamza: Yeah. If you read the [more recent] article that I'm telling you, then it has a whole different tone, because it was done after this. And you could see the difference of approach, and the different words that I use.

Sara: This just illustrates the problems of the Internet. Stuff you say five years ago can come back and bite you, right? (laughs)

Hamza: Yeah, but if we pull up the other one (the more recent interview). You go to muslimhophop.com

Sara: Is this [the interview]? Because I had clicked on this first when I tried to find that interview.

Hamza: Let me see. Yeah. (Reading to himself) "What are some of the key issues you're telling in your songs?" They also asked me if we had a message for the youth, and what I'd like to say to my friends.

[In the interview, I say:] Please pray for us and our families, and ask God to forgive us for all of our sins on the day of reckoning. And ask God to make us and our children to be among those who will be in the armies of the Mahdi — that's like with Jesus Christ, which is to allow us to be with Jesus Christ when he returns and the people are with him.

Also, to be respectful to the Muslims and non-Muslims. To sit with scholars and learn Islam. Command the good and forbid the evil in yourself, and then in others. Do not examine the faults of others — like if you are their lord, but yet examine your own faults as if you were a slave. Treat your parents with love. Whether they're Muslim or they're not Muslim.

Sara: It's a little bit different than the first [interview]! (laughs)

Hamza: Yeah. [The first interview took place] before I knew any or all of this stuff. This interview after me studying... So you can tell the difference, you know? And that [interview] is what I wish they would have read.

Sara: Right.

Hamza: I gave them my personal blog and my website, I showed them so they can read everything that I put on.

Even before I knew they were gonna look at it, I showed it to them. So if you go to myspace.com/shehuprogram, you can see how I'm trying to reach out to non-Muslims, and how I'm able to work with people. It shows the similarities in the religion and stuff like that.

So I gave them access to that site so they can keep on checking up on it. I post all my stuff on here, and I gave them all the proof of what we do in Islam and the Bible. Because all of it exists in the Bible.

So that's what it is. If you scroll down, you see that's the proof of putting your forehead on the ground during prayer in the Bible. There's also proof for washing up and other types of stuff that's in the Bible.

I try to put myself out there for them to check up on me any time, or come by my class any time. I'll teach my class right in front of the officer. I have no problem with it.

Sara: And have they been nice to you since you've been back? The corrections officers?

Hamza: Oh yeah, real nice. A lot of the officers, they like me a lot, you know? They were really surprised I got taken out. So it was real good [to return to the prison classes].

Sara: They know you'll sic the ACLU on them (laughs).

Hamza: I'm connected.