Believers Bail Out (BBO) is a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial incarceration and ICE custody. 

Who We Are

Believers Bail Out (BBO) is a community-led effort to bail out Muslims in pretrial incarceration and ICE custody. Based in Chicago, home to the largest single-site jail in the United States, Believers Bail Out supports efforts to abolish money bail and to raise awareness within Muslim communities on the injustices of the bail bond system, immigration bonds, and the broader prison-industrial complex of which they form part. Our aim is to move towards a world rooted in accountability and healing, rather than punitive responses of the police and prisons. We seek to create sustainable change in our society by focusing on three major areas of concern: the prison-industrial complex, anti-Muslim racism, and anti-Blackness.

Zakat for Bail

Zakat, one of the central tenets of Islam, is an annual tax on wealth. The Qur’an (9:60) specifies eight uses for zakat, including helping the poor and the needy and for the freeing of slaves or captives. People being held in pretrial incarceration because they can’t afford bail qualify for zakat. By paying their bail and freeing them to address the charges against them, Believers Bail Out restores the presumption of innocence. It is in our capacity and our duty as Muslims to be a part of ending this unjust bail system that criminalizes poverty and is inherently racist in nature.

BBO follows the zakat eligibility and distribution processes outlined by the Tayba Foundation, which also serves incarcerated Muslims.

The use of zakat does not go towards the everyday operations of Believers Bail Out. Zakat monies are used for bond and related fees and post-release support. We firmly believe that based on our understandings of the modern American criminal punishment system that Muslims held in pre-trial and immigration incarceration are captive and held in bondage (fi al-riqab 9:60) and can thus be freed (fakku raqabatin 90:13). At the same time, all of our bailees also qualify for zakat based on their statuses as poor and in-need (al-fuqaraa wal masakin 9:60).

BBO wants to #FreeThemAll, but we are currently unable to assist everyone who needs help paying bond. BBO, in coordination with partner community bonds funds and the National Bail Fund Network, — in venues including Chicago, Illinois; New Haven, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; and Minneapolis, Minnesota — uses the following interactive factors to evaluate whether we will assist someone who applies for our help paying bond:

-Incarcerated person identifies as Muslim and is qualified to receive zakat;
-Inability to pay bond required, including lack of access to family or community resources;
-Amount of bond to be paid;
-Existing support system, such as a family member, friend, or case manager who commits to provide assistance making court dates and/or other forms of support;
-Risk of victimization in the jail or the immigration detention center, including but not limited to: race, religion, gender identity and expression, people with disabilities, and youth or elder status;
-Special health needs such as pregnancy, chronic medical conditions, or ongoing mental health treatment;
-Is a primary caregiver; has dependents or other family members who may be harmed by applicant’s incarceration, including risk of custody loss or Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) involvement;
-Immigration status and potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction;
-Risk of deportation;
-Referral through or connection to an established partner organization;
-Anticipated impact of incarceration on applicant’s employment; housing, educational attainment, and/or custodial rights;
-Position in relation to structural violence, community disinvestment, systemic racism, survival, and resistance; and
-Willingness to assist with raising money to cover any anticipated court costs, fines, or fees that will not be refunded to the bond fund.

Because we presume innocence and recognize the harm caused by incarceration, BBO will not use the criminal charge as a criterion. One reason BBO focuses on Muslims in pretrial incarceration and immigration incarceration is that anti-Muslim racism exposes Muslims to increased risk of victimization and denial of religious freedom in the prison and immigration incarceration systems.

Our work focuses on three intersecting areas of concern

Prison Industrial Complex

The mutually reinforcing web of relationships, between and not limited to, prisons, the probation service, the police, the courts, government officials and all the companies that profit from transporting, feeding and exploiting prisoners. This web results in the far and wide ranging use of surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

Our Process

All zakat funds are directed towards bond-related costs. This includes (but is not limited to) money bail and related fees, transportation (to and from court), correspondence (to facilitate bond payment), and post-release support (which includes housing, mental health/life coaching, food, and other essential needs). All BBO operating expenses are paid for through grants and non-zakat donations i.e. sadaqa/charity


We assist people paying bonds in partnership with Chicago Community Bonds Fund and the National Bail Fund Network— in venues including Chicago, Illinois; New Haven, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.