Ramadhan on empty
Ramadhan was harder without him, definitely. Usually, we would break fast together, and do taraweeh at the masjid. We’d wake up for suhoor, and you would remember all the things you lost in the month of Ramadan. It’s a month where you can get so much reward and blessings. He’s very much a person who would bring that because he loves Ramadhan. We would feed off his enthusiasm and devotion. When he wasn’t there, it was just not the same. I think most of my Ramadhans just went by in a kind of way that I wish they didn’t.
As mothers, we try to lessen the blow for the children. You try to cover up a lot of things because you don’t want them to be sad. On Eid, we would feel it. The children would be excited because it’s Eid, but I’d feel sad. There’s something missing and it’s not a real celebration. He’s not just missing; he is somewhere he shouldn’t be. If someone was deceased, that’s closure. But this person is just literally detained, he’s not allowed to be here sharing in things. That was difficult.
Released to restrictions
When my husband was released, he had a tag, and was constantly wary of the time or area he was in. If we were out for the day, he’d have to be careful not to pass any train stations or airports by mistake. I remember one time applying to renew his driving licence and accidently putting our home address instead of his hostel address, and I thought gosh, that means a recall to prison. It got so bad that my husband said he’d rather go back to prison, spend five years there and come out totally free, it’s easier. When you’re out, you can’t keep on top of it all, you are going to make mistake and end up back in prison. This certainly impacted him and most definitely impacted me. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere and wouldn’t want to do anything that would risk everything.
He applied for jobs but who’s going to give you a job? They have his passport so he can’t show ID. He can’t do lots of things; at one point, he couldn’t have a smart phone, so any delivery jobs he wanted to do, he couldn’t. He wanted to volunteer to support vulnerable people by phone during the lockdown but they said he can’t. They make out they want you to do all these things, to live in society and contribute, and be that normal person, but everything they do contradicts that whole point.
One in a million
When I contacted HHUGS, they put me in touch with a volunteer alhamdulillah, who was lovely. They do so much – I’ve never been able to express how much and how unique they are. I remember on the first Eid without him, the packages came and the children though it’s from Abu. There were presents and they opened it asking who it is from. I read the card and it said something like “From your family” – that was so beautiful and heart-warming. I really thought it is another family. They don’t see you as any different. You don’t need to be shy, or scared, or embarrassed. You don’t need to hide or pretend like you have to be somebody else.
Financially, they have helped. They want you to take without feeling guilty. They give us food vouchers every month. They would give Qurbani meat, which is a huge help. They would help with the children’s education, paying for prison visits, and Winter clothes. They help with the cost of gas and electric, especially this year because it’s been cold, and prices have gone up.
I can’t express how much joy HHUGS have brought me at a time like that, and how much I am indebted to them actually. One of my daughters said, “Why don’t we send them something?”, and so we did. The Eid parties! There are so many families there, you are not the odd one out, you don’t have to hide what’s actually happened to you. Everyone else will have a similar unfortunate story, and that’s what was really unique- you don’t get that anywhere else, alhamdulillah.
Allah loves you and He shows His love to you, in so many different ways. I see HHUGS as one of those ways, where Allah is showing you that you are loved, that they are here to help you and support you. It’s not just because they give you so much physically and financially, it’s the fact they know what you’re going through is not right. I was just astounded to see there was an organisation solely for this. Everyone I speak to at HHUGS is so sincere, and they’re doing it for the sake of Allah.
People don’t realise how many families are suffering in silence. Many Muslims will shun them. You have many charities, but none like this. You don’t know how many families with school children are having PREVENT and social services involved. This isn’t just about prison; this can happen to your own child in school for just saying something and their children are taken away. I would implore you to give to HHUGS. When you give with your right hand, so your left hand doesn’t see it, then your reward is already guaranteed. The du’as of the families will be with you. You will receive something so much better: your reward will be with Allah.
The families can’t thank you enough, their whole life changes because of what you’re doing. They’re one in a million.