With three weeks left in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a campaign called Believers Bail Out is raising money to help post bond for jailed Muslims awaiting trial during Ramadan. The project also hopes to shed light on mass incarceration of black people, many of whom are Muslim, by pointing out economic injustices that current bond structures perpetuate.
Worldview host Jerome McDonnell spoke with Nabihah Maqbool of the Believers Bail Out campaign team and Irene Romulo, director of advocacy at the Chicago Community Bond Fund. Here are some interview highlights.
On the goals of the campaign
Nabihah Maqbool: Believers Bail Out is a community-led initiative that was started by people in Chicago who recognize that there is something unjust about the fact that people are being held in detention. We are trying to restore the presumption of innocence by allowing them to then go out and live their lives until they have their trial. So we’re trying to fulfill what we see as the cause of justice as is read under Islam.
On how the campaign fits in the Islamic tradition
Maqbool: Zakāt is one of the five pillars of Islam. In addition to things like fasting[and] doing the pilgrimage, there is a portion of paying a tax on your wealth. What we’re encouraging is for people to pay that portion of their tax toward this cause. We’re also doing this and focusing on this issue to make sure that Muslims understand that there is an issue of mass incarceration within this country. …
When Muslim people are incarcerated, they face an anti-Muslim racism. They also are predominantly facing a lot of anti-Islamic incursions on their ability to practice while they are in detention. So we really want to focus on this racist element in trying to make sure people get free.
On how the campaign seeks to go beyond bail out
Irene Romulo: Each person is going to be paired up with someone who will help them navigate because being bailed out is just the first stage. You still have to figure out, “What services do I need? What services have I lost? Do I have a job? Or do I have guardianship of my kids? Am I integrated into my community?” And so this is a mindful practice where we’re trying to challenge this kind of mass incarceration by providing the community resources and the networks that are necessary to bring people back.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview, which was adapted for the web by Bea Aldrich.