In His Name, be He glorified.
Upon you be peace and God’s mercy and blessing!
My dear, truthful brothers,
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 prescribed 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 behind 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 Divine 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 without 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.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.