Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.
“I got home on November 30, 2009 after being incarcerated for 21 years, 6 months, and 20 days. See, I was married to a beautiful girl, Hafsa, who gave me a beautiful daughter, Ruqqiya. We had a beautiful life together. But, my daughter died of cancer at nine. Two years later, a man murdered my wife. So, I found the person who killed her and I killed him. I do not regret killing him at all. If I had my way, I would dig him up, bring him back to life, and kill him again. I will say this again, so that I am being real clear. I would dig him up, bring him back to life, and kill him again. I have no remorse whatsoever because he took away something very precious from me. You see these cracks in the sidewalk, that is how my heart feels every day. I don’t think that I will every marry again. She was the only one who made me happy.
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“I came back to Washington after I got out because this is where my problem began and, Insha’Allah, this is where my problems shall end. I came back to rectify what I f-ed up and work to change the areas I once corrupted and tainted. I was a tyrant on these streets until I bit into Islam whole heartedly while I was incarcerated.
“I came to the faith on August 25, 1980. I was walking on New Jersey and 4th St. NW on a Friday and heard the call to prayer. It pricked my heart and I walked into the Masjid and everything became as clear as day. But, I did not live as a good Muslim until I was locked up. Some of the most beautiful times that I have had in my life were when I was incarcerated, especially the Muslim holidays. I was the Imam when I was locked up in Kentucky. People looked to me for guidance, strength, and help. While I am free now, sometimes I miss those days of having such a position of responsibility now that I am living on the streets.
“I have no family or home, but Allah places people in my path to help me. He places people in my path to feed me, clothe me, and give me knowledge. He also places people in my path, so I can give what I have back to them. There is a hadith in the Koran says that if you see a wrong, first change it with your hands. That means do something about it. If you can’t use your hands, use our mouth. That means speak on it. If not that, change it within your heart. I want to use my hands, words, and heart to spread wisdom and knowledge to people here. Allah has a purpose for me, which is to help my brothers and sisters and make good on my mistakes.”