My name is Tariq Al-Baha Abdullah. I'm a twenty-eight year old Sudanese Muslim, currently serving a Life sentence (with the possibility of parole), at Calipatria State Prison. After ten and a half years of incarceration, I'm finally able to understand the fact that only Allah has power over all the worlds (even this world of bars and steel). As I read your newsletter for the first time (dated August/September 1998), I was very impressed with your subject matter. I've been a conscious Muslim since the Month of Ramadan of 1992. My first three years I studied, learned, and taught with blind passion. As I reflect on those years, I can see the balance that Allah has bestowed upon me, as the fruits of my labor. I was blessed by Allah to have fellow Muslim Brothers (inmates), a prison and personal library that covered every important subject in Islam.
Myself and other Brothers compare our situation and circumstances to that of Prophet Yusuf (AS). In prison, we are blessed with so many opportunities that are not afforded to most Muslims in this society. We have the time and solitude to grow closer to Allah. The State allocates the Islamic community a budget each year to buy some of the things we need for our religious services. We receive donations from a few outside organizations, business owners and we contribute to the cause of Allah ourselves from our own limited resources. I've donated much of my time, literature and resources continually. Sometimes, I ask myself is it all worth it. There are times when ungrateful Brothers refuse the admonition. Then there are the times when a Brother truly listens to your wisdom and uses it. When you see a Brother struggling to learn for months, then you give him the tools, you yourself used, and see him actually grasping hold of understanding...that one Brother, makes up for 1,000 ungrateful Brothers. I no longer ask myself is it worth it. It's for the sake of Allah, for He do we worship and it's His aid we seek.
Yes, we also have brothers that go astray once they're released, I understand, but I can't stand for it. The world is so fast. After you've done 5, 10, 15 or more years, it's almost like a rebirth, except you are expected to know how to think, talk and walk like an adult. How can they (we) without growth and support? They are literally babies in the world. There are none or very little educated/experienced Islamic agencies that are willing and/or equip to help these Brothers in need. It's easy to practice what you know and understand of Islam while in prison. You have very little responsibilities, and most people won't harm a Muslim, because of our reputation of unity and protecting each other. Seldom do we find ourselves involved in forbidden acts, because we are very disciplined, stern, and observant of each other. However, there are those who look for their freedom from other sources, rather than from Allah. When Brothers are found acting as Kafir, we admonish, when we find them creating a pattern, we treat them as such; to them be their way and to us ours.
Most of the men that come into Islam in prison are generally genuine and good hearted people. I love meeting Muslims of all nationalities. It makes me feel like Islam is working. Al-Hamdulillah, I've seen Sudanese, Samoans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, Malaysians, European-Americans, Libyans, Ethiopians, Kuwaitis, Iranians, and Chinese inmates inside the masjid. In prison, there is so much racism; more than in society. There are four major segregated ethnic groups: Black (African-American or any member of a "Black" gang), Mexican (anyone of Hispanic derivation), White (anyone of European derivation), and "Others" (everybody else, including Native Americans, Africans and other people from the East). Only the "Blacks" have it easy to become Muslim. Everyone else places their life in the hands of Allah. Truly!
The stories that we have about our road to Islam may only be similar to those at the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), Ma'sha Allah.
This is another reason why I'm reaching out. We need more contact with strong, established willing experienced Muslims to help us. Anyone can visit anyone in any of the California Prisons. But no one comes here? We can receive mail. But no one writes? We can give dahwa. But no one ask for our advice? We are manifest deterrents for our youth against drugs, gangs, alcohol, pre-marital sex and all the trappings of incarceration. But there are no children in sight!
As I've said earlier, I've been very active in our communities within prison. Imam Shahiyd, however, is always stressing the act of extending ourselves outside of these walls. I have taken his good advice and written several proposals to extend my help and the help of other striving Muslim Brothers to the larger community. The letters to the Editor by Tammy Ortiz placed a face on the kind of people in need of us and we of them. The more we share Islam, the more we remember to practice it. The more contact with everyday problems, the more we learn how to solve them. Muslim Brothers that are incarcerated have so much time to research, study, and learn and after sharing/teaching each other - where does it go?
Recently I started to share more with family and friends. My experience has left me with the feeling that my words are falling on death ears. I know it's doing some good, if only to allow them to understand me and other Muslims. I just don't receive any inspiration, motivation, or gratification. I much rather share Islam with those who want to know. Those who want to become a Muslim or Muslims that need more information such as George Herbert, Amirah, Omar Abdul-Salaain and all the Brothers that come to my Salaat/Arabic & Self-help classes.
It takes very little effort to establish such a great contribution. I have drawn-up proposals and sent them out, but no one has responded. Please give us a try. What do you have to lose in using the so-called "useless"? Just look at the example of Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X). We too can be molded and reshaped. What we become when we are released depends on who was in here teaching us. Remember Prophet Yusuf (as). What if one day you come to me for a helping hand after leaving me in the well for dead? What would you want me to do?
