Connect with us

#Current Affairs

Falling Stronger: A Detainee’s Perspective

Guests

By Ibrahim Mohammad

The last two years have been surreal for me. When you’re imprisoned with no access to the outside world or to fresh air and sunshine, time ceases to have meaning. You measure time by weeks and months rather than hours and days. It’s as though you’ve entered an alternate universe, stuck in limbo.

When I was first arrested, I didn’t know what to expect. Naively, I asked if I would be back home that evening. I never imagined I’d still be detained more than two years later. It just made no sense. How could someone who has been living peacefully with his family, working productively and responsibly for more than decade, and has never been accused of any crime before, suddenly be whisked away and locked up with the most violent of criminals? I can understand having to face a trial to defend my innocence, but I don’t understand this pre-trial punishment. “Innocent till proven guilty” is such a basic universal concept that it seemed absurd I could be imprisoned and punished for this long – waiting, having to prove my innocence, rather than simply defend it.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Incarceration in county jails, I’ve come to understand, is actually much harder than real prison – which sounds absurd because most people being held in jails are considered “innocent” awaiting trial. In prisons, state or federal, convicted inmates have relative freedom: they eat better, have access to outdoor recreation as well as more avenues for entertainment, and better contact with their families and the outside world. Here in the county jail, you’re locked up in squalid cell blocks almost 24 hours a day, packed up like sardines in a can, with no windows, no outdoor recreation, and contact with family limited to one 30 minute “visit” a week over a grainy, dim, video monitor. The food is much worse than in prison and the only recreation offered is an hour of indoor recreation in the basement on week days and weekly trips to the jail library. Even a chance to sit on a simple plastic chair during attorney visits seems like a luxury in here.

The conditions being as harsh as they are, many inmates feel desperate to get out, and hence agree to the first plea offer they’re made, thus avoiding the many months of waiting a trial would take. Perhaps that explains the logic behind the conditions of jail detention. The excuse made is that jail detention is meant to be temporary, but in what world is two and half years “temporary”? It’s one thing if someone was caught red-handed, or is known to be dangerous. Here, the government, after years of close surveillance and scrutiny, has acknowledged that they don’t consider me a danger. The charges are from eight years ago, and my connection to the crime is so tenuous so as to be non-existent. I’m being accused of facilitating some financial transactions for a family member, who may have given some of those funds to an associate of his, who then allegedly gave it to someone else, who then may have given it to another person, who a year after these alleged events became designated as a terrorist. Yet, the government believes that I should be detained for a quarter of a decade prior to trial because of how heinous my “crime” is and because I’m a flight risk. This is despite no “smoking gun evidence”, according the government at the bond hearing in November.

It takes a while to come to terms with the idea that some people hate you so much, that they’re willing to go to great lengths to take you away from your family and imprison you for decades, knowing very well that you pose no threat and were not guilty of any crime, simply because of your faith. People who live ordinary lives like most of us do, and like I did until my arrest, do not normally experience that kind malice and spite, so it takes a little getting used to. Having spent more than a year discussing the case and the evidence with my attorney, it is abundantly clear that the government investigators and prosecutors know full well that I’m innocent, yet they still twist and distort facts in order to gain a conviction. They ignore those facts that don’t fit their narrative and misrepresent others to make them fit. Their goal is not justice, their goal is conviction. It is not prosecution but persecution.

How I’ve held up so far is something I myself cannot fully explain. I’m not a naturally strong person or a fighter. I’ve always been very non-confrontational, even passive. But I do believe strongly in truth and justice. More than anything else though, it’s been my faith and trust in Allah, based on the knowledge and understanding of Him that I had gained over the years, that has held me instead. We are taught that persecution is the wont of the believers throughout the ages. It’s happened to great people in the past – to the Prophets Yusuf (Joseph), Yahya (John), and Esa (Jesus), peace be upon them all. We are also taught that God places no burden on His servant greater than he/she can bear. So, every time I feel that I’d reached my limit of endurance, God All-Mighty and All-Merciful gives me a sign – some unexpected good news, some act of kindness towards me or my family, some words of encouragement – that reinvigorate and strengthen my faith and resolve.

The analogy I make is that of a reluctant worker who is being forced to do some heavy manual labor – his body is pushed till its limit and his muscles feel ripped and hurt. But once they heal, he finds himself stronger and more resilient. I am eternally grateful to God for having made me stronger in my faith and having provided for and taken care of my family and myself. As a husband and father who was the sole bread-winner of his family, the biggest burden on my mind from the moment I was arrested has been concern for my family’s well-being. Yet due to the Grace of Allah Almighty, and the unselfish efforts of some truly exceptional and generous people, my family has been well-taken care of, and that more than anything else has given me the strength to continue this long and grueling fight. For those people who have been helping take care of my family, God knows who you are, and your reward is with Him who is best capable of rewarding good deeds.

