A Time to Pray and A Time to Act

Apr 3, 2005

137. The next thing for all of us to do is not to just sit around griping and complaining, but to become socially responsible, active, committed and engaged citizens. We must all become fully engaged Citizen Participants of the communities and societies in which we live.

138. In a truly enlightened and civilized society, citizens are fully engaged and empowered. They do everything in their power socially, politically, economically, educationally, religiously and otherwise to make the society better in every way they can.

139. That means we need to organize a neighborhood watch in every village, street, community, school, church, temple, mosque, business district, playground, park, beach, public space, hospital and government building.

140. That also means we need to train our people in quick response methods to crime reports.

141. That also means we need to train our people in ways of providing immediate assistance to victims of crime.

142. That also means we need to train our people in common sense methods of personal responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing.

143. While we are doing all this to reduce and control crime and lawlessness in society, let us not forget that crime is generally a creature of complex causes.

Micro and Macro Causes and Contributors of Crime

144. Some of those causes could be psychological in nature, while some of them could also be sociological, cultural, economic and political.

145. Thus, some of the causes for crime in a society are more micro-level causes. That is, they are more individual-level causes.

146. That means crime happens in a society because some individuals in that society have a problem.

147. And then there are also some other causes for crime and lawlessness in a society that are more macro-level causes. That is, they are more societal, institutional, structural or community-based causes.

148. That means crime and lawlessness prevail in a society because that society as a whole has a problem.

149. And those problems could be economic, social, political, racial, religious or something else of that nature.

150. That could mean for example that the society lacks the political will and energy to control crime and lawlessness.

151. That also could mean that the society has a grossly unfair and unbalanced wealth generation and distribution system, in which the poor and the disadvantaged are systematically denied opportunity and resources for advancement and upward mobility.

The Islamic System of Zakat Addresses Economic Imbalances in Society

152. The Islamic economic system of Zakat, when properly implemented, provides an effective remedy to the gross inequities and misdistributions of wealth and resources in society.

153. The Islamic economic system also establishes clearly defined rights for the poor in the wealth and resources of the rich.

154. The Islamic economic and political systems mandate certain economic obligations for the poor, not just on rich individuals, but also on the government of the day.

155. But unfortunately Muslims in most places have ignored the economic system of Zakat that God mandated for them.

156. This has led to a lot of problems for both Muslims and non-Muslims. For, even though Muslims are the primary targets and beneficiaries of the Zakat system, its secondary and indirect benefits pervade the entire society.

157. Muslim or non-Muslim, a society as a whole stands to benefit economically and politically when a proper and effective Zakat system is operational in its midst.

158. A society that implements the Zakat system scrupulously and properly stands to gain tremendous spiritual benefits from it including a healthier physical, social, cultural and psychological environment.

159. Such a society will have a more sensitive, a more responsive and an altogether more efficient political environment.

160. Such a society will have a more balanced, vibrant, conducive and prosperous economic environment.

161. Such a society will experience less crime and corruption as compared to societies that are not familiar with the Zakat system or do not implement it fully or faithfully.

162. Overall, abandonment of an active and effective Zakat system on the part of the Muslims has deprived the society of a great deal of blessings from God Almighty.

163. Sometimes problems arise in a society because the society is divided and stratified along racial or religious, or along some other arbitrary lines of that kind, and the perks and advantageous of life also follow those same racial, ethnic and religious divisions and demarcations.

Societies without Opportunities

164. That means in a society where not enough opportunities exist for upward mobility for individuals, crime will often be a likely outcome.

165. A society of this kind will have either strong and aggressive law enforcement machinery or a weak and wobbly one.

166. Crime will take different forms and shapes depending on response from the forces of law and order.

167. In a society where some or many of these social ills prevail, it is not just crime that will be a problem.

168. Such a society will generate an overall culture in which there will be apathy, indifference and inertia on the part of many and tolerance and rationalization of crime and lawlessness on the part of the others.

169. In such a society, the citizenry will quickly learn the virtues of helplessness and spend its energies in useless talk rather than in useful action.

170. In such a society, other aspects of the society also will show signs of wear and tear and of general malfunction and deterioration.

171. These may include the infrastructure, the environment, the healthcare system, the labor force, the bureaucracy and the agricultural sector, to mention only a few examples.

172. A society like this may increasingly become a victim of brain drain and depletion and outflow of national wealth and resources.

173. Thus, when crime and lawlessness become rampant in a society, smart people would look at both the individuals in that society as well as at the social and institutional structures of that society for causes and explanations.

174. That is because, in many cases, at the root of crime lies not just individual failure or maladjustment but also institutional, cultural and societal malfunction.

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