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Seto Moretti como Rahmatullah he will be here to whom Welcome to reflections Episode 19 and part three of the prison tapes as we wrap up the whole journey through prison last episode I talked about how I nearly got taken out in prison guy tried to stab me we didn't try to stop me this time he tried to kill me. But it didn't work Alhamdulillah other Allahu Masha Allah this what we say as Muslims, that it is the will of Allah and he do he does whatsoever he pleases
we're going to wrap it up with you know the end of my prison journey and and what happened upon my release. And then in the next series of podcasts will start going through that initial phases of me getting out how I came to be the shamans that travels around the world, the struggles that I've seen, and the struggles that I've personally been through. So that hopefully by by the time we reach the present and start going a little bit forward, then a lot of people will begin to understand why I am the way that I am why I do some of the things that I do, why I deal with things in a certain way etc. And also within that, you know, we're going to talk about things in this podcast that I
feel need to be addressed. Then always going to be going all the way back into my past but the whole point of calling it reflections was was to be able to discuss things that I am reflecting upon at any given time.
Now we left off, you know, with me getting moved to Tiger river, me making it to work release me deciding that wasn't for me, me getting sent back to Tiger river, and that is where I would finish out my bid as they call it in prison.
During that last year, though, during that last year, something would happen that would haunt me till this day, something that happened that would completely change a lot of things about me
towards that last year.
You know, my my goal and my plan was to leave the SATCOM department of corrections, go back to Greenville, help my grandmother out as I should because she was getting up in age. And you know, she she needed a lot of help. So my goal was to get out and be a help to her. And and then you know, just go on and try to figure out how I was going to navigate being a Muslim after having learned you know, as much about the deen as I could, in those four years, how I was going to navigate becoming a part of the Muslim community going back to the same community that I had left after taking my Shahada
and, and all of that was fine. And well I was starting to get all my ducks in a row as they say I was a short timer, my bid was going to an end. So I was kind of more keeping myself keeping to myself, I did not want to get in any trouble, anything that could you know, extend my sentence. Because you know, if you got write ups, if you had in trouble, you know, all of that stuff could add to your sentence because I want ended up doing three years in almost nine months out of out of five, and you can end up doing the whole five if you don't, you know if you don't keep your stuff together. So, I was just moseying along, counting the days, you know, till I got out I didn't even
really know the exact date that I was going to get out. I didn't want to go and find out because, you know, I just wanted to work towards I was gonna wait until I had maybe, you know, around a couple months left, and I'd go and ask, you know, what is my exact release date.
I got called to the warden's office.
I was called to the warden's office. And, you know, I thought, you know, maybe this was has something to do with my release, you know, maybe there was some paperwork that needed to be done. You know, I had, I had about maybe nine months left. So I said, you know, let me go up there and see what he has to say. I went into the Lord's office, he said, you know, have a seat and I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I'm in trouble. What did I do?
The last thing I need is any sort of trouble right now. He sat me down. And he told me
to call my dad, and he gave me You know, my phone to call my dad.
So I called my father.
And when, when, when my dad answered the phone, he was crying. And let me let me tell you brothers and sisters, I had not seen my dad cry, or heard him cry. Any time in my life.
You know, I was raised in that very
much a civil
were men. Men don't cry. Men don't show their feelings. You know, men toughen it up, you walk it off America, break my leg and my dad would be like, walk it off son walking off boy.
My dad was crying. And I knew something was really wrong.
And he told me, I used to call my, he told me Mimi has passed away.
I used to call my grandmother Mimi. I called my grandfather papa. And I Graham, I called my grandmother Mimi. And my cousins, my first cousin, called her mama he.
He said, Mimi's passed away in her sleep.
the person I trusted the most in this world,
the person who had sheltered me from as much of the trauma of my childhood that she could absolutely, you know, protect me from
the person whom I would say I had the most low four on this planet
And I'm in prison.
I never got a chance to go home
and show her that I had changed.
I never got a chance to go home and show her that I was going to keep my promise of getting out of prison and staying out of trouble.
I didn't get a chance to show her that I could become the man that that she knew I could become.
She's gone. I didn't even get to see her. Much for those for those four years in prison. I saw her one time. Sorry one time. And that one time I saw her was only a couple months before she passed away.
Because she was not able to make I think it was like a two and a half hour drive. Maybe a two hour drive to where I was at. You know, she just was not in in in a condition to be able to make that drive alone. And my dad wasn't was not coming to see me in prison. So
I didn't get a chance to see your night just spoken to her a couple days before because I used to call her every Friday evening.
And now she's she's gone.
And I had to go to her funeral.
uniform, which is completely khaki uniform back then I had to go to wear them with scdc written all over the back prisoner written down the leg.
All of my extended family home I was already considered you know, a black sheep at this time because nobody in my family had ever been to prison. They were all you know, military families. You know, they were all
decent families well to do. And and here I am
going to my grandmother's funeral, on a prison bus with prison guards with guns. And I had to be fully shackled. I had to have handcuffs, leg cuffs, and a chain that attached between the handcuffs and the leg cuffs rattling around as I walked into the funeral home where my grandmother's funeral would take place.
And everyone looking at me that there's the black sheep of the family. Nobody would speak to me.
Nobody even wanted to have anything to do with me at that point.
And I went and you know, said goodbye to my grandmother.
For the final time I would ever see her
and sit through that funeral service. I didn't get a chance to go home and tell her what I learned about the religion. get a chance to call her to Islam. You know, I thought I had enough time to get out and do that. But just like I said when
my mother passed away, in Episode Two of reflections, you don't.
