Sunday, February 18, 2007

Western values break British Society

"A close look at the West’s value system points to the pursuit of pleasure (goal in life) ahead of freedom, individualism, and utilitarianism as the main cause behind crime. Factors like poor education, social deprivation, unemployment are merely a by-product of these values and should never be addressed in isolation."

Over the past few days, the British public has witnessed the killing of three teenage boys and the maiming of a number of people in a spate of shootings that has shook the country. Tony Blair has been quick to dismiss the notion that Britain is a broken society, and continues to blame a few individuals or groups for carrying out such crimes. He has been joined by ministers, politicians, social-workers, and police officers to examine gun control laws or introduce new programs to minimize social deprivation as a means of reducing violent crime. But rarely, does anyone have the courage or the foresight to ask the basic question: Are western values to blame for the rise in violent crime?

Indeed, the failure to hold Western values accountable leads to more crime, extra legislation, burden on the judiciary, a demoralized police force, over populated prison system, a vulnerable public and a huge drain on public resources. This reactionary approach towards tackling crime is not only limited to violent offences but extends to all forms of crime. Britain is not alone in overlooking the obvious connection between western values and the rise in crime. A similar trend can be found in all other Western societies. In these societies the public is resigned to accept that crime is on the increase and very little can be done to reduce it.

Even the severity of the law does not deter people from committing crime. Thus, for many years, Western governments have struggled to reduce the growing number of pedophiles, rapists, drug addicts, joy riders, burglars, fraudsters, sleazy politicians, unscrupulous businessmen and the like – no matter how many laws they enact or how much time and money they spend on policing. This does not need to be the case. Rather, what lies at the heart of the issue is the incorrect understanding in Western societies of crime and its causes; this has led to Western governments implementing ineffective solutions to combat crime.

A close look at the West’s value system points to the pursuit of pleasure (goal in life) ahead of freedom, individualism, and utilitarianism as the main cause behind crime. Factors like poor education, social deprivation, unemployment are merely a by-product of these values and should never be addressed in isolation.

The West’s goal in life has greatly affected the public’s attitude towards preventing crime. The public in West’s societies is more concerned about preserving their ability to pursue sensual pleasure to the extent that they would not intervene to help other people enjoy their right to pursue pleasure, particularly if such intervention was associated with difficulty or danger.

Unless it is something that threatens their collective pursuit of enjoyment, the public rarely intervenes to stop crimes committed in front of them. This mindset has molded the public in Western societies to become apathetic towards crime, thereby allowing criminals to thrive amongst them. For instance if a thief ran out of a shop in a crowded shopping center, the majority of the shoppers would be hesitant to give chase. If a group of people were attacking an individual on the bus, most people would remain quiet in their seats. If a pensioner was being mugged in the street, most people will ignore it.

The West’s goal in life has also undermined the ability of Capitalist states to fight crime. This is because the role of Western governments is to pass laws and implement policies, which enable individuals to realize their optimal level of sensual fulfillment. All too often, the true benefactors are a small minority of people who use their wealth to influence governments to protect their interests. The government enacts laws that protect their right to pursue enjoyment at the expense of the vast majority. In turn, this vast majority feels that these laws unfairly impinge on their right to pursue happiness and hence many resort to breaking the law. For instance, the majority of the British public abhors firearms, but fails to understand why the government has repeatedly taken no action against the media companies that glorify gun violence as the quickest way of attaining happiness through films, music, books and video games. Equally in America, the public’s demand to ban the selling of guns is met with government silence. In both cases governments are more interested in allowing the media moguls and gun companies to maximize profits at the cost of the public safety.

The same argument applies to the redevelopment of deprived inner city areas, which governments and wealthy capitalists intentionally ignore, as they are deemed to be commercially unprofitable.

Understandably, people living in such areas will resort to crime. Even the punishment of criminals is influenced by the West’s goal in life; instead of designing punishments to deter potential criminals in society, punishments exist merely to restrict the convicted criminal’s pursuit of pleasure. For example the millionaire Geoffrey Archer was able to follow his lavish lifestyle, even though he was serving a custodial sentence. Therefore, at all levels of human behavior the West’s goal in life is the main driving force behind crime in Western societies.

On the other hand, Islam produces a society where crime is not the norm but an exception. This is because the Islamic goal in life is about seeking the pleasure of Allah. It is through seeking the pleasure of Allah that a Muslim attains happiness.

Therefore, Muslims are extremely careful when undertaking actions, large or small because they know that in the hereafter they will be held accountable for them. The outcome of which will be either paradise or hellfire determined by the Muslim’s compliance to Allah’s commands and prohibitions in this life. This belief instills in Muslims a strong sense of Taqwa (fear of Allah), responsibility towards others and obedience to Islamic laws and authority. At an individual level this becomes a very powerful deterrent against crime, as one is constantly aware of the consequences of one’s actions. Allah reminds us in the Quran: “And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” [TMQ Al-Qaf: 16]

The manifestation of this self policing would mean that unlike Western countries, the future Islamic state will not need to spend huge resources in fighting crime, use large numbers of surveillance techniques to catch criminals or employ a large police force dedicated to crime prevention.

Similarly, the Islamic society’s yearning to seek the pleasure of Allah will produce a collective mentality amongst the public where the preservation of society and Islamic laws will be regarded as more important than one’s own interest. This is because for Muslims, the transgression of the commands and prohibitions of Allah) by offenders is a sin that must be stopped. Islam has obliged Muslims to enjoin Mar’uf (good) and forbid Munkar (evil). The Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam – Peace be upon him) said in a hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id al Khudri: “Whosoever sees a Munkar (an evil or wrong) let him change it by his hand, if he could not let it be by his tongue. If he could not let it be by his heart, and this is the weakest of Iman.” [Muslim]

In the case of non-Muslims citizens it will be the justice of Islam that will be the motivating factor for them to prevent crime. This will galvanize public opinion to become an effective deterrent against crime.

However, there will always be a minority that would violate the laws imposed by Islam. For them Islam has laid down a comprehensive punishment system which is administered by the state. The punishments in Islam are not intended to restrict the offender, but are meant to dissuade others from carrying out crime. For instance concerning the thief, Allah says: “As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hand. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” [TMQ Al-Maida: 38]

In Islam, the individual through his Taqwa, the public through their concern about the preservation of society and the state all act in unison to ensure that the Islamic laws are implemented and that crime is minimized. The Islamic history bears testimony to this fact. For example, when Imam Malik was appointed the judge of Madinah, he had to wait almost a year before he presided over his first case. Also the records of the courts that existed in the main cities in the Islamic State show that the types of cases dealt by courts were primarily social issues like divorce, inheritance and business related disputes. The number of cases involving murders, muggings, rapes and the like were nowhere near the figures that occur in Western societies today.

Whilst capitalism struggles to cope with rising crime, Islam demonstrates a comprehensive mechanism to deal with it. Muslims living in the West should take it upon themselves to expose the flaws of capitalism and present to the wider society, Islam as the only solution to mankind’s problems.

Abid Mustafa
February 18, 2007

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even adults growing up in the West are showing signs of serious dysfunctional behaviour.Case in point,Britney Spear's latest act of shaving the head

Jazaakillaahu khairan for your comments sister.

Firstly, I must say that the Khilafah (caliphate) should not be viewed as a utopia; rather it is a human society liable to mistakes due to the flawed nature of humans. However, Allah knows this and so gave us detailed systems to solve many of life’s problems, individual and societal. This khilafah is merely the complete implementation of these practically.

Families break down for many reasons including over-working parents, neglect, affairs, interference etc. Muslims are not immune to any of this, but if the culture of the society we live in discourages the causes of such behaviour both morally and legislatively, then we have a far better chance of maintaining stable family relationships.

A stable family life is not all that children need, but it is an essential first step to producing happy children. Children do not need to be exposed to images and ideas that they cannot understand as it only creates confusion in them. Exposing children to extreme negative unloving ‘gangsta’ culture will only produce selfish children unable to empathise with others, who will carry that on into adulthood. The same can be said for liberal distribution of highly sexualised material, as it de-values women in the view of young boys. Other guises of the selfish attitude embodied in corporate greed, or using politics for personal expediency etc. all take their toll on our youth, who grow up without a solid moral framework. These are examples of values that Islam discourages, which Islam gave alternatives to, and which sadly can only have a practical manifestation today in the few individuals whom Allah has saved. An Islamic state, however, can use its media and legislation to discourage the distribution of such negativity and promoting positive images for the youth. The negative values themselves cannot be legislated out, but the causes of their encouragement can be.

I am in agreement with you sister, that it is high time our community, whether in the UK or overseas, started to address our own family and social problems. We have some of the worst marital problems, emotional neglect of our children, poor attitude to education, drug abuse etc. Many Muslim children are aspiring to be gangsters, hurling foul insults at each other, harming and even killing each other for the most petty of reasons. Our children live dual lives, one for the street and the other keeping it all hidden in the home. Again it all stems from the values we hold. For many, Islam is still only a partial reference in our lives, and I feel that it is an uphill struggle for most of us as we live in societies that sanction and promote such negativity, whether traditional or liberal, yet all un-Islamic. May Allah guide us and protect us.

As you point out, even among the so-called 'practicing' Muslims un-Islamic attitudes still prevail. Marriage in Islam is not just a list of rights over each other. Humans are emotional beings in need of love and mutual respect. Our prophet (saw) taught us compassion, being kind to each other and tolerance of differences and short-comings. For example, how often does arrogance lead a husband to assume his superiority over his wife, creating resentment and a lack of love? How does this same man look at the rest of the ummah, who are surely less able than he? Is this the love that Muhammad (saw) had for his ummah, and he was surely the best of us? We are all individually responsible in front of Allah to adopt Islam as a complete reference point for our values, thoughts and actions.

Finally, the Islamic state is the place where un-Islamic values, ideas and practices are not tolerated, let alone propagated. It is up to us to build that society through exposing corruption, explaining the alternative and exemplifying the high Islamic values.

http://www.rte.ie/arts/2007/0219/spearsb.html