By Rashid Junaid, Prisonersolidarity.org
March 25, 2006
is known for its devastating effects on the family unit. Children
are separated from their parents, husbands are separated from their
wives, and all of this is conducive to the breakup of the family
structure. Allah demands that we keep up good relations with our
family. But does incarceration create an exception to this demand?
In my opinion: no.
long as we have the ability to write letters and to make phone calls
or to have visits, we should do so. Fathers and mothers should continue
to help their children with their homework and school projects.
Husbands and wives should write their spouses love letters and take
advantage of the visiting time when the limited physical contact
is allowed. Allah has made the family unit a sacred institution
and we should value it.
is also a unique situation developing in American prisons that needs
to be addressed: prisoners are converting to Islam and are bringing
their wives, girlfriends, and children into Islam with them.
who accept Islam in prison had a life before Islam and continue
to meet new people during their prison experience. There have been
situations where Muslims have met women and men in prison and a
relationship develops that results in marriage. Some Imams (Muslim
leaders) have come out against the marriage of Muslim prisoners
and have refused to perform marriages if the incarcerated spouse
is not going to be released within two years. There have been some
Imams that have even stated that incarceration is a grounds for
divorce, not marriage.
a man has been in a relationship with a woman before Islam and he
accepts Islam, brings her into Islam, and wants to make this relationship
Islamically acceptable through marriage, any Imam should perform
this marriage regardless of how much time the prisoner has left.
Imams are making choices for brothers and sisters that they have
no right to make. Prison is, in fact, a grounds for divorce according
to the Shari'ah (Islamic law), but that is the choice of the people
in the relationship, not the Imam. Situations come up in marriages
every day that are grounds for divorce, but often people choose
to stay in that relationship.
Imams refuse to perform these marriages, then what is the alternative?
Either a Christian minister or some other religious representative
outside of Islam will have to perform it, or they will remain unmarried
and their kisses, hugs, and intimate holding of hands will be counted
against them on the Day of Judgment because Islam does not condone
such intimacy out of wedlock. One of my concerns is the children.
What kind of example are they seeing when they are being taught
Islam and raised as Muslims, but their parents are not married?
family and marriage is part of the rehabilitative process. If brothers
and sisters realize the significance of family and marriage, their
behavior will become conducive to that. It has been my experience
that what is practiced by a person in prison will be practiced in
society by that person. Most people in prison will get out one day,
so anticipate that these brothers and sisters will be coming to
a Masjid (a Muslim place of public worship) near you. Therefore,
let's promote family and marriage now!
Rashid Junaid, # 191386
Potosi Correctional Center
11593 State Hwy. O
Mineral Point, MO 63660
Junaid is a Muslim prisoner who is deeply engaged in his endeavor
to raise the consciousness of his fellowmen, especially the youths,
to a higher level. Rashid is a former member of the CRIPS and has
helped to develop programs to steer youths away from gang violence
to positive action. He is the Imam (prayer and spiritual leader)
of the Muslim community at Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral
Point, Missouri, and has filed various litigations against the Missouri
Department of Corrections to establish Islamic rights for the Muslim
communities in the state of Missouri. He is also the editor of the
Muslim Prisoner Bulletin, a publication designed to bring attention
to the concerns of Muslim prisoners incarcerated throughout the
U.S. He can be reached by writing to:
writing to Rashid, please send him a pre-embossed stamped envelope
so he can promptly answer your letter. He is not permitted adhesive
stamps, that is, regular stamps.
The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners: