Before stepping into Karachi Central Jail for women and juvenile, my heart was racing. The melo-dramatic scenes from movies painted the most unwelcoming picture in my mind. Karachi’s April sweltering heat was no support either.
My first visit into a prison was arranged by an elderly philanthropist Mr. Salahuddin and another kind lady Yasmeen Apa, who have been committed to bring relief to the imprisoned for over ten years. Now Hiba has humbly joined hands with them to strengthen their mission, Insha’Allah.
The world inside a jail is very different from yours and mine. The very blessing of a life by choice is what is missing. We can shop for ourselves, choose to eat what the heart desires and buy the finest to wear. But inside a world, where you have been thrown behind the bars, most are forgotten. They live a life others choose for them, which is not very pleasant. The days seem long and empty. I cannot imagine what the nights would be like, especially in power outages.
Meeting the inmates, I discovered that some women were victims of circumstances, while others committed crimes in rage and in retaliation of oppression. There were also criminals by choice. But it was hard to tell by their faces, who was who. Most seemed desperate and pitiful. Everyone had a story. Some had hope for release, as their cases were under trial. Some had been sentenced for life and had no hope.
There were old and weak women. There were young mothers, who had delivered babies, while incarcerated. Some were middle aged. Some were in their early twenties. I met university post graduates, bankers, college students, home makers and illiterates.
The heart wrenching reality highlighted domestic violence, familial disputes, marital disharmony, broken love affairs and fraud contracts. Absence of justice was at the heart of every problem. And hence there was fury, disappointment and rebellion as a resulting emotion. In our glorious past, Muslim rulers brought justice to the common people as their number one priority. Since enforcing the law and dispensing justice is not important anymore, the fabric of Muslim communities is unweaving with all ugliness.
Hard efforts of responsible and sensitive citizens, such as Mr. Salahuddin, have borne some fruit. Together with Yasmeen Apa, he has established a sewing centre for women inmates to stich their clothing. Their young kids have a school to learn at. They also have monitored access to a computer and TV. He has set up an electric water cooler, had the walls painted and helped them keep the barracks clean.
Some other philanthropic organizations have arranged for Quranic Tafaseer and Tarbiyah programmes for the prisoners. As most inmates seem eager to reform and are happy to receive any kind word of advice or guidance.
Hiba has mainly taken up the mission to facilitate the following:
- Payment of bail and fines of deserving victims.
- Initial transportation of inmates and rejoining with their families after their release.
- Distribution of Quran and Sunnah based books and literature for character building.
- Supply and distribution of daily need products to inmates personally. This includes soap bars, detergents, unstitched clothes, toys for kids, etc.
- Arrangement of occasional meals and snacks.
The Quran states: “As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakat) are only for the Fuqara (poor) and Al-Masakin (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds) and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam) and to free the captives and for those in debt and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. the Mujahidun – those fighting in holy war), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything), a duty imposed by Allah And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.)” (At-Taubah 9:60)
If any Hiba reader wishes to offer his/her Zakat for the prison drive, they can donate to:
Meezan Bank Karachi
For any queries, you are welcome to call:
021-35343757 or 0336-2806295 (9:00 am to 1:00 pm)
Rabbana Taqabbal Minna Wa Minkum. Ameen.