May Allah Grant You Patience, Shukri: The Sanabel Abu Baker that I knew!!

15 May

By: Ahmad Musa Jibril

When I was transferred to the Communication Management Unit, also known as the Terrorist Unit or (Guantanamo North)–a special secret illegal prison within the US BOP prison system designed especially for a selected few Muslims.

After a short time there, I was asked by the brothers there to stand up as their Amir. At this time I started classes in Islamic Sciences and did not have time to take on such a responsibility, so I refused their request.

On an early morning after sunrise, as I was on a rusted manual treadmill that was provided for us in a small cage. Shukri asked to speak to me, and knowing that it was regarding the matter of being the Amir, I tried to brush off the conversation and continue my daily routine. “You need to accept being the Amir because everyone has by ijma (consensus) decided that they want you to be, and by you not accepting, it would make the problems we have out of control.”

My workout slowed down as he engaged me in the conversation. After several minutes, I reluctantly agreed.

Over the upcoming months, I learned more about him and our other brothers in the unit. They shared their past and opened their hearts. Among that which brother Shukri agonized over was his daughter, Sanabel. He, as the other brothers in the prison, loved his family deeply, but he faced a dilemma that not many others faced. His daughter, Sanabel, who was ill from childhood, continuously occupied his thoughts. The doctors predicted that she would not live very far past the age of seven but, by the will of Allah, she made it to her mid-twenties, Alhamdulillah.

One day, my dear brother Mukhtar Albakri (One of Lackawanna Six case) came to me and told me that Shukri is in the yard crying and that I should go check on him. This yard that he was in is basically nothing more than a small cage. When I went to look for him, he had gone back to his cell. I asked him what had happened and he told me that he just got off the phone, and that his Sanabel is in critical condition, with an unlikely recovery.    

To give you a better picture of the situation; each prisoner is given two calls per week, which must be scheduled in advance. So, imagine the horror of knowing that your daughter is in a life and death situation while being cut off from the world. Each second that passes is like a year, while waiting for the next call.

In an attempt to help brother Shukri, I took some brothers and approached the authorities of the prison. Alhamdulillah, after explaining the situation to them, they allowed him an extra call.

The following day was Jumuah, so, during the Khutbah, I made a special duaa by name for Sanabil. I concluded the duaa for her the seven times asking Allah, the lord of the mighty throne, to cure and heal Sanabil, the 30 some brothers were weeping and crying and the “Ameen” was resonating in the prayer room.

By the mercy of Allah, the brothers’ desperate plea was answered, Alhamdulillah. Shortly after Jumuah, he was given his regular call, and was informed of her improvement.

Over the months, we worked hard to convince the staff to transfer Shukri -in particular- to the regular portion of the prison where he can have contact visits. When the local staff finally agreed to entertain the idea, it was officially rejected by the counter terrorism unit for the BOP.

Over the months, Shukri would come to my cell, excited with cards and letters his daughter would send him and he would sit and read some of the letters and emails to me and share in his joy.

Among the most memorable quotes she repeated were:

“Baba, if your ok then I’m ok.”

” I’m more worried about you than myself.”

“Baba these are bumps and hurdles. We’re used to them.”

“Baba, I miss the days when you used to sleep in the chair by my hospital bed.”

“Baba, they said I would not live to be seven and I’m now in my 20’s. Allah is with us.”

“Baba, every time they give me a needle I imagine how you used to hold my hand and tell me it’ll be fine and make duaa–telling me it’s from Allah.”

Her golden quote, { “Baba, don’t worry about me because my worry is about you worrying about me.”}

On my final day, after news broke of my release, the brothers wanted to hold a good-bye party for me. I was very much against this idea because there was nothing fun, nor is there anything happy, about walking out and leaving your brothers in misery. They insisted on the gathering and we met in the cafeteria. The brothers cooked and each person stood up and gave a farewell talk.

After the gathering, at 9:15pm on my final night, we were ordered to go to our cells for lockdown. As everyone was cleaning the cafeteria, Shukri took me to the hallway and hugged me tightly as he cried. He said,

“Please stay in touch with Sanabel. You are my touch to them since I cannot touch them. If my daughter dies please be at the funeral.”

As he uttered those words, he broke down crying and weeping like a child. As this was happening, his co-defendant Sheikh Mohammad El-Mezain was the first to walk out of the cafeteria with his cane and was heading to his cell. He looked at Shukri as he wept in my arms and asked if everything was okay?

The following day, the Muslims and non-Muslims, in a bittersweet mood, walked me to the door of the prison, but Shukri was nowhere to be found. I asked about him and was told he was sitting in his cell in deep sadness.

I made sujud al Shukr (a prostration of gratitude), upon crossing over to the other side of the world, and embraced my family for the first time in years. We headed on our journey home and I learned to use the iPhone a family member had, to make myself an email account. The first thing I did was send an email to the email Shukri gave me for Sanabel. Then I contacted her with something new to me called facebook.

She informed me of what she was facing and her suffering. She wrote of her family’s trips from Texas to Indiana to visit her father; a distance of over 16 hours by car only to find out that the phones used in the visit room, which were monitored live by local unit staff in the CMU, local prison and Counter terrorism unit in Virginia, were not functioning and their visit was cancelled.

I tried to speak to her of patience, but she taught me patience. I explained to her that such incidents happened to me often, hoping to ease her hardship.

Whenever I would ask about her health, she was always upbeat and happy with the destiny of Allah. Over the past year, it seemed to me that she had no concern over herself, but rather, it was all over her father, Shukri. I continuously messaged her to check on her and make sure that she was okay. She was always prompt in her response, even when she was admitted to hospitals.

Her most recent and last messages to me were nothing short of unwavering courage in the face of tremendous difficulties, deep pain, and extreme sorrow. They were remarkable and deeply inspirational.

She needs our duaa, but she went to a Ghafoorun Raheem. She’s now with the one who is more merciful to her than her own father and mother. The one who truly needs our duaa more than her is her father and our Muslim brothers who are in the iron fist of those who know no mercy.

No one can bear the pain or feeling of being locked in prison with a family member outside who is ill or passed away except someone who underwent it.

Shukri I’m sure this will find it’s way to you, {Wallahi, Billahi, Tallahi} not a single night since I left that I did not remember you and the brothers I left behind in my duaa. I never expected to see this side of the wall again, but the One who granted me this will soon grant you and our brothers the same -inshallah.

May Allah grant you patience Shukri, and may Sanabel take you by your hand to ferdous!!!! Ameen!!!


Shukri Abu-Baker #32589-177
USP Terre Haute
U.S. Penitentiary
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Biographies, Collateral Damage


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2 responses to “May Allah Grant You Patience, Shukri: The Sanabel Abu Baker that I knew!!

  1. ghareebah

    May 15, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I think that’s the saddest thing I ever read.

  2. ahmad

    December 17, 2013 at 7:12 am

    this just broke me


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