You don't have time. If you think you have time. It's It's It's a trick. You don't have time. Brothers and sisters, if there is someone in your life that you want to fix your relationship with. Do it now. Do it now. Call them today. If you've had problems with your family, call them today or go and see them today and try to fix that relationship today.
If you have problems with your parents, parents, if you have problems with your adult children, if you have problems with your brothers and sisters, or even close friends that you've known for your whole life, you know when things have gotten a little bit rough, I don't care what's happened. I don't care how much you know harmie things had in between. I don't care what they've done.
Go make it right for you.
Don't even if you're not doing this for them, go and make things right. Or at least open the door to make things right for you. Because when they are gone, I promise you, I promise you, you will wish you had done so you wish you had said you will wish you had said more. You will wish you had been more. Because once it's gone, they're gone.
And during the funeral, I remember specifically my uncle, my dad's older brother, he really despised me at this point in my life, because, you know, he blamed a lot of my grandmother's declining health
over those four years due to me being in prison and the stress it put on her and
he could be right. You know, he could 100% be right. I know, she worried about me every single day, especially after me getting, you know, stabbed and almost dying in prison. She was always constantly worried. She was Steven, tell me call her every day. She didn't care how much it cost. And I refused to do that. Because I know that would be a burden on her.
And she's gone.
And I remember after the funeral, you know, everybody's kind of standing around, and the guards gave me a few minutes, you know, to go and see her again, after everybody left, before they close the casket. And I wasn't even allowed to go to the burial site, nothing like that.
And I was sitting in a corner by myself and my aunt.
father's older brother's wife. I had spent many years
many summers with them. They lived at that time in Alabama, right outside of Birmingham, Alabama. And I used to go spend my summers there because my first cousin Katherine was my was like my best friend growing up like it was probably the person one of the people I was closest to.
Overall was was my first cousin. And so I spent many summers in their home, like two months at a time. So I was quite close to that family.
She came to me, and
I thought she was gonna chew me out. You know, I thought that I was gonna get blamed for my grandmother's death, which I was blaming myself already.
She came to me and she said, you know, she loved you most.
I think she said, I think she loved you more than she loved her own children.
And she had a special place in her heart for you.
your grandfather, my grandfather died of a heart attack, sudden heart attack in 1993.
And, and he got out of bed and he was dead before he made it to the front door to try to go to the hospital. But
as he was on the kitchen floor dying.
My grandmother had told her that he told me take care of Josh, take care of Josh, the kids had a rough life.
So do your best to take care of him. And she did it. She kept a word. She took care of me. She She was my mother. For the majority of my life, the only mother figure that I I knew.
I loved her to death. I miss her tremendously. To this day. I randomly just dream of my grandmother while I'll see something that reminds me of her all eat something that reminds me of something that she used to make.
And it hurts because I didn't get to say goodbye. I didn't get to say the things that I needed to say and that I wanted to say I didn't have the chance.
Time is not on your side brothers and sisters. If you have things you need to make right with someone, make it right with them.
Make it right with Him.
So I lost my grandmother in my last year of prison. And
that was the hardest thing I've had to endure
in prison, getting stabbed, I'd rather get stabbed 10 more times than do that. You know, that's one of my top three, I would say worst experiences in the entire history of my life beyond the loss of my mother. The abuse that I suffered as a child and then in my grandmother losing her like that.
And so my whole plan for when I got out of prison was gone.
Because the house was supposed to be inherited by me.
The house that that she owned was supposed to be inherited by me but it ended up getting sold off
her recipe book and my grandmother my
grandmother was, was a southern lady. She was the epitone of a homemaker and a homemaker is a serious profession. She could cook like nobody's business, Southern Cooking, and she had Irish roots My grandmother was was Irish. Her last name was shared with Ruth share.
Her favorite dish to cook for me and it will became my favorite dish growing up was corned beef and cabbage, which isn't which is an Irish dish. And she was she to make Southern food cornbread and catfish and fried chicken and collard greens and Black Eyed Peas and candy yams and she was a baker, she was a pro level Baker. It was always something baking. My grandfather had her a brick brick oven built in, she used to
she used to bake all the time I would come running in.
I would come running in after school. And where we where we came in was right next to the kitchen and I would come you know barging in, she'd be like stop stomping you're gonna you know, make my cake fall. I remember hearing that so much as a kid, you're gonna make the cake full.
And our cakes were wonderful. And she had a recipe book that she had put together. For for me to pass on down through my family.
My stepmother made sure I didn't get that. I don't know what she did with it. But it's gone. I had a very expensive collection of baseball cards. I was a baseball card collector as a kid, by the way. And some of those baseball cards right now would have been worth buccos of money.
She sold them all off at a very low rate, low price. And I'm I've even seen now how baseball cards have gone up and collectability and I'm just like,
but but my whole plan fell apart. I didn't know I had no I had no idea what I was going to do at that point. My dad had moved to Florida, to Jacksonville. And I was living with a roommate. And I I didn't I wasn't I had no I had no intention of going there. So I started looking around, you know, I started looking to go live in
Fairfax, Virginia, possibly because I wanted to attend the mahad that was there at the time. That was a branch of the Islamic University of Medina.
