By Maulana Khalid Dhorat
It used to happen once in a blue moon, then about once in a year, then about once a month, but now it doesn’t happen weekly or daily, but about ten times a day! Very soon, it will happen so often till there are none left standing, but it will then be too late for action. And no, I’m not referring to eclipses or hurricanes, but to the rampant crime that has overtaken our neighborhoods and communities.
Our community has lost too many valuable people in South Africa – many of whom were true men of God, dedicated community workers, courageous crime busters, affectionate mothers, dedicated breadwinners, and selfless professionals. For how long will this senseless killing continue? Will the last man standing be a brazen criminal or a respected member of the public? In a sense, this article is dedicated to all our fallen victims of senseless crime
I have no intention of shining the spotlight on the police or the government for their incompetency or lack of action in this article. Although there is much frustration at their lack of performance, urging them to do their duty is like flogging a dead horse. If governments can steal billions to the point of causing widespread poverty and a national economic collapse of their own people, and if police are more worried about bribes and protection fees from drug lords and gangsters, why should they care for our safety? What interest do the police have in protecting my house situated on Taj or Jewel Street in Laudium, or yours on Rose or Flamingo Avenue in Lenasia? Didn’t you hear the saying: “It’s a jungle out there, survival of the fittest?” Well it’s time to actualize it.
Firstly, it must be known that criminals are nothing but cowardly opportunists, preying on soft targets, who will not stand in a ring for a fair fight. They are no different to Israeli, American, Russian and Arab terrorists who drop cluster bombs on innocent and defenseless Palestinians, Yemenis, Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis, but who will not come to the ground to engage in face-to-face combat. These criminals only have the element of surprise, but there is really no need to be terrified and scared of them. They are nothing but immoral degenerate scum who need to be regarded as such. A snake is only as dangerous as our perception of it, but once we learn how to capture it using nothing more than a loop, then no one will be scared of snakes anymore. Likewise, once we change our mindset of fear of criminals to that of loathing and disgust for them, we have won half the battle. We should not fear criminals, they should fear us. Cockroaches are meant to trample, not to flee from.
In order to combat crime on a personal or community level and reverse the climate of fear we find ourselves in, there is one big ‘do,’ and three don’ts to implement. Let’s start with the ‘do’ first.
As said earlier, we need to change our perception of fear of crime and of criminals and start making criminals fear us. This may sound logical, but unfortunately, our behavior and philosophy on crime reflects otherwise. We not only fear for our safety in our own environment, homes and businesses, but we have weird ideas of creating a ‘space’ for criminals in our midst. We need to kiss the Gandhian philosophy of passive resistance goodbye for good, and embrace the Muhammadan philosophy of bravery and fearlessness. The Gandhian philosophy tells us to be passive with our oppressors and murderers, to offer our cheek for slapping when being asked to do so, and to forgive our enemies, no matter how much they have subjugated us. This philosophy is responsible for our inferiority complex, for our lack of resistance, for our practice of keeping some money at home “just in case some robbers break in,” and to invite these same robbers to steal it, “but just leave us alone.”
The Muhammadan philosophy, on the other hand, demands that all Muslims be strong, powerful and never to allow their lives or properties to be wasted without a good fight. Whilst we may use modern technology in the form of alarms, CCTVs, armed response, and panic buttons in the fight against crime, our most valuable asset should be ourselves, our own formidable selves. We should be ready to meet a criminal at any time, and be ready to beat the daylight out of them. For too long Muslims have been perceived as soft targets, as those upon whom a robbery is never “wasted.” This perception needs to change, and change fast!
One may ask, but isn’t this a reckless approach. If it is, then ponder upon the following words of our most noble Prophet, the final Apostle of God, Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him). A man once asked him: “O Prophet of God, what about if a man came to me asking for my money (meaning to take it by force).” Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him) said: “Don’t give him your money.” So the man said: “What if he fights me?” The Prophet (May peace be upon him) said: “Fight him (back).” The man asked: “What if he kills me?” The holy Prophet (May peace be upon him) said: “Then you are a martyr.” The man asked: “What if I kill him?” The Prophet said: “(Then) he is in the hell-fire.” [Muslim]
Did our noble Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him) and his Companions ever back down from a fight or a challenge? Did the enemies of Islam have the temerity of entering their homes in order to loot them off their belongings? Never. They were warriors who were respected by their enemies. All of them aspired for martyrdom, because the status of a martyr (shaheed) is indeed lofty in Islam. Although the original martyr is dying on the battlefield, but for us, it can also be achieved by defending our life and property. You may have a few martyrs initially in the community, and eternal peace thereafter, but if we are continuously passive and not prepared to take our own security in our own hands, we will just have more and more victims within our ranks.
Towards achieving this aim, we need to extensively arm ourselves, legally of course, including our womenfolk. Those who are in the process of obtaining their firearms, should also take self-defense classes and keep deterrents such as high powered pellet guns and pepper spray handy. Children, instead of idling their time away on their smartphones and computers indoors, should start playing soccer and cricket outdoors, preferably in front of their homes, just as we did in the good old days. In this way, we can once again take control of our streets and help the Neighborhood Watch too!
This point should become the number one priority for everyone in South Africa, even if it means substituting our designer clothing for the Sniper ranger which resembles military gear. The fight starts from within ourselves.
As to the three don’ts, these are as follows:
1. Don’t abuse your workers or domestics: Many house and shop break-ins are ‘inside jobs,’ engineered by disgruntled employees. Abuse of workers take the form of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, exploitation of labour, and underpaying one’s staff. Some employers think that by living in high-security villages, surrounding themselves with bodyguards, and having secret entrances and exits at their workplace, they will be saved, but oppression always caught up with the most powerful of nations, why wouldn’t it catch up with you, in this world and the next?
2. Don’t boast about your money: Many people, at social gatherings and even at funerals, love to boast about their money. They brag about their huge profits and lavish holidays. Unbeknown to them, their own brother or cousin is hearing this boisterous conversation, not with the ears of admiration, but with a heart of envy. After a few weeks, the burglars are at his house expecting a huge loot. Today, our own families are our biggest enemies. In addition, many people live way above their means by driving super cars and living in luxurious mansions, thinking that this increases their status in society. Many a time these houses and cars actually belong to the bank, but when the borrower is targeted or killed due to it, the bank is not there to pay the hospital bills or the funeral expenses. So don’t flaunt your wealth. It’s disastrous.
3. Don’t be a thief yourself: Burglars and robbers are crude thieves, but you get another class of thieves who don’t have to break into anyone’s safe to steal – they are called Professional Thieves. Yes, victims of crime may be criminals themselves, criminals of a different kind. A person or a household nourished by ill-gotten wealth will always be struck by misfortune in the form of sickness, accidents, endless court cases, and burglaries. This is God’s way of leveling the playing field a little. So, if a calamity struck you, ask yourself: “Who did I hurt whom I need to ask forgiveness from? Did I discharge my Zakaat (compulsory annual alms) in full and on time this year? Are my workers or suppliers cursing me or praying for me?” Remember, the plea of the oppressed is never rejected.
Lastly, remember that faith and correct action go hand-in-hand. Let us not only recite our formulas (wazeefas) of protection like Ayat al-Kursi (the Verse of the Throne) before sleeping, but sleep with a clear conscious too. Ultimately, all calamities can only be committed or averted only by His leave. May the Almighty keep each and everyone safe, and save us all from a sudden death – Ameen.