Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Creation Plan of God | Al Risala, September 1988

A variety of explanations are offered by social workers and psycho­logists for the increasing manifestations of criminal tendencies in the human species, the most frequently invoked of these being the baneful influences of poverty. But we need only look at the alarming increase in the crime rate of the world’s affluent countries to realize that the cause lies much deeper. Nor can we blame inadequate legislation, poor law enforcement or insuffi­cient means of punishment and/or rehabilitation of criminals, for both the western and Islamic worlds are fully geared on all counts to place at least some serious constraints on criminality.

When a man commits a crime, he does so because he wants to. To him, it is his own will that counts. He commits his crime in defiance of the law and the threat of legal action which will lead to imprisonment. He does so in spite of all the moral condemnation which society will heap upon him. Sometimes there is even no premeditation of a crime, and therefore no prior thought of social reprisal. Take the case of a High Court Judge of Japan, a Mr. Matsunaga, who was caught shoplifting two books worth 15 dollars. When asked at his trial why he had done so, when he could easily have paid for them, he said that he had acted “on impulse.” Even the solemnity of his high office could not restrain him from stooping to petty thievery.

What then will prevent a man from committing a crime? It will be his own conscience, and nothing else, for crime is a human activity which is controlled by personal moral sense or not at all.

From what do we derive this inestimable virtue–moral sense? We derive it from the type of social conditioning which instils in us the fear of God. It comes from the expectancy that in the afterlife we shall be rewarded for our good deeds and punished for our misdeeds. Once we begin to feel accountable to God rather than to some man-made system, we realize that there is no escape for the transgressor from divine retribution; that God’s justice is absolute. With this also comes the realization that we have our freedom in this world not just to do as we please, but to make a reasoned choice of good and right action. Then, not only do we avoid the path of wrong action, but we even banish unworthy thoughts from our minds. No legal system or law enforcement agency can of its own achieve a moral triumph of this nature.

If we are effectively to eradicate criminality, we must never lose sight of the fact that if a man resorts to crime, it is not because he has been deprived of material wealth, but because he has never known what it is to have spiritual wealth.