In Falls Church, Virginia, the Fairfax area, I was going to go move up there and maybe try to find a roommate with somebody else going for them. I had
to take a bus there when I got out of prison or you know, maybe go to Columbia, South Carolina where chef Mohammed said adly and his masculine Muslim meaning Columbia, South Carolina had like a halfway home for people got out of prison where they could stay there until they got off, cut off their you know, got on their feet again. I just I hadn't I had no idea. And then that plan, you know, I had planned to take that bus, one of the two places and I had no money, nothing. I didn't even have enough money for the bus trip. And actually, you know, Masha Allah, Brother kawi, Linux, he actually sent me enough money through his family, he made sure I had enough money, when I when I was going to
get out to catch a bus, a greyhound wherever it is that I needed to go. May Allah bless that brother.
so I had no plan, I had a few plans, but I had no idea what I was going to do when I get out. Because when, when you get out, they just let you out. And then after that you're on your own.
So you know, I'm scrambling trying to figure out what I'm going to do. I got a few more months left.
finally, my dad actually wrote to me and said, Don't worry, you know, where you got to go, come here. Like a month before I got out. My dad said come to Florida, he moved into his own place. He said, you know, move to Florida. And stay with me, it'll help you to get away, get you away from you know, all of the bad influences you have in Greenville and in South Carolina. He's like, I'm going to come get you when you get out. So you know,
come stay with me. So I'm like, you know what, hamdulillah that's, that's my father.
I'll go stay with him until I can figure out what at least what I'm going to do because at least I'll have a roof over my head because I had to have a place to go because I was going to be on probation
and probation needed an address or somewhere to locate me when I left. And if I was going to go out of state they had to do a transference like you had to transfer they had to transfer my probation to that state where they could assign a probation officer to me in that state. So that had to be all done beforehand. So my dad you know said sorted out get your probation transferred to Florida and and and that in a lobby good.
About a week before I was about to be released, you know, I knew what my date was then I was counting down the days from like, 30 days and about a week, the warden called me again.
And he said, you're you're not going to be released from here. And I'm like, why not what happened? He said,
Because Greenville, the city of Greenville still has an active warrant out for you
for something that you need to deal with.
And it was
some some very old traffic tickets that it turned into warrants, because I didn't show up for court. And the reason I didn't show up for court was simply because I was in prison. But it's prison is a broken system. It's a broken system.
So So I said, What then he said, Well, Greenville,
Greenville, the city of Greenville is going to come and pick you up, they'll have a police officer come and pick you up, and they're going to take you to the county jail. And you have to remain in the county jail until you go in front of a judge to see about the dismissal of these warrants. So probably give you time served, but you have to wait and go in front of a judge. And that could take days, weeks, months, we don't know. So here I am, you know, a week from getting out. And I'm being told that you're not getting, you know, it's just like
getting this hole going any deeper. So I told my dad that.
And he said, you know,
don't worry, I'm still coming to Greenville. So they the day the day I got released from Tiger river Correctional Facility, they put me in another police car and took me to Greenville and put me back into the same county jail that I was in before I went to prison. And
it's like, I'm back. It's step one now, because I don't I don't know when I'm going to go to court. I don't know, you know, how long it's going to take because it could take literally because it was turned into a warrant therefore it was a felony. It could it could be months you know, I mean before I go to go to court, so I don't know what to do. My dad little die. No.
My dad had actually driven up to Greenville. And
my dad was very close with some people in law enforcement.
My dad was a you know, was a Mason, he had gone to the mason lodge for many, many years. My grandfather was a Master Mason, like just the kind of family I grew up in. My
dad went to he found out where my warrant who issued my warrant the county judge because where I live is very small. Taylor's South Carolina, which is a suburb of Greenville is very small. everybody kind of knows everybody. So he actually went to the courthouse with a friend of his who used to be a state trooper and he knew the judge they went and spoke to the judge and my dad explained what had happened you know like my son's been through all of this he's paid his debt to society he's done what he needed to do he never got in trouble
what can you do for me and she said this is this isn't this is wrong this this shouldn't happen like this. So she actually got on the phone and called
the jail and said let that young man go immediately that warrant has been discharged I've discharged let him go so I'm sitting here freaking out in jail you know in county I didn't know who to call because you can't call cell phones back then like I had nobody to call it and know what was going on I had the CEOs and county jail don't give a damn what your what your problem is. You don't even see them but maybe like once every hour or two hours as they walk around because we were in our little our little cellblock overpacked and I'm freaking out and then a CEO comes and says you know Joshua Evans get your stuff going home and I'm like how these charges have been dropped. So you know, I was
like, What? So I got out, they gave me all my stuff. Which Let me tell you what my stuff consisted of not say that in a moment. They gave me all my stuff and let me out the front door. And when I walked out the front door there was my dad.
My dad was standing out front and and he picked me up. Now me and my dad's relationship is a bit growing up it was a bit it was a bit tumultuous, to say the least. And we've worked on it over the years but I'll just that's another episode. We'll leave that for another time. But we stayed in Greenville that night so we went to a friend of his house and slept there overnight to go to leave to go to Jacksonville the next morning in Florida and and as soon as I got out there was another brother who I had met in prison
who wasn't in prison with me but he used to come as a volunteer for aid and bring us food and stuff like that. His name was Kadir Masha Allah a dear, beautiful brother, another African American brother. Beautiful brother. I love him to this day we've we've talked to each other on and off through the years. I've seen him many times.
