In his late 20s, Benouis said he went through a series of things that shook him up pretty seriously. First, he almost drowned while body surfing near Santa Cruz, which he said was a big deal for a kid who grew up in Hawaii. Then, he was deployed to Panama for Operation: Just Cause. Next, Benouis said his house was robbed and burned to the ground. And finally, his wife left him.
“I was like, ‘OK, God. You’re trying to get my attention,’” he said with a guffaw. “You’ve got it!”
Benouis picked up a Bible and other books about religion and spirituality. Eventually, he started reading the Quran and it made an impression on him quickly. “It wasn’t some particular passage,” Benouis said. But his sense was that the book was “clearly true.”
“I guess that kind of makes me a Muslim,” he remembered thinking.