Islaamic Rulings for Incarcerated Muslims Volume One: A Compilation of Verdicts and Rulings by Various Ulaama of Ahlis-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa’ah (Dallas: Tarbiyyah Bookstore Publishing, 2007. 96 pages.)

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Mumina Kowalski



Even in an age of digital research, printed books that can be held in one’s
hands and read are far from being relics of the past. This is doubly true in
the restricted environment of an American prison, where access to the
Internet is out of bounds but books may be obtained through mail order or
prison libraries. This publication seeks to overcome this Internet access gap
by printing questions from an online Prison Q &A Forum as a slim booklet.
It represents the new challenge posed by the fatwa-on-line phenomena, its
influence in diverse settings, and the complexities of conflicting notions of
religious authority. Eighty questions, purportedly from incarcerated Muslims
in American prisons, are answered by thirteen shaykhs and published
by a bookstore, self-described as “revolutionizing authentic salafee publishing”
(back cover).
Numerous questions in this booklet are familiar toMuslim prison chaplains,
who are professionally trained to prioritize and negotiate religious
accommodation within correctional institutions. For example, Question 11
reads: “I am locked in the cell with another Muslim and there is not enough
room for us to pray side-by-side. Can we then pray with one of us in front
of the other?” (p. 19). One shaykh says that it is permissible to do so because
of the situation, reflecting the principle that necessity may alter prescribed
ritual requirements. However, addressing this and other questions without an ...

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