Zahir Arif
Zahir Arif.png
First appearance "To Your Health" (episode 1.06)
Last appearance "Exeunt Omnes" (episode 6.08)
Reason/Cause End of Series
Prisoner No. 97A622
Aliases Jerome Van Dyke
Gender Male
Age 40
Date of Conviction March 12, 1997
Affiliations The Muslims
Spouse Sonsyrea Arif (Deceased)
Children Yes
Relatives None
Kill Count 0
Episode Count 48 Episodes
Portrayed by Granville Adams

Zahir Arif (Arabic: زاهر عارف; born Jerome Van Dyke) is a Muslim inmate featured in Oz. Portrayed by Granville Adams.

Character Summary[edit | edit source]

Prisoner #97A622. Convicted March 12, 1997 - Assault in the first degree. Possession of stolen goods. Sentence: 18 years, up for parole in 7.

Arif is a former drug addict in prison for possession of stolen goods. In prison, he undergoes a spiritual transformation into one of the most well-behaved and non-violent prisoners throughout the series. A member of the Muslim group, he is primarily a lieutenant of Kareem Said. He supports the teachings of Islam by any means possible. He is a weak leader and considered by many as a dope, however, and is disliked somewhat throughout the series by Muslim prisoner Nacim Bismilla. He is also only one of a few inmate characters to survive all 6 seasons, although a "crime scene flashback" sequence for the character is never featured throughout the series.

Plot Summary[edit | edit source]

Season 1[edit | edit source]

In the show's first season, Arif is mainly a background prisoner supporting Said. During the riot, he is one of the Muslims who enforces order as far as how to handle hostages. When the S.O.R.T. team takes over "Emerald City," Arif and the rest of the prisoners are sent to General Population.

Season 2[edit | edit source]

Arif, Said, Bismilla, and Afsana are the four Muslims allowed into Em City under the new deal. In Em City, Said is defending other inmates on legal issues and with the help of the Muslims is looking for any opportunity to legally overthrow the prison system. Arif questions Said's motives in defending Vernon Schillinger, the head of the Aryan Brotherhood. Later, during Ramadan, the Muslims are called into Warden Leo Glynn's office to determine which one of them should be pardoned by Governor James Devlin. Arif expresses some discontent in not being chosen mainly because he misses his wife and kids, but is not angered that Said is chosen. Said, however, sees this pardon as a slick move on Devlin's part to gain popularity among African American and Islamic communities alike and refuses at the press conference, publicly humiliating Devlin. As he returns to Em City, Arif leads the prisoners in chanting for Said.

Season 3[edit | edit source]

The sister of white inmate Scott Ross, who was murdered in the riot, visits Said for pressing charges against the state. Schillinger points out to the Muslims in the cafeteria that Kareem had "goo goo eyes for a white gal." This causes Arif and new inmate Hamid Khan to question Said's leadership. Later, after another visit, Poet recites a poem in the cafeteria calling Said a "race traitor." This, combined with Said allowing Tobias Beecher to sit in on a Muslim prayer meeting, prompts Arif and Khan to decide that Kareem is no longer fit to lead the Muslims. Khan is elected as the new leader of the Muslims. In the boxing tournament, Khan is facing a gay white inmate named Jason Cramer and as a result Arif urges Khan to beat Cramer into submission because he represents everything that is repulsive to the Muslims. Black inmate Simon Adebisi is stirring up racial tension in Oz, and encourages Khan further, saying "Don't beat Cramer because he likes boys, beat Cramer because he is white." Khan wins, and then faces Irish inmate Cyril O'Reily in the championship match. Cyril wins in an upset, however, and beats Kahn so badly he incurs brain damage. Because Khan is in a vegetative state, Arif takes over leadership of the Muslims. Said does not object, but Bismilla, Said's main bodyguard, is not a fan of Arif's leadership. Right before the fight took place, the Aryans and Muslims fight in the gym and Arif saves Said. As Cyril has won the fight, Oz is in a tense racial situation wherein Adebisi and Arif plan to overthrow the prison. After Adebisi masterminds a plan for black inmate Augustus Hill to be sent to the isolation ward unjustly, the black inmates, led by Adebisi and Arif, start chanting "Set Hill Free." Said opposes Arif, mainly because he feels that Arif is misusing the Koran to support this racial uprising. Oz is locked down as a result.

Season 4 Part I[edit | edit source]

Arif is now in control of the Muslims unopposed. After white inmate Guillaume Tarrant gets a gun and murders the sadistic black inmates Kenny Wangler and Junior Pierce, Arif and Adebisi both point out to Warden Glynn that Em City is out of control and a black man must replace unit manager Tim McManus. McManus is fired and CO Sean Murphy is temporarily named unit manager. Latino inmate Raoul "El Cid" Hernandez is murdered and Adebisi urges Arif to get community leaders that know Said to force Glynn to hire a black man as a Unit Manager. Arif goes along with this and as a result a black man named Martin Querns is hired. Querns, however, does not respect the Muslims, especially Arif, and only considers Adebisi a worthy trustee. In the meantime, a Five Percenter member named Supreme Allah arrives in Oz, angering Arif. Since Five Percenters typically deal drugs, drink alcohol, and have many gangster members who are unsalvageable, Arif does not want Supreme anywhere near the other Muslims. As he attempts to convert Bismilla, Arif asks Adebisi to murder Supreme. Arif is later confronted by Supreme and told to watch where he walks. Arif later sees Irish inmate Ryan O'Reily murder Patrick Keenan and is sickened by it, but is too afraid to speak against him.

