The points raised by you are no doubt thought
provoking but I would like to draw your attention to the following facts.
We need to know, first of all, that the jail punishment is
not a divinely ordained punishment. In other words, it does not fall within the
ambit of punishments prescribed the Sharī‘ah. We also need to appreciate that
principles are not made on exceptions. What we say is that in ‘principle’ the
jail punishment is not correct. The room for exceptions is always there. In a
particular state, a court may administer this punishment keeping in view
specific socio-geographical or some other conditions, provided cruelties
attached to it can be avoided. This however does not make it perfectly
appropriate for the whole world nor can it be added to the penal code of Islam.
The situation described by you is just an exception and I
am afraid we are unable to quote more examples other than the USA or some of the
European countries. The partial privilege, which is being enjoyed in some parts
of the Unites States, cannot provide us with sufficient justification for making
the jail punishment justifiable for the whole world.
It is quite possible that some homeless person may be
availing himself of more facilities in jail than a person who lives in his own
home. Can we, on the basis of these facilities, say that jail is better for him?
In fact, nothing can compensate for his freedom; and a jail deprives individuals
of their freedom.
For us, while living in our family, the opportunities of
reformation and rehabilitation are brighter than living in isolation. These
opportunities should not be wasted because they are more likely to produce
results than the artificial environment created in a jail, of which you are
You tell us people are reverting to Islam when they come to
know of this religion which in their busy daily lives they would never get a
chance to come in an intimate contact with. The people who are embracing Islam
possess the spark of righteousness which can be kindled anywhere and by anyone.
So it is not the jail but the people who embrace Islam and with the help of whom
they embrace it. If the former had met the latter outside the jail, I believe,
they must have accepted the truth even then. We cannot send the people behind
the bars merely to use this opportunity; rather we should spread and organize
Da‘wah activities throughout the world. If every Muslim becomes sensitive about
his surroundings, then there would be no need for pursuing the people in jails.
The chances of dishonest and wrong judgment cannot be ruled
out in every system. Islam is no exception either. Chances cannot make a system
unviable and impracticable. Systems prevail while efforts are undertaken to
minimize and curtail such chances. Similarly, we should divert strong efforts
toward eradicating the possibilities of dishonesty.