Younger wife of Al-Amin had `rugged' life

Former H. Rap Brown married teen as Muslim

April 09, 2000|By COX NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA -- The younger of two wives of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, accused in the killing of a sheriff's deputy, had a "rugged life" before she met the former Black Panther-turned-Muslim imam, said her maternal grandfather, James Goudelock.

Tamesha Rachell Goudelock, a Gainesville, Ga., native who was 17 when she married Al-Amin three years ago, was farmed out to relatives, friends and foster homes by her mother, the grandfather said. The man who fathered Tamesha and three of her four younger siblings is dead, he said.

His daughter, Kim, has been in and out of jail, Goudelock said. "She had that child [Tamesha] when she was 16. She was out running around, and Tamesha wasn't welcome to stay with her." Court records indicate Kim Goudelock, 36, has served time in prison twice for forgery.

Tamesha Goudelock has always helped care for her younger brothers and sisters, but has never had anyone to care consistently for her, her grandfather said. "She needed somebody like Jamil."

Last month, Al-Amin, 56, known during the 1960s as H. Rap Brown, was charged in the March 16 shooting of two Fulton County sheriff's deputies, one of whom died. Al-Amin is in jail in Montgomery, Ala.

The shootings occurred in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta where Al-Amin has served for two decades as imam, or prayer leader, of the Community Mosque.

When Al-Amin and Tamesha Goudelock married, he had a wife, said attorney Karima Al-Amin. Such marriages are not legal in the United States, but under Islamic law, a man is permitted to have up to four concurrent wives, said Fred Denny, a University of Colorado professor who wrote the book, "An Introduction to Islam."

Denny said it is customary for the first wife to approve of subsequent wives. Islamic marriages may consist merely of a contract-signing between the bride and groom, but may also include ceremonies, feasting and readings from the Koran, he said.

Goudelock, 62, said he does not know how his granddaughter met Al-Amin, nor did he attend their wedding. Al-Amin is associated with a number of mosques, including one in Gainesville.

On March 28, less than two weeks after her husband's arrest, Tamesha Goudelock petitioned Fulton County Superior Court to change her name legally to Amira Habibah Al-Amin. In her petition, she said she converted to Islam three years ago and thought she should have a Muslim name.

Translated from Arabic, Amira means princess or female ruler, and Habibah means darling or dear one, according to Denny. "Mostly, they are just beautiful names," he said. "Karima is a beautiful name, too. It means nobility or generosity, or both."

Al-Amin's two wives live in houses about three miles apart. Tamesha Goudelock lives in a blue-trimmed yellow house overlooking a park. She, like others in her husband's Muslim community, has refused to talk to reporters.

Both wives have visited Al-Amin in jail. Montgomery County Sheriff D. T. Marshall said Tamesha Goudelock tried to visit last week, but was turned away because she didn't come on Saturday, the appointed visiting day.

"She wanted to make a special visit, and I told her no," he said. "She came on the wrong day."

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