How to be a productive prisoner

When you think about prisoners you most likely think of those who are behind bars because of crimes they’ve committed. It’s time to flip that image around!

A prisoner is someone who is trapped and— temporarily— restricted in going home.

We’re all prisoners. The question is, what kind of prisoner are you?

In this week’s central ayah the Prophet Yusuf ‘alayhi sallam asks a thought-provoking question in an amazing dawah session in prison: O [my] two companions of prison, are separate lords better or Allah , the One, the Prevailing? [Quran, 12:39]

Let’s look into the concept of being a prisoner and discover four types of prison to contemplate.

1. The prison of desires

Ibn Taymiyyah raheemahullah said: The one imprisoned is the one who is prisoner to his desires. And the one behind bars is the one whose heart is barred from His Lord. Do you find you just have to earn money, whether you like it or not? Or that you must have that new dress or the newest phone, so much so that you spend all your money on them, not caring to give sadaqah?

Are you a prisoner of money, fashion, or even love? When these desires override your desire to please Allah, to think about Him, to pray to Him, and to read the Quran, then you know you have imprisoned your heart against your Lord.

But it’s not too late, take a moment to turn to Allah ‘azza wajal, repent to Him and to sincerely ask Him to free your heart and to fill it with a desire to worship Him.

Action point: Memorize and use this supplication: اللهُمَّ اغْفِرْ ذَنْبِي وَطَهِّرْ قَلْبِي، وَحَصِّنْ فَرْجِي
O Allah forgive my sin, cleanse my heart and guard his chastity [Ahmad]

2. The prison of the world

The Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: This world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever [Muslim]. Ask yourself truly: does this world feel like a prison or like a paradise to you?  Allah says, describing those who don’t believe, Indeed, those who do not expect the meeting with Us and are satisfied with the life of this world and feel secure therein and those who are heedless of Our signs. [Quran, 10:7]

Now matter how beautiful this life is for you, it is a prison compared to the perfection that awaits you.

Action point: Deeply reflect on this: a true believer sees this dunya (world) as a prison that keeps him from being with Allah ‘azza wajal. Test yourself each day if your heart longs more to be with Allah or to be in this world.

3. The prison of hell

Let the Quran take you on a journey through time and imagine you are about to go to the grand court of Allah on the Day of Judgment. He is the Ultimate Judge and there will be no lawyers. Allah says: And We have made Hell, for the disbelievers, a prison-bed [Quran 17:8].

Imagine an eternal prison where the guards are stern and harsh angels. Then imagine the breath-taking freedom in the fields of Paradise. The choice is yours: be laid back and be “free” to fulfill all your desires and be imprisoned in the Fire, or chose sacrifice and strife in this world, to enjoy eternal freedom in Paradise!

Actionpoint: Memorize and use this supplication from the sunnah after salah:
رَبَّنَا آَتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآَخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Our Lord, give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.

4. Muslim prisoners: Three action points

Do you know that there’s a forgotten act of worship which is one of the greatest ways to come close to Allah and bring you the help of Allah Himself? It is your care for the Muslim prisoners.

Ibn Taymiyyah raheemahullah said: Freeing the prisoners is one of the greatest compulsory deeds and spending ransom money and other means towards that, is one of the greatest ways to come close to Allah. And the Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: . . . And no man helps a Muslim at a time when his honour is being belittled or his rights violated except that Allah will help him at a place in which he loves to have His help. [Abu Dawood]
Action point #1: Write to prisoners.
Even though it might be hard to free prisoners, writing to them is a virtuous way of support. An example of this concept is, where you can simply email a letter and it will be send automatically to over 100 prisoners on your behalf.

Action point #2: Support their families.
Another way of looking after prisoners’ needs is by looking after their families. Get informed about families of prisoners and see if you can help them with groceries, lifts, babysitting, or financial help, and make it a habit (e.g. get groceries each week).

Action point #3: Make dua.
This should be number 1. The Messenger of Allah salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:  Fear the dua of he who has been wronged, even if he is a disbeliever, for there is no veil between it (and Allah) [Ahmad]. Our homework this week is to make sincere dua for the Muslim prisoners and do it every day from now, for example:

O Allah, the Living, the Everlasting, release the Muslim captives and make their hearts firm, give patience to their families, reward them with the highest Jannah.  Protect us from the hands of those who do not fear you, make us appreciate and use our freedom to do good deeds, ameen!

Imagine if every one who reads this dua from the bottom of their heart  for all our imprisoned brothers, sisters and even children worldwide and Allah is the Answerer of supplications.

Back to the central ayah: O [my] two companions of prison, are separate lords better or Allah , the One, the Prevailing?  Break free your shackles from money, fashion and other desires, give your heart to Allah ‘azza wajal alone and make yourself a productive prisoner in this world until it’s time to be free in Paradise insha’Allah!

To learn beautiful lessons about your relationship with the Quran, read this poem written by a prisoner.

Praying you will benefit,

Khawlah bint Yahya~ United Kingdom

THE AYAH JOURNAL is dedicated to inspiring you to open the Quran every day, pick one ayah, and apply it to your own life by making acting on that ayah your mission for the day. Let’s bring back the message of the Quran to our daily lives! Check or for examples.

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