Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On The Death of His Son:Three Offerings

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim,


               By Rufus West a/k/a Muslim Mansa Lutalo Iyapo

August 10, 2016

When a parent loses their child they experience a "something" that is more than just pain. It's unparalleled to anything one can imagine. Actually there's no word for it. It's just the worst feeling ever that has been, and continues to be, my daily experience. The only feeling that I can compare it to is the feeling I have right before I wake up after being shot in the head, knowing I'm going to die if I don't wake up at that very moment. That feeling is so novel in a conscious state and can only be compared to something that happens in a dream or a subconscious state. It's so horrible that I do everything in my power to wake myself up. To be clear, it's not the physical pain of being shot, but some unexplainable bad feeling that's somehow associated with

the cosmos of one's very existence on the verge of becoming nonexistent. I think it's a combination of extreme fear mixed with "something" that's more than just pain. This is just a microscopic percentage of what I

can compare to the feeling I experienced on July 1, 2016, upon receiving notice via "snail mail" that my beloved son, Richard West Gray, was assassinated on June 3, 2016. Not even the death of my mother 26 years ago to a seizure is equal in comparison to my reaction to losing Richard, and I was extremely close to my mother. (Needless to say, I have yet to find an experience parallel to the bad feelings 1 felt upon learning of her death.)

To this day I'm still trying to fill some of the gaps in my memory for the first 72 hours after receiving the news about Richard. What I am certain about is that I cried, no, I sobbed . When I was able to calm down from sobbing, a clinician would ask me to talk about him. My attempts to do thus would result in me breaking down again. I sobbed so much that first day that an inmate (who has never lost a child) commented that the reason that I cried so much is because I haven't cried in years. Pretty presumptuous on his cart. He couldn't see that the reason why I cried so much is because of the fact that my son was murdered. My tears for Richard don't start with my eyes. The tear start from my chest and, rises up to my eyes before pausing briefly at my neck' like someone's choking me so that I can't breathe.. My body trembles,and I'll make a noise to distract myself from that "something" more than just pain. At first I cried so much that my whole body ached, especially my eyes and head. As the days turned into weeks, however, I cried less frequent to where now I find myself crying when I look at his photos or when I ruminate on the fact that I will never be able to enjoy his physical presence ever again. I'm doing my best to try

to lock his death up deep within me somewhere because the feeling that cones with it has no cure. It gets so bad sometimes that I often feel like the only way to escape it is suicide. As Muslim, I know that it's against Islam to commit suicide and. that Allah's punishment will he severe. Yet, every so often I feel myself weighing its pros and cons. There's no pill or cure for what I'm experiencing. I just wish there were words that could articulate what I'm experiencinq on a daily basis.

No, I'm not going to kill myself. People walk past my cell every day, while some stop at my cell for one reason or another and they don't have the slightest idea of what I'm going through. If they were to ask me I would only tell them that I'm going through "something" more than just pain.

NEVER by Rufus West a/k/a Muslim Mansa Lutalo lyapo 7/20/16

The one thing that parents need to realize about making plans, is that whether they happen or not is completely out of our hands.

Time is a gift often taken for granted by those of us who live, it's only after, they're murdered do we regret not spending more time with our kids. Or telling them that we love them at least once every day, because we don't expect Allah to come and take our children away.

Presumptuously we believe that parents aren't supposed to bury their children, but statistically Black parents will more than likely bury their children. Especially if that child is a Black male aged 18 to 35, because the number one cause of death for him in this country is homicide. - At  the  hand  of  another with  the  same  skin color  who  doesn't  believe t hat Black lives matter. Because if he did - my son wouldn't be dead.

I never thought that I would be among those who were notified, that my beloved son named Richard West Gray had become a victim of homicide.

It never crossed my mind that I would be robbed of my vision, of a healthy father and son relationship with my son when I got out of prison.

I told myself when I get out that I'm never coming back to the pen, my first order of business was visiting my kids and grandchildren.

But all the things I've dreamed of doing with  my son for the past 22 years, will never happen and that's clear.

Never! That's clear.

                      NOW I KNOW
by Rufus West a/k/a Muslim Mansa Lutalo lyapo 7/1/16
A wife who loses her husband is called a "widow." A child who loses his parents is called an "orphan." When a parent loses their child to gun violence they're called ... there is no name for it. Of all the words in the history of man, there is no word to label a parent who loses their child; who has to bury their child.
Writing this caption my pen ran out of ink, unexpectedly  like your life ran out of time.Pausing for extensive periods in the middle of praying to break down in tears. The pain is too much! Why does this kind of torture exist? This pain - just when I thought I could start praying again the pain breaks me down again! Allah I'm holding on to Your Rope for dear life, because right now I'm definitely considering ending my own life! I know Muslims aren't supposed to kill themselves .... I feel like I'm already dead! I Feel Like I'm Already Dead! I FEEL LIKE I'M ALREADY DEAD! My heart shattered, pieces everywhere. Everywhere there are pieces - like glass. Bloody trails left by my hands trying to collect all of the pieces. Trying to collect myself. Trying to get a hold of myself. These photos of you in a casket don't even look like you! I don't recognize you at all! I need confirmation. Insha Allah I'll have somebody make some calls.
My body is weak. I'm a weak man trying to be strong. When I lift myself up a couple inches I just collapse back into the wall. I wish I could be this wall: hard, cold and just lifeless, As I write this I'm thinking for the first time about the coward(s) that killed you. Had to "ambush" you, so that let me know that you had something about you that made this coward(s) know that he had no win without ambushing you. It's still no consolation.
Every time I see parents on the news, crying over their child being killed, I would try to empathize in order to articulate to people why we need to stop killing each other, NOW' I KNOW!
I wrestle with the contradiction of not wanting anyone to ever experience this pain with wanting the coward(s) who did this to you to experience this with every child they have! I know that's not Islam.
I remember when you and your brother were just babies. Twins, not even a year old yet. I was wearing a red Adidas hat. Your mommy handed you both to me one at a time, I didn't know how to hold no baby. You two were my first born. She kept scolding me, "Watch their heads, Roofy!" I didn't know what I was doing, Here I was trying to maintain a so-called gangster, thug-type posture while trying to cuddle ya'll in my arms simultaneously. Both of ya'll were clearly vocal in letting me know that this ain't no "Diamond in the back - sunroof top - diggin' the scene with a gangster lean" situation. Like everyday – I had been in the streets all night. The next thing I know is that I'm being awakened by your mommy lifting one of you off of my chest, and then the other one. I hadn't realized that I had dozed off. Ya'll had fallen asleep on my chest. I told your mommy I had to leave. Before 1 left she told me that she took a picture of us sleeping and that it was the only time that she saw me look peaceful. My mentality, however, is I need to get out in them streets. When she let me see the photo, as much as I tried to play it off, I knew that she would never get that photo back. And she didn't. I ended up losing that photo a few years later, but it's permanent in my mind's eye as lucid as if I can touch it with my hands.
I remember when your mommy would take ya'll for a stroll in the stroller while I would be in my element running the streets. I would see ya'll during the daytime, or your mommy would hunt me down during the daytime. She would try to convince me to get off of the streets, to no avail. We'd depart. And then at night she'd come looking for me with ya'll. My homeboys in the 'hood would tell me, "Man, you know your baby momma is out here with kids looking for you?" I'd go looking for ya'll but she'd always find me first. She'd tell me that she needed to make sure I was o.k., and on many occasions she would bring me a styrofoam plate of home-cooked food just to make sure I was eating "real food" and not junk food. I would take turns holding you and your brother, and then I would send ya'll home so that I could get back in them streets.
You was 4 years-old when I got locked up. Twenty-two years of watching you grow from a distance through photos and letters. Twenty-two years of telling you that? Insha Allah, I'll be home soon if I get my case overturned or get paroled. You gave me a grandson. A grandson! A sign indicative of the fact that not only am I getting old in years, but also indicative of the fact that you're no longer that baby who fell asleep on my chest that day or the baby wheeled around in a stroller by his mother looking for me. It seems like I just blinked and you went from a baby in a stroller to giving me a grandson.
At first I wanted you to be like me. But after I embraced Islam and then matured into manhood I realized that I didn't want you to be like the pre-Islamic me. I wanted you to be better than I was by avoiding negativity and creating positive alternatives/opportunities for yourself. People who don't grow with you are unable to witness your growth in maturity. They only remember who you were and what you were by their last memory of you. This is what I was up against. Parenting from prison is one of those things that you'll, never know how well you did until it's all over and it's the end. Well, I will never know how well I've done because some coward(s) robbed me of that opportunity.
I feel like I've failed you because I should have been there with you instead of in here - in prison. As your father it was my obligation to support you by making decisions that would allow me to maintain a consistent physical presence in your life. I admit that I didn't do that and I am deeply sorry for fleeing from my responsibilities as a father. Quite frankly, I didn't even know what my responsibilities or priorities of a father were because it wasn't until years after my imprisonment that I grew out of boyhood into manhood that I knew what a man was. Children must not have children; only men and women because the child is the one who suffers undeservedly. You didn't ask to be born.
Killing myself right now would be a selfish act because my life never belonged to me once I had children. I have three kids left. Furthermore, it's against Islam. I never want to go through this again, Insha Allah I never will.
I am literally stuck in a physical void right now. I don't know what to do from moment to moment, so I sit here on this floor writing you my thoughts as they come, frequently pausing to wipe my tears off the pages or reflect on a memory.
Insha Allah I will have a future. I'm unable to clearly picture any future. All I know is I need to stay alive so that I can get out of prison ASAP. I need to look after my grandchildren, my remaining children, and people who love me. My inability to focus is preventing
my ability to strategize right now. I need to get out of prison. (Allah help me get out of prison!) One thing about asking, though, is there's a chance for denial.
There's a hole in my heart. Damn it hurts!
I know your mother's pain has to he excruciating as well. Your twin brother is also hurting but I hope and pray that he doesn't doanything vengeful against the coward(s) that could result in his death or imprisonment. Your other siblings as well are experiencing a lotof pain as a result of your death. Insha Allah I am going to find out who assassinated you. Allah already knows.
Well, it's 9:00 a.m., July 2, 20161 I've been writing pretty much since last night. I should probably try to get some sleep but my whole body hurts. Yawning every 30 seconds only exacerbates my headache and eye ache.
This sure is one Ramadhan I'll never forget. Insha Allah you are in a better place. I ask-that-Allah will protect you and keep you safe. And Insha Allah we will see each other in Paradise.



Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim.


In June of this year I settled out of court in a case I brought against prison officials asserting that my right to practice Islam was being infringed upon every time prison officials cancelled Jumu'ah and Talim Services, and delayed the Eid al-Fitr prayer whenever they failed to provide an outside Islamic volunteer to lead them at the Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI). The district court dismissed it. I filed a reconsideration motion. While awaiting the decision on my motion,CCI officials had me transferred to the Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI), via an impromptu PRC process, despite my PRC results several weeks prior stating that I was to remain at CCI for another year. After notifying the court of my transfer, the district court denied my motion as moot being that I was no longer at CC!.

I appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the district court's decision and held that because the DOC's actions were the result of a state-wide policy, my challenge was not limited to CCI, but to every prison in the state of Wisconsin. I was subsequently appointed a Dream Team of attorneys out of the Axley Brynelson, LLP Law Firm, headed by attorney Michael J. Modi. The end result is a settlement agreement that affects all Wisconsin prisoners (not just Muslims) who have their religious services cancelled due to the DOC failing to provide that particular service with an outside volunteer or a staff from that particular faith who's capable of leading that service. The DOC agreed that no prisoner's religious service will he cancelled for that reason. They also agreed to post a memo by no later than September 25, 2016 stating this change, and also to make sure that it stays posted for a period of 6 months thereafter. They also have until that date to be in full compliance of the settlement agreement throughout the state of Wisconsin. Their failure to comply by that time will result in the DOC being in violation of the settlement. It's every prisoner’s responsibility to make sure that they are in compliance therewith. If I learn that the DOC is not in compliance, I will create a paper trail by filing a complaint via the ICRS. Afterwards, I will inform the court of this breach of contract and produce the court with my ICRS documentation as evidence. (Insha Allah.)

Appended are letters from my attorney and the settlement agreement.


Rufus West #225213, GBCI,P.O. Box 19033

Appended (below)are letters from my attorney and the settlement agreement.










For a Woman I know

Bismillah ir Rahrnan ir Rahim.

