This is the first of four Ramadan Special essays published by Jama Masjid, San Fernando, and written by Islamic scholars Imran N. Hosein and Siddiq A. Nasir, that turn to the blessed Qur’an in an attempt to respond to rampant crime. Rallies, marches, changing Ministers of Government and Police Commissioners, etc., can never be a substitute for knowledge. The next three essays would focus on: ‘Crime and the Philosophy of Punishment’, ‘Crime and the Secular Society’ and ‘Crime and the Family’.
Economic ghettos now spawn, to a very large extent, the present endless nightmare of gang and drug warfare, armed robbery, kidnapping, and wanton senseless murder. Those ghettos will dramatically increase when the US dollar collapses totally and the TT dollar faithfully follows its monetary Massa in that collapse. Inflation will increase dramatically, and so too will crime!
Is it possible to replace the old corrupt politics of tribal patronage, the corrupt monetary system, as well as the corrupt system of money-lending on interest that has enriched some tribes while impoverishing others and creating ghettos? Our view is that constitutional reform should be primarily directed to the search for a plural model of a state appropriate for a multi-tribal plural society. Only such a ‘power-sharing’ model of state can now prevent the emergence of tribal economic and political dictatorship, and restore a tribal fraternity based on economic and political justice, tribal equality and a free and fair market. Only thus can we hope to extricate the ghetto from economic oppression and the resultant ever-increasing crime.
Islam recognizes justice to be the fundamental and indispensable moral value on which stable societies are built. It also exposes oppression (including economic oppression) as a destroyer of social stability.
“O you who have faith (in the One God)! Be ever steadfast in upholding (the standard of) equity (and this includes equal opportunity in a free and fair market), bearing witness to the Truth for the sake of Allah (Most High), even though it be against your own selves (i.e., perceived to be against your own interest) or your parents and kinsfolk (and this includes your tribe). Whether those concerned be rich or poor, Allah’s claim takes precedence over the claims of either of them. Do not, then, follow your own agenda (and this includes your party or tribal agenda), lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort the truth, behold, Allah is indeed aware of all that you do!” (Qur’an, al-Nisa, 4:135). (Explanatory comments in brackets)
From a corrupted economy – to the ghetto – to endless crime
When the market-place of jobs, of allocation of resources, and of buying and selling is corrupted, and when money itself, which is used to buy and to sell, is neither free nor fair, then opportunity presents itself for the elite in such a society to exploit those too weak or ignorant to protect themselves. That sick economy eventually creates ghettos, and the entire people pay a terrible price when such a society itself begins to unravel and collapse. Eventually the law of the jungle rules the ghetto, and the ghetto then expands to embrace the rest of the society with violent crime. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned of such a time when “Harj would fall on your rooftops like rain”. When asked “what was Harj”, he replied: “(random senseless wanton) killing and slaughter to such an extent that the one who was killed would not know why he was killed, and the one who was killing would not know why he was killing – and every day would be worse than the day which preceded it.”
A man who could not read or write, and who never traveled outside of his native Arabia other than two business trips to Damascus, prophesied as such from the desert of Arabia more than 1400 years ago. Only a true Prophet of the One God could have prophesied so long ago that society would one day collapse to become the world in which we now live.
From the politics of patronage to crime
The politics of patronage, in which governments favor some over others, corrupts and destroys both the ‘free’ as well as the ‘fair’ market. In addition, those who benefit from state-sponsored patronage eventually become so internally corrupted that they believe they have a right to rob, kidnap and even murder in order to eat bread without having to sweat for it. The Qur’an has responded to declare that “. . . man is entitled to nothing except that for which he labored” (Qur’an, al-Najm, 53:39). This writer worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of this country for some years and had direct experience of tribal patronage in employment, job promotion, diplomatic posting, etc., in that Ministry. The same was largely true of the rest of the Public Service, Police Service, Armed Forces, Central Bank, etc. Justice Vollney recently removed the cover of a garbage-bin to expose the stench in other places as well. This essay argues that the politics of tribal patronage breeds crime!
From a bogus and fraudulent monetary system to crime
Governments print utterly bogus and fraudulent non-redeemable paper-money and then impose it as legal tender in the market. In so doing they create wealth out of nothing. They will one day face severe divine punishment for such blasphemy. When such money loses value, it results in inflation – which can be described as ‘legalized theft’. As prices constantly increase, the value of wages for example decrease, and people are robbed of the just value of their labor, goods and property. The Qur’an has specifically prohibited such ‘legalized theft’:
” . . . do not deprive people of what is rightfully theirs by diminishing the value of their things (such as their labor, merchandise, property etc).” (Qur’an, al-‘Araf, 7:85; Hud, 11:85; al-Shu’ara, 26:183)
The falling value of money (that was created out of nothing) destroys the free and fair market as it results in a massive and unjust transfer of wealth. The masses are ripped off and their ‘loss’ becomes the ‘gain’ of a predatory elite. It eventually breeds rampant crime. The wickedness is compounded when governments around the world are required to submit to the authority of an International Monetary Fund which has mysteriously banned the use of gold as money (Art. 4 Section 2-b of the Articles of Agreement). And so, although ruthless despicable enemies have mercilessly attacked the Zimbabwe dollar, and although that country is a major producer of gold, yet it cannot introduce gold coins in the market to solve the problem of runaway inflation since such a natural solution is unjustly prohibited by the slave-master’s so-called international law.
From lending money on interest to crime
The Qur’an, like the Bible before it, has prohibited the lending of money on interest:
“O you who have attained to faith, fear Allah and give up all the Riba (i.e., interest on loans) which is outstanding if you are truly believers; and if you do not do so, then take notice of a declaration of war from Allah and His Messenger” (Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2:279). ‘Lending money on interest’ is not a business transaction since the money-lender is largely immunized from suffering loss. As a consequence, when modern banking (and this includes credit unions) embraces an economy, wealth no longer circulates through such an economy. The rich remain permanently rich and grow constantly richer. The poor, on the other hand, suffer the oppression of permanent poverty while they grow constantly poorer. The Qur’an has established rules that ensure that:
“. . . wealth does not circulate only between the wealthy amongst you” (Qur’an, al-Hashr, 59:7). Prophet Muhammad has cursed all four, and has declared that they are all equally guilty: “the one who takes interest, the one who pays interest, the one who records the transaction, and the two witnesses to the transaction.”
The ‘chickens eventually come home to roost’ when such societies pay the price for the money-lender’s economic injustice in rampant uncontrollable violent crime such as armed robbery, kidnapping and wanton senseless murder. That is precisely the state of this society today. Cuban President, Fidel Castro, once described the world economy in similar language: “Never before did mankind have such formidable scientific and technological potential, such extraordinary capacity to produce riches and well-being, but never before were disparity and inequity so profound in the world.” He responded to this economic oppression by declaring that: “another Nuremberg is required to judge the unjust economic order.”
Political parties, governments, banks, businessmen, etc. who construct, support and justify a usurious economy will one day have to answer for the economic injustice that results. Unless they turn away from such economic injustice, crime will continue to haunt the whole society.
The link between economic injustice and today’s crime-ridden society would, of course, be dramatically broken when Jesus (peace be upon him) returns and gold and silver coins are restored as money, money-lending on interest is put to the sword, the hand of the thief is cut off, and justice prevails in a free and fair market. Truth would then triumph over all rivals. At that time those now waging unjust war on Islam and oppressing Muslims in order to preserve their barbaric economic and political dominance over all of mankind, would be consigned to the garbage-bin of history!