BismIllaah ir-Rahmaan ir-Rahiim,
22 Jumaad ath-Thaani, 1434
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatUllaahi wa barakaatuh,
Akhi, forgive me if my response to such a well-thought letter is unduly short, but I have to save my money at the moment, and these e-mails are actually quite expensive.
Al-hamdu Lillaah, all of these things are true, but they are only true for certain people. There are many people whom prison brings them too much fitnah and so their iimaan gets broken by these fitan. If someone is patient with Allaah’s decree, sincere in his ‘ibaadah and they have taqwaa to keep themselves from getting sucked into sins, then prison will be like a religious retreat for them. However, if they do not have these things, then prison is simply a punishment from Allaah upon them, a test to expose them, and a hardship in this Dunya which is preceding further hardship in the Aakhirah.
(وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّىٰ نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَ أَخْبَارَكُمْ ﴿٣١
“And we shall test you all until We know the Mujaahidiin from among you and the Saabiriin, and We test your report.” (Suurah Muhammad, 47:31)
It is amazing how many people do not use their time in prison to draw closer to Allaah. Instead, they sit in front of a television set all day, listen to rap and heavy metal on MP3 players (American prisons are not like Morroccan or Syrian prisons, although maybe they make up for this with extreme sentences), and other things. It is amazing how many people, when the Kuffaar hold games and contests for Christmas and other holiday, participate in the festivals. It is something strange when people who are supposed to love and hate only for the sake of Allaah befriend a Murtadd who is an open Murtadd, who mocks the religion and insults the believers daily. It is disastrous when brothers who were supposed to be willing to die for their Lord are sitting and watching a television show which mocks one of his Anbiya on a near-daily basis.
When I first was arrested, I noticed that the jail I was in basically shielded me from the opportunity to commit sins. I was grateful for this, and it helped me. Then, when I got here, much of this shield was dropped. Perhaps when brothers are overseas, the prisons are not filled with all of these fitan, but here there are so many opportunities for brothers to go astray, and many brothers do.
I do not think Terre Haute is like this place, but the things I have seen in this place are amazing. Of course, not all brothers fall prey to such things, but it is way more than one would expect.
Of the ones who seem to have dramatically slipped, many use their imprisonment as an excuse for the things they do. They say that there is no other way to have fun. Also, because many people have been in prison for a long time, and they have not bothered consulting scholars on issues, or because when they tried to consult scholars they found nobody to help, some people who wound up with more knowledge than others wound up with opinions which are not held by anyone in the Muslim world at all. Thus, they mislead people with their knowledge rather than guide them.
Thus, a person has to be mindful at the onset of affliction that he must shield himself from these things. He must look at his religion and protect all of its borders. The Shaytaan will assault it first from the door of despair, but if that does not work, he will come from the perspective of sins. He will beautify them. He will tell the person that he has an excuse, because his life is hard and Allaah will use his affliction as a Kaffaarah. If this does not work, then the Shaytaan will convince him that his sins are Halaal due to his circumstances. He will tell them that participation in a Christmas festival is okay, because they do not have any other way to get a pack of gatorade (the prize they give).
If this does not work, he will come to them through his good deeds and mislead him through his knowledge. He will convince a person that his own understanding is sufficient, and that his interpretations are based on solid evidence. He will keep this person from consulting scholars, because he can learn everything he needs to know from books. Then this person will go around issuing Fataawa when he is not qualified, misleading others with his own misguidance.
A person must shield himself with patience, taqwaa, and humility and sincerity. Otherwise, his afflictions are just afflictions. They are punishment in this world and the next. They are very dangerous to the believer, because they separate between those who are dedicated in hardship and those who are only dedicated in times of ease.
JazaakumUllaahu khayran for this reminder akhi.
By the way, they did something so that the Arabic does not seem to be showing up anymore, wAllaahu a’lam.
Out of space.
Zachary Adam Chesser #76715-083 USP Marion U.S. Penitentiary PO Box 1000 Marion, IL 62959 USA