In all this, Em City undergoes a power shift. First Querns names three trustees: Adebisi, Chucky Pancamo, and Enrique Morales. Next, eight inmates are transferred out, all of which are Biker or Aryan inmates. The inmates who come in replacing them are black, but not Muslim. They are all followers of Adebisi and this angers Arif, mainly because he was not chosen as a trustee and because Adebisi is in violation of their agreement. As the days go on, more prisoners are transferred in, all of whom are black and handpicked by Querns and Adebisi. Querns goes one further by putting together an All Black Correctional Officer staff led by Travis Smith and Adrian Johnson. Em City is now out of control because Adebisi and his crew, who make up the majority of the prisoners, are free to do all the drugs and alcohol they wish as long as no violence occurs. Arif realizes he cannot lead the Muslims any more and begs Said to lead them once again. With McManus' help, Said gets Querns fired and things running back to normal. Angered, Adebisi makes a failed attempt on Said's life, but Said kills him instead.

Season 4 Part II[edit | edit source]

A television crew comes to investigate what has happened in Oz and starts asking one too many questions. Arif warns Said to stay away from the crew, as they may create bad publicity for the Muslims. Homeboy Leroy Tidd wants to convert to Islam, but Arif and the others think that Tidd is secretly on a mission to murder Said for killing Adebisi. Tidd pretends to be sincere in his conversion by a staged defense of Arif from Aryan inmate James Robson and Biker inmate Jaz Hoyt. Arif then convinces Said to let Tidd convert and Tidd's conversion ends up being legitimate as he converts under the name Salah Udeen. The Aryan Brotherhood is angered by this, as they hired Tidd to murder Said, and they make an attempt on Said's life in retaliation. Tidd dies, however, jumping in front of Said. Robson is sent to the isolation ward for setting up the murder but later released when Warden Glynn decides there is not enough proof to convict him. Later, Robson and Schillinger berate the Muslims over Tidd's death and Said hospitalizes Robson as Arif neutralizes Schillinger. An all out war is about to occur between the Muslims and Aryans and both gangs are put into a temporary truce by Reverend Cloutier, McManus, and Glynn. Arif, meanwhile, secretly testifies against O'Reily with Said's help. O'Reily, however, complicates things and makes it impossible to get a conviction by stirring up the facts of what he did. Meanwhile, white inmate Tobias Beecher, an enemy of Schillinger's, is up for parole and is thereby a target of the Aryans. The Muslims warn them not to mess up Beecher's parole, which gets rejected anyway. Schillinger and Robson attempt to rape Beecher, and Said stabs Schillinger nearly to death defending him. Arif assists Said by making sure the guards cannot save the Aryans from dying.

Season 5[edit | edit source]

Arif's wife is one of the many visitors who dies in a bus accident transferring the visitors to the prison. O'Reily's investigation is later dismissed as he pays inmate Martin Montgomery to mess up the story so Arif cannot send him to death row. The Aryans come out of the hospital ready for war with the Muslims once again, but are stopped by Beecher and prison psychiatrist "Sister Pete" Reimondo. It is agreed that Schillinger, Said, and Beecher will all sit together in interaction sessions, preventing the two groups from going to war. The Aryans start another war with the Italians, however, as the FBI informs Schillinger that Gaetano Cincetta, who was hired by Italian leader Chucky Pancamo to murder his son, has entered the Witness Protection Program. The war between the Aryans and Italians is good for all the black inmates, as the Homeboys want the Italians destroyed and the Muslims want the Aryans destroyed.

The war with the Aryans is not completely over, however; Robson still wants to kill the Muslims and murders Ahmad Lalar, a young Muslim convert. Arif wants Robson dead, but Said assures him that they don't need to do anything, as Robson's day of reckoning is approaching. Robson later tells drug addict Omar White that African Muslims enslave other Africans and that Said and Arif are thereby supporters of slavery. The Muslims are stunned by this and begin to once again question Said and his teachings. Said later goes to solitary for beating White and Arif, and the other Muslims turn against him. Said and White reconcile, however, and then Said explains to Arif and the other Muslims what he has done in ignoring the teachings on slavery. Said also tells Arif the truth about how violent he truly is and that it was exposed in killing Adebisi. Later, Robson is expelled from the Aryan Brotherhood for getting a pair of "ghetto gums" (gums from a black person) in a dental transplant. Arif leads the Muslims in ridiculing Robson.

Season 6[edit | edit source]

The Muslims start a book binding business to publish the journal of Augustus Hill, a deceased inmate who kept a journal about what has happened in Oz. Said and Arif meet a media representative named Lemuel Idzik, who murders Said in the visiting room with a concealed firearm. As Said dies, his last words to Arif are "Arif, don't harm him." Arif is now running the Muslims again. Arif finds the book binding business to be nowhere near as profitable as he expected and also must now deal with hiring the Homeboys who have left their leader, Burr Redding, to work for the Muslims. Redding is angered by this and destroys Arif's business. Arif wants to tell the authorities, but Redding convinces him that he shouldn't talk, mainly because Arif can collect the insurance money as it was an "accident." Arif is economically in no place to argue, but his conscience gets that best of him as he eventually tells the other Muslims that he accepted the money. Bismilla, Afsana and the others beat Arif and excommunicate him from the Muslims, but Arif later tells McManus, who then sends Redding to solitary.

The Muslims

Kareem Saïd - Zahir Arif - Hamid Khan - Salah Udeen - Tizi Ouzou - Nacim Bismilla - Huseni Mershah - Jamal Yusef - Ahmad Lalar - Sanjay Afsana

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