Ten years ago this month, in August 2006, a fellow prisoner presented me with this plaque that he made for my parents out of 6000 model matchsticks, when we were both detained at HM Prison Woodhill in the UK.
It took him three months to build it. He crafted each brick out of matchsticks then sanded each one down. He stained the outer section with coffee granules mixed with water (the yellow is from some acrylic paint that he managed to borrow from somewhere.)
Today, it hangs off the wall of my parents’ sitting room.
In old Arabic style, it says the words taken from the Quranic verse at 9:40, “La tahzan, innallaha ma’ana” which translates as “Don’t be sad, for Allah is with us.”
These are the exact words that the Prophet Muhammad (ss) said to his friend and Companion Abu Bakr (ra) when the two of them were hiding in a cave from the Quraysh death squads that had been sent to hunt them.
The bounty hunters were standing just a few feet above the two men hiding in the cave below, when Abu Bakr whispered to the Prophet (ss): “O Messenger of Allah, were any of them to only look towards his feet, he would see us and then it would be all over, Islam will be finished.”
With complete confidence in his Creator, the Prophet (ss) turned to Abu Bakr and replied, “How can any two be scared for whom Allah is the third? Don’t be sad, for Allah is with us.”
When the hunters looked down towards the cave entrance they saw that a spider had spun its web all across it. Concluding that there was no way anyone would have entered this cave in years, they left.
Today, I and over a billion people in the world are Muslims because of that spider sent by Allah.
The prisoner who made this for me is serving a life sentence in isolation in a US prison despite being innocent of what he was accused of. I think of him and pray for him every time I see that plaque on the wall.
Things worked out for my parents because they got their son back after 11 years.
In these words is a lesson for all of us, whether Muslim or not. No matter what worries and calamities you are going through in your life, have confidence and trust in God that He will always make a way out for you.
It may take time, but things will always somehow work out in the end. No one is sad who has Allah with them.
Read about why I was in prison at tinyurl.com/babarspeaks and read more about my prison experiences in my blog at babarahmad.com.