Education of Muslims in
Ibrahim B. Syed,
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
Education is the birth right of every
Muslim and Muslimah. Islam puts considerable emphasis on its followers to
acquire knowledge. Investment in education is the best investment one can make,
because it eventually leads to intellectual property. Intellectual property is
the intangible property, which no one can steal or destroy. It was as a result
of application of knowledge that Muslims were the superpower of the world for
Today, globally Muslims have the lowest
literacy rate. Hence it is no surprise that the literacy rate among the Muslims
who are incarcerated is very low. Those Muslim inmates in the Kentucky prison
system are no exception. It is a serious task to educate our Muslim brothers and
sisters in Kentucky Prisons. This is a formidable task. The main source of
Islamic knowledge they acquire is through Jumuah Khutbahs delivered by volunteer
Imams or volunteer educated Muslims.
The incarcerated Muslim brothers and
sisters want to acquire Islamic education. They are very sincere in their
intentions and goals to acquire Islamic knowledge. The vast majority of the
Muslims in the Kentucky prison system would like to acquire Islamic knowledge
through the study of Qur'an, Arabic, Hadith, Sunnah, Seerah, Fiqh, Islamic
history, and allied subjects. In many Kentucky Prisons the Muslims have allotted
days and times for acquiring the Deeni or Islamic education. Unfortunately there
are no teachers, paid Imams or even volunteer teachers or volunteers Imams
available to meet the acute need of the Muslim brothers and sisters who are
striving hard to acquire the knowledge of their Deen. In almost every prison the
Muslim inmates have established a small library containing copies of Qur'an,
Hadith, Fiqh us Sunnah, and some books on Islam. They also have acquired
videocassettes on Islam, particularly those of Shaikh Ahmed Deedat.
This paper seeks solutions for this
acute condition in the Kentucky prison system, including the drafting of Tabligh
Jamat followers to do Da'wah in the prisons free will, instead of doing in the
free stranding Masajids.
The Prophet (S) encouraged
the literacy among Muslims.
The prisoners of war that
were captured in the Battle of Badr,
Were released by the Prophet
(S) on one condition: That each
One of the prisoners was
supposed to teach 10 Muslim children,
To read and write.
The situation in the State of Kentucky is very
bleak with regard to Da'wah work in prisons. There are no paid Muslim Chaplains
or Imams in the State of Kentucky. The Da'wah work is done mostly by volunteer
educated Muslims or Imams. As it is a voluntary job, there is no incentive on
the part of the volunteers to visit the prisons regularly for doing Da'wah work
or to give Deeni Taleem to the Muslim inmates in Kentucky prisons.
The education, particularly the Islamic
education of Muslim inmates in Kentucky prisons can be achieved by one or more
of the following methods:
The Islamic Research Foundation, Inc. has a
Qur'anic correspondence course consisting of 20 lessons. Each lesson varies
with 12 to 24 pages. At the end of each lesson there is a 20-question quiz.
A certificate will be awarded to those who have successfully completed the
course. The passing grade is very high. A maximum of one or two questions
can be answered wrongly. More than that the candidate has to repeat the
whole course from the beginning.
It costs money to make copies of the
Lessons, question papers, mailing, postage, etc. Due to lack of financial
support and volunteers to handle the volume of mail, the Qur'anic
correspondence course has not been popularized.
A number of brothers are volunteering their
time, money and resources for the cause of Tableegh Jamat which is a party
of Muslims for propagating the religion of Islam among the Muslims who are
supposed to be derelict in their Islamic duties and responsibilities. Almost
every Mosque or Islamic center is visited by Tableegh Jamats from within
America or outside America coming from far off countries, such as India,
Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Tableegh Jamat brothers take off from their
homes for about 40 days or 4 months visiting the Masajids in different
cities in North America, Central America, and South America. They also hold
an annual Ijtemah in different cities in North America with a gathering of
few thousands. Such annual gatherings are also held in India, Pakistan and
Bangladesh. I believe they are an excellent source for the education of
Muslim inmates in Kentucky prisons. As their mission is to revive Islam
among the Muslims, the Muslim inmates in Kentucky prisons will be highly
Most of the prisons in Kentucky have the
facilities to watch the videocassettes. Hence the small library of the
Muslim inmates contains several video cassettes of famous Da'ees, such as
Shaikh Ahmed Deedat, Shaikh Yusuf Hamza, Dr. Jamal Badawi, Imam Siraj Wahaj,
Da'ee Yousuf Islam, etc. Videocassettes are an excellent for the education
of Muslim inmates in Kentucky prisons. Videocassettes are an instrument in
the audio/video educational curricula.
