It was in the mid-90s. I was working as a Muslim chaplain in NSW Correctional Centres. A conflict broke out in one of the correctional centres in NSW a few days before Ramadan. The management had to collect all unnecessary belongings of inmates for safety and security reasons.
I recall a story of a Muslim inmate. It is bit mysterious, but I found it interesting particularly to those who are fasting. I wanted to share this unique story with AMUST readers.
The Muslim inmate related his story during my visit after Ramadan to the facility in my capacity as the Chaplain. He relates:
“after the conflict broke out, the management collected every item including my alarm clock. I was worried about how I was going to wake up for sahoor (pre-dawn meal).
I always fasted during Ramadan in my life. Without sahoor, there was a risk to life to fast during the long days because I was diabetic.
I tried to get my alarm clock but due to rules, it was declined. Then I decided to fast and asked Allah’s assistance in my prayer not to face such a risk to life.
For thirty nights, an hour before dawn a bird would come and peck my cell’s window till I woke up and turned lights on.
Then bird would fly away. After Ramadan, I never saw that bird again.”
According to Islamic jurists, if there is a risk to life, a Muslim is allowed to break the fast or can choose not to fast.
However, I believe the devotion of the sincere Muslim inmate and his helpless state was like a petition to God. His prayer was answered in a mysterious way which can be called Karama or divine blessing.
It is said that “out of difficulties miracles grow.” The Prophet (s) said: “There are no omens, but the best of it is optimism.” (Bukhari).
There is another funny but real story from another inmate.
A young Muslim inmate wanted to wake up for sahoor and not to miss his Fajr prayer. He said:
“It was my habit go bed after 1 or 2 am. That’s why I could not wake up before Fajr. I had no alarm clock in my cell. After thinking day and night, I found a way which helped me.
I would drink a lot of water before I went to bed. That would compel me to urinate two-three hours later. By such practice, I did not miss my sahoor and fajr prayer.”
These difficult situations teach us to find solutions to problems thus developing problem-solving skills.