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Prison Blues, a Ta’leef Collective documentary film, directed and produced by Mustafa Davis, is a documentary that gives the story of two men, Rafi Peterson and Amir Tate. It explores the harsh realities of the prison industrial complex in the United States through the lens of a Muslim spiritual narrative, beginning with their troubled childhoods in the Southside of Chicago. These men were put into prison as young men for crimes committed early in their lives, and ended up serving enough time to become men in the federal penitentiary system.

Both Rafi and Amir “found faith” in Islam while in prison.  It is actually estimated that 80% of inmates who similarly find faith convert to Islam.  This documentary explores the reality of incarceration, showing us these men not as common criminals, but as human beings with real life stories. It’s an eye opening and tear jerking 35 minutes that anyone with a heart should watch.

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After embracing Islam in prison, Rafi and Amir both become leaders in their community after their release, and begin working to assisting formerly incarcerated Muslims to transition back into society.  This population is one of the fastest growing in American Muslim society, yet it’s also one of the most overlooked. More importantly, it gives you that glimpse with an open heart, instead of the cold way with which our society typically views individuals in prison, treating them as if everything is their fault, as opposed to the harsh fact they may really be the product of a bigger problem:  a society that failed them.