The mission of the International Association of Sufism Prison Project, through the dedication and generosity of our volunteers, is to serve and provide resources and outreach to men and women incarcerated in state and federal prisons throughout the United States. We believe that Allah, the most compassionate and most merciful, the Light of the skies and earth, shines His light on broken lives and helps to transform those who are existing in some of the darkest corners of our society. We believe that the life renewing principles of Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, can help incarcerated individuals change the previous patterns of their lives. Member of the IAS Prison Project, all of whom are students of Sufism, volunteer their time and resources toward helping inmates make positive changes in their lives and encourage them to become projective, contributing citizens when they are able to return home.
Correspondence with inmatesCorrespondence is a lifeline for many incarcerated individuals. For those cut off from family and friends, a letter is the primary means of keeping in contact with the outside. Over the years the IAS Prison Project volunteers have written and received many hundreds of letters of letters from inmates in state and federal prisons throughout the United States. Corresponding with inmates has been an excellent vehicle to share the wisdom of Sufi masters with inmates, many of whom are interested in Sufi principles.San Quentin GroupSheikh Salman Baruti, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and IAS Prison Project coordinator, has been co-facilitating a substance abuse education group, called “Katargeo” for the past three years. Most of the group members are “lifers”, men who have been sentenced to life with the eligibility of parole. The group, which meets bi-weekly in the education building, uses a combination process/workshop format. Bi-monthly speakers from various community groups are invited to present workshop on topics such as parole planning, finding work outside of prison and stress management for inmates.
Marin County Women’s Group
Incarcerated women all over the world are our forgotten sisters, mothers and daughters. Isolated and alone, incarcerated women have little contact from friends, family and lack community support. Our sisters struggle to survive at a time of dwindling resources for rehabilitation. Sexual abuse, inadequate or nonexistent medical care and separation from children are a few of the many problems faced by women in prison. With 75% of them serving time for petty drug possession offenses or other nonviolent crimes, they need our attention and support. The IAS Marin County Women’s Group volunteers are caring, devoted women seeking to help incarcerated women realize and return to their Divine potential within. We believe that everyone, including our incarcerated sisters, has a right to discover the peace, tranquility, inner strength that lies within.
Meditation classes at the Marin County Jail
On March 8, 2001, International Women’s Day, we began a series of meditation classes for women incarcerated in Marin County Jail. At this class, we shared the principles and techniques of Sufi meditation. We introduced many of the women to meditation for the first time. They were very eager to learn and practice the art of meditation. We taught them the techniques of relaxation, centering and controlled breathing. The women were encouraged to use these practices to foster spiritual, social and emotional health. The intention is to seek guidance from within to solve problems, answer longing questions and to find peace and tranquility in a chaotic environment.Inmate Correctional Education ProjectThe IAS Prison Project recently became involved with the Inmate Correctional Education Project. The project is a Bay Area interfaith collaborative that seeks to provide college level education for selected inmates in California’s prisons. ICEP was founded on the idea that the key to breaking the vicious cycle of punishment and deprivation is through higher education. IAS Prison Project staff are excited about this joint effort and look forward to working with ICEP. Al Hadi NewsletterBy the grace and mercy of Allah, we have been able to publish Al Hadi Newsletter for two years. Al Hadi affords us an opportunity to give a spiritual bent to the current prison crisis. Al Hadi also serves as a means for us to share the wisdom of Sufism through publishing biographies of great Sufis, sharing Sufi stories and poetry. Through our “Voices from the Inside” column and “The Mail Bag”, inmates also have an opportunity to share letters and poems with the outside world. (Al Hadi Newsletter)
Opportunities for Involvement
The services provided by the IAS Prison Project benefit inmates inside of prison as well as having an indirect impact on communities at large. The dedicated staff of the IAS Prison Project generously contributes their time to bring hope to indigent inmates. We are encouraged by the overwhelming interest in our prison work. As we continue our efforts, we are reaching out to you, our friends and supporters for help. Adopt a Prisoner Program Sponsor an inmate in the IAS “Adopt-a-Prisoner Program.” For a $16 donation, you can provide a 1-year subscription to the journal Sufism: an Inquiry. Reading the wisdom of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Sufi masters as well as meditating on the beautiful words of Sufi poetry is an inspiring way to begin the transformative process that is necessary for healing wounded souls. Spiritual Literacy and Library Project IAS staff receives regular requests from indigent inmates, Chaplains and Imams for Holy Qur’ans, Islamic literature, and spiritual literature from various faith traditions. A $25 donation provides a quality paperback Holy Qur’an to an inmate. $10 to $15 gifts will be used to purchase quality IAS publications such as: An Introduction to Religion, Principles of Sufism and Deliverance: Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed. Gifts of $200 help us to print and distribute our quarterly newsletter Al Hadi. Stamps and Stationary Supplies Help is always needed in financing the cost of postage and other stationary materials. It costs $2 to mail a Sufism Journal to an inmate. Thank you to those who have donated stamps and stationary. All donations are tax deductible.
IAS Prison Project
P. O. Box 2382
San Rafael, CA 94912
Tel: +1 415 382 SUFI
Fax: + 1 415 472-6221