Is there an effective solace for those suffering from the misfortune of imprisonment?
I shall offer in three “Points” an effective solace for those who are
suffering from the misfortune of imprisonment, and for those who kindly and
faithfully help them and supervise their food, which comes from outside.
First point: Each day spent in prison may gain as much reward as ten
days’ worship does. With respect to their fruits, it may change those
transient hours into enduring hours, and through a few years’ punishment may
be the means to be saved from millions of years of eternal imprisonment. A
believing prisoner can gain this most significant and valuable advantage by
performing the five pre-scribed prayers, repenting and asking God’s
forgiveness for the sins that were the cause of his imprisonment, and be
thankful to God in patience. Prison is, in reality, an obstacle to certain
sins; it prevents them.
Second point: As the disappearance of pleasure causes pain, so also does
the disappearance of pain give pleasure. Indeed, on thinking of past happy,
enjoyable days, everyone feels a pang of regret and longing, and utters a
sigh of grief. Recalling calamitous, painful days of the past, one feels
some sort of pleasure because they are gone, and says, “All praise and
thanks be to God, that calamity has passed leaving its reward.” He breathes
a sigh of relief. Clearly, an hour’s temporary pain leaves be-hind an
immaterial pleasure in the spirit, while an hour’s pleasure leaves a pain.
This is the reality and past hours of misfortunes together with their
pains have disappeared, and the imagined distress of the future has not yet
come. Since pain does not come from nothing, it is foolish—in the same way
as continually eating and drinking today because of the probability of being
hungry and thirsty in several days’ time—to be thinking now of past and
future pains. They are pains which simply do not exist. It is foolish to
show impatience, and ignoring one’s faulty self, to moon as though
complaining about God. So long as the power of patience is not wasted for
the past and future, and is spent to bear the present distress, it suffices
for it, and the distress decreases tenfold.
Let this not be understood as complaining. This is my third period of
imprisonment. The Di-vine Favor pointed this out to me in a few days of
material and spiritual afflictions and illnesses, the like of which I had
never before experienced in my life. Particularly the despair and distress
coming from my being unable to serve the Qur’an crushed me. I then accepted
my distressing illness and imprisonment. Since it is great profit for a
poor man like me who waits at the door of the grave to turn an hour (which
he might have spent in heedlessness otherwise), into ten hours’ worth of
worship, I thanked God.
Third point: There is great reward in compassionately attending
prisoners, in providing for them the food they need, and in soothing their
spiritual wounds with consolation. Also, serving them with food (which comes
from outside the prison) is the cause of spiritual reward equivalent to
giving that food as alms, and this reward is added to the record of the good
deeds of those, outside, who take part in this, together with the guards
concerned. If the miserable prisoner is old or ill or poor or with-out
support or protection, then the reward of such alms-giving multiplies.
However, in order to gain this valuable benefit, one should perform the
daily prescribed prayers, so that such service is done for God’s sake. Also,
one should hasten to the help of prisoners with sincerity, compassion and
cheerfulness, and in such manner as not to make them feel obliged.
In His Name, be He glorified.
There is not a thing but it glorifies Him with praise.
Upon you be peace and His Mercy and blessing everlastingly.