Crime in the United States has reached tremendous proportions. Daily we are reminded of the steady and ever increasing onslaught of the most vicious and senseless crimes. Prisons, jails, and other places of detention are filled to overflowing, yet the problems of crime and violence persist.
An army of psychologists, psychiatrists sociologists, and criminologists are astounded by the veritable strangle hold that crime exerts on society, and they are perplexed and frustrated in their efforts to come up with viable and workable solutions.
Some had thought they had found the answer only to be proven wrong by an ever-increasing avalanche of deviant behavior and bloodshed.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, Americans 12 years or older experienced approximately 24.2 million violent and property crimes in 2001.
There were 18.3 million property crimes. 5.7 million violent crimes, and approximately
188,000 personal thefts.
In the year 2000 there were 256,770 rapes/sexual assaults reported. A study by the U.S. Department of Justice showed that the actual assaults experienced are probably three times this number or 750,000.
In addition, annually in America:
– 6,5000,000 use heroin, crack, speed, pcp, cocaine or some other hard drug on a regular basis.
– 27,000 Americans commit suicide.
– 25,000,000, or one out of ten Americans seek help from psychiatric, psychotherapeutic, or medical sources for mental and emotional problems, at a cost of over $4 billion yearly.
– 126,000 children are born with a major birth defect, due to insufficient prenatal care, nutritional deficiency, environmental toxicity, or maternal drug addiction.
– 2,900.000 children are reportedly subjected to serious neglect or abuse, including physical torture and deliberate starvation.
– 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 women are battered. Domestic violence is the single largest cause of injury and second largest cause of death to women in the U.S.
– 280,000 Americans are institutionalized for mental illness.
– 40,000,000 or more are without health insurance or protection from catastrophic illness.
– 60,000 are killed by toxic environmental pollutants or contaminants in food, water, or air.
The problem of crime and social decay in America are extremely complex, combining sociological, political, economic, moral, and environmental factors.
We live in a country which is sending out mixed and contradictory messages. We also live in a society which pays lip service to principles of law, order, equality, morality, and justice. Yet where no workable or viable economic/ social system or moral code has been established to discourage or to prevent lawlessness, inequality, deviant behavior, and immorality.
On the one hand we are warned to be obedient to the nation’s laws. We are told of the dire consequences that one may incur if one transgresses against the rights of others. Yet, on the other hand we are bombarded by influences, which promote the shameless pursuit of pleasure. And the wild acquisition of material goods is glorified at whatever cost and by whatever means, fair or foul.
It is a sad fact that hedonism has become the major and most decisive unwritten law of the land, and sacred, timeless values such as generosity, respect for others, charity, modesty, dignity and truthfulness have been sneered at, ignored, or laughed at as being old fashioned, foolish, and out-moded.
The line of demarcation that separates good from evil and right from wrong has blurred, and in many instances merged to the point where the strength of a person’s character is largely a question of convenience, circumstance, and the maintenance of appearances.
With the break down of strong family ties and strong family values there has been a correlative rise in crime.[ As much in the corporate world and the upper echelons of society as in the street].
Many parents, enamored by their own selfish fantasies and concerns, have relinquished the care and guidance of the young to the television set, the game board, and to the children’s peers; so much so, that often times the parents are the last to know that their child was a member of a gang, or a dope peddler, or a dope addict, or even that the child is no longer attending school.
Blind adherence to the pleasure principle has become the motivating factor in far too many lives. Value systems have been warped and twisted to fit any circumstance and to take advantage of any opportunity. And obedience to God’s moral law, which governs the universe and all it contains, has been regulated to the back-burner of consciousness if not thrown out altogether.
When the people turn to the government for help and solace, they are horrified to find that their elected officials have sold themselves[ like whores] to the powerful multi-national corporations, and the government agencies and institutions, far from being equipped to find the solution, have become part of the problem.
To make matters worse, the prevailing trend in psychology and criminology endorses a mode of thought in which people are considered to be less and less responsible for their willful and conscious actions. And concepts such as ”irresistible impulse” are posing as a valid justification for even the most vile and premeditated crimes and as a catch word for ”insanity.”
In any society the rights of the individual should be protected and safeguarded but these rights should not infringe upon the rights of the society of a whole.
People have a collective right not to have to live in a state of disruption, turmoil, and siege, and they should be free to live in a environment without the constant threat of being murdered, robbed, raped, burglarized, kidnapped, or worse.
Freedom in society should not mean that individual freedoms will overshadow the rights of the society in which the individual lives. A just balance should be established and maintained between individual rights and freedoms, and the right of society to live in a atmosphere of peace and well being must not be sacrificed at the alter of individual aggrandizement
Islam provides the perfect balance between societal concerns and individual rights and aspirations. It provides a code of life [Shariah] that enjoins a successful standard of living and which engenders a peaceful and harmonious environment which is[in turn] conducive to human development and societal excellence.
