Inmate Forced to Shave Against his Islamic Beliefs

March 28, 2005

Source: Tallahassee Democrat

On March 28, 2005 the Tallahassee Democrat reported, "Akeem Muhammad, a Muslim serving a life sentence in state prison, said he shouldn't be handcuffed and shaved against his will just because he doesn't want to. In fact, Muhammad believes 'shaving one's face violates the tenets of Islam,' he said in a letter to the Tallahassee Democrat... Sorry, said a prison system spokeswoman, being clean-shaven is department policy - no religious exceptions granted. And Islamic scholars question whether the religion requires beards in the first place. 'Religious beliefs do not justify violation of department rules and regulations,' said Debbie Buchanan, Department of Corrections spokeswoman. 'Our concern is inmates can hide contraband in beards, such as shanks (handmade knives) or drugs.' That's not to say the department doesn't accommodate Muslims. Alternate meals are available when a prison serves pork, Buchanan said, and Muslim prisoners are free to pray when they need to during the day."