One of my biggest challenges in prison is being white [and Muslim],” Yahya wrote us. “The prison staff call me a traitor. As for the Muslims, most of them are taught to hate anyone who’s white.”
Yahya became Muslim a couple of years ago. Previously a Christian, he read the book “My Great Love for Jesus Lead Me to Islam”, and was inspired to take the shahada.
But until he received Tayba’s ISLAM 99 textbook nearly a year later, that was nearly the only book on Islam he had access to.
85% of what I know, I learned from Tayba’s materials,” Yahya told us.
But that’s not only because Tayba’s materials cover a lot of ground – it’s also because there are no Islamic books available to the inmates at Yahya’s prison.
No resources to learn correct beliefs. No resources to learn how to pray. And no qualified imam to teach them.
Yahya’s own life changed because of a handful of books and he wanted the same for others.
So he decided to take things into his own hands.
He began to skip meals regularly and sell the food allotted to him to other inmates. They pay him in stamps.
He has to go hungry often, but at the end of each month, Yahya collects a bit over $20 worth of stamps.
So what does he do with them? He mails them to an Islamic bookstore to buy a book.
Usually, he buys the Qur’an for a fellow Muslim inmate. Or a prayer rug and a kufi. Sometimes he buys something for the prison library, like the Sahih Bukhari copy he recently purchased.
Yahya also regularly appeals to outside organizations – sometimes they send additional Islamic books to the prison for free.
Thanks to him, the Muslims in prison are finally starting to learn their religion. They now have something to read at their weekly taleem sessions. Several have signed up for Tayba courses.
Other inmates are coming to Islam and other Muslims are finally learning how to pray and practice their religion.
And it all started with a book.