It was Divine Providence that brought him to Singapore.
Well, for me, at least.
You see, about a week before that I was at my weekly visit to Wardah Books, wasting my time chatting with Ibrahim and wasting my money buying books that is taking up waaaay too much space at my bedside.
Being the world's biggest fan of Imam al-Ghazzali, was shocked to discover that there was one book in English that I did not have.
I read that book at one sitting, and reflected what learning points can be drawn from the Black american Muslim experience.
It is an interesting case study of da'wah and religiocultural evolution.
His observation is an interesting one. The Blacks became Muslim first under the famous Nation of Islam movement. This was a highly successful movement, and the first truly indigenous Black American movement in history.
This was because the black American person was a stranger in a strange land - he was the same as a white person in language, culture, dress, etc. but he was not accepted in the same way as a white person is.
There were early attempts to return to Africa - and as such nations such as Liberia was formed - but Africa proved too far away to have any influence on the black American.
And because the centuries of slavery have deliberately forced the black slaves to throw away and forget their African culture and identity, Africanism is as alien to the black American as it is to the white American.
However, to be free from slavery was one thing, but being shackled to the culture, language and religion of their former slavers was not true liberation.
This led to a psychology of protest in the black American - and this, together with the alienation of the blacks from mainstream America - was a potent combination of the cocktail that was the success formula of the Nation of Islam movement.
Through the Nation of Islam movement, the black American had something that was uniquely his, that he could be proud of in the face of the white world, and be able to claim that he was no longer their cultural slaves anymore.
A sense of ownership.
That's what is important.
That is what is missing amongst the marginalised sections of our community - the Chinese and European and Eurasian Muslims.
Islam is seen as a Malay-owned religion.
You know that technically it is not, but for all intents and purposes it is so in our country.
In order to draw the non-Malays of Singapore into the fold of Islam, we must craft a new Singaporean Muslim identity that is independent of the Malay identity.
So far we have been thinking of addressing our non-Malay brethren by having more facilities in English such as classes and books in English, but I think that is not enough.
A model must be formulated that can be adopted by a Singaporean who wants to be Muslim without need to be Malay.
This must transcend merely the language issue, it must cover other marks of identity and culture, such as dress, behaviour, art, music, etc.
This issue was realised by our early ulamaks (see my previous posts when I said that reading the books on Islam by Shaykh al-Banjari or Shaykh Falimbani, it was almost as if they describe the Prophet (saw) as a Malay man instead of an Arab).
If we can now evolve a discourse in da'wah where we can do the same for the non-Malay Singaporean, Insha Allah, we have a new tool that would be effectual in bringing the religion of Truth to our neighbours and friends in this country.