I called a deer and told him I'd gotten out cuz he told me he's like do Call me as soon as you get out. So I called Kadena and said I'm in Greenville but I'm leaving for Jacksonville tomorrow. But is there any way you can come pick me I'm taking me to the masjid. I wanted to go back to the masjid where I took my Shahada. You know, I wanted it to, to, I wanted my time in Greenville to end where it started. is for me as far as my new life. So I do came and picked me up I think was a marvelous time. We went to the masjid, I prayed Masjid, I prayed a lot of marketing in the masjid. But you'd have to understand now it was completely different. Because when I first took my Shahada, and first
was going to the masjid, I was a new brand new Muslim, I didn't, I knew nothing about my religion. But now, you know, after spending four years, tucked away in books and tapes and scholars and this and that, you know, like, now I understood the importance of what what was happening right now. You know, I was I was
overwhelmed, you know. And the second place, I told him, I said, I want you to take me, and you can say what you want about this, you know, he shouldn't have done this. And
I went to, I said, take me to my grandmother's grave, where my grandmother grandfather buried next to each other. And I went there, and I, I, I said my goodbyes, you know, I, I know people can't hear in the Africa, but man was in pain. You know, when I told her, you know, I'm gonna do
what I told you I was going to do, I'm going to keep my word. And I'm going to do the right thing, this time in prison. Unless it's for some good reason. Prison will not will not catch me again.
So I said my goodbyes. And I remember speaking to
Brother moto here, before getting out as well. And I told him what I hear. I said, and if he ever watches this, he can confirm it, you can drop it right down in the comments, my brother, I told him what I hear motohiro man get out and I'm gonna do something good with my life, I'm going to do something good with my Deen, I'm going to try to help other people. I'm going to try to let as many people as I can know about this religion that I had to seek out, I'm going to make sure that nobody else has to seek the religion, the way I saw it. I had to look for it and had to try to find it in every nook and cranny. I'm going to get out there and do something positive, with the second chance
of life that Allah subhanho wa Taala has given me I'm going to make good on that debt to the best of my abilities. I told him that in prison, and I'm sure he's heard that a lot. Medina, I'm sure you've heard that a lot. sure a lot of people have told you that. And it went somewhat different. But I'm hoping, you know, 2020 years later,
I'm still trying to do that. I'm still trying to keep my word, I'm still trying to fulfill my oath and fulfill my promises to Allah, to you, to my grandmother, the people, I made them to call we my roommate, you know, I told him, I'm going to do something with this. And I said my goodbyes, and I went to Florida, I moved to Florida. The next day, the very next day, I moved to Florida,
and started a brand new life. It was strange. It was strange, because going into prison, you might as well say I was I was not I was a Muslim. But I was not Muslim Muslim, yet I was not practicing the religion. So going into prison, not really, you know, understanding religion, then coming out as a Muslim and understanding my Deen a whole hell of a lot better than I understood it when I went in the world was just a completely different place. Also, this was right after this was a year, almost a year to the date after 911. After 911, I saw a 911 happened inside prison. I remember I was at that work release camp as a matter of fact, and that's one of the other reasons I decided I need to
go back to a regular prison because I'm the only Muslim here, some bad's gonna happen to me, because I remember coming back from work, because you had to go out and work and we went out and you know, dug ditches and all kinds of weird stuff. And coming back and seeing it on TV, you know, the towers coming down, and then right next to it the picture of some land. And you know,
I was, I was like, Oh, this is this cannot be good for Muslims. I remember they called me they even called me to the warden's office that day, because they knew I was coming forward. And you know, and said, I hope we don't have no problems with you. If you have any problems come and tell us. My problem was fixed. I said, Send me back the tiger where I can be around to the Muslims. But I got out into a completely different world, the post 911 world was starkly different than the pre 911 one that I went into being a Muslim was an automatic red flag. It was automatic red flag. And for a lot of my extended family, you know, the fact that I was a Muslim didn't, it didn't help bro. It didn't
help the fact that I was already the black sheep of the family. I had been to prison. You know, I'd beat this guy up, I'd done these other things. And now the guy's a Muslim. You
You know, it's like it just the hits just kept on coming. So needless to say I had a very distant relationship with my extended family. Till now most of them have passed away. My great grandmother was still alive. When I got to prison. I spoke to her until she passed away. That's my mother's mother's.
My mother's mother, mother, Nago, my mother's mother's mother. And
in an upcoming episode, I'll explain to you why I understand what my mother went through, and how I was able to get over some of what happened when she abandoned me things of that nature. Because I would come to find out later and a lot man in my life, the exact reason why I never knew my grandmother, my mother's mother, and never knew her she was murdered.
And she was murdered by somebody you would never expect. And my mother was 16 years old when she lost her mother being murdered by somebody very close to her.
And, and I'm sure that broke her a lot. And so I was able to understand that but I'll dig into that into a later episode. inshallah, I told you this, there's a lot to unpack, there's a lot to unpack.
So the world I got out, you know, was quite different. My great grandmother was alive, I used to speak to her, my brother, I have a brother.
Me and my brother's relationship has been on and off. honestly don't know where he is right now. I wish I did. He has gotten into a string of trouble as well been in and out of jail, in and out of prison.
He grew up in a very, very weird life as well, I'm not ready to tackle that one yet. We'll discuss my brother at some point. later on. If he ever sees this, Chris,
I love you. I love you. And I'm always like, I've told you a million times, bro, I'm here for you. If you need me, I'm here for you. You know, but I am who I am. And I am who I am. Because of my religion, that's always gonna be front and center. And I've told you this a million times. Islam can save you Islam can help. You just gotta let it go. You just gotta let go all that other stuff and just submit to it. And I will help you in any way possible. Like I've always said, I'm right here, my number has not changed since you've known it. Reach out to me. My sister is still alive. I have two nephews with her and we talk you know, often not as often as we should. And I'm probably there's
something I do regret. But my my sister knows I love him to death. And she knows that I'm front and center as a Muslim and I wish my whole family would become a Muslim. It's a beautiful way of life to beautiful thing. My father I'm still giving him doubt to this day. May Allah guide him you know, he's been through a lot as well in his life. He's also had a number of strokes his health is is very bad right now. And
I wish I could get him to here in Minnesota with me in the cold he can't really take it with he's got you know, really bad joints. And he has trouble walking and the subzero temperatures and he can't go up and down stairs and where I live, we actually have three floors. And it would be very difficult for him to go up and down. But
I love him to death but I you know,
I got out of prison.
