Watching the documentary ‘Napoleon Life of an Outlaw’ words seem to escape reality and mind, what Mutah Beale has endured in his life, no sane mind can speak of such tragedy without losing a part of themselves. In a way, if we look at this tragedy, words seem insufficient to elaborate on the sufferings of the poor Soul.
This documentary tells the tale of Napoleon, his struggles, and how he converted to Islam. The beginning rap lyrics indeed justify and express the happenings of Mutah’s life quickly and aptly.
The life of an outlaw
The life we live ain’t for everybody
In the inner city swimming with the dead bodies
A few life jackets can’t save everybody
Runnin with the young thugs that’ll spray everybody
I need some guidance, the hood is my background
I’ m from the city where they cant put the crackdown
I’m feeling pity ‘ cause the city put the smackdown
I need some guidance, the walls closing in on me
I’ m trying to find it, it seems like its runnin’ from me
Until I came across a Book with no crookedness
It had a message, addressing the wickedness
Life of an outlaw……………….
The story of Mutah Beale is indeed a tale of triumph. Losing a loved one is painful, but losing loved ones at critical moments in life is enough to drive a person towards insanity. When a person’s earliest memory about his mother relates to biting on her skin trying to wake her up after she and his father had been shot (in front of Mutah and his brothers) – no amount of words or emotions can suffice the pain and trauma. Not to forget, Mutah and his elder brothers identified the killers as one of them was their Godfather. His relatives feared that the killers would eventually come for the kids, so they kept in hiding for some time. Ultimately, Mutah’s brother would identify the killer to send him behind bars. With no parents left to look after them, the kids moved in with their grandparents.
It was a crowded house with limited resources, and the neighborhood was no different. It was famous for drugs, gang rivalries, and police brutalities. Mutah tried to hustle drugs but soon realized it was not his thing. He found comfort in words and rap, as this not only lessened his pain but also gave him a way to express what he felt. His two friends on the block looked after him in every way possible.
One day Mutah met the mother of their old family friends and learns that their son and his childhood friend is now working with a famous rap artist named Tupac Shakur. And this remains the defining moment of Mutah’s life. When being introduced to Tupac, Mutah attempts to show Tupac his work, but he is more interested in his story. As Mutah narrates his tale, a tear rolls down the cheek of Tupac, and he says to Mutah: “I got you.”
Under the wings of Tupac Shakur, Mutah found a new life. A life of fame, luxury, and answer to his passion. Upon invitation, he came to Atlanta, where he became part of the Tupac’s Outlaws. It was a dream come true for Mutah, recording, and raping with Tupac brought fame and recognition for Mutah. He earned the name Napolean because of his height and aggressive behavior when the other members of outlaws compared his demeanor to that of the French general Napolean.
But all his dreams, and joy was about to come down crashing. The death of his loved ones altered the thinking pattern of Mutah. The sudden and heart-rending demise of Tupac was the second time Mutah Beale became an orphan. He lost his Grandmother, and the tragic death of his best friend Yufea at the hands of his cousin Rodney came as deadly blows for Mutah. And as if the tragedies were feeling lonely, another travesty fell upon him. He also lost his brother, who killed himself due to the treatment he got from the family.
These deaths made Mutah realize, every person he loved was destined to be snatched away from him. Thus he turned to drugs and drinking. During his early days with Outlaws, he got the name Napoleon due to his aggressive behavior. He now became even more violent. In his own words, he used to go to night clubs to pick up fights. His refuge in drugs and alcohol became a part of his life, serving as a distraction from the sad reality. But his moment of reckoning was near, as he got into a fight with his other younger brother. He banged his brother’s head on the floor so many times that blood filled the floor of the room. Luckily or as fate would have it, another person was there recoding in the next room and came to Mutah to pacify him.
This man: Mikal Kamil, asked some questions which were enough to change the life of Mutah. The man asked about him if the blood on the floor was his brother’s and reminded him of the fact that the blood was, in fact, of his parents. The words were the shock Mutah needed to come out of the web of sin he had woven around him.
Mutah stated that Mikal Kamil kept inviting him to the masjid, but for a while, he ignored the man. When he finally went to the masjid, he came with about 20 homies. When everyone else went to pray, Mutah said he was going to watch, but Mikal encouraged him to pray with him. When his head was on the floor in sujood, Mutah said he experienced the happiness that the money and jewelry never gave him.
That is the time when Mutah begins to research Islam and realizes that this is the answer to all his grief and unsatisfied inner self. In 2001 Mutah Napoleon Beale was invited to Islam by Mikal Kamil and took the Shahada. He also made a Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, and all of this made him feel at peace.
In many ways, this documentary is not just about Mutah’s trials and the changing of his heart. It serves the purpose of inspiration for our Black brothers and sisters that no matter how troubled the life is, despite the never-ending pains and sufferings, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Every night of oppression and oblivion is bound to give way to the morning of hope and promise.
For Mutah Beale Aka Napoleon of the Outlaws, reckoning and reformation came knocking, and it transpired his life. A man who remained intoxicated, in his own words for five years he never left home without being heavily drunk. And yet Islam made an aggressive, drunkard and drug addict truly peaceful, down to earth guy. Mutah was living a luxurious life yet had no peace of heart, owning three houses but the heartfelt as if something was missing. The inner peace is not connected with worldly riches but in the way of Islam.
The inspiration Mutah derives from Malcolm X is also worth mentioning. According to him, he had not seen Malcolm X movie with such intensity, but after the turning of the heart and getting inspired by the Quran and Islam, he saw the video again, and it was an eye-opener for him. It was his love for Islam and the desire to witness the same awe-inspiring feeling that Malcolm X had felt during Hajj.
Mutah’s devotion and inspiration for Malcolm X were such that he wanted to experience the same feelings Malcolm felt during Hajj that he set out for Hajj. The brotherhood displayed by fellow Muslims truly melted his heart. When a heart is filled with the love of Allah (SWT), No worldly desire can ever find a space in such a heart. When Muthah returned from Hajj, the Outlawz were on tour, and he decided the life filled with curses, drugs, drinking, and other things were not for him.
He believed Allah (SWT) to be the creator and ultimate provider and thus gave up the career that earned him bread for his family. He opted the way of Dawah by becoming a motivational speaker, which is light and awakening for not one’s self but everyone.
Apart from this, we learned about the purity of heart displayed by the great Tupac Shakur, when he took an orphan kid under his wing and truly made him into a fine young man that he is today. He also took to business to earn an honorable and Halal source of earning for his family.
The above-narrated tale of his trials, fame, and search for peace, followed by the few takeaways from this documentary, reflect on the inner goodness of brother Mutah Wassin Shabazz Beale because in the absence of that good in his heart nothing would have transpired. It was the universal and potent message of Islam that brought a revolution in his life.
So what does Mutah Wassin Shabazz Beale documentary teach us?
It teaches us to be consistent in dawah. Mutah stated that for a while, he kept ignoring the brother who invited him to the masjid, but eventually, he went, he said: “That’s what changed my life.”