I spent 12 Ramadans in prison. Six of them in small group isolation. Two of them in complete solitary confinement.
One Ramadan I was in a cell where I could neither see the sun nor a clock. I would start and end my fast judging by the times the officers brought meals to my door.
For two Ramadans I ate cold bland food that had been left lying in my cell for up to 13 hours. I never ate a single date those two years, but I saw dates in my dreams.
The prison would give me one orange a day. I would squeeze it with my hands into juice and put the cup next to the air-conditioning vent to cool it until my fast opened.
I bought small pouches of runny processed “honey” from the prison commissary and I would squeeze a pouch into my mouth to open my fast.
I bought this herbal tea which I would have with warm tap water every night because I didn’t have a kettle:
For 12 Ramadans I prayed taraweeh, alone, in my cell. It conjures a romantic, mythical image doesn’t it?
One Ramadan I was next to a prisoner who would spend all night shouting out of the window to his friends in the nearby block.
One night, while I was praying taraweeh, that prisoner was having a shouting conversation describing all the different women that he had slept with.
In sexually explicit detail he described all their body parts. He did this throughout the hour I was praying. He didn’t know I was praying.
Why am I giving all these details?
Because my Ramadans in captivity were some of the best Ramadans I ever spent in my life. I would not exchange them for the world.
I knew that I was in prison temporarily and that one day my imprisonment would end.
I didn’t spend my days and nights in sadness, grieving for a Ramadan with my family, luscious food and serene taraweeh at the mosque.
I knew that those Ramadans would come again one day. And they did.
Looking back I do miss those Ramadans in solitude. They were special.
In years to come you will miss this Ramadan and tell your children about it.
The late boxer Muhammad Ali (ra) once said, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
Have a blessed Ramadan. Spread love and hope. Be generous.
Remember, charity is not just giving money or food. Uplifting a sad or lonely person is one of the best forms of charity.
Try to finish the Quran once this Ramadan. Just once. If you manage that, you will have achieved much.
Repent for your past sins, pray for those who have passed or are sick, beg Allah to lift this coronavirus tribulation upon us and let the sun shine once again on the world
Listen to a podcast interview about my Ramadan in prison.
Read my story about why I spent 11 years in prison.