Shia Prisoner Takes on Department of Corrections

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ImageI am writing to bring your readers up to date on the changes of the litigation I am pursuing and to remind them of the teachings of the Qur'an, the Holy Prophet, and the Imams (peace be upon them). Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has said: "If you notice that one of your party is wounded, engaged in a trouble, or targeted by the enemy, you should strengthen him by your powers."

Discrimination Against Shias is Present in Many Jails

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. May peace and blessings of Allah Ta'ala descend upon our master and prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah, and may peace and blessings be upon his pure and holy progeny.

"And when my servants ask thee regarding me, then (say unto them): verily, I am near; I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he beseeches unto Me, so let them hearken unto Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright." (Qur'an 2:186)

Assalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatahu

Dear Islamic Insights,

I am writing to bring your readers up to date on the changes of the litigation I am pursuing and to remind them of the teachings of the Qur'an, the Holy Prophet, and the Imams (peace be upon them). Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has said: "If you notice that one of your party is wounded, engaged in a trouble, or targeted by the enemy, you should strengthen him by your powers."

I encourage all the believers to read the section on "the rights of the people of your creed" in Risalatul Huqooq by Imam Zainul Abideen (peace be upon him). I study this faith to the best of my ability. I ask that if anything I say offends anyone, please do find it in your heart to forgive me.

My adherence, in the principles or the creed, to a sect other than that of the Ahlul Bayt, and my following in the branches of Islam a sect other than Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi or Shafa'i has never been due to partisanship nor fanaticism, nor has it been because of doubting the Ijtihad of the Imams of these sects, or their fair-mindedness, their trustworthiness, integrity, or loftiness in knowledge and deeds. Juristic proofs rather have mandated upon me to follow the Imams of the Household of Prophethood and the Cradle of the Message.

With this in mind, how could any Shia request that I stop my litigation against the Wahhabis who oppress the true followers of the Ahlul Bayt? How can you ask me to pray behind a people who believe that Allah Ta'ala descends to the lower heaven every night or say that hell won't be filled until Allah puts his leg in it or say that on the Day of Judgment, they will physically see Allah Ta'ala? All of this goes against the teachings of true Islam. History has shown us that the oppressors of the world will not be happy until we are living exactly like them and have abandoned the Way and forsaken the Path.

I am fighting against that. On June 4, 2007, while housing at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, I filed a Grievance against the Officer C. Benjamin for serving Halal food while eating a ham sandwich. Several officers decided to teach me a lesson by beating, punching, and kicking me. And to justify this, I was written a false misbehavior report and placed on 23-hours-a-day lockdown called "the Box" for 22 months.

Although my administrative appeal has been affirmed, I have filed what is called an Article 78 in the Westchester County Supreme Court, which transferred my case to the Appellate Division Second Department. I was not allowed to call the only inmate witness who saw the officers beating me. I was beaten to such a degree that I suffered multiple concussions to the head, face, back, shoulder, and knees.

Because I have a federal lawsuit already pending and to teach me a lesson, I was denied my due process. This enabled these prison officials to find me guilty and place me in the special housing unit (SHU) for 22 months. It's the only way they believed that would slow me down. I am more focused now than ever to prove that I am right. I have proven that the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) has been systematically denying Shia volunteers from coming to any of the facilities. Just recently on January 19, 2008, DOCS failed to provide any Halal food for the Day of the Ashura, which violates the decision and order in the preliminary injunction I have filed.

The dilemma I am facing now is to get my attorney, Mr. Dale A. Worrall, to bring this blatant violation of the court order. But my attorney is acting like he's not on my side at all, so I must work around him. I will not be deterred from establishing true Islam.

What I don't understand is how not one religious authority responded to my call for help. I am truly thankful that Dr. Liyakat Takim has responded, or I would have lost my case. I understand that you do have some good brothers who went beyond to help, and I would like to thank them.

I can only hope and pray that some of all your good qualities will rub off on me. You have all inspired me and encouraged me in one way or another. It has not been easy, but I can always reach out to you. I ask that you all continue to keep me in your prayers and Du'as.

I will be the first to admit that I have no knowledge about how Shia Muslims practice their faith. All that I know and believe I have gotten from books and by speaking with Imam Takim and Imam Syed Tahzeeb al-Hasan. And it has not been easy conforming to their advice. But they each taught me that patience is a fruit that is very bitter but whose rewards are very sweet.

I habe been in prison for 20 years and for 15 years as a Shia Muslim. I have been oppressed by Warith Deen Umar and his band of Wahhabi chaplains. It is hard to create a picture for you to see the hell I had to endure so that I may practice my faith. My Saddam Hussein was Warith Deen Umar, who was the Muslim Program Coordinator for all prisons. He has praised those who flew into the World Trade Center buildings and has been banned from entering any state or federal prison. But he has hired the majority of chaplains working for DOCS. And the majority are all Wahhabis.

I wonder how some of my brothers would even think that I should pray behind these kinds of people. In the book Tuhaful Uqool, Imam Ali says: "The believers should not put one hand on the other during standing erect in the prayers like the disbelievers." He has also said: "You should not make your brothers ask you for their needs if you have recently known them."

So I say to you that every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala, and every month is Muharram. We each must strive in the direction of true Islam. I pray that Allah Ta'ala will make my path firm and strong. I truly believe that what I am doing is right. I just want you all to understand that it's not about Sha-Heed Abdur Rahman. It's about a prison system saying that I may not practice my faith and trying to force me to practice something other than true Islam.

"My heart is fine and bright with the love of Haydar. Next to Haydar, Hasan is our guide and leader. The dust beneath the shoes of Hussain is the eyeliner (surma) for my eyes. Abideen, the adornment of all devotees is like a crown on my head. Baqir is the light of both my eyes. The religion of Ja'far is true, and the path of Musa is right. O loyal ones, listen to me praising the king of kings (Ridha), who is buried in Khorasan. A particle rom the dust of his tomb is the cure for all pains. Leader of men of faith is Taqi, O dear Muslims. If you love Naqi in preference to all other people, you have done the thing which is proper and right. Askari is the light of the eyes of both Adam and the world. Where can be found in the world such a chief in command like Mahdi?"

That was written by Shaykh Ahmad Jami. It expresses my devotion to the Ahlul Bayt. I just don't profess this faith; I try to live it to the best of my ability under conditions that are adverse to Islam. But we as Shia are no strangers to adverse conditions. We have always been persecuted for our faith. Nothing I have been through an compare to what the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahlul Bayt have suffered. I don't believe I could bear the tribulations they have suffered and still be sane.

The Prophet Muhammad has said:  "Believers are mirrors for and brothers of one another, covertly guarding each other." I encourage you to stay on the Ark of Salvation, because to abandon the Ark is nothing but doom.

Even now the Wahhabi chaplains and prison officials are trying to keep me quiet and prevent me from making my brothers and sisters aware of what's going on with me. They convinced the courts that I should not have "poor person" status, and I was forced to use large sums of money for the filing of motions. But I appealed to my district judge, and he reversed the previous order. But they accomplished what they wanted, and that was to deplete my inmate account. To appeal to the Appellate Division Second Department originally cost me 300 dollars to file an Article 78, and then paying for the filing of certain papers in my federal case has literally drained my account. Alhamdolillah, I was granted "poor person" status, meaning I don't have to pay the large fees anymore. I am responsible for copies, books to be used as exhibits, and legal postage fees. All this becomes hard because I am not allowed any programs while locked in SHU. So what little funds I do have must cover the basic needs like soap, deodorant, skin lotion, toothpaste, writing pads, stamps, envelopes, etc. None of these items can be sent to me in the mail. The prison rules state that I must purchase them from commissary, because SHU inmates have no privileges. Thanks to a few people – you know who you are – I have weathered the storm and still remain focused. I am sending a letter to the Magistrate Judge, Jonathan W. Feldman, seeking clarification of the district judge's order. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Well, I invite any and all of you to please contact me at the address listed below:

Sha-Heed Abdur Rahman, 90A0409

P O Box 2001, 309 Barehill Road

Upstate Correctional Facility

Malone, NY 19253


Any donations will help a great deal. Feel free to send any religious books or religious magazines. Please do not send any newspapers, unless they come directly from the paper vendor. I pray that Allah Ta'ala rewards you all in this life and the hereafter. Please keep me in your du'as and prayers. And yes, I would love to correspond with all.

Yours in faith and Islam,

Wassalam Alaikum

[Signed, Sha-Heed Abdur Rahman]

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