To the young people of Oakland, the Bay and Beyond:
Before I continue to write this letter, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Abubakar Achmad. Everybody calls me Abu for short. I am an inmate in CSP-Solano. Originally I came from Indonesia, a country located in South East Asia with 13,000 islands stretching from Sumatra, all the to Java, Bali, and west of Papua New Guinea. All my family came from Indonesia and I grew up in Jakarta which is the capital of Indonesia. Currently I am incarcerated in the California prison system which is the most bureaucratic prison in the nation.
I am here because I did wrongful doing. I violated the law of the land. The hardest parts about being incarcerated: I miss my family. My loved ones. All my friends. And everything I do I am always being watched: sleeping. Eating. Working. Taking a shower. There is no freedom and privacy whatsoever. Moreover, the California prison system right now is exceeding over crowding. Could you imagine that I’m living in a very small area with a lot of inmates in too. I could tell this story more and more because it is more frightening than you can ever imagine, but I am not trying to scare you or anything. This is just my reality. My life.
While being in prison, I try to be strong emotionally, physically, and spiritually. These things are my tools of survival. I’ve learned a lot of new things in this place. I stay active, always being vigilant, patient, responsible of my actions, considerate, and I try to integrate with people and the things that could benefit me and other people.
The more you learn, the more safe your life is because knowledge itself will guide you to the right path. The knowledge will make your judgement in life better, knowledge is happiness – and knowledge is prosperity. You can be what you want to be if you get the knowledge.
My day is occasionally a good day and no matter what the circumstances, I always embrace what God gives us in life because life is beautiful. It doesn’t matter where we live.
My advice to you young people, stay in school, never quit learning. The more you learn the more safe your life is because knowledge itself will guide you to the right path. The knowledge will make your judgement in life better, knowledge is happiness – and knowledge is prosperity. You can be what you want to be if you get the knowledge.
Please stay in school. Last but not least, to any of you who still have a parent, mother or father, always give the highest respects to your parents, especially your mother.
There is a story of a man who once came to the prophet (peace be upon Him). He said, “O prophet! Who among peoples is most worthy of any good companionship?” The prophet said: “Your mother.” And when the man asked: “Then who?” The prophet said, “Then your mother.” And when the man asked, “Then who?” The prophet said: “Then your mother.” The fourth time the man asked, the prophet said: “Then your father.” Does that not speak to all of us?
It’s our mothers who have shown us the importance of helping others. It’s our mothers who teach us proper behavior and words. Being kind to your mother is no luxury. It is not something you do on your good days, or on the occasions when you are feeling generous with your borrowed emotions. Gentle love for your mother is your divine duty. She deserves no less. Respect your parents as well as you respect yourself and others.
Note: My mother passed away in 2004. I haven’t seen her since 1981. I did not have the chance to see her again. To all of you young people, be good and take care.