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Rights of a Prisoner - Part 1

Adopted from the book: "The rights of prisoners according to Islamic teachings" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq al-Shirazi"

The prisoner is a human being, and s/he has the dignity and freedom, as defined by Allah the Almighty. Normally the prison sentence should carry as little hardship as possible while it can still be called a prison sentence, as "necessity is relative" 80, i.e. it is judged accordingly. Whether the individual is being sentenced according to Islamic law, where there are rare cases for imprisonment, or man-made law as currently practised, the authorities must ensure that the prisoner is treated according to his human dignity.

Under current prison regimes, two illegal practices are being committed, the prison concept itself, and the criteria and conditions of prisons.

If the government is committing the first, at least it should ensure that the second is not practised, i.e. the circumstances of the crime and the criteria for the crime and imprisonment must be observed and taken into account.

It is imperative to treat the prisoner as a free individual with the exception of being confined to prison. This may be achieved with the following measures, some of which are manifested in some of the international convention for prisons, and these measures are derived from Shari'ah laws which are on the basis of the principle "people have dominion upon their wealth and their selves" 81:

The prisoner may choose to engage in all dealings and transactions inside the prison or outside it, personally or through an agent, or by telephone. These dealings could be of any nature such as sale, buying, loan, letting, investments, agriculture, Hawalah (to agree to be responsible for one's debt) and even Kafalah to be a guarantor for someone to be released from custody if possible.


80. A principle in Islamic jurisprudence, see al-Fiqh series, vol. 141, "Principles of Jurisprudence", by the author.

81. This is a hadith or statement by the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, which therefore forms the basis of a principle in Islamic jurisprudence. The hadith has been reported in many references such as: 'Awali al-Le'ali, vol. 1, p 222; Nahj el-Haqq, p 494. See also al-Fiqh series, vol. 141, "Principles of Jurisprudence", p 135, by the author.

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