On Saturday, 11th may, 2019. I was, along with others, opportuned to go for a visitation to a prison yard, a graveyard, a home for orphans and disabled kids and a hospital in Zaria.
These visitations, organized by The National Association of Muslim Engineering and Technology Students (NAMETS, ABU), was one for us to fulfill one of the commandments of Allah (S.W.T) during the holy month of Ramadan; Giving charity to the poor and needy and helping the distressed, another way of earning rewards.
Masha Allah, I’m to say that a lot of lessons were carried back home from this trip, alongside a positive change in mindset, behaviour and a rise in consciousness of Allah and faith.
Our trip commenced in the morning. Well organized, we occupied three huge buses for we were way more than a hundred brothers and sisters and along with the donations from other Muslims at school, we set out for a trip to Zaria city (where those places were located).
I sat in a bus filled with fellow anxious sisters. Our first dropoff was at the prison yard and on getting there, I was swept off with naivety, some of us were coming to a prison for the first time.
The area in which the prison was situated housed quite a number of people and we were met with curious faces. The prison walls were huge and built in a way that an inmate would find it difficult to escape. The prison guards stood at attention with guns and serious faces, they scared me.
Because of prison rules, we were asked to select a group of 40 sisters 20 for each batch and 50 brothers, 25 for each batch to go unto the prison. I and some other sisters, despite our dread of being inside a prison, were curious enough to be among the 40, although at the end, all the sisters got to enter.
We were addressed and were asked to drop our phones and we entered the prison with cold feet. I entered with a fear of violent prisoners. But then, the male prisoners outside just stared at us and continued with their business.
Inside the prison, there were trees, a chapel, and also a mosque. We were marched to the female cell where there were just two women (Alhamdulillah); an old one and a young one with a baby.
Many of my sisters were heartbroken and couldn’t contain their tears and a volunteer from amongst us prayed for them,. The old woman amidst tears, kept saying ‘Ameen’ and the little boy was smiling at us.
It was sorrowful for such an innocent baby to be brought up in prison. Back outside, we were admonished on being grateful to Allah for our better situations, Allah’s decree was all it was and it could have been any of us in their shoes. All Glory belongs to Allah.
Our next journey was to the graveyard, a deserted and very quiet area. The dead nature of the atmosphere gave some of us chills and while entering, we were quiet.
Inside the graveyard, graves were located at the left side and the mounds of sands(graves) were many, some were washed up by previous rain, some were topped with gravels.
By Allah! there was no sight that scared me more than that. I wondered what the inhabitants were experiencing and how they could hear us trample.
After we had assembled, facing the graves, the Ameer (May Allah bless him abundantly) gave a touching admonishment; warning about chasing this Dunya as we’d never know when we’ll be buried, the trials of the grave, the beautiful fate of the righteous and vice versa for the evil.
Other brothers (May Allah shower upon them rewards) gave pieces of advice too that In sha Allah has begun to reform me (and some of us) for the better.
We were then asked to remove our shoes, go into the graveyard and pray on any grave we chose. I shuddered in fear, stepped into the gravesite, selected a grave and prayed for whomever was in it.
This moment marked one turning point in my life, I resolved to change there and then!(Alhamdulillah, I’m coping).
The advice we got was heartfelt ( I, at a point drew out my phone and completed the deletion of the music I had). The Ameer’s talk on life led away from Allah was scary, I know the majority there must’ve felt for their fate too.
Going back to the bus was quiet, and filled with reflection, in fact, our trip to the orphanage was quiet, there were so many things to ponder on.
At the orphanages (there were two) we divided into two sets and I entered the first one and the donations were taken in. The sight was heartbreaking, many of us had another breakdown.
There were disabled kids and orphans, different sicknesses, different things rendered them abnormal and I asked myself “what right does anyone of us have, to be ungrateful to our Lord?”, these kids were even smiling, laughing in their abnormalities, playing with each other like they were all content.
There was this imbecile who kept talking to his friend and grinning, he looked so happy. There was a cheerful girl in a wheelchair two women and some boys. They sat on a mat in the middle, surrounded by all of us.
Our honorable Ameer started another heartfelt lecture and urged our gratitude to Allah, whatever the situation. A baby was passed around, I carried the baby, it was beautiful and very light and it was said the baby was abandoned for the orphanage a week prior to our visit.
Imagine a newborn child, abandoned! The caretaker then gave us the history of the place and is life since then. Then we prayed for them and departed for the hospital.
We couldn’t get inside the hospital because of hospital protocols and other reasons given to us by the Former Wakeel and others.
We waited until the donations had been dropped off and the hospital, saluted and then we took off, back to school with so many things to reflect on.
This trip had an effect, a positive one which I pray would be permanent, on me and on others and served as a source of guidance for us.
Taqwahs have been increased and so has faith in some of us, so many lessons of gratitude and ways of living in Allah’s Noor have been learnt. I pray we get more like this.
“No matter the situation one find himself, there is always someone in a worse state. So be grateful and Allah will increase you in His bounties.”
Jazakumullahu Khairan to the organizers. Glory be to Allah.
Abu-Bakr Hanan is from the faculty of Arts, Department of English, and literary studies. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Twitter: @hanaan_abubakr; Instagram: @Hanaanbakr; Email: email@example.com