Years into my long prison sentence, one night I sat in my cell and prayed: God, if Islam is for me, make me a Muslim and if Christianity is for me, keep me a Christian. I awoke the next morning and had no doubt I wanted to be a Muslim. I was 22.
It’s hard to learn about Islam in prison. For years, I had to self-study with the few resources I could. It was Tayba Foundation that gave me the chance to go further. I’ve been studying with them and doing private lessons with [founder] Shaykh Rami Nsour for the past 10 years.
Today, I’m an inmate-instructor and head clerk in my prison facility’s Chaplaincy department. I’ve gone beyond Tayba’s curriculum, but continue to pursue my private studies with Shaykh Rami, teaching other inmates what I learn and helping develop the Tayba curriculum further. I even advise non-Muslims. I’ll vaguely say, “a great saint did this or said that”, and people are more open to taking the lesson on board to improve their lives. What I’m learning – and teaching – deters our past from dominating what we have the potential to be, once we are released from prison.