Assalaamu'alaikum! I am posting this story on behalf of a brother who is now
serving his term in a prison in Scotland and hence has no access to the
internet. He is a brother who takes his belief very seriously and looks
forward to correspond with other brothers and sisters for discussions,
exchange opinions and ideas. I hope this story would attract attention of
visitors of your web site to befriend this sincere brother.
- Jamaludin Yaakob
MY JOURNEY TO ISLAM
In September 4 1993 I began a journey that was a childhood dream. I left my home
city of Aberdeen, Scotland at 4.10 p.m. with the intention of driving my camper
van all the way to Goa, India, and back. Before I undertook this journey I spent
a lot of time reading on the countries, customs, peoples and religions which at
the very least could give me a basic understanding of the how I should re-act
when arriving upon each place.
Although the diversity of the peoples was a task to take on board, it was the
diversity of religions that stuck most in my mind. There seemed to be for me an
excitement about Islamic countries, which kept coming to my thought.
The journey went well with the exception of a few mechanical problems throughout
Eastern Europe. The first Islamic country I was to reach was Turkey. Although I
had been there before, I had never been to Istanbul.
I was tired and needed rest. As one would do, I left my camper in a campsite and
spent the next three weeks ad-hoc travelling through the centre of the city to
see the sites. On what was to be my last day in Istanbul I visited the Blue
Mosque and the Pink Mosque [probably the Aya Sofia -MSA-USC.]. This, my brothers
and sisters, was to be my introduction to the one and true religion of Al-Islam.
It was a Friday, and as I recall during 'Asr prayer no one (from the tourists)
was allowed in the Pink Mosque. Due to my inquisitiveness I got firstly lost
inside the mosque and secondly found myself locked in standing at the back
watching the wonderful event of 'Asr prayer unfolding before my eyes. I feel I
can never quite express clearly what happened next except to say that I felt
drawn, numb and very hot all at the same time. Unwittingly I remembered thinking
that this was really for me without questioning why or what this religion was
all about. I knew the basic belief was that there was only one God. I believed
that all my life anyway. The prayer had finished and all were on their way out.
A brother approached me. I felt embarrassed as I apologised for being there when
I should not. He smiled and assured me that it was all right.
After leaving the mosque, I went on a walk about heading towards the harbour
area. I was standing looking in a window when I felt a presence behind me. I
turned around to see the same man I met in the mosque; again he smiled. He told
me to wait a moment as he went downstairs in the shop. When he appeared again a
few moments later, he handed me a plastic bag and said "Is this what you have
been looking for brother?" As I looked in the bag there was a translation of the
Holy Qur'an in English. This was when an amazing thing happened. I looked up to
thank him but he was gone. The strange thing was that there was no side road,
alley or lane for him to simply disappear. Until this day I have never figured
out where he had gone.
The journey re-commenced the next day, heading towards Eastern Turkey. I began
to read the Qur'an in the evening and felt drawn to visit mosques route. Every
time I met Muslim people they were forever inviting me to their homes for meals,
etc. Their politeness and good character was what I have encountered before. My
head was full of emptiness waiting to be filled with knowledge and I constantly
asked questions about Islam. I somehow felt that I had found something that was
always there but did not know how to find it and what it was.
Iran was to be the same. The more I travelled the more I felt drawn to the
mosques and the company of the people. There was something distinctive about how
the people were. At first I couldn't put my finger on it. I came from the West
where I had been nurtured into a set of beliefs, values and attitude. The
attitude seemed hard to shake off. The attitude that I matter, I am
indispensable, I will stand on who I need to, so I may get to the top. Who is
God? Does it matter? Money and prestige is more important, is it not? I felt a
constant battle as I came from there, but I somehow felt I belonged here.
All the way through Iran I never felt intimidated, in fact, quite the opposite.
If I had taken all the many offers of meals, accommodation, etc., I fear that I
would still be there, and I would have gotten into trouble with the authorities.
My visa was for one week only.
The next country was Pakistan. Here was where things got even better. The people
were quite at ease and seemed happy to answer my non-stop questions on Islam. I
visited more mosques. I was in more houses in Pakistan than I had probably ever
been at home.
Another thing that I have always believed in before embracing Islam was
pre-destination. Others may call it fate. This had led me to the next encounter
of life with the Muslim people. My windscreen had broken and I ended up
searching Quetta for a new one. I was directed to Tradesmen Street. There was
where I met Muhammad, a motor body repairer. He kindly let me stay in his
lock-up yard for five days until he could locate a windscreen. Everyday without
fail he I ate at his house or he brought me food. He took me to meet the
headmasters of both a public and a private school. He refused point blank that I
should put my hand in my pocket to buy anything. He told me stories of the
Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and other Islamic issues. At times I found it difficult to
contain my emotions. I could not believe the hospitality I was receiving.
