Each weekday morning, 28-year-old Reginald A. Hawkins Jr. dresses in coat and tie and makes his way from his Hyaftsville home through rush hour traffice to suburban Virginia, where he works as an insurance claims appraiser.
When Hawkins returns in the afternoon to the quiet middle-income neighborhood where he paid $34,000 for his modest town house last fall, he is greeted by his wife and two small children.
Hawkins does not appear to be much different than other young, ambitious members of the suburban middle-class, but one important fact separates him from his neighbors. Hawkins is a Hanafi Muslim.
Being a Hanafi Muslim, Hawkins said in a long interview recently, not only separates him from his neighbors, but has also made him the object of police surveillance, a federal raid in which his front door was battered down and his family frightened, and of other forms of discrimination in a society he believes to be bent on stamping out religions other than Christianity or Judaism.
When Hawkins himself turned from Christianity eight years ago (his father is a Protestant minister) and embraced the Islamic faith, he took the Muslim name, Abdul (servant of Allah) Salim. (He will be identified by his Muslim name in the remainder of this article.)
Salim is the brother-in-law of Hanafi Muslim leader Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, whose family - including five children and two adults - were brutally murdered in their upper 16th Street NW home in 1973.
Last month, Khaalis led 12 Hanafis in a takeover of three Washington building and seizure of 134 hostages in an effort to avenge the deaths of his family members whose killers he believed had not been punished severely enough by the courts.
Salim said he had no prior knowledge of the March 9 siege. In fact, he said, he was at work at the time and heard about the incident over a radio broadcast.
"When I first heard it I didn't know that was us," Salim said. "I called the (Hanafi Muslim) center to see it every-one there was OK, simply because I didn't know who the Muslims were in the takeover.
"A half hour later, I found out that the men who had seized the hostages were Hanafis," added Salim. "I was completely caught by surprise. I knew nothing of plans for the takeover. But my first statement after hearing the news was 'All praises to Allah.' It's been a long time coming.
"Nobody really wants to take the time to learn about Islam," he said. "This (takeover) will at least start people to thinking about Islam. Even if it's negative, at least they will, start thinking."
Two weeks ago, Salim's home was raided by Prince George's County police officers and agents of the Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who were searching for illegal firearms and other weapons.
The agents emerged from the house, Salim said with two revolvers, two rifles and a shotgun. Salim said the weapons, which were all licensed, were purchased shortly after the 1973 murders in order to guard against attacks on his home.
Salim's home is among five Hanafi residences that have been raided since the takeovers under a federal law that prohibits members of any organization that has shown a tendency to be violent from owning firearms.
Salim said that only women and children at home on the night of March 31, when federal agents used axes to chop through the front door of his home. He said the women and children were held at gun point and the agents manhandled his wife, who is four months pregnant, and another woman, who is eight months pregnant.
"We were feeding the children and having our dinner when we heard loud knocks and kicks at the door. A man was yelling, 'Open the door'" said Salim's wife, Umme, as she recalled the raid.
"I went to the blinds and looked out. I saw a lot of men crouching and standing and all of them had rifles and shotguns," she said. "I didn't know who the men were. They didn't identify themselves until they got inside the house.
"The children were frightened. The first thing I thought about was the 1973 murders. I thought maybe someone had come to kill us like they did our nieces and nephews," said Mrs. Salim, who wore a Muslim headdress.
While another woman and her children rushed to find safety, Mrs. Salim said she hurried her two children to an upstairs bedroom where the family's weapons were kept on the top shelf of a closet.
"I locked and bolted the bedroom door and tried to find a safe place to put the children so I could get the weapons," she said. "By that time, the (the police) had chopped down the front door. Then I heard them breaking down my bedroom door. The locks didn't hold and when the door opened there were these men holding guns on me and my children.
"I didn't know if they were getting ready to pull the triggers. I got into a scuffle with two of the men trying to defend my children," she continued. "The men threw me on the bed. While the children were crying and fighting with the men, several of them grabbed my arms, twisted them behind my back and handcuffed me.
Jamila Latif, 28, wife of Abdul Latif, who is one of the 11 Hanafi gunmen arrested last month, is eight months pregnant. She said she had just come out of the shower and was dressing when she heard the chopping at the front door.
