Why Are Muslims Being Discriminated Against?
Ali Khalid Abdullah, Prisonersolidarity.org
May 5, 2007
It has been brought to my attention that Muslim prisoners at Smith State Prison (SSP), in Georgia, are having problems with prison officials for making prayer in congregation. According to one prisoner at SSP, Abdus-Salam Karim, the Warden at SSP, Don Jarriel
and other Deputy Wardens, have come out with a memorandum prohibiting them from making congregational prayer, and requiring them to make their prayers in their respective cells (read Karim's Prisonersolidarity essay:
If the Muslims have been making their congregational prayers in the past, without incident, why would the warden and his staff suddenly come out with a memorandum prohibiting them from making prayers -- unless the officials are looking for a reason to create hostilities?
First off, Muslims are obligated to make five prayers per day. Unlike Judaism, Christianity, and other religions, the Islaamic religion mandates that Muslims pray five times per day without exception. In fact, prayer is the second pillar of Islaam. These five pillars of
Islaam are as follows:
a) The belief in One God (whom Muslims call "Allaah")
b) The observance of Prayer (which is to be performed five times per day
c) Fasting during the month of Ramadhan
d) The belief in charity
e) To visit the Kabah (or House of Abraham [Ibrihim] in Mecca.
These acts are noble and they are healthy, especially for the prisoners who were once criminally-minded and have transformed themselves to such a degree that they take their belief in God (Allaah) very seriously, and do not think in the criminal mindset anymore. It would seem like it would please prison officials to have one less segment within the prison system involved in volatile or illegal activities. So why would the Warden and his staff suddenly come out with a memo to hinder these men - men who only wish to pray and grow in their religion - from praying together?
It is a well-known fact that, even before the events of 9/11 (and especially since 9/11), Muslims throughout the U.S. prison system have faced various forms of religious discrimination, prejudice and overt acts of persecution.
These acts are usually aggravated by a governmental rhetoric that gives the impression that all who practice Islam are somehow "terrorists," or out to destroy the government. Such rhetoric gives the okay for prison officials to act with impunity in how they treat
Muslims within their institutions. Because the public has been brainwashed to view all Muslims with disdain, it is easy to see why Muslims are facing such hostile times, whether inside a prison, or on the street.
The United States Supreme Court and various other federal and state courts have ruled that religious discrimination is a violation of one's Constitutional Rights under the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment, and in some cases particular acts can also violate the Eight Amendment. But justice in America has never been unbiased or non-prejudicial, because justice - true justice - has never been issued out to reach all people equally and fairly. And - since its conception - America has always treated all religions that do not rest on the concepts and scriptural doctrines of the bible as heathen, and unworthy of full recognition. To disregard this fact - to ignore the reality of this statement - would be hypocritical, and a blatant denial of what America is and what it has wrapped herself around in terms of religious doctrine.
It was the bible that the U.S. used to justify enslaving millions of African people. It was the bible that was used to negate and slaughter millions of the various First Nations (ala "Native American") people when Europeans came here and took their land. It was the bible that was used to form such groups as the Ku Klux Klan (who were all proclaimed "Christians"). It is the bible that your Aryan Brotherhood groups use as their religious authority. It was the bible that caused the people in Central and South America to be colonized, murdered, raped, and their history pillaged by the Spanish and Portuguese.
Destroying the Mestizo's and the Arawaks, to name two, so thoroughly where they now claim to be "Latino/a" people, taking on the historical identity of their Latin oppressors. All of this (and I could name plenty more examples) has happened in the name of the bible, but no one has ever suggested that all Christians and/or people who believe in the bible are somehow terrorists and criminals. Nor are they hounded and persecuted. But this is how Muslims and Islaam is being portrayed.
That is why we find Muslims in the prison system being denied their right to freely and uninhibitedly worship in their own way. That is why the prison officials at SSP in Georgia need to be sent a strong message that they can't get away with religious prejudice and
persecution. I am a Muslim and as a Muslim it would be irresponsible and reprehensible of me to demean all who do not follow the teachings of Islam. I would not only be wrong, but I would violate the very book I claim to follow, i.e., the Holy Qur'aan, because in this book it says that we (Muslims) are not to show disregard towards other people's religious beliefs. It tells us that we must respect other's rights of worship and not to denigrate anyone for their beliefs, and that there is no compulsion in religion. So why are Muslims being
harassed by a prison system that, first off, does not fully understand or respect them, and secondly, isn't even living up to its own religious views under Christianity?
Well, the answer is simple: America is what it is ... a nation of racist bigots, vexed with all kinds of hypocrisy. Any time someone wishes only to pray, rather than read a pornography magazine; any time a person would rather pray than chase other men for sex; any time one wishes to pray rather than gamble or exploit others; then there is a
problem. Because this behavior doesn't fit the desire and the plan of the prison scheme. The prison scheme thrives on chaos, rape, brutality, exploitation and nonsense rules and procedures in order to get the kinds of negative reactions needed from prisoners - so the
prison can obtain more money and the guards can keep "their" jobs.
That is the real issue is. Job security and keeping up the religious hysteria against Muslims and Islaam, so that (from the White House to the Big House of Prisons) this economic agenda can be carried out.
Ali Khalid Abdullah has few contacts on "the outside," and would particularly like to make contact with a pen pal or organization from Michigan, who would be willing to visit him in prison. If you'd like to respond to this essay, you may write to Ali at the below address:
Ali Khalid Abdullah
Muskegon Correctional Facility
2400 S. Sheridan Rd.
Ali Khalid Abdullah has been incarcerated since 1990 for taking action against a known drug dealer for the sexual molestation of an 11-year-old girl, because her mother owed a crack debt. Abdullah was ambushed, shot in the chest, and left for dead as a result of street information circulating that he was going to deal with the perpetrators. After recovering from the hospital, he sought to attack several businesses the drug dealer owned as fronts for selling drugs. Abdullah and friends confronted the employees, and discovered that they did not know what was going on. They left without taking any money, or causing any harm. But Abdullah was arrested and sentenced to 6 ½-20 years for "Assault with Intent to Rob While Armed." He has been denied parole since 1996, and discharges in July 2008.
The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners: https://prisonersolidarity.org/TipsForWritingPrisoners.htm