Tariq Al-Baha Abdullah (D-95905/C2-201)
Amir, Islamic Community (C-yard)
P.O. Box 5002
Calipatria, CA 92233
Your web site was very helpful and clear when looking for information. It was easy and well organized. It's great that you provide listings of mosques all over the world and the directions. Thank you, and I look forward to using your web site again.
I have a personal observation that some Muslim girls and women do not realize the significance of hijab. Hijab is Arabic for protection and cover. Some people put a lot effort into their hijab, yet it serves no purpose. I am referring to the pointless hijab that some girls wear.
The first pointless hijab is referred to as the headband hijab. It is a band of fabric approximately 4 inches wide. It covers the back of the head and allows all the hair to be exposed. It doesn't serve much in terms of modesty, but at least it comes in handy in case of an unexpected tennis match.
The second pointless hijab is the dupetta, also known as the Saran wrap hijab. It covers all the hair, but it is totally transparent. Again it doesn't serve much in terms of modesty, but it keeps the hair nice and fresh.
The third type of hijab is known as the Mickey Mouse Hijab. It is when a girl wears a black scarf and tucks it behind her ear, so that her ears stick out.
We now move to my favorites: The yo-yo hijabs. The first yo-yo hijab, also known as the Benazir Bhutto hijab, is the scarf that keeps falling down and needs to be constantly pulled back up....up, down, up, down, just like a yo-yo.
The second yo-yo hijab is also referred to as the convertible hijab. This type of hijab is predominant at any type of social event, i.e. an Aqeeqah, Bismillah party, wedding, etc. This is when an Imam or Qari starts to recite Qur'an. At this point, all the convertible hijabs come up...until he says "Sadaqallahul atheem". I'm not sure, but apparently in some cultures that translates to "ok sisters, you may now take off your scarves".
I'm sure this may seem odd, but what's even funnier is when people do not anticipate the recitation of Qur'an at a social event, and are forced to be creative and use accessories such as a purse to cover one's hair. I was surprised to see a woman hold her purse over her head as "hijab"...as if the multitudes of men surrounding her were not a good enough reason to wear hijab, but some guy reciting du'a compels her to hold a purse over her head. Her friends were more creative...one used her dinner napkin. I also saw the communal hijab - two or more girls draped under one dinner napkin during the recitation of Qur'an. Her other friend was more creative. She used her coffee saucer on the back of her head. I wasn't sure if it was hijab or a Yamaka.
And, people should remember that hijab is not just a protection from guys, but from a girl's nafs (ego) as well. It should prevent girls from having to spend hours in front of the mirror doing her hair. But, unfortunately, you see girls in front of the mirror for hours doing their hijab as they would do their hair, with all sorts of elaborate braids and the like. I wanted to go up to a sister and say "Is your hijab naturally curly?" I also felt compelled to go up to another girl and say "pardon me, but is your hijab naturally that color, or did you dye it?"
Well, the point to remember is that some people make an effort to wear hijab, but it is futile, because it is not fulfilling its purpose. It's like using an umbrella with holes in it. Hijab is used for protection from guys as well as from the girl herself, and should not be used as an accessory or for beautifying one's self.
Anyway, that's it. If anyone disagrees with me or is offended, then you are disagreeing with the teachings of Allah subhanahu wa Ta'ala.
- A Reader
I'd like to thank you for sending in this poem (?). We always welcome entertaining and thought-provoking material. I agree with you that hijab is an important topic for Muslims. However, it is important to note that, like other aspects of Islam, wearing hijab is often part of growth and development. This can be a gradual process that takes different amounts of time for each sister. May Allah help everyone in this process.
- The Editor
Thanks to all of you who have given us encouragement to continue with the Islamic Bulletin. It takes much dedicated effort, time, and skill to produce this publication. In 1991, we began the formidable job of compiling mosque locations for California with driving directions. In this issue, we have included the new updated edition and the prayer schedule for the whole year. Please continue to support our efforts and invite all to visit the Islamic Bulletin website at www.islamicbulletin.com, where you will be able to:
We hope that you will visit our website soon!
Your web site is a blessing to have and it makes me feel good to find information about Islam so well put together. I read the article about the Black Seed Oil from your bulletin and wanted to share this with you. Br. Shakir Al-Thenyan, was given a few months to live due to a brain tumor. He left the US and went to live his last few weeks in Saudi Arabia. There he began using the following black seed treatment. By the grace of Allah (SWT) he is cured now. Here's the recipe. Please share it with others.
- 1/2 kg pure honey
- 3 large tablespoons of black seed
- Head of garlic
1. Grind garlic & black seed.
2. Mix well with honey.
Each morning take a medium sized spoonful from the above mix and take one "myrrh" size of a coffee seed and another piece of "asafetida" (in Arabic it is called "helteet") the size of an adas seed.
Drink mixture with a cup of fresh cold milk.
Continue this for 3 months and may Allah give the cure.
Please participate in this Newsletter by sending us your letters, comments, or suggestions so we can make this newsletter your favorite. All correspondence should be addressed to:
The Editor of the Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186 San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
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Women to Islam
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|How I Embraced Islam|
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