KUALA LUMPUR – “During my first year in jail, I went through severe depression. My emotions ran wild thinking of the burden my wife had to shoulder in sustaining the family out there,” recalled Ameng, a former rock star who fell from grace after being jailed for a drug offence.
Ameng, whose real name is Wan Aminuddin Wan Ismail, was the vocalist of Spring, a popular rock group of the 1990s. In 2011, he was handed down an eight-year prison sentence with 10 strokes of canning after he was found guilty of a drug related charge.
After earning a remission for good behaviour, he was released on 14 June 2016, three years earlier that his original jail term. The five-year prison stay provided invaluable lessons for Ameng and helped him start over again with profound piety to the creator.
The former pop culture idol’s transformation is now the inspiration for the thousands of drug addicts and people who want to head in the path of righteousness.
At the ‘Gema Wahyu’ programme at Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Samad Kuala Lumpur (MJSASKL) on Aug 31 hundreds of parents, teenagers and children including this writer heard Ameng sharing his transformation journey with the audience.
ALL NOT LOST
What a twist of fate! It is hard to believe Ameng who once used to perform at prisons in the country would end up as a prisoner himself one day. Hence, when he stepped into the prison as a prisoner instead of an entertainer he was already familiar with many of the prison wardens and officials.
However, for Ameng, acclimatising himself with prison life was daunting at first.
“At that time my biggest concern was the fate of my wife and children. How are they going to carry on without the breadwinner. They had no money, and I was not even sure where they were going to stay. During my emotional upheaval then, a compassionate prison warden turned up as my saviour. His few profound words left a lasting impact on me, “ he said.
“Your family’s predicament is not as bad as you think, and there is no point of you worrying over them as there is nothing now that you could do to change things outside there. The choice is with you whether you want to continue worrying or seek ways for redemption, ” these were the words of the prison warden said Ameng.
Hence, the only way forward then was too look into the mirror and take cognizance of his own faults and shortcomings. This is when he came to realise he was lacking in spirituality as he failed to keep up with the obligations as a Muslim including reciting the Quran.
A RELIGIOUS CELL MATE
Though prison life is no bed of roses, Ameng found that the prison religious education system was well organised with many ustaz (religious teachers) teaching their specialisation with deep commitment.
After learning to read the Quran, Ameng he delved further into the spiritual world by learning to understand the verses in the holy book.
He planned his Quran lessons by dividing his time memorising new verses before dawn and revised what he had learnt during the tahajjud, taubat and qiyamullail (prayers after midnight) prayers.
“When I’m emotionally down, I will read the surah An-Naba as the verses are highly meaningful and they help lift my spirits. I was eager to learn. Since young I was never good in reciting the Quran. I used every opportunity to improve my Quran recital, he said.
Ameng was also lucky to be in the company of a cell mate who could recite the Quran well.
When I came across something that I did not know, I referred to him. Even if he was asleep I would wake him up and he would entertain me and my questions,” explained Ameng recalling his road to redemption.
THE POWER OF THE QURAN
Reciting the Quran and reflecting on his past has helped him to repent and turn over a new leaf.
Other than a reduced jail term, he also achieved a number of things while in prison including cut an album in prison.
Upon his release he saw everything – his car, house and income – returned to him. For Ameng, the prison term was a blessing in disguise. For him the prison provided him with the opportunity to reflect on oneself and repent from the past sins.
“I started reciting the Quran at the age of 45. Within five years I have learnt a lot from the Quran. There is the long and short route to get the teachings of the Quran into the heart. Guess I have taken the longer route,” he said ending his story. – BERNAMA