Twelve years ago today, while in prison, I witnessed a divine sign during the month of Ramadan. It happened during the night of 19 Ramadan of 2009 while I was imprisoned in the Detainee Unit of HM Prison Long Lartin in Worcestershire, west central England.

At the time I was going through a particular difficult phase of my ordeal. I had been held without trial for over five years at that point and there was no end in sight.

And for the last nine months, the Detainee Unit had been locked down from the rest of the prison, placing the seven of us unconvicted Muslim detainees there into isolation.

Looking at this image, the Detainee Unit is slightly to the left of the exact centre of the photograph, where six small green rectangle ventilation ducts are clearly visible. I was in cell number 112.

Shortly before the Fajr prayer, I woke up to eat the pre-dawn suhoor meal. Suddenly, I realised that my entire cell was filled with the scent of a beautiful perfume. It was a high quality scent, unlike the cheap perfumes available in the prison.

In the morning I mentioned it in passing to my neighbour, an Egyptian detainee who at that point had been held without trial for 10 years. He told me that around the same time that I smelled the perfume, he was in the middle of his prayer.

Suddenly, he noticed a light shine out of the wall and onto his face for a few moments, before disappearing.

As I witnessed during the war in Bosnia, scents and sights like this out of nowhere are associated with the presence of a heavenly presence such as angels.

Enduring a lengthy hardship can be very lonely at times. Praying, supplicating and reading the Quran is not enough. Sometimes you need something more.

Signs like this are sent by Allah to reassure you when you are going through a tough time, that you are not alone. That His angels are with you, even if nobody else is. That He is still with you.

I share more of my prison experiences in my blog at