One occasion sticks in my mind which left me in tears and astounded. I was in
Muhammad's house for lunch. There was his family there including around thirteen
children. While I taught them a Scottish nursery rhyme Muhammad videotaped us
together. Within minute the children who spoke no English, mastered it. When I
was entering my van I heard some commotion at the end of the street. There,
there were around one hundred children running towards me singing the Scottish
nursery rhyme. I was surrounded as the tears ran from my cheeks with joy. It was
so beautiful. Here was a stranger in a strange land and they wanted nothing from
me except just to stay a little bit longer. I had to go. The following day I
visited the local mosque and said my good bye with regret.
On the road to the Pakistani/Indian border I continued to read the Qur'an and
still question why these people were being so nice to me but wanted nothing in
return. Strange indeed.
As I said before, I was coming from the West where, in the material sense, they
have everything. There was me travelling through a land with a house on wheels
while around me so many people were living in squalor. If you have never had
nothing you do not know what it's like, or, from my point of view, I had never
My next encounter showed me the simplicity of man in relation to our Creator,
Allah (s.w.t.). As I drove the Sind region in the desert I began to become
anxious to find a place off the road to park for the evening. Suddenly I came
upon a simple house of clay in the middle of nowhere. I approached the house and
knocked on the door. An old man answered. I said "Assalaam Alaikom", he replied
in kind. I asked if it was ok to park for the night? He spoke no English but
acknowledged what I meant.
He invited me for tea. Immediately I became consciously aware of the simplicity
of his dwelling. There was nothing which did not have a use, and everything was
to a bare minimum. As I recalled the items, there was a staff carpet, a copy of
al-Qur'an, a pot and a water skin. We sat on the carpet and drank tea. As he
moved to the window, he left without warning with the water skin and a mat in
hand. After a good five minutes had passed, I went outside. What I saw next I
could only describe as 'the day the world stopped.' As the sun dropped out of
the sky below the horizon, there was complete silence. The man in front of me
dropped to his knees in total obedient worship to our Creator, a memory that
lasts with me until this day.
I made it to India, visited more mosques and made it all the way back unscathed.
I thought the people back home had changed, they had not, but I had.
It is so easy to allow yourself to be consumed by the method rather than being
the method. Please allow me to elaborate. While in the East, I had
accommodation, money and for once in my life, simplicity, empathy and
understanding. It is not that I don't have them now. It's simply a different
game with different rules and players. I tend to call it the reverse process. In
simple terms, to the wonderful creations in the East, God is the important
factor. It was to be my downfall back here in the West, trading god for money,
or you may call it materialism. It seems easy to say now but for me anything
with the word 'ISM' attached should be avoided at all costs.
No! I still had not embraced Islam. Although conscious of what I had learned, I
put it on the back burner. The quest for me, which seemed more important, was
accommodation, job, flat, and car. All of these don't grow on trees and, really
how money becomes available never really mattered. I couldn't find a proper job.
My wife who had been my constant travelling partner became just as disillusioned
as I did. We had only been married a short time and even getting married to each
other was ever shorter on three and a half-month. We couldn't get work; we were
tired of travel and extremely tired of each other.
As things got progressively worse as we could not find work or accommodation,
things were getting desperate. My wife found an advertisement in the local paper
asking for a sauna receptionist. In our naivete we both believed that a Sauna
was in fact a Sauna. At the same time she got the job, I got offered some work
dealing and running drugs. The sauna turned out to be a front for prostitution
and it was not long before my wife decided to swap answering the telephone for
the red light. We both loved the money, we both became drugs users and all
This was to be short lived. It tore us apart. We were in a web where there
seemed no way out. On the one hand we needed the money to feed our cocaine
habit. On the other hand, I got sick of drugs, money, prostitution, in fact,
everything. We kept the company of like-minded characters that helped feed the
desire for self-gratification. I tried so hard to get off the drugs. In the mean
time I tried to get my wife off the prostitution. She seemed by now to love the
money more than me. I would sit for many hours staring at this accumulating
amount of money before my eyes with total disdain. Little did I realise that all
was about to change - first for the worst.
