By Eric Maloney aka Hassan Faraq Khan – ASPC Florence, East Unit.
Compiled by Victoria Trull
I awoke to the c.o.’s at the front of my cell sliding my breakfast tray through the food trap. Three cold pancakes, one cold piece of turkey ham, a cup of oatmeal, cold syrup, and a warm milk. I grabbed my tray and sat down at my desk to eat. As was my morning ritual, I turned the t.v. on to watch the news while I ate breakfast. The first thing I saw was a plane flying into what looked to be the World Trade Center. I changed the channel, but the same image seemed to be on every channel. Upon first glance it seemed to be like a movie.
I put ear buds in so I could hear what was happening. “A terrorist attack huh?” I thought. It seemed like as soon as I started listening the reporter was blaming Islam as some group I never heard about before called Al-Qaida.
Before this day, I never gave Islam a thought. That is, until the news reporter explained that the Qur’an says to kill all unbelievers and destroy America and Israel. “How could these Muslims claim that their book is from God?” I thought, “God wouldn’t tell people to kill other people just for not believing like them!” As I sat and watched those planes fly into the World Trade Center over and over again, as the news had it on a loop, I decided that I wanted to read the Qur’an for myself.
As I set out on my mission to get a Qur’an I started in what I thought was a logical place…the library. They did not have one copy. So I decided to go to the unit chaplain. He would not give me one because I was not a Muslim. It seemed like the more I tried to get a Qur’an, the more people didn’t want me to have one. I also noticed that no matter what religion, anyone could get twenty different kinds of Bibles. This made me feel like maybe there was something in this book people did not want me to see. This made me more determined to get this Qur’an.
I was told that in order to get a Qur’an I would need to formally change my religion from Christian to Islam with D.O.C. In order to do that, I needed to fill out a “change of religious preference form.” They were now telling me that I had to denounce Christianity in order just to read the Qur’an. I would not be intimidated, so I filled the form out and turned it in. Next I was told that I had to have an outside source verify that they knew me and that I practice their religion. This was the dilemma for me. I wasn’t trying to be a Muslim, I merely wanted to read the Qur’an. So I wrote the T.I.C. and explained to them my dilemma and what I needed and they sent D.O.C. a nice letter.
Finally , after jumping through all of their hoops I had exhausted their excuses. I was given a Qur’an after this long ordeal. I was excited to read this book. From the moment I touched the book I rarely put it down. I was in awe of this book for it was so unlike the Bible. The more I read the book the more I knew that the reporter had lied about the Qur’an. In fact, it was quite the opposite to what she said. I learned that this book was about peace and justice. I learned that this book was about proper worship and about that which was forbidden. I learned about prophets I had known about and some I had never heard of. All explained in such a simple way.
I was in prison and felt that I had found what I didn’t know I was looking for in this book. I was humbled because I felt that Allah (SWT) had honored and blessed me by guiding me to this book.
After reading the Qur’an cover to cover three times I was transferred to a different prison. The man in the cell next to me came over to meet me as I was unpacking. As we were talking he saw me pull out my Qur’an and put it on top of my T.V. and asked if I was Muslim. I explained to him that I had been studying the book and that I loved the book, but no I wasn’t a Muslim. After all I had went through to get the book, I half expected him to tell me I couldn’t have it if I wasn’t Muslim. However, he explained to me that if I felt that way about the book then indeed I was a Muslim. I brushed that comment off as I didn’t want to be rude, but I didn’t feel like a Muslim. Whatever that was supposed to mean. He invited me to attend the Friday prayer with him to which I accepted. He got me approved with administration to go and I went.
As I stepped into the room the first thing I noticed was that there were no chairs and everyone was sitting n a beautiful prayer rug. As I removed my shoes in order to sit down I heard the most beautiful sound that I have ever heard in my life…the ADHAN. I felt it in my soul and knew at that very moment that I was a Muslim. That day I took shahada and made Islam my way of life. I have pursued learning all that I can and acting on that which I learn for the sake of Allah (swt). So I guess you could say that out of the ashes of 9/11 a believer was awakened. All praise is to do Allah (swt).