And what I had the positions right, I talked about that earlier, what I was left with because when my grandmother died, it was all gone. Everything I owned was done away with. When I left prison. I had the clothes on my back, which were some khaki
pants, khaki pants, a white t shirt and a blue button up, you know, prison issued
shirt, and I had a bag of books. And I had $90 that pile we had sent to me.
That's it. That's all I had at the age of 20 to get out of prison, nothing close on my bag, a bag of my books, which is a big heavy bag of books, and $90 it's what I had.
It was rock bottom, but I was free.
You have to understand that I didn't care about none of that. I was free. I had one of the most valuable possessions that was taken away from me for four years was my freedom. I had that not only now was my heart free my mind free my soul free because of my Deen. But my body was now free. And my future 100% depended upon the decisions I would make going forward.
And I made some good ones and I made some very bad ones. That's part of what happens when you had to learn to raise yourself. You know, I love my dad to death. But you know, I did not have a lot of guidance going my grandfather died when I was 913.
And he was he would have been somebody that would have been that solid rock to help teach me how to be a man and do the right things and make the right decisions. But I basically had to learn all of this on my own. Some of my most pivotal development tool years of 18 to 22 were spent in prison in survival mode and then when I got out I had nothing and I had to go immediately in
To a survival mode, and and I, I had no one really teaching me and all my dad was around, he was there, you know, but me and my dad's relationship has always been a little bit of a friction. And
you know, my dad's had his bouts with alcoholism, and he was full fledged into it at that moment, I've talked about this before, my mother became an alcoholic.
She got off of alcohol, you know, shortly before death, but cancer took her anyway. My father, you know, he's struggled with alcoholism his entire life. It is a serious disease and addiction and mental illness. So, you know, my dad wasn't really,
you know, given me, you know, guidance and sound advice, I had to just figure it out on my own, I had to figure it out on my own.
And I had
a week to find a job, or I'll tell would be in violation of my probation, I had to show up within seven days to my probation officer with a job
or I could be in violation of our probation to be sent back to prison. And and for a guy who's 22 years old, has has zero work experience before this. Finding a job is a bit of a difficulty. So the only job I was able to find
at the time to keep myself out of prison. And I found that like, On the sixth day before the day before I had a deadline to go in turn in was I found the job at crystals. crystals
is a fast food restaurant. They're called they make little mini mini burgers. They call a White Castle. There's white castles here in the, in the in the Midwest, and I think in the northeast is called White Castle. In Florida. It's called it's similar but it's called crystals. And the only shift they had open was third shift was third shift. So I would go into work at around 10 3011 o'clock and I would not get out till seven. So I found that job and I did what I had to do, I was flipping burgers at crystals. And I remember that I would pray Isha before I went to work and I would have to pray fudger
before I left work, and the only place there was to pray. They would let me pray in the restaurant was outside. Next to the dumpsters. There was a clean little area in the grass right next to the dumpsters. And that's where I used to pray
my salado fudger and so I was working third shift, graveyard shift. And then in the day, you know, trying to find a way to put my life back together.
The first Friday, I went to Juma
there was a very small matchup because I actually wasn't living in Jacksonville proper. I was living in a city called St. Augustine. And St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States of America as far as founded cities
It was very small city it's actually a beautiful city if you ever had the chance in America to go to St. Augustine Florida do so it's a beautiful city. So but there was and there was a very small Masjid it's a very very very very small question. I went there is a very close community I showed up on the first Friday I didn't really know I introduced myself and you know I didn't tell anybody Oh yeah, I'm just fresh out of prison. I'm here to say look, I just moved to Jacksonville. I met the man his name was Yusuf filat
beautiful beautiful brother from Philistine Masha Allah I interview big long, gray beard. Allah robotic mela bless him. He owned a pizza shop called Tony's pizza on Crescent beach, which was literally right on the beach. There's a when you leave St. Augustine going towards Daytona there's like a little strip, a little island strip and that's called Crescent beach. And he had a pizza shop out there called Tony's pizza. And it's some of the best pizza I have ever had in my entire life. And knew of Tony's New York style pizza on Crescent beach. If you ever have the chance to go to St. Augustine go to Crescent beach, go to Tony's New York style pizza on Crescent beach and tell us a
filler. filat that USIA said said I want to
I went out there and had pizza many times and it is the most delicious pizza I've ever had and I lived in New York for a little bit I'm telling you about this pizza is next level.
After about a couple of weeks working at crystals, flipping burgers on third shift I and we'll wrap this one up and bring it to a close
eye I was able to get a job my dad found a friend of his who had a job in newark new have a job in construction.
one of the toughest fields to be in for manual labor. And it was house construction. And so I took the job because it paid more and I would actually have normal human being hours I would work Monday through Friday. You know like 7am to 4pm
but the job can
insisted of carrying cinder blocks because in Florida a lot of houses are framed with cinder blocks, they have to be because of cold because just pine wood framing will just get torn up in a hurricane in Florida. So cinder blocks, you know, big, heavy concrete blocks. And my job everyday was to carry these blocks because there'll be a big pile of them and boom, you have to set them in certain places where they can Mason them up. So my job boom all day long carrying these heavy, heavy cinder blocks, My hands were shredded from picking up these cement blocks, they were heavy, I actually ended up with carpal tunnel, you know, within the first three days I would I woke up in the middle of night,
my hands would be on fire your fire, I would actually have to go stick my hands in the eyes been in the freezer, you know, just because they felt like they were on fire. And carpal tunnel plagued me until until this day, I actually have had carpal tunnel surgery to remedy that.
