: Dhikr Bead Case

This section is dedicated to my mentor the late Muslim chaplain, Shaykh Ismail Abdur Rahim, MCP, DOCCS, Imam of the Darul Islam Movement, may Allah bless his soul...

Yes, by now you should have realized that this is my case; and that you are taking the course with the litigant. This should afford some advantages, but I will admit some bias. I hope this case informs greater efficacy and increases our knowledge base.Nevertheless some of the major points in this case are as follows:

I was placed in solitary (SHU) and I was refused pencil and sufficient writing materials. You may have heard that I was reduced to writing my pro se lawsuit on toilet paper and I sent it to the federal courts. Here is a review and some links to my case:
In the United States, Muslim inmates are allowed to utilize prayer beads for therapeutic effects.In Alameen v. Coughlin, 892 F. Supp. 440 (E.D.N.Y 1995), Imam Hamzah S. Alameen, and Robert Golden brought suit against Thomas A. Coughlin III, etc., et alia (Head of the Department of Corrections) in the State of New York pursuant to 28 USC @ 1983. The plaintiffs argued that prisoners have a First Amendment Constitutional right to pursue Islamic healing therapy called KASM which uses prayer beads. The rosary of oaths (Dhikr), which Alameen developed, was used to successfully rehabilitate inmates suffering from co-occurring mental health challenges and substance abuse issues during the 1990s. All people, including Muslims and Catholics, were allowed to use prayer beads inside prisons, lest their freedom of religion be violated when the prison administration forbade their possession as contraband in the penal system. The practice of carrying prayer beads became controversial when gang-members began carrying specific colors of prayer beads to identify themselves.” My case was successful and is the precedent case for determining the exercise of religion in prisons and in society at large under the RFRA.

RFRA provides:

(a) In general — Government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.(b) Exception — Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person —(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1. "Government" is defined as including departments and agencies of a state or a subdivision of a state. 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-2.

Irreparable Harm/Substantial Burden

In general, infringement of constitutional rights constitutes irreparable injury. See Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373-374, 96 S.Ct. 2673, 2689-90, 49 L.Ed.2d 547 (1976); Paulsen v. County of Nassau, 925 F.2d 65, 68 (2d Cir.1991); see also 11 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2948, at 440 (1973) ("When an alleged deprivation of a constitutional right is involved, most courts hold that no further showing of irreparable injury is necessary"). Prisoners do not forfeit constitutional claims because of their convictions. "Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 84, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 2259, 96 L.Ed.2d 64 (1987). Similarly, a finding under RFRA that a regulation creates a

[892 F.Supp. 448]

substantial burden on an individual's exercise of his or her religion constitutes a finding of irreparable harm. See Prins v. Coughlin, CV-94-2053, 1994 WL 411016 *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 3, 1994).

To receive First Amendment protection, a belief must be rooted in plaintiff's religion. Nevertheless,

the determination of what is a religious belief or practice is more often than not a difficult and delicate task.... [T]he resolution of that question is not to turn upon a judicial perception of the particular belief or practice in question; religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection.

Thomas v. Review Bd. of the Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 U.S. 707, 713-14, 101 S.Ct. 1425, 1429-30, 67 L.Ed.2d 624 (1980). Moreover,

the guarantee of free exercise is not limited to beliefs which are shared by all of the members of a religious sect. Particularly in this sensitive area, it is not within the judicial function and judicial competence to inquire whether the petitioner or his fellow worker more correctly perceived the commands of their common faith. Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.

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