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A person. A photo. A story.

This week: Abdullah Muhammad on Being Reformed


“My given name is Jerome Young. I adopted Islam in 1983 while I was locked up for drug manufacturing. This was during the time of PCP and angel dust, and I made some mistakes. I didn’t know much about the religion at the time, but being away, I had more time to investigate things.

“See, when you are in an intoxicating environment, like the streets, you don’t have time to think about your actions. You need to be in a sober environment to reflect. For me, that sober place was prison. My almost twenty years away made me realize that I had self-worth through Islam. I chose to make better choices and get educated while I was incarcerated.

“My strength also comes from my wife, Hadiyah. I met her while I was locked up. She was a friend of my sister’s and someone who was always around, but I never thought of in a romantic way. Well, that changed, and she became my wife. We had a few visits, no conjugal ones, though, but we would just sit and talk and enjoy being around each other. Our marriage lived on pure faith and goodwill until I got home in July 2004.

“When I got back, I worked several jobs and got settled back into life. Since I didn’t have a driver’s license at the time, I worked as a driver’s helper. I helped the driver make deliveries and pick up packages and people. I had bigger ideas, though, so I asked my wife to loan me $250 and I bought a power washer and started washing cars down on Water St.

“In 2005, I took all of that money and bought a two-grill burner and started cooking breakfast at the Funky Flea Market. From there, I got me a little hot dog cart, and now I have my own food truck called Hadiyah’s, after my wife. It’s nice to see all of these other food trucks in the city these days. They are welcome to stay, as long as they sell good products like mine! You will never taste something as good as one of our half-smokes with Hadiyah’s homemade chili and sweet onions.

“After six years of being free, I am my own boss and have a steady income that allows me to support my family. I am an example that prison can reform people. I came out with a plan to be a productive and social member of society. Now, look at me. I guess you can say that my incarceration did me more good than not. As they say, after difficulty comes ease.”

You can find Abdullah Muhammad and Hadiyah on Saturdays and Sundays at the Funky Flea Market on 6th and Neal Place NE.

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“Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer 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. Every Thursday he’ll share a favorite story with us”

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