There are several hundred if not thousand
audio cassettes available in the market on varied topics covering many, many
Islamic subjects, such as recitation of the Qur'an and its tafseer in
English, Ahadeeth, Aqeeda, Fiqh us Sunnah, Fatwahs, Questions on Shariah,
Arkanul Islam, etc. There are many audiocassettes devoted the Jumuah
Khutbahs. Some others are the life experiences and reasons for revert to
Islam of Yousuf Islam, Yusuf Hamza, Siraj Wahaj, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad,
Sr. Assilini, and Dr. Amina McCloud.
Many Muslim publishes are selling copies of
the Noble Qur'an at a cheap price when purchased in bulk volume like 100
copies. The cheap price comes at a price, the Qur'an copies contain only the
English translation and no Arabic text. The copy of the Qur'an and English
translation and commentary comes at a higher price. There are some Islamic
organizations or Institutions which are willing to donate the copies of the
Qur'an to the Muslim inmates.
The Library of the Muslim inmates in
Kentucky prisons have a few copies of the Noble Qur'an, a few copies of the
Hadith, and some books covering different Islamic topics, such as the Yusuf
al-Qardawi's most popular book " Lawful and Prohibited in Islamic Law"
Maurice Bucaille's "The Bible, Qur'an and Science." Shaikh Ahmed Deedat's
booklets: "Is the Bible God's Word?" "What the Bible says about Muhammad", "
Resurrection or Resuscitation", "Crucifixion or Crucifiction".
- Life Changing Books
In this category come books such as the
Qur'an, Books on Seerah, particularly Haykal's "The Life of Muhammad."
"Forty Hadith", Maurice Bucaille's "The Bible, Qur'an and Science." Etc.
There are many booklets and books written by shaikh Ahmed Deedat published
by the Islamic Propagation Center International, Durban, South Africa. They
are also available from New York, Toronto and Bombay (Mumbai).
The following are the Specifically
Religious Books-to-Prisoners Organizations:
- American Muslim Foundation
Foundation Book Program
P O Box 1246
Champaign, IL 61824
Darul Kitab El Islami
P O Box 758
Hockessin, DE 19707
Magazines such as JUMUAH, ISLAMIC HORIZONS,
FINAL CALL, MUSLIM JOURNAL, MESSAGE INTERNATIONAL, THE MINARET, CRESCENT
INTERNATIONAL, and other magazines published in North America are very
popular among the Muslin inmates and they read them with great enthusiasm.
There are scores of computer software in the
form of CD-ROM on many Islamic subjects. The most popular is the 'AALIM.
Unfortunately PCs (Personal Computers) and Internet are not accessible to
the Prison inmates at the present time. The Internet has hundreds of WEB
pages on Islam. The most popular being, Islamicity, Ummah, Al-Islam, etc.,
There is a need for pen pals who can write
to the Muslim inmates answering their questions on Islam. The type of postal
correspondence keep the minds of the Muslim inmates active at the same time
they get educated on Islam.
There is a need for a Newsletter for all the
Muslim inmates throughout the United States and Canada. At least one copy
can be sent to each prison, which has Muslim inmates. The Newsletter is a
good vehicle for Islamic Taleem and also with regard to imparting Islamic
knowledge pertaining to food, hygiene, the five pillars of Islam, dates and
times of Jumuah prayers and Eidains. It can also cover news items of Muslim
inmates in the various prisons of America.
There is a dire necessity of having a
warehouse, which will act as a clearinghouse for supplying, Books, Videos,
Audiocassettes, Printing and mailing Newsletters for the Muslim inmates
throughout North America. The Muslim inmates can fill-up the required
requisition form and the materials can be shipped to the Muslim Chaplains or
Imams of the respective Prisons, which in turn can stock the library of the
Muslim inmates. This warehouse can also supply Musallahs (prayer rugs) and
Kufi caps, which are in great demand among the Muslims throughout America
Taleem classes are didactic lectures on
Islam, given by the Muslim Chaplain or an Imam. The Taleem classes can be
scheduled as lessons, covering topics, such as Arabic, Aqeedah, Qur'an,
Hadith, Fiqh us Sunnah, etc. In many Prisons, educated Muslim volunteers are
giving Taleem classes. In many prisons a particular day such as Thursday and
a particular time such as between Maghreeb and Isha prayers is allotted for
Taleem classes. Although the Muslim inmates are keen and interested in
obtaining the Deeni knowledge through the Taleem classes, the problem is the
paucity of Islamic textbooks and teachers. The teacher must prepare for the
class and also prepare one or more quizzes for each lesson, correct them and
go over them.
TV and Radio
There are TV programs on Islam in large
cities in America and Canada. For smaller cities they can be accessed
through the Cable TV. However this facility is not accessible to the Muslim
There are also Radio Broadcasting Stations
in large cities broadcasting programs on Islam. They also broadcast
interviews of Islamic scholars covering many subjects that affect the lives
of Muslims in America.