Don’t Make Yourself a Prisoner

Sunrays and sunlight through tree tops

By Wael Abdelgawad |

It’s possible to make ourselves the prisoners of others. How? By caring so much what they think that we let if affect how we practice our religion, how we dress, how we speak, even what names we call ourselves.

Prisoners have their names taken away and are given numbers. We do it voluntarily when we change Muhammad to Mo, Wael to Will (I’ve been advised by some to do this but I have always refused), and Khadija to Kim.

Prisoners are told how to dress. We do it to ourselves by giving up our hijabs and kufis in order to fit in. We enslave ourselves to the cultural dictates of others. We humiliate ourselves by suppressing everything that says, “I am Muslim.”

Prisoners are sometimes refused the right to pray or to have a Quran. We do it to ourselves by missing our prayers because we are afraid of being seen in public; or putting away our Quran and letting it gather dust.

Prisoners are given no choice in their diets. We do it to ourselves by eating the non-halal meat that is put in front of us, because we are ashamed to say, “I only eat halal.”

Prisoners learn to remain silent. We do it to ourselves when others speak of faith and religion – sometimes even criticizing Islam in our presence – and we remain silent because we are embarrassed to speak up.

“And believe in what I have sent down confirming that which is [already] with you, and be not the first to disbelieve in it. And do not exchange My signs for a small price, and fear [only] Me.” – Quran, Al-Baqarah, 2:41

Allah gave us a great gift, He gave us truth and guidance, and others are hungering for it, so don’t hide it! We must be ourselves, be proud (not the pride of arrogance but of gratitude), let our faith show, shine our light! A lamp in the darkness cannot be hidden!

Don’t make yourself a prisoner! Wear your Islamic clothing without embarrassment, eat halal without apology, speak your name with pride, pray on time no matter where you are, read the Quran on the bus or the subway if you wish, and when people ask you about your faith, tell them with a smile, “I am Muslim.” Speak your truth without fear. Be proud of Islam. Be free, and hold your head up high, bowing only to Allah.

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including and, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project,, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , Read 266 articles by
6 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Dreamlife says:

    JazakAllah for the excellent analogy and reminder. Reminds me of a saying: “He who can bow down to Allah can stand up to anything”.

  2. shaqi says:

    Salaam, this is just beautiful brother, thank you

  3. calikusu says:

    just wanted to say “thank you” and “keep up the good work”. I ve been experiencing a period of hardship myself these days and found your articles very useful and sincere. sometimes you think you are educated and that you can analyze situations in life that you are going through wisely, but that is not true. someone else (perhaps with higher spiritual strength, muscles 🙂 ) needs to shed light on what you are going through and how you should change your mindset. I think some of your expressions can not be entirely yours, it is from Allah (c.c.) and I just want to thank Allah for providing this platform. May Allah bless and help us all…salaam from turkey…

  4. ASidd says:

    ASAK, JAK Brother. This is a beautiful article which I will share with friends IA. May Allah (SWT) reward you for your efforts.

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