“I was molested from age 4,” brother Allen told us.
The abuse had a terrible impact on him as a child:
I always struggled to fit in,” he said. “I just wanted to be happy, but I didn’t know how…”
Allen was blessed with a bright mind, always excelling in school without effort. Later his curiosity would come to his rescue, but in the meantime, his difficult childhood threw him down a life of drugs and crime.
He tried to get away from it all by enlisting with the National Guard, but soon fell prey to drugs again and was expelled.
In and out of prison, he spent his time on the outside with “drugs, parties, and women”.
During his last sentencing, Allen was surprised by the light sentence.
“I would’ve accepted 10 or more years if they offered it,” he told us. “[That’s because] I wanted to be done with things, so I hung myself in the jail cell.”
Somehow, jail staff were able to save him in time. Allen continued on in prison, depressed and tired of life.
But in the end, his curious mind brought him from the brink. Exposed to a number of Muslims in his prison, he decided to see what they were all about.
I thought Muslims were all terrorists,” Allen explained. “I wanted to see why they hated America. I wanted to know more [about it]. I always wanted to know things I didn’t know and I thought there’s no better place to start than where I was [in prison].”
So he began to attend jumu’ah prayers at his prison. This experience, as well as a Muslim mentor, had a profound impact on him.
I knew this was right. I felt at home and was happy, regardless of the circumstances. I took my shahada and have read and read and read since. I feel great.”
Since becoming Muslim, Allen faces a number of challenges, including opposition from his family, his old associates in crime, and his Islamophobic cellmate. But he doesn’t think much of these challenges now that he has found Islam.
In fact, he sees incarceration as the “greatest gift” God has given him, since it led him to his faith.
Needless to say, when Allen found out about Tayba, he jumped at the opportunity to learn more.
“I was smiling and happy when I got the materials,” he tells us. And he’s got big plans for his learning: “I want to study regularly and insha’Allah become a positive influence on my family, my children, and my community.”
Upon release, Allen hopes to continue learning while taking care of his children and paying off his extensive debts. Insha’Allah, Tayba will be there to support him.