The Honest Struggle documents challenges of returning home from prison

The Honest Struggle, a documentary featuring Sadiq Davis, was screened at the Lighthouse Mosque on September 28. 

The hour-long film takes the audience down and around the peaks and valleys of re-entry, the process of being released after years of incarceration, depicting the many of the struggles Sadiq and many like him experience. Justin Mashouf directed the film. 

Filmed mostly in Chicago, IL, the film follows Sadiq, formerly Darrell Davis, shortly before his release after 25 years in prison, and over the next three years up until his eventual relocation to Los Angeles. 

The film gives us a comprehensive view of the trials and road blocks Sadiq and others encounter as they attempt to transition back into society.  From being tasked with securing stable housing, obtaining sustainable employment, to re-establishing ties with family and community, Sadiq can become very overwhelmed.  

Sadiq, formerly a gang-leader, worked tirelessly to re-establish himself in his community. He reconnected with family members, like his siblings, and old friends as well. Fortunately, Sadiq secured housing in a transitional home and eventually found work at a local market. All the while, he strove to maintain his Islamic practices and identity. 

Due to some conflicting issues on his job, Sadiq chose to become self-employed. He began generating an income through photography. Sadiq also found solace in returning to making music, which facilitated him meeting his future wife. Together, Sadiq and his wife created and performed inspirational music. Sadiq also worked with local youth to create and promote positive messages to the community through music. 

Though to date, Sadiq has been able to maintain his freedom. The “honest struggle” we witness him endure in this film often frustrates many formerly incarcerated people. The weight of it all can lead some of them to feel as though their only recourse is to return to a prison cell. Sadly many of them do. 

At times this very sentiment was true for Sadiq. But his determination to remain a free man ultimately led to him and his then-fianceé to move to California. 

The film was released in 2017 and was the winner of the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival 2017. The film was largely funded by the Islamic Scholarship Fund. 

The Lighthouse Mosque screening was quite timely. Two weeks earlier, the mosque hosted a fundraiser in order to fund and open Al Audah, an Oakland-based reentry home. Al Audah will assist men being released from prison to with stable housing while providing access to resources that will support them in successfully transitioning back into the lives of their families and  into their communities.

About Amelah El-Amin

Amelah El-Amin is a mother, grandmother, and African American Muslim human rights activist. She has been serving our community for over 25 years. She co-founded Mu’eed, Inc, a non-profit which has coordinated Humanitarian Day in Oakland for the past 11 years, a program which services homeless residents and low-income children. In addition to feeding the hungry, she advocates for elderly. Amelah El-Amin is a correspondent for Oakland Voices. View all posts by Amelah El-Amin →

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