My faith, alhamdulillah, is stronger than ever, as is my relationship with my family. All my oppressors have succeeded in is making me a stronger believer in God, and the hardship they’ve caused us has done nothing except anneal and strengthen the ties between me and my family. They have not succeeded in changing me, except for the better. I have never hated anyone, and I don’t do so now, despite their efforts. I wish peace and happiness for all, even them.

I end with greetings of peace to all those who took their time to read these brief thoughts that I was able to compose from my prison cell. May Allah guide us all to the best of this world and the next. And indeed, all praise and thanks are due solely to God, the Lord of all people.

An unexpected ruling on the judge’s part earlier this week has greatly affected Ibrahim’s current detainment and has violated his constitutional rights. After more than 3 months since his third bond hearing, the judge has yet to make a ruling regarding his release on bond. Thus, at the pretrial on Feb 15, 2018, the #FreeIbrahimNow team asks you to pack the courtroom at 11 am. U.S. Courthouse, 1716 Spielbusch Ave. Toledo, OH 43604 and sign this petition

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    ESD

    February 14, 2018 at 12:07 AM

    May Allah free you!

  2. Avatar

    Sabeen

    February 16, 2018 at 1:25 AM

    Indeed no one will be burdened more the they can carry, All our prayers with you..#freeIbrahimNow

  3. Avatar

    AD

    February 24, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    May Allah make things easy for you and your family. I ask Allah to forgive you and raise your ranks for every moment of suffering that you’re going through.

    To the admin/family members of IM: Is there a way to get in touch with him? I’m his former roommate from UIUC and wanted to send a msg to him. If not, please convey my regards to him and let him know that he’s in my du’as. JazakAllah khayr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Society

Your Black Muslim Friends Are Not Okay, America’s Knee Is On Their Neck

Your Black Muslim friends are not okay. Your Black Muslim relatives are not okay. Your Black Muslim coworkers are not okay. Your Black Muslim congregants are not okay. When we are witness to yet another modern-day lynching, this time with a knee instead of a noose, we are not going to be okay.

Being a Black American Muslim in non-Black Muslim spaces is to constantly be reminded of your otherness, especially at times of great upheaval in this country. 

Being a Black American Muslim amongst large populations of immigrant Muslims is a living, breathing, testament to the Qur’anic promise that Allah will make some of us a trial for others of us. Though those verses were revealed in the context of war, they are just as true in other contexts as well. 

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Where are the unapologetically loud, unified voices of consistent protest from the non-Black scholars, imams, and shuyukh of America? With the exception of a notable few, why aren’t there more of those voices unflinchingly condemning police aggression, unwaveringly supporting the victims of this oppression, and steadfastly working with Black Americans to bring about change? Some of the most prominent voices of Muslim America have either been silent, or have only shared a few social media posts here and there, addressing the trauma Black America is constantly reliving before promptly returning to their regularly scheduled programming, as if their job as Muslim leaders is complete. To witness this disconnect between the purveyors of Islamic knowledge, and the ethos at the heart of Islam is jarring. It is enraging. It is disheartening. It is the ongoing reality of Black Muslims in America. 

To be a Black Muslim in America is to have the first mass communication from your suburban mosque after the death of George Floyd and the righteous anger that has spilled into the streets of America be a forwarded message from a home owner’s association warning mostly white, and white-adjacent residents to go into their homes, lock their doors, and be on the lookout for rioters and looters supposedly on their way from one of the few nearby towns with large Black populations. To be a Black Muslim in America is to have the second mass communication from your suburban mosque be more of the same. To be a Black Muslim in America is to have the third communication from your suburban mosque on this subject finally be a condemnation of the senseless killing of another Black man at the hands of the state, along with condemnation of looters and rioters. Even in our death, we cannot simply be mourned and fought for without others of us being admonished for perceived wrongdoing. To be a Black Muslim in America is to continuously be told in a myriad of overt and subtle ways that “you may be with us, but you are not of us.” These reminders are not only soul-crushing, they are iman-stealing; They are death by a thousand cuts. 

So to my non-Black Muslim brothers and sisters, the ones who don’t seem to realize that these issues should be front and center for all of our communities, have you reflected on the fact that the story that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) calls the best of stories, is the story of a boy, stolen from his land to be transported and sold into slavery in a foreign land? A land where his enslavement means he has to endure all of the indignities inherent in that position, including the attempt at sexual violence that so many of the world’s enslaved have endured. A boy who becomes a man, unjustly imprisoned and forgotten by all but his Lord and his God-fearing father. A man, who when finally freed and given a chance by the elite of his society, is able to save that society from utter ruin. Have you considered that Allah in His All-Knowing Wisdom and Mercy, knew that that story would hit differently for those of us who are actual descendants of people ripped from their lands and forced into slavery?

Have you reflected on the fact that the Qur’an revisits the story of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), over and over and over again, more frequently than any other Prophet? A story about a Prophet, born and raised in Africa, sent to literally speak truth to power, and to break the chains of oppression shackling a community of people who had been unjustly enslaved, demeaned, debased, and whose sons were routinely executed by the State for no other reason than fear for more than 400 years!

How are you reciting this Book daily but failing to make these connections?

I am no exegete of the Qur’an, but it has become clear to me that my people, Black people, are Abdullah ibn Umm-Maktum, and this ummah, by and large, is in a constant state of turning away. Turning away from us, to focus on America’s Utbah ibn Rabiahs, Ummayah ibn Khalafs, and Abu Jahls. If you don’t realize that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) placed that scene in His eternal book as a warning and guide for all Muslim leaders to come, then something essential is missing in your process of reflection, and if you don’t ask yourself about it in this life, Allah will surely ask you about it in the next.

Why do you think Allah saw fit to include story after story of Prophets preaching to their societies, just to have the power-players of their societies reject their messages while the first and most numerous of their converts were ALWAYS from amongst the most rejected of their societies? How much clearer can Allah’s signs be before America’s Muslims wake up and act? What are your readings of Qur’an for, how are they benefitting you, your family, and your society, if you fail to see its modern equivalents when they are tweeted and broadcast straight into your homes? Who are the most rejected of your society, and how are you treating them, if you’re bothering to deal with them at all? There are only two paths in these fights, the Prophetic and the Pharaonic. I guarantee you, you’re on a path. For the sake of your dunya and your akhirah, you need to figure out which one. 

For as long as I’ve been alive, the people turning to Islam in America at the fastest rate, and in the largest numbers are my people. Black people. But for America’s Muslim elite, like the Quraysh elite of the Prophet’s time, and the elite of every Prophet before him, we are not good enough. We are too poor. Our place in society is too low. Our power (in this dunya) is non-existent. And Shaytan’s creed— “Ana khairan minhu [I am better than him]” —is stamped so deep in so many of your hearts that you don’t know where that persistently toxic superiority complex ends and your God-given fitra begins. 

In the past few weeks, I have found myself repeatedly thanking Allah that I am the daughter of converts, but not a convert myself. Not at all because there is anything to be despised in being a convert. In fact, anyone who has undertaken even the most rudimentary examination of our faith has to see that our deen was revealed to a community of converts, sustained by a community of converts, and spread by a community of converts. Converts are truly the best amongst us, if for no other reason than the fact that every single one of them have absolute knowledge of a firm date in their lives on which their Lord wiped every, single, solitary sin out of their book of deeds. Who amongst the rest of the Muslim ummah can say the same with certainty? 

No, my prayer of thanks for not being a convert was the sinking realization that I don’t think I could have continued to survive and thrive in the modern ummah of the Prophet [aw] if I were doing this on my own. It would be so much easier to return to what I’d known before Islam for no other reason than to find the genuine love, support, care, and camaraderie we find amongst our closest family and friends. Because when your adopted community not only shows you none of that, but consistently, in big and little ways, shows you their disdain, or their indifference, the familiarity of the dark becomes more comforting than the hollowness of the light. 

To my Black Muslim brothers and sisters, those of you who are new to Islam and those of you who are oldheads, the young of us and the old of us, the male of us and the female of us, you are not alone even though depending on what community of Muslims you worship amongst you might feel like it. If no one else is feeling your pain, to the extent that you are feeling this pain, the rest of us are. If no one else is hearing your cries, the rest of us are. If no one else seems to see what’s happened, what’s happening, and what will happen for the personal tragedies that they are for you, the rest of us do. Even if we’re not together in physical community, we are out here, and we are your community too. We are hurting together. We are struggling together. 

For some of you your community’s response, or lack thereof, will be the last straw. You will want to separate yourself from people who don’t see you, or your pain. The people for who your Islam will never be good enough, for whom you will never be good enough. I feel you. Take whatever time and space you need, but please hold on to Allah; He is always near. He is with you whether you’re in the streets, in the boardroom, in the workplace, in the classroom or at home. He’s with you when you’re the victim of microaggressions and outright aggression. He hears you, and in His infinite Mercy He has promised to answer the call of the oppressed. Not the Muslim oppressed, or the Arab oppressed, or the South East Asian oppressed, but ALL of the oppressed, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Our God has got us even when the people who claim Him do not. 

Know that He hears us, and He’s with us, so hold tight to Him, His messengers, and His Book. The Qur’an is speaking to us, our condition, our history, our present, and our future. Mine it for its gems. Use it for its support. Take comfort in its promises. We do matter, to each other, and to Allah if to no one else. Our lives matter, and our deaths matter. 