"I had just enough time to grab a dress and a hat before this guy kicked in my bedroom door," she said. "He just busted in waving his gun. I said, 'Wow, is this fool going to shoot me?' I'm due next month. This guy kept grabbing me, trying to force me down the stairs and I kept yanking away from him.
"When we got downstairs in the living room, they made us put our hands up against the wall," continued Mrs. Latif. "One of 'em came over to me and said, 'What's that bulge under your dress? I told him I was eight months pregnant, what did he expect."
After a 90-minute search, Mrs. Salim said the agents finally left the house with the front door barely hangling on its hinges. Salim has since patched the door with pieces of plywood and keeps it closed by wedging a large wood chip behind it.
Howard Criswell, an ATF spokesman, denied that the raid on the Salim residence was conducted improperly. He said that it is standard procedure for agents to clearly identify themselves before entering a residence.He said the agents wear their badges on their breast pockets and enter the building with their search warrants in their hand.
Since becoming a Muslim eight years ago, Salim said he and other Hanafi Muslims he knows have experienced constant harassment from police and other people who don't want to see Islam flourish in America.
Primarily at fault, he said, are what he calls "Zionist Jews," whose quest throughout history, he declared, has been to destroy the Islamic faith and ensalve its believers.
"The Zionists teach that anyone who is not Jewish is a beast," Salim said. "In fact it was the Zionists that were the cause of us being taken out of Africa and being brought into this country."
"Between the years 1200 and 1600, three fourths of the known world was Muslim," he said. "Africa had most of the world's Muslims. Yet we had never heard anything about them except in cases like 'Roots' where Alex Haley says the Mandenka people were Muslims.
"Before the slave trade started, there was no such thing as race," Salim continued. "Europeans really didn't know we existed in Africa. They only people that had any contact with us were the Jews.
"During the Spanish Inquisition, about 1480, Jews were being persecuted and killed by the Spaniards," said Salim. "To save their own skins, the Jews led Spanish slave traders to the part of Africa where they could find Muslims who were sold into slavery."
"This country was founded on a principle of basic religious freedoms," said Salim, who spoke softly and wore a small prayer cap and loosely fitting tunic during a recent interview at his home. "But Muslims are hated in America."
"Islam preaches logical interaction and reason," he added. "We believe in working hard to take care of our families. Islam preaches that we must support the country we are born in and do all that we can to better our country."
Six years ago when he was employed by a major insurance company, Salim used his old name - Reginald A. Hawkins Jr. - in an effort to avoid any discrimination because of his faith.
At the office - where it is still not generally known that he is a Hanafi Muslim - Salim dressed in coat and tie and kept his faith a carefully guarded secret. At home he could change into prayer cap and tunic, pray openly to Allah and study from the Koran in privacy.
Like most members of the Hanafi Muslim community in Washington - which is estimated to number between 100 and 300 - Salim is from a middle class family. He is articulate and well-educated.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Salim is the son of Reginald A. Hawkins Sr., a dentist, theologian and twice gubernatorial candidate. Salim graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied ancient history and African linguistics. He later studied African history at Howard University. He said he became interested in the Muslim Jai Min college after a visit to the Muslim regions of Africa.
The Hanafi Muslims' faith can be seen in a number of subtle ways but is more evident in their home than in public. On the streets, some Hanafi men wear small prayer caps and tunics while others wear typical American clothing. Hanafi women also vary in their style of dress, alternating between heavy veils and full-length dresses to regular dresses or slacks.
At Salim's home a visitor was requested to remove his shoes before entering the house. Such a practice is followed by all Muslims, who regard their home as a sanctuary as well as a residence.
Salim offered his visitor coffee, a gesture of hospitality that he said is customary in a Muslim home. On his living room walls were two framed prayers, written in Arabic.
Hanafi Muslims are required to pray five times a day, according to Salim. Before praying, he said, the worshiper must take two baths and put on special prayer clothes. For that reason, many persons who embrace the faith quit jobs which require a regid time schedule and become taxi cab drivers in order to have the flexibility needed to pray at the required periods.
In addition, Salim, who owns a cab and drives occasionally, said many Hanafis also drive taxis because they want to be independent. "We've found that buying a cab is the quickest way of becoming our own boss," Salim said.
Salime said that while Islam teaches humanity and brotherhood, the faith also teaches that there are times when a Muslim must fight. "It is an honor for a Muslim to fight to the death defending his family and his faith," said Salim. "And if he is a true Muslim, he will do that."