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My Hardest Ramadan Ever

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My hardest Ramadan ever.

“Reciting the Quran out loud got us punished.” Listen to Moazzam Begg speak about the hardship and torture prisoners experienced during Ramadan in Guantanamo, and how these tests did not break their determination, but nurtured their imaan and taqwa.

[As part of the MuslimMatters x CAGE Dhul Hijjah Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo, we bring you a series, Guantanamo Memories, of stories from behind bars]

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In 2002, I experienced the hardest Ramadan of my life. It was in Bagram, one of the worst US prisons, situated in a rugged and barren part of Afghanistan.

I was being held in US custody. I had been there for about nine months.

We were not allowed to talk or even walk without permission. We had been kept in the dark, away from natural light, for days on end. We had to guess prayer times and we were not allowed to pray in jama’ah (congregation).

Breaking any rules, including calling the adhan or reciting the Quran out loud got us punished. Punishment meant being hooded and chained up – with our wrists shackled to the top of a cage
door.

In Bagram, I had to make tayammum (dry ablution) for a year, because they only gave us enough water to drink. This involved lightly rubbing dust over my hands and face.

When Ramadan came, I was dreading it. I think we were all dreading it.

The meals were small pre-packed sachets, the types used for campers, and, sometimes, a mouldy piece of Afghan bread. Everything had to be handed back within 15 minutes, eaten or not.

Not only that: iftar (food used for breaking the fast at sunset) would be given to us only four hours
after sunset! That was among the worst of times.

It did however get better. It got better because the men I saw around me were some of the best and most patient I’ve ever met.

This reminds me of the verse where Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says: “O you who believe! Have taqwa (Be mindful) of Allah and be with the truthful” [Surah Tawbah: 9;119]

Being with these men helped my character develop. Reading Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) words and seeking taqwa literally gave me hope for a way out: “And whoever has taqwa Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will make a way out for him. And provide for him from where he did not expect.” [Surah at-Talaq: 65;2-3]

Most of us did find a way out, while others remain, waiting patiently.

Don’t forget to join MuslimMatters and CAGE this month as we work to Close Guantanamo. Check out how you can act today

 

Reading reading:

 – Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

The Brother Who Had A Scoop

The Brother Who Had A Scoop

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. 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.

CAGE advocates for due process, the rule of law and an end to the injustices of the War on Terror. CAGE is an independent grassroots organisation striving for a world free of injustice and oppression. We campaign against discriminatory state policies and advocate for due process and the rule of law. We work closely with survivors of abuse and mistreatment across the globe, documenting their abuse and enabling them to take action and access due process. We carry out cutting edge research and provide a voice for survivors of the war on terror, challenging the dominant narrative of suspect communities and the perceived threat of terrorism. We empower communities through educational workshops, community events and informative seminars.

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