Bismillaah ir-Rahmaan ir-Rahiim,
7th Shawwaal, 1432
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu,
This is a message to the Muslims who are free, but who do not understand what kind of opportunity this is. The difference between a life in prison and a life on the outside is tremendous from many angles, but the most dramatic is that of one’s opportunities to do righteous deeds.
It is amazing to me that there are people who live near a masjid, but they fail to respond to the adhaan. They have the opportunity to put their ankle to their brother’s ankle, their shoulder to their brother’s shoulder, to pray without fear that it will cause them to be cut from their families, to pray without fear that they will be thrown into isolation, to pray without the fear that they will spend more time in prison, yet they fail to do it. This is the situation in the prisons in America, yet there is not a single prison where you will not find the Muslims forming rows. How is it that there are masaajid where you cannot always find people lining up for prayer?
I cannot imagine a single brother in this unit doing anything except for crying the moment they first enter a Masjid for salaah. Brothers, you do not know what you are missing by remaining in your houses. You do not know what that feeling is when you enter the masjid, when you line up for prayer, when you make your dhikr in the houses of Allaah. You will never know this unless you lose it. You will achieve some of it if you attach yourself to the masjid, but you will not know it until it is taken from you by force. When shaytaan takes it from you, he tries to destroy this love in your heart, so the weak among us feel only a slight pain when they miss a prayer in jama’ah. However, the pain should be tremendous.
There was a scholar long ago who was imprisoned for calling to the sunnah during the reign of ahl ul-bid’ah. When he would hear the adhaan for jumu’ah he would walk to the gate of the prison and say to Allaah that he had responded to His call, but that he was prevented from attending the salaah. Those of us who are prevented by walls of concrete are very few in number, but those of us who are prevented by walls made of impiety are very great in number. The walls of concrete are very difficult to tear down, but those of impiety can be torn down by fearing Allaah ‘azzaa wa jall, and attaching yourself to the masjid. Do you not desire shade on a day where there is no shade except for the righteous? Then attach your hearts to the masaajid. Do not abandon your obligations. Attend the salaah. When you are called to a good deed, then heed that call.
Additionally, you cannot imagine the pain of being cut off from knowledge until it has happened to you. In our unit we have been severed from the shuyuukh and the serious students of knowledge. Those who are imprisoned are in different locations than us, so we have to wait and make du’aa that Allaah release them, but that if He does not release them that He bring them to us. Those who are free have forgotten their obligations or they are ignorant of the situation of the Muslims. There are only a few who respond when asked, and there are even fewer who reach out to those in need. If they do not understand that we do not have the internet, nor do we have address books, nor do we have phone numbers by which we can look them up and contact them, then let them know that this is our situation.
We have a few brothers who have studied this subject or that subject to a fair level of depth, but we are not allowed to discuss religion in the setting of a halaqah or class. We have a brother known as Azmaraa-ii who has knowledge of five or six riwaayaat of tajwiid, but he is only allowed to teach one person at a time.
Brothers and sisters, take advantage of your situation. Spend your free time studying and attending the circles of knowledge. Do not attach yourselves to the lesser acts of worship such as reading the news to the point that you are prevented from those which are better such as seeking knowledge. Find a balance between the two. Read the news for a few minutes a day and seek knowledge for a few hours a day. That is the proper balance.
Also, do not waste your time in your pursuit of knowledge. Do not try to master the fiqh of moving the finger in the salaah before learning Arabic, because you cannot master the former before the latter. Do not spend hour after hour studying the nuances of the ‘aqiidah before you learn “laysa kamithlihi shay.” Go to the people of knowledge and ask them, “What should I study?” Say to them, “Make me a curriculum.” Do not think that you can become a person of knowledge on your own. Do not think you can become a person of knowledge without taking advantage of the means which Allaah has provided you.
The internet will deceive you very quickly into thinking you know such and such or such and such. However, knowledge like that in al-Mughni, Fath ul-Baari, and other such works is not obtained through Google. It is obtained through years of sitting in classes of the shuyuukh, through learning the usuul of fiqh, the usuul of hadiith, the usuul of tafsiir. So many people lose their footing, because they do not know how to study.
Brothers and sisters, you do not know how much you are missing by failing to attend the halaqaat. In prison there are no halaqaat except if the people are willing to risk losing their families for a month or two months, staying in isolation for a month or two months, and having their sentences increased by a month or more. However, you will find many Muslims in the prisons who are willing to risk these consequences either to learn or to teach, because they love to increase in knowledge, to please Allaah, subhaanahu wa ta’alaa, and to learn how to worship Him best. Even so, there is great difficulty for such people, and the door to knowledge is often very difficult to pass through. A person might serve a life sentence in the BOP and he will never see someone as knowledgeable as Azmaraa-ii. He might spend thirty or forty years without running across somebody who is willing and able to teach him how to read the Qur-aan. You will find countless people who will spend their entire lives in study, but their knowledge has a ceiling which cuts them off from a higher level of understanding due to their lack of access to good teachers.
Take advantage of the things which you can do while you are free. Brothers and sisters, many if not most of the people in here did not have a clue that they might be arrested some day. Some people did not break the law and others had no clue they were breaking the law. You do not know when or if Allaah subhaanahu wa ta’alaa is going to remove you from your opportunities for ‘ibaadah. I remember crying when I first saw a hadiith after my arrest. I did not cry due to its meaning, but simply due to its existence, that it was in front of me and I could read it. Do not wait until you are deprived of something to fall in love with it.
Many people take pride in their procrastination. When it is mentioned about them they smile. Subhaan-Allaah, how can someone smile when they are procrastinating with regard to entering Jannah? Do not learn to hate your delaying only when you are delayed in entering Jannah. Do not learn to hate procrastination on a day when the mother will abandon her child. You are nothing more than time, and every moment that passes you is a piece of you which you will never get back. Make haste to righteousness. Make haste to that which is good. Set your gaze on Paradise and never let it go astray.
Was-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu,