Controlling Crime

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Creation Plan of God | Al-Risala April 1988

It is a commonly-held belief that poverty breeds crime, and that once we banish poverty, crime will automatically disappear. But this theory is belied by the constantly rising crime rate in the affluent world of the west. The U.S. Justice Department conducted a survey on crime during 1983 which produced frightening statistics: one in three families were victims of a crime, and a U.S. citizen was murdered every half hour. This was despite the economic upswing which America had experienced during that period.

We must face the fact, however unpalatable, that crime is not the result of poverty. It is the result of man’s feeling that he is free to do as he pleases in this world. This is a feeling which is growing, and will con­tinue to grow, the further away we move from God. It permeates all walks of life, vitiating the conduct not only of the deprived and under­-educated but of the highly educated and the socially prominent. A case in point is the High Court Judge in Japan, a Mr. Tsuyosni Matsunaga, who, in August 1984, was caught shoplifting two books worth 15 dol­lars. He could easily have paid for the books, but, as he later told Supreme Court officials, he had acted “on impulse.” He was duly punished and had to resign, but how many crimes go undetected, and how many criminals go unpunished? Certainly, there are many such in­stances, for neither the police nor the judiciary are fully equipped to deal with the growing volume and complexity of crime in modern times. No matter how just a legal system may be, and no matter how sophisticated the methods of criminal detection, there will always be individuals who think that crime pays, and that honesty does not. And there will always be individuals who indulge in crime for the sheer excitement of it.

How can such perverted thinking be made sane and decent again? ­How can crime–whatever its causes–be finally eradicated? We have seen the inadequacy of law enforcement systems in the most advanced countries in the world and, if we are not to turn to them, where are we to turn? It is only if we re-enter the fold of religion and make ourselves accountable to our Maker, that justice will become a self-enforcing and self-perpetuating principle in our lives. It is only if we concentrate on the fact that we shall have to account for our misdeeds in this world in the divine court of the Hereafter, and that we shall have to suffer the everlasting agonies of God’s retribution in the after-life, that we shall set our feet upon the right path. If man resorts to crime, it is not because he is deprived of material wealth, but because he has deliberately shunned the spiritual wealth which lies in God’s power to give him.