Two weeks before 15 April 1996 two things happened simultaneously. The first
thing happened after an encounter to the library. I took a book out on loan
called "The Basics of Islam". Inside I found what one says when taking the
Shahadah. I was lonely, desperate and searching for the right way. I had no one
in this strange city to witness me taking the Shahadah. I therefore had no
choice. I took my Shahadah bearing witness to Allah (s.w.t.) four times. I took
the piles of money and put it in a jack in a cupboard. I flushed the remaining
drugs in the toilet. I felt alive for the first time in a long time, although
My wife who had become a stranger to me arrived back that evening. I told her of
the day's events. This was to be the final acclaim. We spoke little over the
next two weeks. I had my plan set that I was going back east. In all this
confusion we both plotted a terrible crime and the end result would be we would
go together east. Everybody says I am innocent. I was set up, etc. etc. I am not
going to say this at all: I am guilty of committing a horrible crime and the
consequence of my action has led me serving a life sentence. My wife? She got
off and now we are divorced, thank God!
I have now served three years of my sentence and expect to serve a further seven
or eight years. You may well remember earlier that I said everything is
pre-ordained. I have questioned on many occasions as to how did I end up here.
The story says it all. Nevertheless, brothers and sisters, everything has a
reason. One might ask what have you done with your time in prison? What is the
future of your life? What are your hopes, dreams and aspirations?
Well, I think it goes like this. No man can run riot through the land without
taking responsibility for his actions and I feel it is better to be punished in
this life than in the hereafter.
When I first came to prison I was in Soughton Jail, Edinburgh. After being
processed where all details were asked for, one of the questions was what
religion are you? I replied Islam. I was immediately given a Muslim diet and
allowed to go to the Muslim meetings where brothers from outside came to the
prison fortnightly. I recalled the first meeting as I walked into the room I
held my head in shame. I couldn't stop saying why did I do that. I wept as the
brothers gave me support. I by my actions created not just one victim but so
many. My victim's family, friends, work associates, etc. have all been affected
by my thoughtless actions. I have seen my father turned grey, my mother on
anti-depression tablets and my brother too.
I will probably never ever know the real impact of my crime upon my victim, nor
do I ever expect forgiveness. I am deeply sorry and ashamed of my actions.
One of the brothers in Edinburgh said to me 'you can't change the past, you can
only hope to attain to be a better person in the future.' I took my Shahadah
again that evening this time in front of witnesses, back in 1996.
The easy part, which may seem the hardest part, is getting accustomed to
nothingness and solitude. That is one thing prison does for a man. It gives you
time, plenty of it, to think. My first reaction was to think of what I had lost;
not only family, friends, my respect and all of that "ISM' materialism.
Soon I lost the need for materialism. As I sit here now in the concrete tomb, I
exchange my coat of materialism for spiritualism. I have embraced Islam fully,
slowly, but surely. I am building up a new set of moral and ethical values. I
pray five times daily as prescribed in Islam and beg Allah (s.w.t.) for
What have I done with my time you may ask? I have undertaken a home study course
in Islamic Studies which consists of twenty booklets on various Islamic
subjects, which on completion leads to five O' grades or GCSES. I have
undertaken the first year of a degree course in Arabic and Islamic Studies. I
read the Qur'an and the Ahadeeth of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) daily. I get
immeasurable support from regular visits from the brothers from the Aberdeen
Mosque. Why all these you may ask? Well, I believe in Allah (s.w.t.), I believe
that good can overrule bad and only through the straight path of Islam can this
I want to be an asset to society when I eventually leave the prison, inshaallah.
I hope that I may have obtained my degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies by then
so as I may undertake da'awah work and hopefully get a job teaching Islamic
My short-term objective is that I may be able to obtain some correspondence with
Muslims world wide in the hope that I may be able to give support and hopefully
receive some too. My final hope is that I may be able to get another chance of
marriage. So, if any of you out there would be interested in correspondence
and/or marriage, you can contact me at the following address.
Yusuf Muhammad Ansari
Reg. No 26202
Peterhead AB42 6YY
May Allah (s.w.t.) grant you all success in this life and in the life Hereafter,
My short resume:
Name : Yusuf Muhammad Ansari
Age : 38
Height : 5' 7"
Weight : 11.7 stone
Appearance : Round face, beard, short hair
Current Status : Life sentence prison
Qualifications : English GCSE, Information Technology 1 + 2,
Word Processing, Maths, 5 GCSE Islamic Studies,
currently undertaking Degree course in Arabic
and Islamic Studies.
Nationality : British
Caucasian : White
Marital Status : Divorced
Children : 1 daughter (no access or visiting right)
Employment : Oil rigs offshore (6 & 1/2 years)
: Helicopter landing officer
: Self employed house restorer (5 years)
Yusuf Muhammad Ansari
Aug. 3rd, 1999