Issues Regarding Muslim Inmates
The year 2001 witnessed the turning point of the United States treatment of its inmate populations.What this means is that illegal and unconstitutional practices such as torture, sensory deprivation, etc, which had long been the norm in Federal, state and now privatized institutions, were now being exported abroad internationally in violation of international standards. I believe that the one weapon which the Muslim inmate population has is the right to litigate and bring forward class action lawsuits designed to bring the penal system in the United States into conformity with internationally accepted standards on the treatment of inmates.
It is important that the Muslim inmate population have a fundamental understanding of Islamic jurisprudence, beliefs and customs, along with a basic grasp of the diverse schools of thought in Islam. If this is not possible, then they should have access to those clerics who do possess this knowledge. In many cases court litigation fails, simply because the Muslim plaintiffs lack grounding in the basics of Islam. I would add to this, that Muslims should begin to learn, and understand international standards regarding the just and humane treatment of inmates.
These resolutions have been systematically annotated and codified in the United Nations. Because the United States is a signature to these agreements and resolutions, they constitute a part of constitutional law. Thus, by the United States penal system violating such internationally accepted standards, it also violates its own constitutional standards; and this is the chink in the armor of the system which the Muslim plaintiff must go after with high resolutions and the help of Allah ta`ala.
I believe that the key is not to merely bring a successful lawsuit into the courts, but to repeatedly demonstrate that the US federal, state and private penal system is an aberration of international standards and is in violation of its own constitutional standards. The reality is that presently throughout the world there are secret prisons where Muslims are routinely tortured and killed. The United States has long held Muslim political prisoners within its federal, state and now privatized penal colonies. It is by waging a litigation jihaad in the US penal system that some redress can be made in the international community, as well.
It is for this reason that Muslim inmate legal actions in the US courts constitute the front line of defense of Islam. Every successful Muslim litigation passed in the US courts, is a standardization and recognition of the Islamic shari`a; it is a strengthening of international standards on the humane and just treatment of inmates and detainees worldwide; but more importantly it is a perfecting and refining of the United States constitution. I believe that such legal actions could lead to the establishment of an internationally recognized SOCIAL CONTRACT between the United States and its Muslim national minorities which is consistent with the shari`a, but does not challenge the sovereignty of the United States.
The United States is a normative state whose values and practices are repeated and mimicked throughout the world; any and all legal actions by individual Muslim inmates or class action litigation would:  constitute a form of jihaad which is the best action that a Muslim can get involved in;  it makes the Muslim inmate who has lost his ‘citizenship’ (so to speak) because of his incarceration; become and active citizen of the world community; and  due to the refining of the US constitutional standards as a result of his/her legal actions, he/she is in effect a PATRIOT in the true sense of the word.
Success is with Allah.
Shaykh Abu Alfa Umar Muhammad Shareef bin Farid
Founding Director: Sankore` Institute of Islamic-African Studies International