MARANG (Bernama): They may seem a tough breed, but not so tough that the Aidilfitri takbir raya (Hari Raya prayers) doesn't get to them.
In his 32 years working at the Marang Prison and spending 16 Hari Raya Aidilfitri days with prisoners, superintendent Ahmad Nazri Mohamad has never met an inmate who did not tear up when the takbir raya sounds.
He said the first day of Hari Raya is always particularly sad for new prisoners as they deal with the first experience of being locked up and separated from their families. It is no different for the other inmates who have been in jail longer.
"On ordinary days, we see them joking around, exercising and so on – but on Hari Raya day, especially in the morning as the takbir raya is heard, we see their sad faces. Each will be thinking of their families, wives and children.
"They may try to hide their feelings, but the longing (for their families) is obvious. As prison officers, we have to try to cheer them up so that it does not have an adverse effect on them," he said.
According to Ahmad Nazri, in his 32 years of service, he has worked on Hari Raya at two separate prisons – the Marang Prison in Terengganu and Simpang Renggam Prison in Johor.
He said on the first day of Hari Raya, Muslim inmates would normally, be taken to the surau to perform the takbir and Aidilfitri prayers before having breakfast and returning to their respective cells.
This year, however, they have not been allowed to receive visits from family members as part of the effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the conditional movement control order (MCO).
"Usually on Hari Raya morning, the inmates will come to us and talk. This is when we (the officials) have to play our role and comfort them, saying that nobody is happy all the time and sometimes life can be hard," he said.
Meanwhile, an inmate known as Azizul, 25, said this is his third Hari Raya Aidilfitri in prison, and the takbir raya still makes him feel sad and homesick.
Nonetheless, Azizul said he has to accept the fact that he must endure a lengthy 56-year sentence and 23 lashes for raping his underage girlfriend.
"Whenever I hear the takbir raya, I cannot hold back my tears... I am reminded of my late father. This is something I never felt before I was jailed, It was not a big deal (then) but now it makes me sad.
"Here, I have started to read the Quran frequently and to study religion. I think those are the only things that can help me deal with the feelings of regret. I am truly sorry... I will never commit the offence ever again," he said, his voice breaking up in sadness.
The good-looking Azizul also said that every time his mother visits, she would always remind him to perform his prayers, behave well and accept his fate.
He is now holding on to the advice and hopes others will not make the same mistakes which has cost him his freedom. – Bernama
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