And the first Friday came about working this construction job and
I had to go to Jumeirah.
And I told the boss
you know, during the week that I was gonna need to get off, take a little bit a long lunch on Friday and he was just like, go and speak to us on Friday. So on Friday morning, I told the boss
that I need to take a long lunch break today. I will stay longer if you need me to, you know, but it's Friday, I'm a Muslim. And we have to go pray on Fridays and it's not. It's not It's not what is voluntary. You have to I have to go. Allah general Allah says in the Quran in surah Juma when the call for Juma is made, leave off all business trade and go to the remembrance of Allah. That's our command. So I have to go to gym on Friday.
And he told me that I don't care what your religion is. You don't bring it here to the workplace.
He said, You go off and you go and pray, you know, and do your thing. And nobody, I don't care about that. But you can't leave the worksite I was like you guys leave and go to like, Chili's sometimes or whatever. And I sit here and eat my lunch by myself. And you guys are gone like an hour and a half sometimes. All I'm doing is asking for 45 minutes, because the machine was not too far away to go to gym and come back. He said not going to do my if you leave the worksite you fired.
So here I am.
I have to think now, because if I get fired, that gets reported to my probation officer. And if there's not a good reason for me being fired,
I could be in violation of probation because my I had to hold on a job. And probation also told me if you lose a job you have 48 hours to have secured another one are you in violation, my probation officer was held in Florida 4040 hours to have another one or I will write you up and recommend that you have your probation revoked. And if my probation was revoked, I had to go finish those two years off back in prison in South Carolina.
So I'm in a conundrum here I'm like, you know, if I walk off with this job,
I could end up back in prison. But if I don't walk out of this off of this job
I'll be disobeying my room. And at that point, I told you like I said, You know, I, I gained such a connection to my Creator Islam was so black and white to me at this time, I still had the zeal of a new Muslim because now I'm a new Muslim outside of prison. You know, I after four years of being a Muslim prisoner, I feel like a new Muslim and more but then when you go home, it's a whole different world. So I felt like a new Muslim all over again. I had that zeal and that, that desire to practice my Deen. So I
I said, You know what?
You got to fire me. I said, I said to myself, I made a silent to Allah Ya Allah. I'm going to leave the job for your sake. I'm going to do what you commanded me to do up but I'm gonna need some help here. I don't know what I'm gonna do. I don't know how I'm gonna figure it out, but I'm gonna figure it out. So I left and I went to Juma
because that's what Allah commanded me to do.
And I met Juma and even during the goodbye I'm sitting here thinking like, you know, what in the world am I going to do now?
The Imam sent his son, his son, Jeremy.
Mashallah Jamal. He came to me. And he said, You know, he was we were near the same age. He said something like, bro, he's a you knew, right? You just moved here. And yeah, I'm like, Yeah, he's introduced himself. He's like, Where are you working right now? And I said, Actually, I was working construction, but I just lost that job today. I got fired for coming here. As a matter of fact, he's like, bro, don't worry. We got you. My dad just sent me over to ask you if you had a job, because we need someone we need someone at our pizza shop. It's getting very busy. It's gotten busy, busier than it's ever been. So we need someone at a pizza shop. You know to help make peace to help not
make pizzas for us.
Did that all on his own to help, you know make salads and, and there's other dishes that you made. We need help with that. Do you know how to cook I said, I grew up knowing how to cook. My grandmother taught me how to cook from a very young age. He's like, you know, so you can do that. And we needed a delivery driver, because they delivered right in their little MIDI area. I said, I'll take it. He said, Can you start today, I said do you can take me there after Juma?
Like I have, I have nowhere else to go. Let's go to work right now. And so Yusuf, may Allah bless him And grant them the best of this life. And the next he actually used to own a pizza shop and Philistine as well.
Until the whole
right, first Intifada happened and he ended up leaving with his family, etc. It's a long story. I'm gonna save that for another day and try to get him on let him talk about it. But
he hired me on the spot that day, and ended up paying me double what I was making in construction.
So I got hired that that afternoon, at Juma I got hired,
making double what I was making before so I did not violate my probation. And I ended up making double. And I ended up being able to within the first few weeks, rent my own very small apartment, I had a very tiny apartment on St. Augustine Island near downtown
and was able to start my life around around Muslims every day I woke up every morning, Jeremy would come and pick me up and take me to his dad's pizza shop. And I spent all day long around a very beautiful man of the community. A very beautiful day, who introduced me to the hour who introduced me
to chef Zach Eugene Shafi, who ended up encouraging me to the dour, like it. Things fell in place. Now talk about them, we'll talk about next week. But
things fun is such a beautiful place.
