This night last year, the 27th night of Ramadan, by the grace of Allah I returned home to my family after 11 years spent in ten different prisons across two countries.
The light brown Clarks shoe on my left foot is one of the pair I was wearing when I was arrested outside the Science Museum in London by the Metropolitan Police on Thursday 5 August 2004. I wore them in prison in the UK for several years, then sent them out to my family before I was extradited to the US in 2012.
The black Nike shoe on my right foot is one of the pair I was wearing when I flew home to London from Washington DC to be reunited with my family on the 27th night of Ramadan last year. I bought them at a federal prison in Pennsylvania to wear on the journey home.
The 27th night of Ramadan is considered to be the Night of Destiny, which is described in the Quran as “better than a thousand months”, i.e. the span of an entire life.
The feeling of being released from prison after you were expecting to die in prison is like being given a new life. For as long as I live, every 27th night of Ramadan from this point on I will remember as the night in which Allah brought me back to life after I was ‘dead’ for 11 years.
For those who have not read it, the story of my imprisonment and homecoming is described in the interview I gave to The Guardian newspaper here.
So on this night, remember all the times Allah has been kind to you in your life. For whenever you thank Him, He gives you more.