FOR A WOMAN I KNOW by -Rufus West a/k/a Muslim Manse Lutalo lyapo 8/31 /16
The following is an excerpt from my letter to a family member.
1 am saddened to hear that you're experiencing abusive relationships Every woman deserves a man, just like every man deserves a woman. When it comes to relationships, men and women deserve the companions they settle for. It all starts with what do we define a man or woman as. Social norms have duped most of us into believing that their definition of a man and a woman is unquestionable. Consequently, we don't question it and suffer the consequences So, I'm asking you,( ), are you a woman, if so, what &/or. How are you a woman? If you have to think long and hard on these questions, then maybe you need to proceed solo until you're ready for an intimate companion to share your space with. It always pains my heart when people in relationships abuse each other. Naturally, it is more painful when the abuse is my [family member]. Unfortunately, however, I am unable to make you change what is in your heart until you not only decide to change -what is in your heart - but also act aggressively to make that change a reality. I believe it all begins with Allah (God) and your relationship with Him. [Name], His Love is Perfect. His Love for you teaches-and shows you how to have love for yourself. How to love yourself. Consequently, that love will penetrate your heart and exterminate all of the toxins therein, which will in turn manifest itself in how you not only treat yourself but also how you allow others to treat you.-Based on what you've told me, you haven't had any examples to guide you to reaching an understanding of self love, at least not any healthy examples. You don't need a companion at the expense of him abusing you. You need to love yourself enough to be without a companion until you are secure of what and who you are, which-will then enable you to be patient- when it comes to -allowing a companion in your life.

My beloved (family member), everythinq I'm telling you is from my life's experience. Hurt people hurt people. I was born male. For the next 30-something years I stayed stuck in a boyhood mentality. Turning 18 only introduced me to adulthood - not manhood.. And even though I can say with confidence that for some time now I’ve been stable in my manhood, I recognize that it's not something that is obtained and then one has it for the rest of his life. No! See, manhood is a state of being that is being challenged every single day in a myriad of ways.

I can't emphasize enough the immense level of responsibility that comes with being a man. Sometimes I still feel the urge to relapse into boyhood and do something irresponsible. It's only by the Grace of Allah that I don't act out my urges and get back in my lane. And if I do happen to act on an urge, I repent and ask for Allah's forgiveness. I'm a work in progress. Al-Hamdulillah (All Praise belongs to and is due to Allah) for me being able to reach the state of manhood (albeit after 30-something years), because it’s like a whole new world just opened up to me. Not only did I learn how to love myself as Allah wanted me to, it -also taught me how to love everyone else. My love and appreciation for the woman in general rose to a level that's beyond words. The woman is the womb of humanity. Without the woman --humanity could -not exist-. If all of the women died today humanity would not be able to reproduce or produce any further civilizations. Man is unable to do this.
Knowing this is a reality, not a theory, it's man's responsibility to value the woman as worthy as his equal, worthy of his love, protection and respect. This is the mindset of a man. He doesn't call her by offensive names or bring harm to her. Knowing what 1 know, I have no desire to be with anyone other than a female who has reached womanhood. Otherwise, I’d rather be (and have been for about two decades now)without a companion. Likewise, I would hope and pray that you’ll do the same thing, Insha Allah, because I hate when you’re in pain.

Rufus West 225213a/k/a Muslim Mansa Lutalo Iyapo: GBCI PO Box 19033;Green Bay, WI 54307


Sunday, May 31, 2015

MAy 2015 posts- Islamic rights in prison case goes forward with strength

RUFUS WEST,                                                            Appeal from the United States District
Plaintiff-Appellant,                                                                 Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
V.                                                                                            No. 11-cv-687-slc
GREGORY GRAMS, et al.,                                  Stephen L. Crocker,
Defendants-Appellees.                                                    Magistrate Judge.

Rufus West is a Wisconsin inmate formerly incarcerated at Columbia Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison, and currently incarcerated at Green Bay Correctional Institution. West, who is Muslim and uses the religious name Mansa Lutalo lyapo, sued members of Columbia's staff and the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, seeking damages and injunctive relief for perceived violations of the First Amendment, see 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, see 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1. First, he alleged, over a multi-year period staff impeded his free exercise of religion by canceling Islamic services at Columbia when Muslim staff or outside volunteers were unavailable to lead the services, rather than allowing services to proceed with inmate leaders. Second, West asserted, after he complained that his evening meal was being delivered too late for him to break his Ramadan fast right at sunset, Columbia staff retaliated by scheduling meal delivery during Ramadan at the latest possible hour. A magistrate judge, presiding by consent, granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Because a finder of fact could not reasonably conclude from West's evidence that the defendants burdened his religious exercise under the First Amendment or retaliated against him because of protected speech, we affirm the dismissal of his constitutional claims. But we disagree with the magistrate judge's conclusion that West's transfer to Green Bay mooted his RLUIPA claim, and on that claim we remand for further proceedings. To  Continue click here…….

Case won:
explanation of case by court

court of Appeals final judgement April 22, 2015

below are links to certificate for Edgewood College penpal program participation and letter from correspondent.