That it was just hard to wrap my head around that it is true that if you leave something for the sake of Allah subhanho wa Taala. And if you leave something for the sake of Allah, Allah will replace it with that which is better, Allah will replace it with that which is better. But that takes that blind tawakkol and law that kind of unbound trust and Allah subhanho wa Taala that he's going to do what he says he's going to do, if you just do what you're supposed to do. And and that became, you know, the beginning of the whole trajectory of me being right here. And you know, I was just thinking about that before doing before starting the podcast of how it all happened, how I got
to where I am right now, it started really sick if you want to trace it all the way back to like, you know, it's it's most finite point. It started that day with me leaving that job, to go to gym, to be obedient to Allah subhanho wa Taala and his commands to go to Juma. And it's like, brothers, I'm telling you, and this is easier said than done. Well, I know it's easier than it's easier said than done. But when you leave something for Allah sake, when you leave something for the sake of Allah Subhana
Allah will replace it with that which is better when you make Hendra for the sake of Allah subhanho wa Taala Anna like I did from South Carolina to Florida to to try to start my life all over again. Allah subhanho wa Taala facilitate a means in a ways for you. Allah tells us that whoever fears Allah, whoever has duck one tries to you know have that consciousness in that pipe. We have a lot of turquoise a barrier to place a barrier between yourself and the anger of Allah subhanho wa Taala Yeah, Gerardo Maharaja, he will provide for him a way out Yeah, I know he will make for them away out and will provide from them for places they did not know will provide for them from places from
which did not know you know I became best friends at that time with with the use of son. We still chat back and forth to this day. If I'm ever back in Florida the first place I always go from back in the St. Augustine area. I go to use pizza shop and say sit on what a come to him I've taken my family many times.
Because I love that brother more than he'll ever know more than ever know I've made to offer that brother more than 11 No, it's the little things that you look back on later on in life that you don't realize had such an impact on you. So you know sometimes you just have to ride those waves you know, life comes at you in waves and sometimes waves are good ways and times are bad ways. You just got to ride them. Just got to ride them out.
life started all over again. I walked out of prison with nothing but the clothes on my back in a bag of books. And within a short span of time I lost a panel with her honor allowed me to have a home of my own. He allowed me to have a good job around some of the best Muslims I've ever known. A place because also uses pizza shop with the Muslims all the Muslims of the St. Augustine and Jacksonville area when they came to St. Augustine. Everybody came to us with pizza shop so it was Muslims coming in and out all the time. If If guests came from out of town they came to us this pizza shop. You know it soon as you walked in the shop there's a big picture of the Kaaba and walk
On shelf take a Koran please and and our
fliers and it just it was it instilled in me what I am today. It instilled in me that idea that you can be successful at life you can be professional life You can. You can have the balance of Deen and dunya if you know what you're doing, you can have that balance and it was just so amazing having that connection to to the Imam Yusuf was such a beautiful thing. I would end up becoming the temporary a very short lived because I ended up leaving Jacksonville I end up leaving San Augustine and moving to Jacksonville
when I got married, but I ended up becoming the psuedo mm there for a while Yusuf had some things he had to do he stepped down from the wall he had to go back to Palestine for a few I ended up becoming like the quote unquote e&m of that small mesh and for just a little while they actually wanted to hire me as the full time he Mammon given me you know wanted to build me a house at the back of the measure they had a big property in the back and I turned that down because it just it was too much pressure on me and I had I had PTSD from being a member even to this day on people like you know, I'm not qualified Don't ever call me asking me about being an Imam. I'm not qualified. But even if I
was qualified for PTSD last time I was an email of anything I got stabbed because of it. So forgive me if I'm a little gun shy about being an Imam and it's not something I ever want anyway it's a huge responsibility huge burden for people qualified and I'm not qualified
but that that is that is that is how my my my life in prison wrapped up I ended up losing my grandmother was it broke me It broke me and broke me to this day, like that's unresolved. There's never going to be a resolution to that.
I can't resolve that matter. My grandmother died before I got into prison. My grandmother died before I could show her what I would become my grandmother died before I could you know get married and have grandchildren and let her see her grandchildren that breaks my heart because you know, I look at my kids today and man if they had my grandmother as their great grandmother
they would be spoiled beyond belief. My mother if she was still alive today my children would be spoiled even worse than they already are. I spoiled them doubly I think because I'm and I try to you know tell us my wife sometimes I'm making up for it they don't have you know my my mom would have spoiled them ridiculously
so I'm gonna I'm gonna do it for
I don't get away with it all the time but kids know they're spoiled
I didn't get a chance to show them that's unresolved so that always is a is a dark spot inside of me that that will see no resolution I just have to live with that
you know, I got out of prison I had nothing I had well at first I didn't know I didn't think I was getting out of prison. They put me back in county jail. And I thought I'm starting this whole process all over again. Bloody Oh, and then I ended up getting out going to Florida getting a job at crystals working third shift flipping burgers, they were little burgers, by the way, they were like, crystals burgers are like, well, that big
thing get a job in construction that caused me to end up having
carpal tunnel and ended up hurting injuring me by till this day. And leaving that walking for the sake of Allah subhanho wa Taala and getting the job with use of at the pizza shop in St. Augustine in Crescent beach, that would propel and begin this whole thing I met the person who introduced me to Tao as as like an idea and a concept as a construct and trains me
of how to have the concern for dow and things of that nature and what it was all about. Through through
use of speech and we'll talk about that next week and chama is just like
the way Allah subhanho wa Taala plotted things out. You can't You can't understand the plan of Allah, you're not meant to and I say this in many talks I haven't done you know about the plan of Allah subhana wa to Allah, that you're not meant to understand it. You just meant to trust it because it's perfect. The plan of Allah Jalla wa ala for your life is perfect whether you believe it or not. Whether you see it or not, right now you have to have that faith that is perfect. And when you get a little bit older, and you get you know, into your 40s into your 50s and your 60s, you'll look back, go talk to old people. Go talk to your elders, go talk to your uncle's. Go talk to your
Auntie's go talk to your grandparents, your great grandparents, if they're alive, the elders in your community, you know about the plan of a lion how their life is panned out and they'll all almost always say the same thing that I did not know what was happening at the time. But now that I look back on it, that plan was absolutely perfect, and beautiful. And I think Allah subhanho wa Taala for every hardship, every trial, every tribulation, every difficulty, I praise him for the good times that allowed me to see what goodness can be like in the bad times that that built character that built to resolve that built strength, you know, to where now when I see
storms coming. And I have storms in my life as right now right now there are things that I'm going through in my life that I absolutely feel like they're killing me.