With any right there are obligations and responsibilities. One should not be granted without meeting the requirements and legitimate needs of the other.
Islam provides a structure, a system, and a formula, which addresses and fulfills
every aspect of individual life, which begins in the womb and continues beyond the grave. And Islam structures the overall society to provide the necessary elements[ i.e. education, a just distribution of wealth and resources, cleanliness, free and quality health care, strong families] that promotes peace and well being and discourages crime and sickness.
The Shariah of Islam embraces every area of human activity and endeavor. Family relationships, pre-natal care, the duties, rights and responsibilities between husband and wife, parents and children; business relationships and activities, and the political, social, and economic spheres are all meticulously cultivated and nurtured.
Criminals, and a criminal infested society are not produced in a vacuum.
For every result there is a determinative cause.
Let us examine a few of them, and let us see how Islam provides the solution:
The life of a human being begins in its mother’s womb. Whatever affects the mother will also affect the developing child who is directly linked to her both physically and emotionally.
If the mother lives in an unstable environment, this factor will have a destabilizing and debilitating influence on the child. If she is emotionally upset, the child in turn will be emotionally unstable. Likewise if the food and the articles of consumption that the mother consumes are haram[unhealthy, forbidden] then the child will be adversely impacted.
A child that is fed on a diet consisting of cigarette smoke, swine flesh, artificial milk formulas, junk food, toxic meats, greasy foods, alcohol, drugs, etc., cannot help but be influenced by the poisonous elements inherent in these items. And parents who are not spiritually inclined to the higher and nobler prerequisites of life, will [most likely] find their child bereft of these same qualities.
Once the child is born, there is a weaning period of approximately two years. Contrary to the practice of many mothers in American society, breast feeding [mother’s milk] provides the best food and the best care for the infant, especially during the first six months of development.
The practice of sticking a pre-fabricated bottled formula in the child’s mouth is counter productive to the child’s mental and physical development. A child needs to be held, loved, and kissed by its mother and breastfeeding engenders a strong emotional bond between mother and child as well as providing the essential nutrients for its development.
Children that are loved, learn how to love. When a child cries, it is not only crying for food; it is also crying out for love and attention. To stick a baby bottle in a child’s mouth and walk away falls far short of these requirements.
The Islamic family structure provides for the best development of the child, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The mother and the child are surrounded by a healthy and wholesome environment. Spiritually the mother receives constant inspiration and encouragement as she participates in the meaningful life of her family and her community. There is also the matchless bond of love and respect that she has with her Muslim husband which no secular marriage could ever attain. Her husband supports her physically, financially, and emotionally. In fact the entire Muslim community gives support to her as she carries, weans, and raises the child. Her financial sustenance is provided by her husband. She is, therefore, able to focus wholeheartedly on the physical and spiritual progress of the child.
Moral excellence does not come about through man-made systems. High moral standards are realized through the adherence to a moral code given to the human family by Allah [God].
Morality is not a concept invented and prescribed by psychologists and sociologists, it is the conscious harnessing of the soul to propel it to its most sublime and noble station.
Allah [God] in His Infinite Mercy and Beneficence has equipped man with a soul finer than any that He has bestowed on any other creature.
It is a soul which has the ability to discern and to actively seek righteousness. It is a soul with the noble distinction to know the difference between good and evil-and to choose good instead of evil.
Islam provides the best framework and the best vehicle for lifting man’s spirit to the sublime heights of his God- given potential. It is only through Islam that man may ascend above the dense cellar of ignorance, backwardness and depravity, and realize the fulfillment of his higher nature.
Effective and Practical
Islam deals with problems and challenges of crime in a practical and effective manner.
It promotes a equitable balance between the rights of the society to thrive in an atmosphere of peace, harmony, and human productivity; and the right of every individual member in the society to pursue his[or her] legitimate ideals and aspirations[as long as these pursuits do not harm others].
Human beings are not angels, and it is inevitable that some will resort to devious, sinful,
and unlawful avenues to satisfy their capricious desires. Therefore, Islam has established
essentially four phases to eliminate or to deter crime.
Firstly, every member of society is fully educated to the harmful effects of sin and
criminal transgression, and to the positive aspects and benefits of living a decent,
wholesome, Islamic life.
Secondly, every individual is provided with the means to earn a dignified and adequate livelihood.
Thirdly[as much as possible] all negative influences which are known to open the doors to crime, and the flood gates to deviant behavior, are removed from society and the doors slammed shut.
And lastly, if and when the three previous phases are ignored[ due to the incorrigible nature of the criminal] then as a final discouragement to other miscreants and as a protection for the society, the full club of the law in the form of restitution, punishment, and [in relevant instances] execution, is applied strongly and decisively.