This chapter provides a critical evaluation of the significance of a rising British Muslim prisoner population to debates on multi-faith provision, interpreting religious civil liberties and experiences of discrimination. The chapter also positions contemporary research against Howard Becker’s established conception of subordinates and superordinates in the hierarchy of credibility within prison contexts. The chapter engages with these debates by, inter alia, providing an overview of the mechanisms and limitations for legal redress by prisoners as well as by illustrating how intersections between race and faith identities are accommodated in prisons. A critical review of the research on Muslim prisoners in the UK demonstrates a sharp contrast between conclusions reached by academics and those arrived at by the state and media.
Traditionally, criminological studies do not focus on faith groups. This is, in part the outcome of the way in which official criminal statistics are classified. This is also reflective of the traditional dominance of race relations and ethnicity paradigms in social sciences. The rapid increase of Muslim male prisoners in Europe and the 9/11 incident brought the faith paradigm into criminology. Such a paradigmatic shift prompted an increase in the academic inquiry on Muslim people and communities within criminology. This chapter discusses some of the specific difficulties of crime research on Muslim populations while emphasising the importance of Islamic jurisprudence and culture to criminological enquiry. The first section of the chapter discusses general issues on criminological research on Muslim populations. It also includes a short overview of prominent studies in this area. The second section tackles the author’s research in Pakistan and North West England which was undertaken in 1997 and 2000. The final section evaluates the author’s experiences of researching Muslim male prisoners in the UK. In this chapter, it is argued that makers of identity such as faith and religion are legitimate factors in shaping the research interaction. It is also argued that social sciences need to accept faith-based perspectives and religious affiliation as important to research processes and relationships.
Are you a prison officer who feels nervous about dealing with Muslims on the wings?
Are you a prison chaplain who wants to know how your chaplaincy affects the lives of prisoners?
Are you a policymaker who needs a robust base of evidence for Islam in prison?
Are you an academic or a journalist seeking ground-breaking social science in a contentious field?
Based on original evidence from 279 Muslim prisoners and 79 prison officers, we explore how Muslims come to be incarcerated, how the practice of Islam affects prison life and rehabilitation, the types of Islam and the effects of Islamic conversion in prison and the professional practice of officers and chaplains. We also investigate the common belief that incarceration fosters Islamist extremism and suggest improvements to faith provision and rehabilitative opportunities for Muslim prisoners.
A condensed history of Islam, where Islam comes from, how Islamic civilisation developed, and how and why Islam and Muslims come to be in European prisons today. It includes an account of the characteristics of Muslim prisoners in general and of our characteristic sample of 279 Muslim prisoners specifically.
An account of the basic beliefs and practices of Islam, such as the Six Articles of Faith, the Five Pillars of Islam and the Permitted (halal) and Forbidden (haram) and, from prisoners’ own voices, how these basic beliefs and practices shape and influence their lives.
This chapter maps the Worldviews of Muslim prisoners using a Worldview schema of Islam, Islamism and Islamist Extremism. Thereby, we challenge the belief that prisons in England, France and Switzerland are wholesale ‘incubators’ of Islamist Extremism.
Describes how the values and practices of Mainstream Islam are brought to life in prison by the majority of Muslim prisoners themselves and how the Worldview of Mainstream Islam shapes their experience of prison life and rehabilitation.
Describes in often graphic and eye-opening terms how Islamist and Islamist Extremist Worldviews shape the experiences of prison life for a small minority of Muslim prisoners and how these prisoners generate a level of fear that belies their small numbers.
Seven different types of Muslim prisoner describe in detail how they experience religious conversion and change in prison, and how these changes offer opportunities for rehabilitation, as well as risks of crime and Islamism.