Not talking about that right now, we're way back in the back in the past. But now I look at those storms. And I like I've seen storms worse than you. I've seen hardship worse than you. I've seen difficulty worse than you. I got through that I can get through this in a long time. There are times where I feel like it's too much, it's too much. And I'm recording this on Nash on global Mental Health Awareness Day. Sometimes it's too much. But I know that I can get through it, because I've already gotten through worse. And I think a lot for that skill. And that ability to now be able to help others who are in need to help others who are suffering, to help others who are going through
trauma and difficulty. Because I've been there done that. And I've got the T shirt, so I can try to give you some advice. And sometimes that advice is based on me doing the wrong thing. It's not like I've figured it out every time. No, as this goes on, you're gonna realize, bro, you sure made lots of mistakes. And I'm paying for some of those mistakes till this day, literally paying for some of those mistakes till this day, which we'll talk about later on. Not ready for that yet. But sometimes my life lesson is I know what to do in those situations, because I did it the wrong way. And I know the opposite of that is the right way. And I've learned that as well. So sometimes my life
experience is from failing for failing.
I think it was Michael Jordan. By the way, I grew up as a huge Michael Jordan fan. In the in the late 80s, early 90s. Huge Michael Jordan fan. I was a Michael Jordan fan, I used to get the new Jordans that came out every year. There was no there wasn't like now with this, like 30 3040 released in a year, there was like a couple that was released every single year. And I always got those released. That was always my gift. If anybody wanted to get anything for my birthday, give me some Jordans, if you want to, or just everybody give me a bunch of money so I can buy Jordans. Christmas, the whole nine yards, I want to Jordans.
And I think Jordan, you know, is one of those people. I think he said that the reason he was so successful, he's like I've missed he knew all the stats of how many shots he had missed, you know how many points he didn't make, how many clutch shots he didn't, he's like, because of all those misses, I was able to get where I am if it wasn't for those failures and learning from those failures, I wouldn't be where I am today. So you know, it's it's because of doing things wrong. And that's not the way you should do it. That's not the best way to do it is to learn the right way, by making the wrong by learning the right thing by doing the wrong thing so many times. It's not the
way you want to do it. But that is the process that I've gone along. So I'm hoping I can help some others who are in that same position that I was to be able to do things without having to learn the hard way. That's it to help others. That's my absolute mission in life now is to be helpful, because a lot of people need help. And there's not a lot of help out there to service these things. So
that's it. That's the prison tapes.
So part of my life that was very difficult, and I've never even spoken about it until now, publicly. But it's time. It's past time. But it feels like it was right now to help those who might be suffering. And if you were able to be involved in helping president prison initiatives, where you live, help prison initiatives, there are a lot of good Muslims, behind prison bars, who can come home and be very good Muslims, if they have a little help.
They have a little help. A lot of Muslims leave prison and end up back into the same cycle because they don't have help, they don't have resources. That's our job to help them.
So May Allah Subhana Allah help all those brothers and sisters behind prison bars, who just want to make it who just want to come out and be a good Muslim and be a good person and be a contributing citizen in society. And may Allah bless all of you going through difficulties and hardships and ease Let me tell you from one broken soul to another, you can make it you can get there, it takes a little work takes a little dedication, it takes some dark days, it takes some rough nights, take some sleepless nights, it's going to take some crying, it's going to take some pain,
but you can get there. And my goal is to make sure that we provide adequate resources to help you do that in the best way that we can. And as always, I love you all for the sake of Allah subhana wa tada for watching this, I love you all because you don't have to be doing something much better with your time. But the fact that you've given a bit of your time to come and sit and listen to this, I can't thank you enough. And if you want to support what I'm trying to do over here, if you want to support the initiative that we're trying to take to be helpful to help with mental health to help with our youth to give the youth a platform where they can be themselves and practice their Deen and
be a part of the real world and all of the things that we're doing
You can hit the link right there below, in contribute
to the channel and do what we're trying to do, you can hit that subscribe button that helps you can become a member, you can become a paid member for 499 a month at the lowest tier and help us to continue to produce high quality content to help those who need help. Whether it be Muslim, non Muslim, whatever we're trying to help where I can help where I see needs help and where I think I can help. You can also hit the donation link right down below view shamans that live and you can support or trying to do or you can just reach out to me at you shamans [email protected], you shamans [email protected] It'll be right here in the description. Things that you want to see discussed
again, drop in the comments. Let me know what you think. Let me know if this has been helpful or if it's not been helpful. And we have some new projects in the pipeline that I'm looking forward to releasing very soon. But again, the support of the community is is is is greatly appreciated and needed for projects because we want to do things right. We want to do things top tier. I don't like doing things halfway. I like to do things the most professional level I can do it with some top tier production top tier level, I think we've increased a lot from episode if you go back and watch reflections episode one to this one. We've learned a lot along the way. And we're trying to put that
to use. I love you all I'm making to offer all of you make do offer me and my family as well. And we'll see you on the next one. I said I'm already gone off to LA he will be here too.