Muslim Convert Chokes on ‘Angry’ Tongue, Says One Too Many Words in Arabic
By Riaz Quttub
Iowa City, (IA)—A man was given CPR after he choked on his tongue while trying to enunciate a lengthy sentence in Arabic during a speech yesterday.
Muslim covert Abdul Hakim Mujahid- Ibn Saud Hamada, or better known as Frank Johnson, fell to the floor grabbing his neck and trying to pry his tongue from his esophagus. Witnesses say the incident occurred after he went over three minutes speaking in fluent Arabic. Johnson, a Cedar Rapids native showed no signs of any health related symptoms prior to taking the stage.
“One minute he was speaking casually and the next he’s on the ground struggling to breathe,” said Lewis Zaid Muhammad, who was in the front row when Johnson convulsed into spasms. “I think it had to do with all the Arabic he was trying to speak. I didn’t think it was necessary.”
Arabic arguably is considered one of the hardest languages to speak as it has a complex and unusual method in constructing words from basic root. Often times, new Muslim converts who wish to either study Islam in the Middle East or to act cool usually have struggled phonetically conveying Arabic with clear enunciation. Those who do usually will provide a few sentences before their tongue tires out and gets angry from the thickness and glossiness of verbs and nouns. However, Johnson felt comfortable rambling on a littler longer and showed no signs of verbal strain.
“There was a moment where I felt really good and the Arabic was just flowing through my mouth,” said Johnson who was later taken to Cedar Sinai Hospital and placed in critical but stable condition. “Then my tongue just flaked out and I couldn’t breathe.”
Johnson was the keynote speaker at the 5th annual Association of American Muslim Converts (AAMC) conference. The 38 year-old Product Manager for manufacturing equipment dealer Caterpillar, was invited to address the 200 participants who had come from across the Midwest to partake in the conference which discusses issues on assimilation for individuals who have recently embraced Islam.
“Sometimes, the khhhh and the ghhha became hard words to use,” said Dr. Ibrahim El-Moussa, a Linguistics expert who works for Rosetta Stone. “Old Arabic which you find in the Quran is even harder, so when you try to use the words for longer periods of time, the tongue of a Westerner has no idea what’s going on and either faints or attacks. It’s scary.” El-Moussa stated he had been told of similar accounts where tongues couldn’t handle the intensity of twisting around at such a high interval. The mind eventually cuts off the nerve communication and the tongue goes rogue. “It’s more common than you would think.” Johnson agrees.
“I gambled on speaking Arabic like a native Arab and it backfired,” said Johnson. I’m not about to try and impress anyone again because it doesn’t pay. I have never had my tongue do that—it’s like it got mad at me for playing a bad joke on it.”