Al-Faisal in his youth
Family, friends hold fond memories of him
BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
RELATIVES and friends of Jamaican Trevor Forrest, known internationally as the Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, have nothing but fond memories of him as a youth.
"We had to go to church every Sunday. We couldn't miss a Sunday," said Marshall Forrest, the youngest of the four siblings. "We had to go to Sunday School and Trevor was not exempted. We grew up in Christianity."
He added that his brother was jovial and humorous, certainly with family members.
"He would have everybody in stitches," he told the Sunday Observer of his brother, who was dubbed the mascot of the family. "Especially when we go on trips, he would mimic everybody."
Outside of the family, Trevor was considered wise beyond his years as he would spend countless hours reasoning with adults and was hardly ever seen with people his own age.
"People used to tell him he was wise beyond his age. He was a very eloquent speaker and his vocabulary was very large. He was nicknamed 'Dictionary'," Marshall said. "Persons used to love hearing him talk."
Trevor's pastime was spent playing football and checkers, and eating.
"Man, he loved to eat," Marshall recalled smiling.
"Him really love him food. He would play football a lot; he loved that. But when it came to checkers... I used to kick him ass all the time," Marshall added laughing.
Although they were only two years apart in age, he looked up to Trevor.
"He was my brother but he was a role model to me. In fact, he was very disappointed when I did not follow him into the Muslim religion. But Islam was hard for me to accept because I wasn't born into that religion," he said.
Marshall also has fond memories of their lives as children going to the barber to give him strict instructions to "shine off our heads" before pretending to be Kong Fu experts.
Born September 10, 1963, Trevor grew up in the small rural district of Point in St James. He attended Springfield All-Age then Maldon Primary and Junior High, where family and friends believe he received his first Islamic teaching from a member of staff.
However, the influence this had on the teenager, was, in Marshall's opinion, limited.
"I believe he had other outside forces influencing him because there were things that he could teach that teacher. He (teacher) was not into it as much as Trevor was," Marshall said.
Today, no one knows the whereabouts of that teacher.
Meanwhile, Trevor never got in trouble at school. He was always too busy learning.
"He was deputy head boy and I was right behind him," Marshall said. "The same (deputy head boy) pin that he wore, is the same one I wore a year later."
A past teacher at the primary school Trevor attended expressed shock at news that he has been accused of inciting murder and stirring racial hatred.
"No sah, I find that hard to believe. He was very quiet at school, never troubled anyone," said the educator who requested anonymity. "It's really hard to make the connection between the boy I knew and the person they say he is today."
A former classmate said he knew Trevor from the '70s as a bright youth who read a lot.
"Him used to read a lot of story books," said the man who also spoke on condition of anonymity. "He was a very good story reader. Even if you read the story yourself, it just sound more interesting when Trevor read it," he said. "We used to run up and down and play cricket and football together. We used to socialise a lot."
He added that when Trevor was deported to Jamaica from England in 2007, they met in the town square and had a regular conversation.
"He didn't greet me as a Muslim or anything like that, but as a friendly person on mutual grounds. Everybody I see him deal with when he came here, he deal with them as a normal person -- not as a Muslim," he said. "But you done know, people can have two face under one hat. Anytime you hear him start using names like infidel, is a radical move that. But I know him from those times as a good youth; I don't know him as any notorious person. It was only since he has been in the news that I know him as radical."
After graduating from Maldon Secondary School at 19, Trevor went to Guyana where he studied Islam for a year. Upon his return, he went to Saudi Arabia where he spent another seven years studying the religion. This was where he learnt fluent Arabic and became a sheikh.
Today, the Muslim cleric is married to two wives and has three children living in England. Both of his marriages are said to be in tact.