From Prison to Pulpit:
A sage once saw a scorpion hurrying along. Intrigued by its strange behavior he decides to follow it . The scorpion rushes to a stream, hops on the back of a frog which carries it across. The scorpion climbs the opposite bank and races to a tree where a drunken man is lying. Hovering over this drunken man is a venomous snake which is about to strike. The scorpion immediately stings the snake causing it to move away from the sleeping man.
The sage is puzzled by all of this. He looks up to the heavens enquiringly, seeking an understanding of this.” A voice is heard “Oh my pious servant, I also care for my sinful ones”.
The second anecdote is about a man called Bishr. Bishr bin Harith lived a life of sin, and one day, as he was staggering along the road drunk, he finds a piece of paper on which was written the name of Allah. With reverence in his heart Bishr picks up the paper, cleans it, buys some perfume with his last coin, perfumes the paper and then places it respectfully on the shelf in his house.
That night a very pious man has a dream in which he is commanded to tell Bishr:
“You have given respect to my name I shall honour you in this world and the hereafter.”
The pious man was perplexed by the dream, as he knew Bishr to be a man of ill reputation. In the morning he goes in search of Bishr. The pious man finds Bishr at a drinking party in a pub and informs him of the dream and the message from Allah. Bishr immediately understood the pious man and tells his companions:
I have a call and I am going. I bid you farewell. You will never see me here again.
From that day onwards, Bishr lived such a saintly life that few equaled him in piety. He became the pupil of Fuzail ibn Ayaaz, a great scholar of his time. Bishr had a habit of walking barefoot therefore he was known as “Bishr the Barefoot”.
These two incidents illustrate the unconditional love and kindness of Allah Taala, the hope of redemption and of a second chance in life. The defining moment, the moment of hidayat and guidance can come anywhere, at the mosque, at the prison or at the pub.
As strange as it may sound, sometimes those seeking Allah have to go out to find Allah and sometimes Allah himself comes to the sinful ones. Allah Taala’s ways are mysterious
The 30 November 2013 marked a momentous occasion in the history of (Muslim Prison board) MPB KZN. The MPB KZN is engaged in providing spiritual, educational and social upliftment programs since 1981. Moulana Saeed Nacne , an ex inmate graduated as an Aalim (an Islamic Scholar). This is the first time in the history of MPB KZN that an ex inmate has qualified as an Imaam. It is indeed a great milestone.
This transformation from prison to pulpit is no ordinary achievement and not without divine guidance. Allah Taala says “through the Quran Allah Taala guides to the paths of peace those who seek his pleasure and removes them from darkness into light by his order and guides them to the straight path”. Allah Taala guides from the darkness of disbelief and ignorance into the light of belief and knowledge.
The change that Ml has made to his life is truly inspiring and the story behind is equally motivating.
There is so much distance between the person that entered the prison and the person that is present here today.
Yesterday he was languishing in the prisons, today he is been invited to take the podiums.
Yesterday he was just a number in prison clothes; today he is recognized as a man of the cloth
Yesterday he was amongst the worst of society; today he is amongst the leaders of society
Yesterday he was incarcerated to protect society today his empowered to benefit society
Yesterday he was without credentials; today he joins the file and rank of the Ulama. The Prophet (SAW) said “The Ulama are the inheritors of the legacy of the Prophets.”
This entire transformation process from prison to pulpit is only through the grace and favour of Allah Taala. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said “When Allah Taala wishes good for someone he gives him the understanding of Deen”
One of the most difficult things for ex offenders to accomplish is finding employment. For many the stigma of a criminal record is just too much to overcome.
What we seeing here today is a clear manifestation of the promises of the Quraan. This event drives home three very important lessons for us.
The first lesson: Allah Taala says “Oh my servants who have wronged their souls, never lose hope of Allah’s mercy verily he forgives all sins. He is most forgiving and most merciful”.
The second lesson: Indeed it is Allah Taala alone who grants honour and disgrace to whomsoever he wishes. He can change the status of a person from a position of honour to disgrace and from disgrace to a position of honour.
The third lesson is: therefore don’t be judgmental for Allah Taala is the controller of destinies.
Besides the Prophets everybody else falters in their own way. Somebody said it very beautifully: Don’t judge me because I sin differently from you.
Brothers and sisters, for the inmates this is a tangible sign of hope that one of their own could become an Imaam. This says to them that the Almighty is for them too, and a proof that Faith Based Programmes work.
Academic achievement for inmates is a way to turn their lives around and become better role models for their children.
In conclusion I wish to quote none other than the famous SA icon Mr. Nelson Mandela “in my country we go to prison first and then become President.”
NB: The Podcasts of Ml Saeed’s journey to Islam can be accessed on the Cii website.
From Prison to Pulpit: