(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 04/14/2022) — The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) and its partner organization The Suraltul Nur Foundation (Suraltul Nur) announced today the completion of the first Ramadan Behind the Wall initiative, which provided hundreds of religious items and resources to correctional facilities across the state.
Suraltul Nur Prison Outreach Director and Islamic Chaplain DeBorah Boneta said, “We are proud to initiate service to 20 prisons, jails, and halfway houses across the state, to serve the approximately 480 Muslims who are fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.”
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and drink. Muslims eat a breakfast meal (called suhoor) before dawn and break their fast at sundown with a meal called iftar. Prisons and jails across the nation normally accommodate fasting inmates by providing specially timed meals early in the morning and at sunset.
In addition to over 14,400 dates, which are traditionally eaten to break the daily fast, Suraltul Nur has provided over 200 Qur’ans, 86 Islamic educational books, 26 prayer rugs, and 26 digital lectures and lessons for incarcerated Muslims.
“While we have enjoyed positive working relationships with Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections and their local equivalents, there are still some facilities that are unaware of or unwilling to provide for inmates’ religious needs. Prisons and jails have obligations under state and federal law to accommodate incarcerated Muslims who fast during Ramadan, including by providing them with appropriate meals at the proper times.” continued Boneta.
CAIR also offers an educational toolkit, called “A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” to help correctional officers and administrators gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
Nationally, CAIR chapters have received complaints from incarcerated Muslims at a Virginia prison and a Mississippi jail who allege that their respective institutions failed to provide inmates meals on time before dawn or after sunset, forcing inmates to choose between not eating or violating their religious duty to fast. A prior complaint from the Anchorage Correctional Complex in Alaska resulted in a federal lawsuit and a settlement requiring that Muslim inmates be provided with proper nutrition that meets their religious requirements.
In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
“We remind prisons and jails nationwide that they have a clear legal obligation to accommodate Muslim inmates who fast during Ramadan by providing them with meals at proper times. Failure to do so violates the constitutional rights of Muslims and endangers their health. We encourage any prison officials with questions about accommodating Ramadan to contact us or read our guide on upholding Islamic religious practices in prison settings.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.