So while you struggle to free us, whether you’re in the streets or on your prayer rug, keep praying for us. We aren’t just the children of Adam, we are the Adams of our time. The ones made of black clay, living in a world of arrogant beings who think that they are better than us for the most inconsequential and ephemeral reasons. May we be gifted the strength of Adam, the wisdom of Adam, the faith of Adam, the humility of Adam, the consistency of Adam, and the reward of Adam. Ameen.

Pray for the Yusufs of our time; the ones who are being locked away as the cameras roll, and the ones who are already sitting in dank cells throughout the country, calling on their Lord. The ones who were recently released or are soon to be released. The ones who are now desperately searching for the community of Believers who will not only help them stay firmly on the siratal-mustaqim, but give them the support they need to allow them to ascend in their societies, to the benefit of their societies, the way that Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was blessed to ascend in his. May they be given the depth of faith of Yusuf, the mental fortitude of Yusuf, the patience of Yusuf, the wisdom of Yusuf, and the reward of Yusuf. Ameen.

Pray for the Musas of our time. The ones who may have made mistakes in their past and have good reason to fear death at the hands of the state, but call on their Lord, ask for His assistance, grab their brothers and sisters, and get to work, knowing that whatever gets thrown at them, He’s got them. May they always speak truth to power as Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) did. May they be given the knowledge of self and knowledge of community that Musa had. May they be given the patience of Musa, the resilience of Musa, the bravery of Musa, the conviction of Musa, and the reward of Musa. Ameen.

Pray for the followers of Muhammad, Peace and Blessings be upon him. All of us. May we be given insight into the Qur’an and the ability to see that it is a guidebook not just for our inner lives, but for the lived experiences of all of those we live amongst. May we learn what enjoining the good and forbidding the evil looks like in an American context. May we come to understand that these things are not limited to the good and evil of our day to day lives, but the good and evil perpetrated by the society we live in as well. May we be guided towards upright action that allows us to roll up our sleeves and get to work continuing the legacy of the Prophets in speaking truth to oppressors and rooting out oppression, wherever it is found, and if we don’t know where to find it, may we be blessed with the humility to turn to the leadership of those who do. May we reflect the status of the Beloved as a Mercy to this world in our every word, our every post, and our every action. Ameen. 

Pray for our people. ALL of our people. Not just the ones who have found Islam, but the ones who may never get the chance to because they’re too busy trying to survive America’s knees on their necks.

Ameen

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Islam

Podcast: What’s the Matter with All Lives Matter? | Imam Khalil Abdur Rasheed

In critiquing this response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we must first understand that the All Lives Matter slogan is a reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement by the wealthy, White American power establishment who are part of and have inherited the making of American history, its empire and its consciousness.

All Lives Matter ideology is the transmutation of Malcolm X’s house negro, Edward Said’s exilic intellectual, and Hamid Dabbashi’s house Muslim.Click To Tweet

It is a reminder that those on the minority side of the race relations struggle have not been granted permission to speak out against their oppression nor have they been granted any authority to narrate or complain on behalf of their own plight.

The claim that All Lives Matters is more universally appealing and more Islamic is misleading, and reflects naivety on the part of the one who believes this.Click To Tweet

Article written and originally published on Muslimmatters.org.

Imam Khalil Abdur-Rashid was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He completed his bachelor degree in Social Work, and obtained a Master’s Degree in Islamic Law from Marmara University. He also completed advanced Islamic seminary training and received his full doctoral license (Ijaaza) in Islamic Sciences.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Khalil holds a Master of Arts in Middle East Studies as well as a Master of Philosophy in Islamic Law both from Columbia University in New York City.  He is now an adjunct professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate of Liberal Studies Program at SMU and serves as President and Dean of the Yaqeen Islamic Seminary in Dallas.

Read and produced by Zeba Khan.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Culture

Again, And Again, And Again, And Again

Again And Again And Again And Again

Posted by Tariq Touré on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

We back screaming I can’t breathe again
From the morning light to the evening
It’s like something just ain’t evening
Killer cops on repeat again
Why Colin ain’t in the league again?
What was the problem with taking knees again?

Ohhh only if we puttin knees to them
Only if it’s beneath a chin
Only if it could seem to end
But if looting is where we begin
But not as broken necks the reasoning
Then folks will be back in the streets again
Choking on fruit from the seeds of sin

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Since they can’t break us they make us bleed and bend
Guess we need an overground railroad to get free again
Your words ring hollow we don’t believe in them
Cuz you’d rather shoot hollows than find peace within

They threw us to the grown and planted seeds again
So we screaming no justice and no peace again
For our people who’ll never be able to breathe again
I guess we have to breathe for them

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading
.
.
.
.

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

.
Ads by Muslim Ad Network
.
.
.

Trending

you're currently offline